Archive for the ‘Abs’ Category

Are Toxins Making You Fat (& Sick)?

Posted by myhealthexperts on January 14, 2009

Hidden Toxins Can Make You Fat!

Hidden Toxins Can Make You Fat!

Could be. Read this:

“Ask why diabetes is epidemic in the 21st century and most people will point the finger at bad diet, laziness and obesity. According to a small but growing group of scientists, though, the real culprit is a family of toxic chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants, or POPs. If these researchers are right, POPs – which include some of the most reviled chemicals ever created, including dioxins, DDT and PCBs – may be key players in the web of events that lead people to develop the disease. “ ( 09/15/08)

Diabetes is right there with obesity. And of course in the holistic model we acknowledge that everything is connected – so if POPs can facilitate obesity and diabetes, these in turn can lead to hormone dysfunction, which can effect brain chemistry, leading to emotional problems like depression, anxiety, etc.

Detox is going to be a key focus of mine in 2009 since its become clear its a critical but often overlooked factor in our lives. Once again, more greens and enzyme rich unheated foods are key. Also consider a properly designed detox program. I have a real toxicologist, Eunice Stagliola, PhD, working on creating one for us right now. Stay tuned!


Posted in Abs, Body, Detox, Did You Know?, Environment, Hidden Dangers | 1 Comment »

The Biggest Loser (In More Ways Than One)

Posted by myhealthexperts on January 8, 2009

is that 'you'?

Who is The Biggest Loser?

The hit TV show ‘The Biggest Loser” teams up people and has them in a boot camp style program of exercise and diet to lose weight. Once again in this matrix of deceit we’re not told the truth; that participants exercise for 3 to 4 hours a day and eat ridiculuosly low calorie diets. Plus they also have them losing water weight, often by dehydration. This is very unhealthy. The show is a real sham, read for yourself of the crazy antics done to lose weight, and how many of the participants gained weight back after the show. But thats what most people want – the quick fix.

I do love the title, as you may come to realize, this is a year of paradigm shifts. Losers will be the winners (ever hear of the ‘Sermon on the Mount? lol), people will do more by doing less, and some open minded individuals may even gain everything by giving everything up. The ‘in’ thing will be the ‘nothing’. Or maybe I am just surfing the zeitgeist too much again!

Back to losing. As in the TV show, one of the biggest thing people want to lose is fat. Its an interesting thing to think about; all the images that fat symbolizes. Unhealthy, unattractive, lazy, sloth (one of the 7 deadly sins), emotionally challenged (everyone knows over-eating is often an emotional issue), the list goes on and on. Bouncing from one cause and effect to the next, we’re like ping pong balls in an endless game. Feeling empty, we overeat (or over-work, drink, etc), then we feel fat or sick, so most reach for the quick fix – like a diet drug, or even a diet. Then the diet drug has side effects, so we take something else to deal with that. But then we realize one of the effects of all this was more weight gain – so we are back to square one. Its the same circle with any issue if you look deep enough.

Did you ever walk into the gym or somewhere else and feel fat (or unattractive)? Or feel that someone would judge or look at you and see how fat you were? What I find so funny is that at that very moment, someone WAS doing just that. They are your worst enemy. And who might that be? Why, YOU of course! Talk about sleeping with the enemy. More on that later.

Here are some practical tips on losing weight for the new year:
1) Eat Less. Exercise More. Sounds easy. But few can actually do it. Diet is really the key for losing weight, not exercise. For most people that means whole foods, lower carb (NO SUGAR), and healthy fats and proteins. Eat some protein with every meal.
2) Don’t skip meals: people who skip meals often lower their metabolism
3) Go back to 3 meals a day: All that 6 meal a day stuff I think is not good for our health. The GI tract needs time to be empty for us to detox. The only exception is post workout – have a recovery shake to build muscle.
4) Try Intermittent Fasting: This works wonders for many people. Ask me more and I will tell you how to do this.
5) Eat Organic: Researchers report that dieters with the most organochlorines (pollutants from pesticides, which are stored in fat cells) experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism as they lose weight, perhaps because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process. Other research hints that pesticides can trigger weight gain. Always choose organic when buying peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, and pears; non-organic versions tend to have the highest levels of pesticides.
6) Sleep and Stress: Get a handle on these – sleep 8 hrs and get stress levels under control. Critical for weight loss.
7) Lift weights: Intense exercise like weightlifting increases insulin sensitivity, and this will help with long term weight loss.
8.) Exercise in a fasted state can increase fat burning.
9) Stay well hydrated.
10) Stop beating yourself up: The same self that got you into this problem is now beating you up for being there. Stop trusting your thoughts!

That little ‘you’ is the biggest loser – so lose it! Discover the bigger ‘YOU’ that is your source, your true self, and the key to happiness!

Posted in Abs, Body, Eat, Exercise, Hidden Dangers, Mind, Spirit | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Honey for Post-Workout Insulin Boost

Posted by myhealthexperts on February 1, 2008

Post workout its important to get insulin up as it acts to facilitate recovery and muscle growth. This is the only time of the day we want elevated insulin. To do this we use a protein carb drink – whey isolate combined with some type of high glycemic index (GI) sugar. My top choice is honey because it has so many other nutritional benefits that other sugar sources do not. Honey is a wholefood  and as such the best source versus refined sugar sources.  For example, honey has the sugar trehelose, which positively affects our brain and central nervous system. Honey also has potent anti-bacterial activity, trace minerals, and other nutrients.

 Here is one study supporting the use of honey: over time it appears to help shift weight gain away from fat and towards muscle (providing you are exercising hard enough)

The Effect of Honey Compared to Sucrose, Mixed Sugars, and a Sugar-Free Diet on Weight Gain in Young Rats
L.M. Chepulis11Author is with Honey Research Unit, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Waikato Univ., Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand. Direct inquiries to author Chepulis (E-mail: is with Honey Research Unit, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Waikato Univ., Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand. Direct inquiries to author Chepulis (E-mail:
ABSTRACT: To determine whether honey, sucrose, and mixed sugars as in honey have different effects on weight gain, 40 6-wk-old Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a powdered diet that was either sugar free or contained 8% sucrose, 8% mixed sugars as in honey, or 10% honey freely for 6 wk. Weight gain and food intake were assessed weekly, and at completion of the study blood samples were removed for measurement of blood sugar (HbA1c) and a fasting lipid profile. The animals were then minced and total percentage body fat and protein measured.
Overall percentage weight gain was significantly lower in honey-fed rats than those fed sucrose or mixed sugars, despite a similar food intake. Weight gains were comparable for rats fed honey and a sugar free diet although food intake was significantly higher in honey-fed rats.

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Food Addictions: Hidden Variable in Fat Loss

Posted by myhealthexperts on January 18, 2008

Ironically the foods that we often find ourselves craving are the same ones we are allergic to.  Even your doctor would not typically be able to discern this as they measure the common IgG response in the body to determine allergies. IgG elevation is typified by common allergy symptoms, including runny nose, red or watery eyes, etc.

Subclinical (meaning not always able to be diagnosed by a doctor in a clinical setting) allergies, like subclinical vitamin deficiences, often go untreated. In this case, a food allergy can illicit an IgE response that can lead to reactions such as headaches and weight gain.

They do this because the food triggers the allergic reaction which then releases epinepherine into the body. This is one of those ‘feel good’ chemicals and so we end up craving the very food that is bad for us!

In addition, foods like wheat and chocolate (dairy too) produce opiate like compounds in the body that also are addicting, hence we can end up craving those foods as well. Wheat in particular is riddled with so many negatives I tell all my clients to avoid wheat products as much as possible. If you must consume grains, use brown rice, quinoa, pure rye, oats, or even the new sprouted grain products (Ezekial) as they are less associated with side effects.

Top foods to avoid that produce toxic reactions in the body are wheat, sugar, soy, corn and dairy.  Learn to gradually shift your consumption of these to healthier alternatives. For sugar, naturally occurring sugars in fruits are better (I swear by apples), as is Agave, Stevia and if you must, the occassional use of Splenda (try not to).

With soy, fermented soy appears safer, so items like tempeh and tofu could be used.  The health benefits of soy are questionalbe and as I try to adopt a ‘Controversy Free’ philosophy, if there is doubt, its best to avoid it as much as possible.

For corn there are also many substitutes from other less popular grains.  Dairy can be safe if you get raw, unpastuerized but this is not easy to come by. So nut milks like almond, or even goat products appear to be less reactive in the body.

Posted in Abs, Did You Know?, Eat, Hidden Dangers | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Build Muscle, Burn Fat – Sleeping?

Posted by myhealthexperts on January 13, 2008

Build Muscle – Burn Fat: Sleeping!

That title is not in error, it is possible to use sleep to your advantage in building a great body. Besides being healthy for a variety of reasons, sleep offers us an opportunity to enhance recovery, stimulate anabolic hormones such as growth hormone (GH), and to increase fat loss.
Why Sleep?
First off, why do we need sleep? Current ideas focus on sleep being essential for neurons and the associated chemistry (neuronal biochemistry such as neurotransmitters) to regenerate. Most of this activity is going on in the brain. So we need sleep because our brains need to regenerate. Memory, learning and social processes are cycled and rejuvenated during sleep. Sleep enables the brain to encode new information and store it properly. REM sleep activates the parts of the brain that control learning.

In addition, the nervous system and immune system are being viewed as one system, so sleep is also essential for optimal immune function. In case you didn’t realize this – everything about you, from your ‘self’ and personality, to mood swings, hormone levels, sexual desire, intelligence, etc are all centered around your brain. You literally are your brain. So saying that its vital to take care of this organ is an understatement.

As a side note, in grad school at New York Medical College, I did my thesis on brain function and nutrition, and I can assure you, brain chemistry, and how it affects all aspects of ‘you’ are sensitive to changes in nutrient intake, and to items like sleep.

As a Health & Fitness Trainer for (and Equinox ) I consult with many bodybuilders and athletes, and a common statement is “I work hard and I play hard.” Yet when it comes to health, they often have a lackluster response such as, “everything in moderation.” Where is their logic? Living today requires that we compensate hard as well. Compensate for all the stress working and playing hard produce. And the only way to compensate is to focus on being healthy. Being healthy is the core of everything, the foundation upon which everything you value is built upon. And part of being healthy is getting adequate sleep. This usually is between 7-8 hours for most people.

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot catch up on sleep by sleeping extra on the weekends. You may be so fatigued that you need more sleep, but you are not making up for the lost sleep on other days. Studies also show that those going on 4-5 hrs of sleep a night can have as much cognitive impairment as someone who was awake for 3 days straight! What’s more interesting is that these people often do not even realize their loss of mental function. We all know how bad it feels to have residual fatigue from not sleeping enough the night before – it affects everything from your workouts, to your mood.

Hormonal Hazards:Good sleep enhances the release of growth hormone, a critical hormone for a number of physiologic processes, including building muscle and burning fat. Eating before bed may inhibit growth hormone release, so if you need to eat, be sure to have no carbs at the very least. Drinking a protein flax oil shake may be the best as it is easily assimilated. Even better might be to take 20 grams of BCAA’s along with 5 grams of taurine. This will help mitigate nighttime catabolism and still not effect GH release. Plus taurine is great as a mild sleep aid.Eating before bed also inhibits Phase II detoxification in the liver. Phase I liver detoxification includes filtering and the Cytochrome P450 enzymes.  Phase II involves conjugation. Conjugation is where various enzymes in the liver attach protective compounds to toxins.  This either neutralizes the toxin or makes the toxin more easily excreted. Phase I and II work together so that both need to be working properly. Proper liver detoxification is especially critical for the prevention of cancers.This is even more dangerous to bodybuilders as steroids and high-protein diets activate Phase I detox, and eating before bed inhibits Phase II thus leaving dangerous carcinogens (cancer causing agents) lingering in the body longer. Therefore consider cycling periods of eating before bed with periods of not allowing maximal liver activity.

Good sleep elevates Leptin and suppresses Ghrelin, two key hormones affecting appetite and hunger. Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that tells the brain energy levels are high, so appetite is suppressed. Ghrelin is a hormone made in the stomach that stimulates hunger and appetite. Eating a meal suppresses ghrelin and increases leptin, thereby suppressing hunger. Recent evidence suggests that losing sleep causes subjects to become more hungry and eat more by elevating ghrelin and decreasing leptin. Not the ideal situation for losing weight.

Other hormones are also affected by sleep. One hormone that is elevated when we don’t sleep well is cortisol. This catabolic hormone is a bodybuilders nemesis, so missing sleep may catabolize (cause a net loss of) prescious muscle tissue. Making matters worse, TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is a hormone released by the pituitary to control thyroid output and metabolism, is reduced during sleep deprivation.

Many men snore and think it’s normal. It may be an indication of low testosterone levels. Sleep apnea is a respiratory disorder that affects 4%-9% of adult males. Its most common manifestation is loud snoring and it may occur several hundred times throughout the night, resulting in sleep fragmentation and excessive daytime sleepiness. A recent study found that nearly half the subjects who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low levels of testosterone throughout the night.

Do you need more Sleep?Consider the following questions:Do you sleep extra hours on the weekend?Do you need an alarm clock to wake up on time?

Do your eyelids feel heavy during afternoon classes or meetings?

Do you use caffeine as to stay awake or alert?

If you answer yes to any of the above, you’re probably not getting adequate amounts of sleep. Try to focus on getting 7-8 hours a night for 2 months and see if you notice any improvements.

Our bodies have a natural sleep cycle that is optimal when sleeping from 10 pm to about 6 am. Try to get to bed at least prior to midnight. Be sure to sleep in a dark environment with no noise. Any light hitting the retina will inhibit stimulation of the pineal gland and as such a critical hormone called melatonin is inhibited. Melatonin is important for many functions, for example, it turns on the gene known as p53 that stops cancer cells from growing.

If you have problems sleeping, consider taurine (1000-3000 mg), magnesium (400-800 mg), and even glycine (2000 mg). Recent evidence suggests an herbal ingredient known as THP is also clinically effective in treating insomnia. It’s so potent is was recently patented. Only one product has this; its called Eden PM and its available at

Sleep, along with diet, exercise and nutritional supplementation, is a cornerstone of optimal health. Don’t neglect it!

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Fat Burning Ice Cream!

Posted by myhealthexperts on January 13, 2008

Fat Burning Ice Cream? The Secret Recipe for Your Success!By Brian Cunningham, MS

Imagine that- fat burning ice cream. Well, its not out yet, but I’ll give you a recipe that will satisfy that craving for ice cream and still help burn fat (more later). Sometimes it seems the whole world it against us. For example, corporations create huge industries around our weaknesses for fat and sugar. So we have a nation of fat, unhealthy people. Many people resort to drugs to lose the weight, only to further compromise their health. We crave fat and sugar because these preferences kept our ancestors alive. Today these same hard-wired preferences are killing us. They also affect our mental health. Thankfully we live in the “Information age” where we can learn and make positive changes in our lives.

Mind Your Mind:Whatever your goals are- the first friend you need on your side is your mind. Often this is the key to success or failure. Ever notice how that little voice inside your head is usually beating you up? Ok, maybe its just the voice inside my head, or maybe I need to increase my meds. But the fact of the matter is whether you have a voice inside or not- the world is full of people who fail to achieve their goals. And studies reveal that “self-talk”; ideas repeated over and over in the mind, even if we are not aware, shape how we feel about ourselves. I’m going to prove to you that you don’t have ‘Free Will’, it’s an illusion. Right away your ego tells you this can’t be true. Well, if you have free will, try to simply will your mind to be quiet for 15 seconds. Or just try to focus on one thought only. You’ll soon see you can’t do it.

Many of us will work towards our goals, like bodybuilding, yet fail to work on perhaps the single most important aspect of who we are: our minds. The impacts are everywhere; the symptoms obvious in broken families, divorce, alcohol and drug abuse. The amount of people on mood altering drugs like anti-depressants is pandemic. People are not addressing their own mental health.

Where do you start? You already did. Just the awareness of this issue will point you in a new direction if you feel the need strongly enough. Self-help guru and infomercial star Anthony Robbins has made the field of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) very popular. NLP is very similar to bodybuilding principles- use it or lose it. Our thoughts and feelings are stored in our brain as patterns of inter-linked neurons. Different patterns produce the cascade of neurochemistry that results in our thoughts, feelings and actions. The more we use certain patterns, the stronger the pattern gets. The less we use it, the weaker the pattern gets. Want to lose weight or stop smoking? Just change the pattern. Sounds easy, but it can be very difficult to do on our own. You wouldn’t build a house without tools, so too you cant build a healthy mind and body without tools. NLP is one such tool.

One key thing many philosophies ranging from Buddhism to NLP and others stress is awareness. You don’t have to “do” anything, you simply need to see. The present literally is a present, a gift in that it’s the only opportunity to change. You don’t change the past, and you cant change in the future, you can only act to change in the present moment. Practice presence, for in the awareness you will see that you have more degrees of freedom to choose your actions, versus the instinctual and often emotional reactions we all typically follow that allow far fewer degrees of freedom.

Another key we must see is to accept responsibility for our lives. This does not mean blame, responsibility literally means the “ability to respond”. One simple step is to be aware in the moment that these negative feelings or behaviors arise. And in the awareness comes the ability to respond- the freedom to choose what we do. If we are not aware we just react or follow the same patterns – and there is no freedom in this. Bodybuilders do this already while dieting. We are keenly aware of our food choices in order to prepare for contests. We don’t just react and grab any food on an emotional basis because we have trained ourselves and our minds to be disciplined. The results show in the abs and details of a shredded physique. But what about getting angry while driving in traffic? Or when our spouse pushes our buttons? Do we just react or do we have freedom to choose our action?

Some negative thoughts can be removed simply by repeating the words “erase” or “cancel” over and over again in our minds. This is like overwriting memory on a computers hard drive. It literally works to scribble the thought/pattern and can make it go away. More advanced techniques such as NLP require elaboration beyond the scope of this article. Another advanced method that is simple to use is Thought Field Therapy (TFT) or Emotional Freedom Techniques. These are based on gently tapping with your fingers key acupuncture points when negative feelings or behaviors crop up. There is a free manual for this available on the web.

Fat Burning Ice Cream: The recipe!The concept here is substitution; choosing a healthier version of whatever you crave. Smokers can learn to substitute their craving for a cigarette by being aware and not reacting to the stress they feel by grabbing that cigarette. Obese people also can develop the awareness of their emotions and how they react by choosing certain foods. The more you practice it, just like a muscle, the neuronal connections you choose to link grow stronger. Bodybuilders have been doing it for years, eating protein bars instead of candy bars for example.

Back to the ice cream; whether your goal is to lose fat or improve your health, substituting better food choices makes a big difference in the long term. If you made the shift from heavy/fatty meals to lean ones, such as Bacon Double Cheeseburgers to chicken breast or a low fat tuna sandwich – you are already on the way. The next jump would be from the chicken breast sandwich (not very nutritious) to chicken breast and a large salad. Even better- wild salmon (most salmon is farm raised and has the same bad fat as beef), organic greens and a healthy salad dressing (flax or olive oil with lemon is the best). The same shift would apply for drinking whole milk. All those ‘Got Milk’ ads brainwash you? Dairy is not a healthy food group. Besides milk leading to Type II diabetes, the homogenization process also makes milk proteins stick to your arteries.1 And recently, a molecule found in milk and beef have been shown in high concentrations in human tumors. 2 So a smart shift would be to gradually taper from:whole milkàskim milkà50-50 mix of milk + soy milk, goat milk, or rice milkà100% soy, goat, rice or almond milk.Crave ice cream? Here is a great recipe that should satisfy your craving and helps burn fat:

8 oz water

1 or 2 large cups of ice cubes

2-3 scoops of Protein(vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or other)

1-2 tablespoons Flax/EFA oil or ground flax seed (or as alternate: Organic Virgin Coconut Oil)

¼-1/2 packet: Fat Free & Sugar Free Instant Pudding/Pie Filling Mix (same flavor as protein) (obtained from supermarket/grocery store)

Mix the protein, Instant Pudding Mix, and water in a blender. Add the Flax/EFA, and immediately after add the ice cubes. Flax oil is very important for health because it brings up the ratio of omega-3 fatty acids which we are all so deficient in. This imbalance of omega-3 found in flax, raw nuts & seeds and salmon, to omega-6 fats found in corn, soy, and most other common oils and foods, is thought to lead to many of the common diseases like cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Omega-3 fats also enable our bodies to metabolize and burn fat more efficiently. Coconut oil is another healthy oil that has fat burning properties, as well as many other benefits such as immune enhancement. You can add as much ice as you want- more makes the final product thicker. So you end up with healthy soft-serve tasting ice cream! If you really want to boost it up, you can add the potent fat burner, mood enhancer Chocamine to a chocolate version. Or add it to a vanilla version and the result is a delicious Mocha flavor!

Brian has a free newsletter at:


1. New England Journal of Medicine, July 30, 1992

2. Molecule Found in Meat, Milk and Tumors – Study. Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent. Reuters, 9/29/2003.

Posted in Abs, Body, Eat, Mind | Leave a Comment »

No Abs Abs?

Posted by myhealthexperts on January 13, 2008

No Abs Abs!

Someone recently asked me what I do for abs (after she saw this pic of me). I said ‘nothing’ – and in fact I am currently on the fat side of my ‘normal’ range. I went on to tell her I use what I call the “No abs Abs” routine:


I do nothing specifically to work my abs. I feel abs can get plenty of stimulation from an intense workout – exercises like tricep pushdown, squats, Chop Wood, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, etc all require work from the abs. Most exercises benefit from you tightening your abs as you conduct the movement, and of course so do your abs!

Diet:   Burning the fat off the abs is the most important thing to see good abs. Eat clean and do some cardio to keep the fat off, and you should begin to see lines where fat once was!

Posted in Abs, Exercise | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »