Where have I been?

To be honest I have not kept up to date with this blog as much as I have wanted. Personally this is just my own fault and my goal for my personal blog is still active and I hope to keep you all up to date with various aspects of my life and the various experiments or case studies I am working on.

In that regards I have decided to spin off my health related posts to a new blog, I have not decided on the domain name just yet but I can assure you it will not be an exact match domain that is a common term but rather a brandable domain name, this is on purpose as I don’t want to relate my personal health stories and possible struggles with any particular search term that would rather help others out.

As well I also decided to possibly create a financial blog, one that would be focused solely on the personal economy of an individual, essentially a guide on how to create a better financial future.

So in the next several posts I will update you on the creation of these blogs and there location. This separation will help better delineate between my various interests and possibly give me more focus and also more targeted traffic.

Finally, I have begun to work on my personal development project, which will be a series of Kindle books that should be able to help everyone who is struggling day to day. This should be a series for those who want to start a new business; later on I will include separate editions that will cover health and possibly also some schoolwork motivation.

So that is what I have been doing and this is where I think I should go in the future. You can see that this blog has started to evolve already; it may further change as I get guidance from those who have more experience than I do.

Foods that help shred fat – Myth or Reality?

Can what you eat help you lose fat? There are some that claim to be true. Honestly though, I believe that concept to be false. Fat burning is a metabolic mechanism caused by a certain set of hormones released at a certain time due to what stress you put on the body. Sugars are metabolized, fat is moved from its location and used as fuel, and this is all used to produce energy the body needs to survive.

What diet is best for shredding fat?

There are some who follow a strict ketogenic diet. The health effects of this diet are unknown. While some may claim this is very harmful to your metabolism the simple fact of the matter is there is just not enough information on the subject. For those that don’t know what a ketogenic diet consists of then essentially you would give your body just protein and fats in order to force your body to use its fat stores to get the fuel it needs.

Many people have claimed to lose a lot of fat on a ketogenic diet. There is no doubt about that, but I seriously am concerned as to what happens after the diet is over, what occurs in the metabolism long term?

Is there such a thing as a negative calorie?

Can foods produce a negative calorie? For instance are some foods so difficult for your body to process that it takes more energy to metabolize than the energy stored? In this case I believe that there is significant evidence to support that there are foods that have a negative calorie effect. These foods can include fibrous foods such as celery, apples, and other foods that are high in fiber. By eating foods that are high in fiber and actually cause your body to burn more calories than you are taking in then you are bound to lose weight.

Now keep in mind that you are burning more calories then you are taking in, that does not mean you are burning specifically fat but rather you are running a calorie deficit from your intake of food. That is what makes a crucial difference in burning fat as opposed to just losing weight.

Don’t just focus on weight loss!

Many people just seem to be focused on the weight loss of their goal. In reality it is fat loss that they are desiring the most. In order to do this however you need to simultaneously build muscle while losing weight. That is what causes people to burn fat as opposed to just losing weight. The scale is just a measure of how much you weigh and not what your total body composition consists of. A healthy fit person would have a lot of muscle mass with very little fat.

So based upon this then the intake of protein and other foods that stimulate muscle growth would help to burn your fat off. Just having a negative calorie deficit in your diet would help in losing weight but gaining muscle at the same time would help you shred fat.

Then if you are serious about changing your body composition then it is it would be better to eat dense protein foods such as:

  • ·         Steak
  • ·         Lobster
  • ·         Chicken Breasts
  • ·         Salmon
  • ·         Egg whites
  • ·         Tuna Fish

To name just a few of the best foods to help build muscle by supplying your body with the needed protein that it needs after an intense weight lifting session. As well some of the best ways to digest protein is when it is already broken down for you such as drinking a BCAA or branched chain amino acid post workout drink.

Eating at specific intervals throughout the day will keep your metabolism running efficiently, as well it would help to metabolize the 30 grams of protein in each meal. There have been many studies that essentially prove that the body cannot in most cases metabolize more than 30 grams of protein in one setting. Consuming more than this is just a waste of a good meal and of course it could be a waste of your hard earned money.

Knowing exactly what you are eating and tracking it will give you the best results. If you can measure and track something in regards to your health then that is what should be done if you want to be the best athlete you can be.

Monitoring how you feel is also very important. While some can get away with a fat shredder diet of 50 percent protein, 30 percent carbohydrate, and 20 percent fat there are many who for various reasons just cannot seem to cope with this diet. It is perfectly acceptable to use a 40/40/20 combination of the above macronutrients to help alleviate some of the problems you may encounter with a low carbohydrate diet.

Clearly this may involve some experimentation on your part to see what would work best for your body and how you operate on a daily basis. Don’t just guess at what might work, always test out new things and figure out what works for you!

Emergency – By Neil Strauss

The reason I bought this book was because it was recommended reading in the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. Actually, I think it may have been Tim’s website that recommended it. Regardless of where I found out about this particular piece I have to say I found this book to be extremely enthralling and also highly informative.

The combination of being both entertaining and informative is something that is difficult to accomplish. Clearly Neil Strauss is a well practiced writer that can make what would be a depressing and oppressive subject. The premise of the book is to prepare you for the worst case scenario in your life, if you are more prepared as a human being you will be more likely to survive.

Initially this book starts out with the journey Neil goes through to become more prepared. Eventually, though this book meanders into Neil becomes prepared to help others in a time of crisis. The fact that this actually occurs show’s how much heart he has for others. In case you didn’t already know Neil is also responsible for the book “The Game” or a book all about the underground of Pick Up Artists.

Clearly, those that judge this man negatively don’t know him very well. I can tell by his writing that he has a deep care of all people, so irregardless of how you feel about the whole Pick Up culture judging him for being a part of that is just wrong.

But what of the merits of the information contained in the book? I mean after all this is a book review and not an author review. The chapters are broken down into manageable chunks that make it easy to read. As well the chapter titles are such that you will want to read them, I would say each chapter would make for an excellent blog post but that is not the point.

Being prepared for what Neil calls “when the shit hits the fan” is something that a lot of others have taken to heart. Preppers have become an obsession for some, one option that is helping to fuel many companies throughout the United States. I have no problem with being prepared for what could come and as such that is why I bought the book, because I wanted a guide on how to do it.

Now the book is not a complete exhaustive “how to” manual of how to survive an upcoming zombie apocalypse or anything, rather it has helped me by pointing me to the right resources I need and basically pointed out the weaknesses in my own preparation for a catastrophe.

If you live in Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota, or even California then you know each one of us can face different threats. Being prepared for what could happen in your neck of the woods is what is important, the fact that Neil ends this book with becoming prepared to help others should also be a guide for us all. After all in times of crisis if we all just helped each other the world would be a better place.

Hands down I would recommend everyone read this book as use it as a starting point. Most importantly I would encourage meeting with your neighbors and figuring out a plan in case an emergency should happen in your area. Do you know of people in your neighborhood with medical training? If so having them at your disposal would be a extremely valuable resource.

Or alternatively you could learn the basics of emergency medicine by taking an EMT course at your local vocational school or community college. Again the point of this book is to teach you how to be prepared for disasters for helping yourself but also more importantly by helping others. When you have television series such as Revolution coming out as well as other movies such as World War Z then you may begin to see the potential problems we all could face in the near future.

Being prepared for what life may deal you in the future is as important to me as being physically fit, in fact I would say those two are directly related. If you are physically and mentally fit then you will be able to survive future disasters.

All in all I would highly recommend this book for just about everyone. Now there are some may say that they trust solely in God to save them, and they have a valid reason to believe that. However, I believe God would like us to be as prepared as possible and this book just illustrates a path along those lines. Regardless of your religious beliefs it is important to realize where you may be potentially weak or lacking, so that you can strengthen those areas in your life and help others.

Remembering 9-11-2001

Okay since everyone seems to be bringing back memories of where they were during 9/11/2001 I think I will do the same. First off I was in college taking a class on religion, ironically, and since it was a 2 hour class we were given a 15 minute break in between.

After the break I noticed practically no one showed up for the second half of the class, just about everyone was picking up their bags and leaving. Normally, I would get up and walk outside of the classroom to stretch my legs but that day I didn’t. Outside of the classroom was the building atrium and a crowd was noticeably gathering, it was quite noisy outside of the class and people started to ask what was going on. The professor just kept teaching the class because he had no idea of the events of the day that were transpiring.

Immediately after class was finished I noticed there was a television in the lobby of the building and people were watching the twin towers burning. Clearly, I thought this was some mistake or something. So I asked some of the other students what was going on, basically they yelled at me and said “WE’RE UNDER ATTACK.”

I just couldn’t believe it. It was like watching a bad action movie or something but this was real and it was happening live on television. Many of the professors that were still in the building were telling the students to go back to their dorms or back to their homes because the campus was going to be shut down in a couple hours for security reasons.

So as I headed home on I-75 to Bradenton from Tampa I noticed an awful lot of State Troopers, Police cars, and other military vehicles heading towards Tampa, they were obviously headed towards MacDill Air Force Base where I was sure the President would stop on his first trip back to Washington, DC. You see, at the time, President Bush was in Sarasota reading to some kids in Booker Elementary, I am sure you have seen that footage before.

One item that really shook me was a caravan of about 15 to 20 State Troopers along with the secret service vans and what seemed to me like it could be the press corps that traveled with the President. Never before did I see so much activity at that time. F16’s and other fighter jets were clearly above in the air.

As I listened to NPR on my drive back I couldn’t but think that this may be the start of WW3 and was completely baffled by who could have attacked us and why we were not prepared for it.

From the time I got home, to late in the evening, I couldn’t help but watch the news stations and the coverage of that attack. The repeated images of seeing those buildings on fire, the people dropping from the rooftops, the people scrambling for cover as the towers fell and the debris that covered New York City at the time will forever be burned into my memory.

I mourn the passing of those lives that were lost on 9/11/2001 because that not only that forever changed the course of all of those families that were affected but it changed the course of many other American lives. That day is a day I cannot forget, I am not sure if I want to forget it. Remember 9/11 not for just the lives lost but what happened to all of us afterwards. Truly that day changed the world for so many of us.

Muscle Confusion – Why is it so effective?

The term muscle confusion is used a lot these days. With programs such as P90X, P90X2, and others this is often used as a determining factor the reason why these DVD’s are so successful in getting people in the best shape of their lives. Simply put when people go into the gym many don’t know what to do, and if they do know what to do they become stale and complacent, muscle confusion removes that impediment.

You see the human body is designed or has evolved to be adaptive to the environment that you give it or the circumstances to which it is placed. So essentially, the survival nature of the human body will try and seek an equilibrium and figure out a way to cause as least stress as possible. In order to grow however you must always give your body something different, this is called muscle confusion.

By altering up the routines, changing the order of things, and introducing new moves or moves not often used before then the body is forced to adapt to this change. When your body starts to adapt then it will start to grow, this growth is what causes muscle growth, improved fitness, and overall a better look to your physique.

You can find this philosophy in many aspects of physical training right now. Many times you will see Crossfit athletes mention always varied movements to cause improvements in strength, agility, and other aspects of physical or mental prowess. That is essentially the basis of muscle confusion.

But the term is actually a misnomer, your muscles don’t have the ability to get confused, your brain is the only part of the body that has that capability. You see many people will argue against using this terminology without embracing the fact that this type of exercise just plain works, and works really well.

You don’t have to spend an enormous amount of money to set up your own routine, in fact you could easily set up your own daily workouts or WOD’s on your own. There is enough free information on the world wide web today that there really is no excuse to not at least try and be in the best shape of your life.

This same principle can be applied to your diet. By mixing up your calories, the food you intake, and the proportions of macronutrients you always force your body to adapt, that in turn increases your metabolic rate and potentially causes you to burn more fat. Clearly, this is a bit obvious to those with only a basic understanding of the human body, but it still needs to be said so that those who are confused by the muscle confusion can get some clarification.

In the future, I will discuss post activation potentiation which is yet another advancement in how the human body continually tries to get better by adapting to the stresses you place upon it. My belief is that we all should strive to improve ourselves each day, doing otherwise is a wasted day.

Eating before a workout – what is best?

This question comes up often. There are some people who claim that you should never eat before you workout as that would counteract any fat loss that you are attempting to do, others say the opposite. Essentially, the science behind whether or not you should you should eat before you workout is inconclusive.

So, really then it becomes a personal decision. How do you feel early in the morning before you workout? Should you eat something to help you fuel through your workout and help you burn off those calories? Clearly, this is something you will have to discover through experimentation.

Should you eat before your workout?

The question of whether or not you should eat before a workout should be answered by how do you feel while you are working out? Basically, do you have the energy to get through your 1 hour in the gym or through a DVD that you are working through? If you don’t have enough to get through your workout then you absolutely should eat beforehand, doing otherwise will compromise your end results.

Now you could eat something light, like a protein bar or a protein shake to get something in your stomach. Those calories can then be used to help burn off whatever fat you are trying to get rid of, if you are weight training your metabolism should be operating at a higher level anyway. You see if you lift weights at all during your workout your body will burn more calories for a longer period of time, so anything you eat beforehand is going to be burned off.

What to take right before your workout?

What you eat before you workout could determine your performance while you are working out. Don’t eat anything particularly heavy or fattening. Avoiding fattening foods are what are going to help you not vomit if you should push yourself to your limits. Even a bowl of oatmeal is going to be fine as long as you give yourself enough time to start to digest this food.

Some people advocate taking their post workout drink before, during, and after they have worked out. That way you can get the necessary amino acids and other vital vitamins to help you recover from any intense session. The many studies conducted show that it can take anywhere from 60 minutes to 180 minutes for food to start to affect your bloodstream and start to be fully incorporated into your body.

Ultimately the decision is yours

Clearly, there is no right or wrong answer here. The question you should be asking is how you feel before your workout, during your workout, and after your workout if you should eat beforehand or not. That is why it is so very important to keep track of your daily intake of foods as well as your moods to adjust your course of action.

Some athletes even go as far as to test their blood sugar before they workout and on multiple times per day to see how their food is affecting their body. Doing this is a bit extreme and typically not recommended. You should really only perform routine blood tests on a quarterly or even bi-annual basis if you want to monitor how your body is reacting to any changes in diet or exercise. There are now several companies that are starting to offer blood testing services that can really help you improve your performance long term, and these tests should give you a better understanding if any supplements are actually helping you or not.

Keratoconus and the various treatment options

Since I have been living with this disease for some time I have actually performed a lot of research into all of the treatment options available. Now, some of these treatment options are not fully FDA approved, but they have been tested for many years and they are generally considered safe. Of course you should use common sense here and not rely on the advice of any blogger, always seek out the opinion of someone who is experienced and even seek out the opinion of two experienced surgeons to get the best advice possible.

Early stage treatment of Keratoconus

The first stage is really nothing major; you can treat this disease with glasses. For many people this can work for years. In fact it was not until recently was I forced to wear contact lenses to treat this condition. Now since the cornea is misshaped you will eventually not be able to see much at all with your glasses, then you go into the second stage of treatment.

You can go for several decades using this treatment option, so if you are just diagnosed with this disease you have a lot of time to figure out your next course of action and how you may want to proceed. As well since the advancements in treating Keratoconus are becoming quite rapid you may experience a longer lasting option then those previously. The best thing I can say to you is to not give up hope.

Second stage treatment

The second stage is potentially made of two options, since the advancements in soft contact lenses it is now possible to use soft contacts for a longer period of time. Getting fit with a custom fit contact lens is going to take some time, however, it will be worth it in the long run.

You can go with the soft contact route to start, and for many this may be the best way to go, or the hard gas permeable lenses. The benefit of using a soft contact lens to begin with is that you should be able to wear these lenses for a longer period of time and they should not cause a lot of issues when you wear them for a long period of time.

Soft contacts are generally safer to use as they will not cause a lot of irritation and because they can be custom made for each eye you should be able to see clearer than with a rigid lens. While you still should not sleep in these lenses it may be possible to do so in the future.

Finally, once you have exhausted the soft contact lens route you can then move on to the hard or glass permeable lenses. These lenses are the “gold standard” of treating Keracontonus. For many people, including myself, the prescription of Jupiter RGP lenses has saved the sight of many people who would otherwise go blind.

The drawback of using an RGP lens however is the overall comfort for long periods of time. As well the care and upkeep of these lenses can be a bit of a pain. Fortunately, you won’t need to dispose of these lenses for roughly two years if your prescription has not changed.

Another drawback of the Jupiter RGP lenses is the overall cost of buying these. Getting fitted with a custom lens is going to take some time, and that time is going to be valuable to any optometrist. This is not just like buying a contact lens from Wal-Mart or something; it takes a lot of effort to get it done the right way so you have the ability to see.

Some of the more aggressive treatment options

Finally, now I am going to discuss some of the more aggressive treatment options. Some of these treatments are not yet approved by the FDA and as such the amount various Doctor’s charge for them varies so it may be helpful to shop around.

Cornea Cross Linking is a treatment option that is undergoing clinical trials in the United States at this time. Essentially what happens is that your top layer of your cornea is peeled back and then drops of riboflavin are dropped into the eye. Once these drops have been placed onto the affected area of the cornea it is then subjected to a low dosage of ultra-violet radiation to cause a cross linking effect. This cross linking effect supposedly flattens the cornea and strengthens it for the future.

Cross linking is not approved by the FDA because there really have not been any guidelines or best practices on how many drops to apply or the level of radiation to give to any patient. Basically, there is not enough information to really give the best end result for the patient and that is why it is not approved yet. So if you feel comfortable undergoing a procedure that may or may not work then I say give it a shot.

Another treatment option that can be combined with cross linking is the use of intac cornea rings. These rings are just as you would imagine, they are small rings that can be tolerated by the body that go into the cornea and flatten out the bulge that causes the problems with all Keracontonus patients. By using cross linking in combination with the intac procedure many people have reported significant vision improvement.

The final stage of Keratoconus

The final stage and the only treatment option available is a full blown cornea transplant. The reason why this should be considered the absolute last resort is that once this procedure has been done it cannot be reversed. Put simply you cannot undo this procedure and as such you should really consider that.

Now there are various types of transplants that can be used. The severity of your condition would dictate if you require a full blown transplant or a partial graft transplant, the benefit of using a partial graft is that you are given a shorter time frame for recovery.

The typical time to recover fully from this procedure is anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Clearly, this can take a lot of time to get over and heal properly. You will be restricted in what you can do and for many people those restrictions will put a serious damper on the lifestyle you have become accustomed to.

Would this mean the end of your life as you know it? Probably not but for one year you will have to treat your affected eye as though it was the most fragile and most valuable part of your body.

Overcoming this disease just takes time, clearly not everyone is ready for hearing the news of being diagnosed with this disease. You can find some good resources in your local town by searching the Internet and if you have a Department of Blind services then I highly recommend you contact them as they will have access to a lot more information then I could give you.