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Meditation and prayer are good for your health

June 17, 2011
What? An American-trained medical doctor suggesting that spiritual work can heal you? It’s not just an opinion. Rigid scientific studies published in western medical journals have shown that prayer and meditation can improve outcomes in very sick patients. Nobody was able to explain it satisfactorily. They just showed that it works.
 For thousands of years Shamans, Witch doctors, and faith healers of various sorts have practiced “magic” to heal people, way before medical schools were invented. We can’t be sure if it really worked, but – people claimed to get cured. Maybe there was something to it. Here’s a couple studies:
If we view patients as whole beings, people must be approached as more than a physical body or a complex set of organ systems. In most faiths and spiritual beliefs, people are understood to be mind/body/spirit. It is well known that for thousands of years faith and healing have been intertwined, but is there scientific evidence that this can work? There is western evidence-based medicine to support the use of spiritual care. There are published studies that conclude the use ofwhile Other articles are supportive, while some are controversial (search prayer +clinical +outcome +medical).

Middle Age Men and Depression: A Matter of Fact

June 14, 2011

You’re cranky all the time, and one Saturday you don’t get out of bed until noon. “Honey, what’s wrong, are you down about something?” your wife asks.

“How the hell should I know? What difference does it make anyway?” you say, pulling the sheets up to your chin and turning to face the wall. “I want out,” you start to say, but sitting in front of some shrink who’s going to tell you to cheer up and put you on another pill, hell…better left unsaid. Anyway, once you get up, pound down a few cold ones, and mow the lawn before the game comes on at 3, you’ll be fine because nothing beats watching the 49ers smash the Cowboys. And they better smash them good, because you have 200 bucks riding on it with the spread.

Middle age men are often stoic, “tough as nails,” and refuse to admit they are depressed. They may consider it a character defect or a sign of weakness. Recognizing the symptoms of depression is the biggest hurdle to diagnosis and treatment. Approximately half of those experiencing symptoms never get proper diagnosis or treatment. If left untreated, more than one out of every 10 people battling depression commit suicide.

What are the symptoms of depression?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

  • difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • fatigue and decreased energy
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
  • feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
  • insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • irritability, restlessness
  • loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • overeating or appetite loss
  • persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelingsthoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

You need support from the people around you — your family and friends — when you are recovering from depression. Seek out a few whom you can rely on. Don’t choose only one person, since that can be overwhelming for the person. Talk to all of them about your depression. Many symptoms of depression are also those of low testosterone. A testosterone blood test should be part of a depression work-up for every middle age man.

Suicide is number eight in the top ten killers for middle age men. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very, very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) — or the deaf hotline at 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889).

Warning signs of suicide with depression include:

  • a sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to  be happy
  • always talking or thinking about death
  • clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping) that gets worse
  • having a “death wish,” taking risks that could lead to death, like driving through red lights
  • losing interest in things one used to care about
  • making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • saying things like “It would be better if I wasn’t here” or  “I want out”
  • talking about suicide (killing one’s self)

If you or someone you know is genuinely threatening suicide, it may be necessary for urgent intervention. 911 will dispatch police and ambulance service. This may result in a 5150 (forced observation for up to 72 hours), but may save a life.

References:http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.shtml

Positive Thinking is like Pulling a Rabbit out of a Hat

June 9, 2011

Think positively! You’ve heard that a thousand times, and like me maybe you’ve wondered how they do it – those people who go around bursting with vitality, living everyone’s dream, seemingly bullet-proof to failure. Like the rabbit from a hat, positive thinking must come from somewhere, but where? It turns out that it’s a lot easier to figure out how the clown tricked you with the rabbit than to know where positive thinking comes from. But, it’s an important story, because for middle age men how we think can make the difference between life and death.

Talk about diet and exercise, learning about Lady Gaga’s abs routine, seeing a picture of a pile of raw vegetables can push one to make choices. You can choose this, and be healthy, or you can choose that and die young from a heart attack. We know that. It’s a no-brainer. So how can we “think positively” and make better choices?

From piles of data and mountains of research, come two sources of information that can jump-start your brain into positivity.

By the way, if you want to know where positive thoughts come from, they come from the same place as negative thoughts. The Unconscious. Wait, that gets us into years of Jungian analysis and tear-jerking psychotherapy. Not anymore – welcome to cognitive behavioral therapy.

You can understand cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in one paragraph, from a medical doctor who’s not a psychotherapist, because you don’t need to be a shrink to understand and apply CBT. You can do it yourself! Here it is:

  • Behind every feeling is a thought. You can’t control the feeling. We are animals, with a primitive part of the brain that senses fear, desire, and all the rest. Anger comes from fear. Love comes from desire. We know what feels good and bad. However, when it feels bad, you can learn to be consciously aware of the thought that caused that bad feeling. When you practice this, you become an expert on your own mind, and you can begin to pull rabbits out of the hat – you can choose to reframe your thought. That’s it! That’s cognitive behavioral therapy! Why spend $6,000 on anger management or self-empowerment sessions when you can read the first 30 pages of a book and do it yourself?

Okay, an example can help. Here’s one from my individual experience: a son-of-a-bitch cut me off in traffic. HOONNKK HOONNK! I’m hitting my horn and raising the middle finger to him. I catch myself. I think about this book I’m reading about CBT. I find the thought that made me angry. He thinks he’s better than me. I’ll show him. Then, I dig for a different thought – he’s freaking out because he’s late to work, or he just had a fight with his girlfriend. My anger dissolves, I make a silent apology, and I feel better. From then on, I’m able to let people cut me off without ruining my morning. This is a simple example, but it doesn’t matter. You can succeed in rooting out your worst thoughts and exchange them for better ones, making you feel better, almost all of the time. You can pull the rabbit out of the hat. You can become a positive thinker, and that will allow you to choose the vegetables over the cheesecake, the gym over a TV and pizza, or a visit to a doctor over daily bottles of wine to deal with a bad mood.

The book is “Thoughts & Feelings,” a classic do-it-yourself guide to cognitive behavior. Open this link and click on preview, and you’ll get enough of the book to change your thought patterns without having to buy it.  http://books.google.com/books?id=ygRexKbYwe0C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

I promised a second source of information to catalyze your brain to think positively:

The Political Mind (2008) http://georgelakoff.com/writings/books/

This will help you create a new “cultural narrative,”otherwise known as your “mindset” or “point of view.” That’s a good thing because it turns out we aren’t even consciously aware of how we see ourselves in the world around us. He shows us how to become conscious, and that gives us the power to choose. George is a professor at UC Berkeley, and a cognitive scientist. I emailed him a request that he guest author this blog, but he’s too busy writing more books. Well he’s not going to get rich soon – You can get this one at Amazon.com for $5! Here’s what the publisher had to say:

In his new book, Lakoff spells out what cognitive science has discovered about reason, and reveals that human reason is far more interesting than we thought it was. Reason is physical, mostly unconscious, metaphorical, emotion-laden, and tied to empathy-and there are biological explanations behind our moral and political thought processes. His call for a New Enlightenment is a bold and striking challenge to the cherished beliefs not only of philosophers, but of pundits, pollsters, and political leaders. The Political Mind is a passionate, erudite, and groundbreaking book that will appeal to anyone interested in how the mind works and how we function socially and politically.

All the best to the empowerment of your mind.

Shocking Health Facts and Myth-Busters

June 5, 2011

You might believe that things are the way they should be because it’s common sense…but not always! Try these:

Bottled water is good for your health:  ever since I saw trucks parked by Lake Arrowhead, suctioning off the surface water through giant hoses, I wondered about this. It turns out that bottled water is just as polluted as tap water and the plastic bottles made in the U.S. last year were enough to circle the Earth 190 times.

Caffeine is bad for your heart: a Swedish study a few decades ago linked daily coffee drinkers with a higher rate of coronary artery disease. It was later discovered the Swedes were eating pastries with their coffee – the pastries were causing heart disease. Studies since then prove that caffeine does not increase the risk of heart disease, and may even have  a protective effect against certain cancers.

Groceries are always safe to eat: there are controversies about pesticides in produce. Organic foods are supposed to fix that – but not always. And here’s one that is even scarier. After you see this, you’ll want to make sure your meat is still attached to the bone.

Fluoride is good for kid’s teeth: it may damage the enamel, something called “dental fluorosis.” Check with your dentist. If he’s not up on this, give him this article.

Guys on magazine covers get those bodies from hard work and dedication: They shoot anabolic steroids. Then they starve themselves, wrap their bodies in plastic wrap, and undergo water deprivation. That gets rid of the normal fat and water under the skin. Oh, and they are also dedicated hard workers.

Crunches are the best way to get a flat tummy: not even close! This video is worth the 8 minutes, unless you’re already happy with your midsection.

You must hire a personal trainer to learn how to work out: Maybe, but if you want one for free, here he is, and it’s worth watching the 9 minute show over again:

You’ll catch a cold if you go outside: colds and flu are passed from infected people and can even be transmitted before that person has symptoms. Smokers need days longer to get better. People spend more time indoors in the winter. That’s where contamination takes place. Learn more and how to prevent them.

Here’s two sites that bust a lot of myths.  Got any more? Send them in and share!

Weight Loss: What’s Hot and What’s Not

June 4, 2011

My doctor says if I keep eating like this I'll need stomch surgery by the time I'm forty!

You’ve tried everything but a gastric bypass, and now you’re considering that. Or, your body is packing on pounds. How many? You don’t know how many because you gave away your scale last year. Your pants have elastic waistbands and you’re buying oversized shirts  to hide your belly. There are the abandoned meal plans, leftover diet pills, and fruits and vegetables piled in the shopping cart to hide the half-gallon of Ben and Jerry’s.  Exercise is something for when you have a free day, which is never. Anyway, people who work out all the time are obsessed with their bodies. They’re “gym rats.” Everyone  you know who is carrying around extra pounds is doing just fine. It’s nice not to count calories! But you can’t help thinking that you need to get rid of some extra weight. Maybe a lot of weight.

 What’s hot for losing weight

  • People who fidget and get up and down a lot burn 300-400 calories extra every day. That’s about 3 pounds of fat a month! Volunteers who allowed cameras in their homes showed that heavy people just sit there – for hours – watching TV, reading, or just doing nothing. Keep moving!
  • Outside activities increase your metabolic rate and keep you out of the kitchen. Gardening, walking to work or the park, even shopping, if you don’t stop for that Mrs. Field’s cookie.
  • Calorie counting works if you can keep it up. If not, think of food as an exchange of energy. The Mrs. Field’s cookie is 200-250 cals and requires you to walk for almost an hour to burn it off. Figuring out calories and knowing how much exercise you need to compensate will stick in your mind, and soon you won’t need to run around with a diet journal.
  • Aerobics and cardio really do work, and even 20 minutes 3 days a week will start to reverse the weight gain. When you get up to 45 minutes 3-5 days a week and sweating, you’ll drop weight so fast people will beg to know your  “secret.”
  • Pump up the volume on fruits and vegetables. You can eat a pound of veggies a day, feel full for a while, and unless you’re buttering them up it’s no more calories than a cookie. Steam them or microwave them. Very few people enjoy the taste of raw veggies. (Of course when you do eat them, you’re skipping the dip).
  • Gastric bypass: people who are at risk of death from obesity need to consider this. As extreme as it sounds, it is one of the few ways in real medical journal clinical trials that keeps weight off long-term. The doctor will make you try other ways to lose weight before considering the surgery.
  • Caffeine: stimulates lipolysis (breakdown of fat), acts as a mild appetite suppressant, and increases your ability to do cardio and even lift
    weights. More is usually not better – up to 2 cups are the recommended 1-2 hours before your workout. It doesn’t work by itself, just enhances your diet and exercise program.

What’s Not

  • Jenny Craig: Jenny’s diet recently took number one against other diets over a two-year weight loss program. People lost an average of 8%. What’s the big deal? A man who is 5’ 11” and weighs 260 pounds needs to lose about 80 pounds, or 30% to get to “ideal” body weight. 8% is only 21 pounds. He still needs to lose 59 lbs after two years on Jenny Craig! And, there’s no study that shows a commercial diet plan will keep the weight off after that.
  • Other diet plans: if Jenny doesn’t measure up, then neither do the others.
  • Diet pills: Phen-fen was released by Wyeth years ago, based on faulty studies. Thousands had heart attacks or died. Besides, no diet pill has ever been proven to keep the weight off. Unless you’re a hard-core amphetamine user, forget it. That’s a road you don’t want to take.
  • Exercise gadgets: infomercials persuade you to call in for a plastic pole or some rubber cords, promising that in 6-12 weeks you’ll have the sculpted body of their model. It’s common knowledge that every one of these products is a scam. Ask any trainer, coach, or physical therapist. If they worked, all of their clients and athletes would be using them. Search “Bigger, Stronger, Faster” for the video documentary that exposes these gimmicks, and what those hard-body models really do to look that way.

Putting it all together: people will lose weight when they are good and ready to lose weight, whether it’s on subway sandwiches and fruit, or a solid diet and exercise plan. It’s individual. Everybody who loses weight did it differently – just ask them. Success is not from finding a magic diet or a new pill but getting and staying motivated. The human body is highly adapted to storing extra calories as fat, and it’s a lot of work to burn them off. The old, boring diet and exercise recommendations actually work. Expensive, time consuming diet plans and pills are a commercial enterprise built on profits, not proven success, and they aren’t doing anything to stop the worsening crisis of obesity in the U.S.  The Obamas are following the USDA new “food plate” diet recommendations. They know what they’re doing. The first lady has been long campaigning against childhood obesity.

Do your best. When you backslide, or convert from a commercial diet plan to regular food and gain weight, don’t get discouraged. Just start over
with the next meal. It’s okay if you start over a thousand times.  You’re working against an incredibly efficient fat storing machine. But if you stay at it and keep making the effort, your body will and must respond by losing pounds and keeping them off.

For more information and valuable references, also see other posts in this site.

Forgetful after 40: Age Associated Memory Impairment or Alzheimer’s?

June 1, 2011

The Forgetful Forties – is it normal or are we losing our minds?

  • “Where’s my keys!” you cry, running a few minutes late for work.
  • “They’re right here where you left them last night, on the kitchen counter!” your partner says, jingling them in front of you.
  • “Gimme those!” You reach out, wrap your fingers around them, and crunch them into your fist.
  • “Honey, why can’t you just keep them on the key hook?” she says, for the second time this week.
  • “I forgot!” you grumble, turning the door knob to leave, wondering if you could ever make it on your own.

Absent-mindedness is a middle-aged male problem

Research shows women come out best in listening and recollection tests. Older men are more susceptible to absent-mindedness than women. At the age of 50, women’s verbal memory outperforms men at that age by a significant margin.

People with age-associated memory impairment:

  • Are independent in daily activities
  • Can remember having incidents of forgetfulness
  • Are more concerned about forgetfulness than are their friends and family
  • Recall important events and conversations
  • Have occasional difficulty finding words
  • Don’t get lost in familiar places but may need a minute to find the way
  • Maintain their usual level of social skills
  • Perform acceptably on mental status exams

People with Alzheimer’s, or symptoms of dementia:

  • Become dependent on others for activities of daily living
  • Family and friends become more concerned about memory loss
  • Lose conversational ability and memory for recent events
  • Pause frequently to find words
  • Get lost in places that are familiar, possibly taking hours to find home
  • Have difficulty operating familiar appliances, unable to learn new ones
  • Lose interest in socializing and may behave inappropriately

Fighting memory impairment: 10 strategies that will help!

  1. Mental activity: engage in cognitive activities like crossword puzzles, studying a language, learning a new hobby, reading, and maintaining regular social interactions.
  2. Physical activity: gets more blood to the brain and promotes better mental functioning.
  3. Rule out other causes:  depression, hearing or vision loss, thyroid dysfunction, certain medications, vitamin deficiencies, and heavy alcohol consumption. Smoking may impair mental function by damaging the blood vessels that supply nutrients to the brain.
  4. Place items in the same spot when not using them.
  5. Write things down: phone numbers, appointments, and to-do lists.
  6. Speak words out loud to help you recall them later. Verbalize people’s names after you have met them, for example.
  7. Use mnemonics when memorizing lists, names, addresses, and so on. Try grouping them using an acronym, a word made from the  first letters of a series of words, for example, NATO, or “Every Good Boy Does Fine” for E-G-B-D-F, the treble-clef notes on music sheets.
  8. More strategies: keep a pen and a few post-its on you. Use apps on your cell phone, a wristwatch alarm, and or even a voice recorder.
  9. Create a visual: associate an image in your mind to make the information more vivid and, therefore, more memorable.
  10. Use a relaxation technique: deep breathing or muscle relaxing exercises, will help when stress or distraction is making you forget.

Finally, here’s a good noteas we age we get experience. That’s why middle-age people can run circles around younger folks in many areas!

References:

Neck pain, back aches, and bad disks – what’s next?

May 31, 2011

Back and neck pain in middle age is not always a straight-forward matter of just working through it. Some will have a history of disc herniation, chronic pain, or even pain that comes from a failed back surgery. Conditions such as these will have already been treated, and occasional flare-ups will be par for the course and often get medical attention.

However, what if you have symptoms like these, without a significant past history?

  • “I get this sharp stabbing pain in my right lower back sometimes. Stretching helps it go away.”
  • “I’m on the pc for a few hours and I start getting headaches and burning pain into my shoulders.”
  • “After I was setting tiles in the bathroom, it hit me so hard I couldn’t stand up straight for an hour.”
  • “I tried to jog for 15 minutes and the next day I had back spasms. I had to call in sick.”

If you’re over 40 there’s a high probability you’ve had one or more of these. You don’t need to rush to the doctor, unless it’s for a sick note. If it persists over a few weeks or is disabling, you should get a checkup and normally it will respond to simple conservative treatment. However, most men (and a lot of women) over the age of 40 have some degree of underlying disc degeneration. Isn’t this something to worry about? The answer to that is another question: when do you decide to do something about it?

Disc degeneration is typically a gradual condition that occurs over the years. It is highest in men whose jobs require physical labor, or seems to follow family patterns. It can result from old sports injuries or other forms of trauma, and sometimes for no reason at all, but whatever the cause it’s usually nothing to worry about, and in most cases it is stable and can be treated like any other musculoskeletal pain with a physical exercise regimen and appropriate medications. But, if you’re having symptoms like these:

  • “It takes me 20 minutes to get out of bed. Recently, my leg has been giving way, and I end up on the floor.”
  • “I get pain shooting into my shoulder and arm, and it’s numb and tingly in my thumb and index finger.”
  • “It’s getting worse and worse. I can’t walk for more than 20 minutes, and I wake up every night. It interferes with my sex life.”

Don’t self-medicate with alcohol or someone’s extra Vicodin. You’ll cover up possible permanent nerve damage from protruding bone spurs, disks, or thickened ligaments. Go for a timely evaluation and get to the bottom of it. Make sure your doctor explains everything so you understand. Take a partner or friend with you for an extra set of ears. There may be a simple explanation, or it may be a serious form of spinal nerve compression.

If you’re having sudden symptoms of weakness or numbness on one side of the body, review the FAST test in this blog (go to Stroke – F.A.S.T. test) because you may be having a stroke.

A person’s perception of back pain (this goes for all pain) is very individual. There are some who miss work days when they feel a twinge while bending over to tie their shoes (no joke). An old story is that of a 62-year-old colleague who presented an x-ray of a lumbar spine with a severe degenerative back condition called “spondylolisthesis, grade 2/3.” (That means one vertebra was slipping more than half-way off the vertebrae below it). Viewing the radiograph with all of its degenerative findings, it looked like a hand grenade had gone off in that spine. As the audience murmured about it, the presenter asked “what level of function do you think this patient has?” They answered “uses a walker,” “probably wheelchair-bound,” “needs surgical stabilization,” etc. The presenting doctor smiled and said “that’s an x-ray of my spine! And I ran a marathon just two weeks ago!” Such a case is unusual but every doctor has seen a few.

Three things to remember about living your life with spine pain are:

  1. Maintain a healthy level of activity and avoid bad biomechanics or high impact exercise and sports.
  2. To minimize side effects from chronic medication use have them prescribed or monitored by a doctor.
  3. Know your body and what signs to watch for if the conditions begin to worsen.

If it’s more complicated than that, you should be going for periodic checkups to a doctor who is familiar with treating your condition.

From the orthopedic literature:

  • Buckwalter JA: Aging and degeneration of the human intervertebral disc.  Spine 1995; 20:1307-1314
  • Battie MC, Videman T, Parent E: Lumbar disc degeneration: Epidemiology and genetic influences.  Spine 2004; 29:2679-2690

Cranky, moody, or depressed middle age men with loss of libido – know any?

May 28, 2011

The first thing to consider is “Low T,” which is a decrease in the level of natural testosterone. This occurs gradually over the age of 30 in all men,  but for 25% of men over the age of 45 the level drops below normal on a blood test. When there are troublesome symptoms the process can be called andropause or “male menopause.” Symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of sexual drive
  • Loss of sense of well-being
  • Gradual loss of muscle mass and strength

These changes can result in a crisis. There are other causes for crankiness and loss of desire in men, but if it’s Low T, it’s easy to diagnose and treat. Your doctor will likely prescribe a gel to rub on your skin once a day, and possibly give you injections to jump start your system. In two weeks you could feel like you have a new lease on life, however it may not be cheap at the pharmacy.

While the prescribed dose can give you more energy and strength in the gym, fire up your love life, and even shrink belly fat, it won’t turn you into a Schwarzenneger or give you Chippendale abs. Body builders and some male models and actors take several times the recommended dose. Ever wonder what’s up with the guys on men’s magazine covers and in infomercials promoting a plastic pole or an absurd rubber cord as the ultimate tool for getting sculpted and ripped? Steroids and hard workouts gave them that look, not the cheesy equipment. See the popular documentary “Bigger, Stronger, Faster” if you want some documentation on these scams. If your blood test is normal, ask for a prescription anyway. Some doctors are treating the symptoms of Low T and finding that they improve even with a normal test result. You might have to see a specialist who is comfortable with that.

References:

  • http://men.webmd.com/what-low-testosterone-can-mean-your-health GOODLINK
  • Journal of Urology 2000;163:460-463.
  • ‘Manopause’ Hits Middle-Aged Men ABCNews.com April 7, 2007
  • Debating the Existence of Male Menopause Andrea M. Braslavsky WebMD Health News March 24, 2000 (Atlanta)and British Medical Journal
  • J Clin Endocrinol Metab, Vol. 73 (5): 1016-1025 Copyright © 2011 by The Endocrine Society

What top three things make men most attractive?

May 27, 2011

Years ago people were saying that the most important things in a man’s appearance were fingernails, shoes, and belt.  Since then, things seem to have changed. A recent article described findings that were all over the place. I did a survey of two dozen women from my own contacts, and here are the results.

Top three physical attraction qualities in men, surveyed from 23 women (all were between ages 30 and 50):

  • Cleanliness – not sloppy, or grungy.
  • Face and eyes – expression; approachable.
  • Clothing – neatness, and color coordination.

Next most important qualities, from the same survey:

  • Teeth and oral hygiene (breath)
  • Hair (grooming and volume on head)
  • Body type (masculine v fat)

Men’s attractive qualities documented in articles and research studies:

  • Turn-ons: good body smell (don’t overdo it), good oral hygiene and breath, a smile (but not too much), clear speech, eye contact, good nail care, being taller, facial scars (masculine), shoulders bigger than waist.
  • Doesn’t matter much: expensive clothing, a deep tan, being very happy, penis size (controversial see link).
  • Turn-offs: too much body hair, too slim or too heavy, bad teeth, dirty hands, tennis shoes.

    "I know it's old school, but I still look at the shoes."

     

What do you think? If your vote is not included in this survey, please put it in a comment!  Your answers will be used to update this post.

References:

Lady Gaga, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other celebrity fitness workouts

May 26, 2011

Imagine that your career depends on your ability to pack thousands of admiring fans into a concert arena, or that you’re driven to become the next Mr. Olympia. Let’s say you’re a middle age actor going back into the ring to make one more fight movie, and this time you’re going to take the punches and drip real blood, not stage makeup. Perhaps you’re going to play Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, and perform some of those impossible stunts yourself. Maybe your passion is to be an example of health and fitness, inspiring people to get up off the couch. This is a motivational post. Just relax and enjoy the entertainment. Later you’ll get the details on how to do a quick hardcore workout that doesn’t waste a single motion.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga took celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak on the road to keep her in shape, and followed his 5-Factor philosophy of diet and exercise. He claims that all you need is 25 minutes a day of resistance training and cardio to keep your metabolism and heart rate elevated throughout the workout. Doing a five  minute cardio warmup, and five-minute cardio cooldown keeps you in your fat burning zone for the entire 25 minute workout. Do this every day, five days a week. To see the moves Harley gives to his celebrity clients:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Despite all the current controversy, and some past rumors of rampant steroid use, Arnold will always be an icon for muscular development and body building. At age 21, beaten by 54 yo Jack LaLanne in “a contest”, he went on to become Mr. Olympia seven times, and gather many other titles as well as starring movie roles.

Sylvester Stallone

Sly Stallone was inspired to pursue exercise and nutrition when he saw Steve Reeves (a former Mr. Universe) star as Hercules. Much later, at 50 in the movie “Rocky Balboa,” he was an inspiration for middle age men. He put up a good fight against pro boxer Antonio Tarver. There was a rumor that he was caught smuggling steroids across the Mexican border to prepare for this most recent Rocky movie, but that’s no excuse for anyone to stay on the couch every evening.

Tomb Raider: Interview With Angelina Jolie.

Angelina Jolie could really kick your butt after those daily three-hour workout sessions and protein drinks to play cyber-babe Lara. Getting some solid muscle mass wasn’t easy. “I was drinking wine and smoking cigarettes and having a great time. Then I got to the ‘Tomb Raider’ set and they had me up at seven each morning and, a nutritionist was giving me five meals a day. But I liked the intense training because there is only one way to do something and for me it’s in extremes.” Her warrior tendencies worried director Simon West. “For one scene where Lara surfs through the air on a thin log, her stunt double refused to do it. Angie said ‘no problem’. Within a week, she was going, ‘I love it! Let’s go again!'”

Having an A-list body is not only for celebrities. Here are a few superstar fitness secrets:

Functional full-body training is the A-list choice for working out and staying in shape. Jackie Keller, wellness  coach, nutritionist and trainer has worked with Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, Charlize Theron, and Penelope Cruz. She says, “Our celebrity clients do combination moves that involve multiple muscle groups at the same time, such as  walking with bicep curls. They do core balance exercises combined with isometric contractions.” Combination moves such as doing squats with overhead presses engage both lower and upper body while strengthening core  muscles. This is very appealing to celebrities, who don’t have a lot of time to spend at the gym. Celebs don’t get a pass on training — they are required to be  diligent or they won’t be hired. When they are getting ready for a photo shoot  or a film, they will regularly do two-a-day workouts and really cut down their  calories.” There are no shortcuts or quick-fixes in this business — long-term success means a solid commitment to staying in tip-top shape.

Jack LaLanne

The “godfather” of fitness and health, his famous TV show aired 1951-1985. See link for his basic routine, but don’t laugh – somebody needed to try to get our parents and grandparents off the couch. His motivational approach is fun to watch. The picture is Jack in 1947, before steroids were in common use. In his more advanced routines, he was doing some of the movements seen in moden core exercises.

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