Archive for April, 2008

Lifestyle recommendations to lower your risk of cancer

Posted in Preventive Medicine with tags , , on April 20, 2008 by Dr. CJ

For what it’s worth, here is a summary of an updated report issued jointly by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), titled Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective

  1. Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight.
  2. Be physically active.
  3. Avoid sugary drinks and limit consumption of energy-dense foods.
  4. Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
  5. Limit red meat and avoid processed meat.
  6. Limit alcohol drinks.
  7. Limit consumption of salt.
  8. Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.
  9. Exclusively breastfeed infacts (no other liquids) for up to six months.
  10. Cancer survivors should follow the recommendation for cancer prevention.

Being overweight or obese was found to impose a much higher risk of cancer compared to lean individuals.

I offer #11: Pick your parents wisely – family history is a big factor.


The Dalai Lama goes to Mayo

Posted in Preventive Medicine, Rants and Raves with tags , , , , on April 16, 2008 by Dr. CJ

Here’s the type of news piece that gives me a good, long laugh – another worldly figure travels across the world to get an annual physical exam at the Mayo Clinic

No doubt, the Mayo Clinic is capable of doing great things – they have specialists so specialized that they have forgotten how to treat a common cold.  Who wouldn’t want an “expert” to manage an unusual condition?  Few people have unusual conditions, though.

I’ve seen patients in my clinic who go there for their annual exam.  For some reason, they feel that getting a clean bill of health from Mayo is some kind of blessing for eternal wellness.  Mayo is, in fact, good at coordinating a ridiculous number of labs, imaging, diagnostic tests, and doctor visits into a comprehensive day-long physical exam.  They are masters at communication and planning, apparently.  However, is there any benefit to this kind of overwhelmingly thorough evaluation?

This shotgun approach to an annual health exam is a dangerous venture for a few reasons. 

  1. It’s expensive.  I’d hate to be your insurance company staring at a list of charges you rack up on that one day.
  2. It cultivates a sense of urgency to “do everything” all the time.  People love to feel pampered – talk to your insurance company or whoever is actually paying for those charges.
  3. It leads to unnecessary follow-up testing.  Not all “abnormal” results are necessarily abnormal.  But, if you go fishing for everything when there’s no focus on a particular problem, you’re going to find a lot of junk, and you won’t know how to interpret it.
  4. It’s a poor use of resources.  Common things being common, most people don’t have “rare” diagnoses that require an expert on minutiae.  In an ideal world, we could find a way to maximize the efforts of the highly-specialized physicians who really don’t need to be dealing with routine conditions that could be managed by any other competent physician.  Do you need a world expert on obesity and metabolism to tell you that you need to eat better and exercise more? 

I don’t question their value in managing rare or difficult-to-treat conditions, but for the average individual it’s a complete waste of time and money.  It’s all about perspective – the things that are going to kill you are staring you in the face every day and are simple to manage.  There’s nothing glamorous about searching high and low to come up with weird explanations for common problems. 

Then again, I don’t know Buddha’s take on health.

Never too late to get fit

Posted in Getting started with tags , , , on April 14, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I talk with numerous patients daily about starting fitness regimens, whether it be for managing a medical issue or simply as a core element of general wellness.  There is irrefutable evidence that an active lifestyle is beneficial and that an inactive lifestyle is detrimental to one’s health.   Such a change in lifestyle is important at any age, so says a recent report from a meeting on Health and Fitness by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

I know that many individuals are bothered by the seemingly impossible task of getting in shape after having let themselves go for so long.  No doubt, it must feel like “Mission: Impossible” to fix a 40-inch waist and 100-lb excess, especially when there are associated health problems (like arthritis or heart disease) or other stresses (time, stress, family demands).  Add to that, the feeling that many individuals have regarding futility of effort towards their fitness goals as they age.  At some point, it seems like a lost cause – why work so hard when you may not live that much longer.

Inertia affects our interest in physical activity, just as it affects all objects.  Little did Newton know that his First Law of Motion would describe humans so well.  But, an increase in one’s activity level may improve one’s quality of life immensely.  It’s just getting over that inertia that is the hard point.

Bottom line: it’s never too late to make healthy lifestyle changes.

Bean diet success story

Posted in Diet with tags , on April 12, 2008 by Dr. CJ

Any kind of newly-added discipline to one’s dietcan result in weight loss, if not simply by restricting caloric intake to some degree. 

Perhaps living on beans is not going to be the new fad diet, but it can work.


Spring time??

Posted in My training updates with tags , , on April 10, 2008 by Dr. CJ

Yesterday I had to take advantage of the tropical weather – 44º F and partly sunny – by going for a short run.  I took the dogs out for a run – sometimes all I really have to do is jump and they’ll pull me down the street.  It’s nice to have 250 lbs of dog (that’s between 2 dogs).

I can’t bear to stay inside when I can be outside working out – unfortunately, I don’t do all that well with running.  I’ve tried to make it a regular routine, but I always end up with some compartment syndrome deal in my legs and my ankles ache like mad.  I just don’t have the body for it, but I’m working on it.  The dogs are a huge motivation, though, because they are in absolute heaven when they can explore the neighborhood.  I need to work on my running endurance to give them a decent workout.

Ways to increase grip strength

Posted in Weight Training with tags , , , on April 8, 2008 by Dr. CJ

As this is a recurring issue for me in performing deadlifts to my maximum potential, I offer several techniques to strengthen one’s grip.

Hand grippers – with progressive increases in resistance. My gripper sits in my vehicle – great exercise for the long highway stretches.


Hanging from pull-up bar as long as possible – this exercise taught me that I will never be the stunt double in a cliffhanger movie scene

Farmer’s walk – Walking while holding heavy dumbbells in each hand

Plate gripping – holding a heavy weight plate as long as possible

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of grip-strengthening exercises. There are several other techniques to target forearm and grip strength. I particularly like these exercises, as they are more practical, real-life techniques, instead of artificial gym-based maneuvers. Any other ideas?

An alternative to fretting about grip strength is to use wrist straps, thereby taking the grip strength of the hands out of the picture. I’m really more focused on overall strength, so I haven’t been interested in this option. I’m not willing to use a “cheat” to get by a basic weakness of mine – I’m going to correct that weakness.

Still, my deadlift is limited by grip strength

Posted in My training updates, Weight Training with tags , , , , on April 7, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I’ve been working on my grip strength in a few different ways, because it drives me nuts to give up early on a lift when a “supporting” muscle group gives away before the intended muscle group does.

I’ve been using these Heavy Grips to increase grip strength and have certainly noticed improvement, but again my back can handle increasing loads at a much faster rate than my grip can.

I’m considering some chalk for my hands – I may have to order some so that I can keep progressing with my deadlift – it is my favorite lift, after all.