Vaping- Is it Good or Bad?

Nicotine vaporizers, also known as e-cigarettes, are starting to take the public by storm. The process of using a nicotine vaporizer is known as Vaping. Why is Vaping and why are e-cigs popular and are they good or bad? The answer to the second questions is…it depends.

The answer to the first question is Vaping is simply inhaling a vaporized combination of of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings. (Wikipedia) To the uniformed, that sounds like dangerous chemicals but all of these with the exception of nicotine, these have been used in food products for decades. We will leave the debate about those components for another day.

It simply takes the liquid mixture and vaporizes it in a heating chamber and then the process of inhalation allows you to absorb the nicotine into your lungs. If you think this doesn’t sound healthy, you are right…it isn’t! Studies have been done that show that the reaction to inhaled Vaping fluids is almost unrecognizable in regard to cellular damage as tobacco smoke (Clinical Cancer Research). The difference is that Vaping liquid does not contain 69 known carcinogenic components while tobacco smoke does (American Lung Association).

So why would we discuss Vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking? Because it is. In an unscientific series of conversations with people who have been long-term smokers who have tried Vaping, they have all reported that it is the easiest method they have ever used to try to quit smoking. Treadmill Doctor’s head of Information Technology has smoked for decades and while he works out regularly, he has been concerned about smoking and has tried patches, nicotine gum, etc.

Two months ago, he started Vaping and since you can control how much nicotine you include in the liquid, he has been able to slowly dial the nicotine down to zero. Now he says that he has to solve his oral fixation without overeating but he has seen a real difference in his pulmonary functioning and he says he has more energy and is sleeping better as well.

Another person that I have known for almost two decades started Vaping about 3 months ago and he has lost nearly 20 lbs, has stopped using the e-cigs altogether, and said he was bordering COPD and now his doctor says that he has seen a massive reversal and improvement in his lung function.

So to fully answer the second question, we would recommend that if you don’t smoke, don’t start Vaping. Nicotine is a dangerous drug and contrary to the tobacco company CEO’s, we all know it is highly addictive. Even a small teaspoon of highly diluted Vaping fluid is LETHAL to some people. In small doses, it has causes vomiting, seizures, and even death when absorbed through the skin. When inhaled, it can cause the arteries to narrow and constrict. (WebMD)

If you do smoke, I have seen firsthand evidence that it is very effective at helping you quit smoking but it isn’t a great long-term replacement due to the health effects of nicotine exposure and the possible side-effects of Vaping liquid. There is a push to regulate e-cigs and from the research, it looks like that is a good idea. (How Stuff Works)

3 Reasons Why You Are Worthy

With our focus on fitness, we sometimes forget some of the basic tenants that we need to remember about life. It is amazing what just a bit of encouraging can do for people. Most people don’t know that Hitler was twice rejected as a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. How would the world be different if he was encouraged to become an artist instead of a monster.

Remember that while you are pursing excellent health, you should also pursue personal excellence as well. With this in mind, I came up with three statements that I believe you should keep in mind on a daily basis.

You are worthy to be loved.

We sometimes forget our value to the human race and not only are you worthy of love,    you are also worthy to give and receive love. My guess is that is why a dog is such a popular pet. He poops in the middle of your floor and then you angrily shoo him outside to cool down. In 10 minutes when you open the door, he is ready to be your best friend again…which brings up my second point.

You are worthy to be forgiven.

What I found years ago is that the hardest person in the world to forgive is yourself. We    carry around the baggage of things that we have done for years. No matter what your stance is on spirituality, it is cathartic to forgive yourself. It is also cathartic to forgive others. When you carry around a grudge, typically you are the only one that knows about it. Yes, there are the curmudgeons that let you know about everything that you’ve done but they are the exception. Forgiving yourself and others will feel like you set down an 80 lb. weighted vest that you were carrying around.

You are worthy to be your best.

If you remember that you are worthy to be loved and you forgive like there is no cost, you are ready to be your best. Your best is different for every person but that’s what is great about freedom. You can choose your path and then pursue it with reckless abandon. When things don’t work out, forgive yourself and move on. The world becomes a better place when people are pursuing excellence and focusing on what drives them.

The world would be a different place without Steve Jobs but think about how different his work became when he was staring death in the face. Having massive obstacles makes us focus like nothing else. What is your massive obstacle. Is it losing 50 or 100 lbs? Is it betting it all on that business idea you have had in the back of your mind forever? Is it making that call to the old friend that let you down 10 years ago? Whatever it is, remember that you are worthy to be loved, forgiven, and to be your best.

13 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog

I saw this list on written by Nikola Gjakovski and it just struck a cord with me. You can find the full article and the one point I left off at the link below. My comments are listed below each point and express my experience with my Golden Retriever whose name is Cooper.

1. Never pass the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Cooper loves joyrides, in fact he took one with me yesterday!

2. When loved ones come home always run to greet them.

Cooper never misses a chance to greet a family member. He learned not to jump when a puppy & since he can’t contain his enthusiasm, he spins around in a circle.

3. Never pretend to be something you’re not.

Cooper never puts on airs. What you see is what you get!

4. When you want something, look at it until you get it before it’s gone.

My dog follows this point exactly! Look at the desired object and then me, back to the desired object then me, object – me, object – me…success!

5. Take every opportunity to run.

Cooper does a victory lap around the yard every time he gets let out of the house.

6. Take every opportunity to nap.

This is his specialty. If its raining, its a great time for a nap. A bright sun that makes you sleepy…great time for a nap. Just finished a brisk walk, time for a nap. Eat breakfast…nap time!

7. Delight in a simple joy of a long walk.

When Cooper sees a leash, he gets an excitement that equals a kid at Christmas. He loves taking a walk.

8. When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Cooper is one of the rare dogs that squints when he gets happy so in addition to everything wagging, he squints on top of it.

9. Never pass up the chance to snuggle.

If you imagine someone that loves their soft bed, Cooper would be at the top of your list.

10. Always kiss the ones who are mad at you to make it better.

His favorite thing to do when he makes somebody mad is to lick their hand as his bid to bed for forgiveness.

11. Listen attentively and don’t offer a solution.

The one thing I always know is that Cooper won’t tell me that my opinion is wrong. If he does, we are going on tour.

12. Be brave, optimistic and completely present.

Cooper always lives in the moment. He always has a happy demeanor. He completely fails in regard to bravery.

13. Give and accept love with every breath.

The most important lesson I learned from Cooper is that he always loves and wants to be loved. From when he put his head in my baby’s lap and let him pull his ears or his concern and peering at me over the bed edge when I was sick, Cooper loves people.

Why Am I Gaining Weight When I Am Working Out to Lose Weight?

One of the most de-motivational and unsettling occurrences is when you start to work out to lose weight and you step on the scale after two weeks of PERFECT discipline and you GAIN weight! A typical response is to cry yourself to sleep while emptying a box of donuts or getting a new bag of chips out and finishing off a quart of salsa that you have been denying yourself.

Do not fear! Stick with your program and you should quickly lose the extra weight and then start to lose weight. There are been many theories about why new exercisers start to gain weight. Some claim it is an increase in muscle which I would think gaining a few pounds of muscle in a week is highly unlikely. A more plausible argument would be that your body is retaining water as a reaction to new muscle activity. Another argument is that the body is going into a fight-or-flight type of reaction to the immediate increase in muscle activity and your body is storing additional fuel for the activity.

Regardless of the reason why, I know through experience of helping thousands of people that if you stick with it, you will see results. For some people this takes the form of shaping up your body BEFORE you see weight loss and others you will see weight loss BEFORE you see a big change in body shape. The net result is that we know from the experience of millions of people that if you stick with a regimented diet and exercise program, you will lose weight.

The caveat is if you have a medical issue so if you don’t quickly lose any gained weight or if you have had a sustained exercise and diet program with no weight loss and no change in body form, please see a doctor.

How to Achieve Balance in Your Life

Do you work too hard? Do you play too hard? Do you mix Grey Goose and Red Bull because nothing beats two sets of wings?* I’ve heard all my life how we need to have a “balance” in our life. I suppose it is my generation’s (Gen X) reaction to the Baby Boomers that work like dogs but the succeeding generations have realized that there is more to life than work.

The trick is how do you do it. How do you know when you have reached a “balanced” state? The reason most people struggle with this answer, including me in the past, is because we typically work toward a balance that someone else has recommended. In other words, someone else’s idealized image is what you struggle to meet. It is similar to when your doctor who is 50 lbs. overweight tells you that you need to lose some weight.

All of it started for me with a talk by Holly Green, who is the former CEO of The Ken Blanchard Companies. Ken is the author of the One Minute Manager. She simply was asking what does winning look like to your business? I simply extrapolated that to the rest of my life. What did a winning relationship with my kids look like? What did a winning spiritual life look like? What did a winning personal fitness life look like?

Let’s start with the assumption that most people want to tell you how to live your life. Everyone wants to tell you what to do- politicians, your boss, your significant other, religious people, and don’t forget your mom! If you don’t define success for yourself in every major area of your life then someone else will. So do it now! Right now! Don’t wait! Do it immediately! (For those of you who appreciate sarcasm)

Remember when you were growing up, you were advised to get an education, work hard, get that college degree, buy your first car, get married, buy a house, have kids, etc? Every one of these pieces of advice was given from a perspective of an idealized image of what was best for you- by someone else. If you followed the advice, you might have a good life to the outside world, but is it your life?

  1. Figure out what winning looks and feels like to you for each major area of your life. Just a few examples of broad categories are:

a. Family

b. Relationships

c. Work

d. Children

e. Interests/Hobbies

f. Spiritual

  1. Make a chart outlining what winning looks like to you in each area. Some people like to write it down, others prefer a mental chart.
  2. Review your chart each morning before you start work.
  3. Make all of your decisions with your “winning” picture of each area in mind. Ask yourself when making a big decision, “is this going to help me win?”
  4. Know that you are achieving “your” balance and let everyone else who has a different idea of balance pound sand.

At the end of your life, you only have yourself to blame if you don’t feel you lived life the way you wanted to do it. This sounds simple but you get the life you live and if you don’t have any idea of where you want to end up, any road will get you there but you probably won’t like it.

If you are pursuing your ultimate goals to win in every area of your life, you will achieve your balance. Will that be balanced for anyone else? Who knows but if it works for you why should you struggle for someone else’s ideal?


Fitness – What Happens When You Push Too Far

So you watched the latest episode of The Biggest Loser and you want to replicate the success of the people you have seen on TV. They are working out like maniacs so you decide that you must duplicate their intensity in order to duplicate their success. This is a misnomer.

If you do decide to try Crossfit after you have been sedentary all your life or if you want to do 3 hour workouts from the inception of your exercise program, you must realize that there are some potential downsides.

You don’t have to feel like you are on the verge of dying in order to have a good workout. When you see the people on TV that are drenched in sweat, breathing like it is their last breath, and seeing spots while laying on their back and looking at the sky this is not the ideal for which you should be striving. Steady, consistent exercise is much more effective and you are more likely to stick with the program.

Going on a starvation diet makes your body react like….wait for it….you are starving to death! When you go on a starvation diet, your body decides that times are bad and starts to shut down non-critical functions so you completely defeat the purpose of a starvation diet when you try this. A muted caloric intake is much more effective.

Rhabdomyolysis is a $5 word that is great to use when playing Scrabble but it isn’t great condition to achieve. The NIH defines Rhabdomyolysis as when the breakdown of muscle tissue is so severe that you actually have muscle particles present in your bloodstream. In extreme cases, Rhabdomyolysis can cause kidney failure and death. Most people don’t realize that when your muscles are sore, that is because the exercise has damaged the muscle tissue and the soreness is a result the damage and your body repairing itself. The more strenuous the exercise, the more chance of Rhabdomyolysis.

There are more reasons you should be reasonable in your training but these are the most common results that we see when someone catches the exercise bug and loses their mind when they decide to start.

The Most Boring Exercise Advice You Will Ever Receive

If you don’t want to read the whole post, you will get the idea with one thought. Consistency and persistence is the key to a healthier life. Don’t read any further because this is boring advice. It has nothing to do with upbeat hip-hop music, group sharing and accountability, being on the donuts only diet, doing something fun, or being entertained while you work out. It has everything to do with being consistent no matter what you choose and having the persistence to stay on schedule.

With that said, if you decide that the “all-you-can-eat bear claw diet” is the one for you I think you are going to have problems no matter what you do exercise wise. On the flip side, the “1 minute a day to great abs workout program” is not going to get it done either. We have to be realistic without going overboard. If you limit your caloric intake without being anorexic or working out regularly without starting out with the Ironman workout, you can get in better shape and live a healthier life.

There is nothing sexy about this. People ask me, how can I stick with my workout when I step on the scale and I lose a pound today and tomorrow I step on the scale and I gain 2 pounds? The answer is STOP STEPPING ON THE SCALE! You aren’t going to reach your goals if you are always second guessing yourself or your mentors.

The way you lose weight, get in shape, and stay in shape is get a program that works and follow it consistently and with persistence. If you sabotage yourself that is also done with consistency and persistence. STOP IT! You must set yourself up for success, not for failure.

If you have a habit that makes you fail, change what you are doing. If you slip up at the neighborhood donut shop, go to work with a different route. If your idea of single serve ice cream is a 1/2 gallon container, stop buying the 1/2 gallon container. If you hate the idea of walking 2 miles a day, start with 1/4 mile. If bread seems to have a magnetism to your buns, avoid the bakery at the supermarket.

The important thing to remember when you start a program is to make a commitment! If you are a 25 year old male with commitment problems, Crossfit may be a better fit for you but if you really want to tackle your weight and/or health issues, develop a nonintrusive light workout that sets you up for success. Drink one less sugary soda each day. Count these little things as wins and avoid the things that create losses for you. You can do it but you need to be consistent and persistent to be successful.

5 Reasons That You Are Crazy if You Exercise Outside

City Pollution

Of course, we promote indoor exercise because we repair fitness equipment and if you run outside, we don’t get to fix your machine. With that obvious bias out of the way, there are 5 good reasons why you should have your head examined if you regularly run outside.

1. Your Health

It almost seems oxymoronic that while trying to do something to improve your health, you are actually hurting your health. If you live in Beijing you don’t need us to tell you that air pollution is a problem. Where the air is a bit clearer, you are being lulled into overconfidence. I remember running when I was young and stupid in a quiet neighborhood and lapping up the exhaust from all the cars going by. With age I have picked up wisdom. Auto exhaust is only one of the problems, pollen, chemicals, and other assorted natural and man-made pollutants are just waiting to pounce upon your body and shorten your life immeasurably. If you run indoors, you have some control over the air you breathe.

2. Your Joints

I have a good friend who was an exercise hound. His favorite was the Boston Marathon but he also ran in several other high profile marathons over the years and ran all the time in local events. Today, he never works out because he has worn out both of his knees so completely that he is just buying time until he has to have both knees replaced. He also has extensive wear on both his ankles and he expects that shortly his hips will have to be replaced too. If you use an elliptical indoors, you will reduce the impact upon your joints drastically. I’ve never known someone who has worn their joints out on an elliptical. I did know one person that developed tendonitis on a treadmill but that was before the era of cushioned decks which are equipped on every treadmill made since the late 90’s.

3. Your Life

As mentioned before, I grew up and regularly ran in a quiet community in Memphis. I remember a year after I started working out primarily indoors that a kid was hit in the head with a full beer can- you guessed it- while he was running in my childhood, quiet neighborhood. Nothing like a fractured skull to help you round out a nice relaxing run. You never have to deal with angry dogs, kids who are hazing in a gang, or someone who is simply evil if you are in your bedroom (unless you are the neighborhood drug dealer and regularly having people kick in your front door).

4. Your Consistency

Nothing stinks like starting a program and then having it interrupted. Weather is NEVER a problem when you are exercising indoors unless you have a meteor hit the Earth, e.g.- the Armageddon movie. So unless you are expecting Bruce Willis to pilot a retired space shuttle through your house’s exterior wall, you don’t have to worry much with outdoor conditions interrupting your workout schedule. There have been a number of times in my years when I stuck my head out the door and even though I had on my sweatsuit and gloves, it was simply too cold to run. You don’t run into that excuse when you can just turn the thermostat.

5. Your Recovery

Exercising on fitness equipment has been shown to provide a more consistent exercise than exercising outdoors. Many marathon runners have told me that they have gone to training on a treadmill because it requires them to keep a steady pace and better prepares them for an event. My guess is that is a more subjective reason but my main reason is that once you’ve completed your run on a treadmill, there’s nothing like hitting stop, stepping into the kitchen, and pulling a cold beer from the refrigerator!

Blame and Excuses – The Twin Demon Enemies of Good Health

No Excuses

I simply don’t have the time. With the kids, my work, and responsibilities, I just cannot SQUEEZE one more thing into my packed schedule. I’m already working two jobs just to make ends meet; do you also want me to donate a pint of blood after I’m finished working out? Does this sound familiar? The reason it sounds familiar is because this is the number one excuse that people commonly give on surveys asking why they don’t work out.

The two topics that mom taught you never to discuss in polite company are religion and politics. Let’s violate her advice on both counts. Politicians are easy punching bags so they do the smart thing. Rather than doing what they can, they point at the other side and say the reason they can’t do anything is because the other side are a bunch of filthy varmints.  When you have a bogeyman that is easy to vilify, it is easy to get everyone’s focus off your own shortcomings.

Don’t you do the same thing with exercise? Rather than admit that the hour you spend playing Angry Birds could easily be spent playing Angry Birds while pedaling a stationary bike, you build up a straw man so you can move the beating to the object of your creation. Rather than doing something about sitting on your butt all day at the office, you talk about how you are chained to your desk so you can ignore the fact that you can do some easy exercises right at your desk.

The preacher scolded me when I was a kid and told me that I was in danger of the fires of Hell if I didn’t start watching what I was doing and be more like him. Later in life I started watching the preacher and figured out that I was doing much better than him. It’s interesting that many people approach us with the advice to pay attention to their right hand to draw attention away from what the left hand is doing.

I might as well offend the car salespeople while I’m at it but they do the same thing. Go for a test drive and feel the power and the smooth ride. Another approach is to test drive the convertible and feel the wind in your hair and take the corner going far too fast and enjoy the tire squeal. Can you see why I bought a convertible a few years ago.

They don’t tell you about the special $400 brake jobs this car will need or the trailing arms that you have to replace if you continue to take corners at twice the recommended speed. That wouldn’t sell cars. The same is true with politics, religion, and especially working out. Everyone wants you to focus on the OTHER guy, the bad things you are doing, or the hot body; NOT the way the person in the infomercial got the hot body.

I guess the reason we (our company) have never been super successful or filthy rich is because we refuse to do these things. We believe in telling the truth. If you don’t have the hot body you envy, in most cases it is your fault. We can blame genetics, time, age, or even the mailman but the ugly truth is that the demon that keeps you from what you envy is just a reflection in a mirror.

If you never want to get in shape promise yourself that you will start tomorrow. The dirty secret is that tomorrow never comes. There is only today…think about it. The politicians tell us that if we elect them, things will be better tomorrow. The preacher tells us that if we believe what he tells us, we will be happy and fulfilled tomorrow. The car salesman tells us that if we only buy his car we will be successful, envied, and get the mate of our dreams tomorrow. The worst lie we buy is when we tell ourselves that we will stop overeating, eat healthier, and exercise more tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes and nothing ever changes. Get off your butt and make a change today!

Are You a Clown?

Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un

Dennis Rodman has always grabbed attention. It is a similar type of attention that the guy in the circus that juggled the rubber chickens always received. Since ‘birds of a feather flock together’ Dennis has teamed up with Kim Jong Un, the dictator of North Korea who according to one former US CIA agent, doesn’t have the ability to run a taco stand.

In the fitness industry, it is always easy to spot those who are the clowns. The clowns always start the movements that end up being fads and the remainder of the industry plugs along and experiences the type of growth that would be expected from an actual business.

Who are the clowns? In the present day, it is easy to spot. First, an infomercial is the first sign that you are a clown…not always, but almost always. Second, you either have a product or program that is merciless or is far too easy. Think Crossfit or P90X. These come and go and they DO work if you follow the program. The problem is in some cases, the exercise is so strenuous that people have either been injured or the workout is so gimmicky that you quickly tire and put the program on the shelf.

The equipment world is no stranger to fads and gimmicks. Remember the Shake Weight or the HealthRider? Who can forget the products where you were going to put on a belt and through electric stimulation you had the promise of melting all the belly fat away?

The way that ALL these products and programs are beneficial is that they get people interested in doing something! The fitness flame has been sparked. The danger is that the uninformed will think that ALL fitness products or programs are the same and they clearly are not.

If you haven’t exercised since the earth’s crust was still cooling, that’s OK. The problem is when you don’t start moving once you understand the problem. If you are doing nothing, 1 minute a day of brisk walking followed by slowly increasing the time and intensity is a great thing to do. If you haven’t done any strength training, a minimal workout is better than nothing.

For those who have vitriol concerning my classification of the above products and programs as gimmicks and fads, remember Dancing to the Oldies? Billy Blanks was once a big deal and the NordicTrack had people falling and nearly cracking their skulls. Did people get benefits from these things? Absolutely, but many also had the products and programs in the sarcophagus region of their home never to be seen again!

An interesting aside was a middle-age friend of mine who decided to get a NordicTrack when they were hot back in the early 90’s. He was so excited and called me up when it came in. I went over to see him trying to mount what many call a torture device and once he got his balance, he tried to use it and it ended with him on the floor and, in his attempt to get his balance by throwing his leg violently backward, he literally threw the ski through the sheetrock wall!

The interesting point of all of this is that didn’t discourage him. He decided that he needed desperately to exercise and he sold the NordicTrack and bought a good quality treadmill that easily got him into the best shape of his adult life. Maybe that’s why NordicTrack’s biggest selling products today are treadmills and ellipticals.

Fads and gimmicks come and go but clowns are forever. Who is going to be the next Richard Simmons or the next Thigh Master? Who knows but one thing for sure, the world will never have a shortage of circus acts like Dennis Rodman or guys like Kim Jong Un who should be flipping burgers at Burger King! Maybe that needs to be the next big fitness fad…Dennis and Kim Jong Un in “Flipping to the Oldies!”

Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un