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Total Results Blog

Book Review by Matthew Romans - "Undoctored" by Dr. William Davis

Prescription medication and insurance costs are skyrocketing, yet the bureaucracy and quality of health care seems to be worse than ever, and the prevalence of diseases of modern civilization (such as diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions) is increasing. What is happening?

Is it possible that the traditional western diet, the current health care climate, and big pharmaceutical companies are actually making us sicker? Dr. William Davis, a board-certified cardiologist and author of the book "Wheat Belly" has written a new book called "Undoctored - Why Health Care Has Failed You and How You Can Become Smarter than Your Doctor." In this book, he advocates several simple strategies to take back control of your health and to get you out of the health care sinkhole.

One strategy Dr. Davis recommends is to educate yourself. With information freely accessible online, you can learn about the nature of diseases and medical conditions, understand the side effects of certain medications associated with these conditions, and in the process you can become your own best advocate. This will allow you to work most effectively with your doctor.

Another strategy Dr. Davis prescribes is the elimination of grains and corn from the diet. Dr. Davis explains how the genetic modifications made to wheat over the past half century have contributed to a drastic spike in the rate of occurrence of colon cancer, obesity, and even skin rashes. If we return to our more primitive roots of nutrition (such as eating more fat, animal protein, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and nuts) we can reverse many of the common health problems that are affecting us.

Finally, Dr. Davis supports the practice of regular supplementation of a few essential vitamins and minerals to correct deficiencies. Many essential vitamins have been removed from modern processed foods, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies and imbalances. Insufficient levels of iodine can lead to thyroid issues, and most of us living a modern lifestyle don't spend enough time outdoors to meet our daily requirements for Vitamin D intake. He also advocates supplementation of iron, fish oil, zinc, and magnesium for optimum health.

All of the above strategies are very much congruent with our philosophy at Total Results. In the chapter that discusses sleep, exercise, and weight loss, Dr. Davis talks about the importance of regular strength training to increase muscle mass and bone density. He recommends one or two 15 minute sessions per week.

This book is essential reading for anyone that is interested in taking control of their health. Applying the simple and cost-effective strategies advocated in "Undoctored" can and will make a huge difference in how you look and feel.

Posted December 05, 2017 by Tim Rankin

Most of what you eat is corn, soy and wheat!

The quintessential American meal is a cheesburger with fries and a soda. Every fast food restaurant serves this, as does every bar, pub, and casual restaurant. You can also find it at many backyard cookouts. What is this classic combo meal really made of? I will deconstruct this meal down to its original ingredients and see what we are really eating.

The beef: Americans consume over 50 billion burgers every year. Most burger beef comes from cows that feed on corn, soy and silage, rather than pasture.

The bun: Of course, the bun the burger is served on was of course made of wheat.

The cheese: Even the cheese on that burger came from a dairy cow that was fed mostly corn and soy.

The fries. Obviously fries are made from potatoes, not corn, soy or wheat. However, the vast majority of french fries served in the United States are cooked in, you guessed it, corn or soybean oil.

The soda: Most soda is carbonated water sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, which obviously derives from corn.

Lest you think this volume of corn, soy and wheat derived food is limited to a fast food burger meal, the fact is the same is true of most food products Americans eat today, minus fruit and vegetables. Pasta and bread are of course made from wheat. Both broiler chickens and egg laying hens are fed predominantly corn and soy based feed. Farm raised fish? You guessed it - corn and soy product. How about something like pizza? Well, the dough is made from wheat, the sauce contains high fructose corn syrup and the cheese came from corn and soy fed cows. Crackers? Cookies? Yes, these two are made from wheat, corn and soy product (in fact, most boxed food items in the grocery store contain partially hydrogenated soybean oil - it stays stable at room temperature and hence extends shelf life.

So most of the protein, grains, and even fats(in the form of vegetable oils) we eat are really predominantly corn, soy or wheat. I would guess that 80% of the average American's diet originates with these three crops.

Can this preponderance of corn, soy and wheat in our diets be a healthy thing?

The old saying is we are what we eat, and that alone should be enough to concern us regarding this reduction of our food variety. However, it's not just what we eat, but also what is eaten by what we eat that determines our true nutritional intake and hence our health.

These three crops dominate American farmland today. Most are grown in massive monoculture settings (a single crop spread over many hundreds of acres) using chemical pesticides and herbicides. (For example, most conventionally grown wheat in the U.S. is sprayed with Glyphosates like Roundup just before harvest in order to kill the crop uniformly and ensure an even harvest.) Then, much of the corn and soy is used for animal feed, as discussed earlier. Cows are ruminants. They are meant to eat grasses and other forage. Cows convert something humans cannot eat (ex. grass) into something humans can eat (ex. beef). However, in the name of productivity but not health (either that of the cow or the human eating the beef) most beef are fattened up and at least finished on corn and soy. So, that burger you ate recently was most likely predominantly the product of Corn and Soy. However, since this food is not natural fare for most animals, they get sick, so they must be treated with antibiotics. Other soy and corn is used to make the oils used in our everyday cooking using chemical processes such as hexane based extraction. Much of the wheat, after harvest, is refined (stripped of all nutrients in order to prolong shelf life) then enriched (select vitamins like iron are added back in at supranormal levels in order to enhance palatability) along with some additional unappealing processes like bleaching and bromating the flour.

I would argue that having such a high percentage of our dietary intake deriving from just three items (corn, soy, wheat) in and of itself is not healthy. The nutritional profile is very incomplete. Add in that these products are heavily adulterated with chemicals and various questionable processes, and that the animals eating them are further treated with various medications, there is bound to be some negative effects at the top of the food chain, you and I.

I believe many current maladies and diseases of western civilization are at least exacerbated, if not directly caused by this reduction of our food variety. For example, various diseases of inflammation (heart disease, certain cancers, etc.) are correlated to the lack of proper balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids in our diet (Omega-3 levels are higher when cows eat grass and fish eat algae, and Omega-6 levels are lower when we eat natural fats like grass fed butter instead of corn oil). Additionally, Iron overload from excessive enrichment of grains may contribute to various metabolic disorders such as diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimers.

We need a variety of healthy foods in our diets. Humans are omnivores. We should consume animals that have eaten what they are naturally supposed to eat and plants that have not been radically altered or contaminated with modern mass production practices. How can we reduce the volume of corn, soy and wheat in our diets? Whenever possible, choose foods from organic sources. This eliminates the pesticides and herbicides. Opt for grass fed or pasture raised prducts such as beef, poultry, eggs, butter, cheese, milk, etc. Read labels carefully when choosing bread, rice, pasta or other grains - look for just a few ingredients (ex. semolina wheat flour). By taking a little extra time and perhaps a little extra money, we can eat food that was grown naturally and in line with our health and wellbeing. Make the investment in your health now, so you don't have to make the investment in your lack of health later!

Posted November 10, 2017 by Tim Rankin

Fitness Trackers - Are they a worthwhile investment? by Matthew Romans

Fitness trackers have become an increasingly popular product on the market. In the past, I would see people wearing them while they were performing some type of physical activity or competing in an event/race, but now I even see people in business clothes wearing them. According to one statistic I read, people who wear fitness trackers tend to be 30 to 40 percent more active than those who do not. How exactly is this measured? Is this an example of selection bias (ex. more active people happen to enjoy wearing fitness trackers)? Do fitness trackers really provide substantial benefit? Are they an essential accessory in one's pursuit of health and fitness? These are questions that I asked myself as I recently examined a list compiled by Health magazine of the best fitness trackers that are available on the market.

The fitness trackers on the list ranged in price from as little as $20 to as much as $450. Some of the features included tracking the number of steps traveled, miles traveled, calories burned, a built-in GPS, and the ability to measure your speed of movement. Other features include a water-resistant design, the ability to measure water temperature, and also a sensor that encourages you to get up and move every so often. I should note that most smart phones now have applications (most of which are free) that can measure most of the things that fitness trackers measure. The main advantage of the fitness tracker, in this case, is that it can be worn on the wrist instead of having to be carried.

However, fitness trackers really do not track fitness. One of the most common myths perpetuated by the commercial fitness industry is that exercise is about burning calories. It is not. No form of activity (jogging, swimming, high-intensity weight training or otherwise) burns a significant number of calories when you consider what you can eat in a very short period of time. Bear in mind that any tally of calories burned will also include the calories you burned through your basal metabolic rate, so the number on your fitness tracker can be misleading. Also, if just walking a certain number of steps in a day or getting your heart rate to a certain level were effective ways to improve your health and fitness, there would be way fewer sick, overweight people in the world.

Exercise is about safely, effectively, and efficiently stimulating body improvements by triggering a growth mechanism (achieved by pushing to and beyond momentary muscular fatigue), and then allowing the body to recover and adapt without being overtaxed by excessive activity. Some of the fitness trackers I researched have some nice features, but none can really track the cellular, metabolic and cardiovascular stimuli of real exercise.

In my opinion, fitness trackers may be useful if you are training for a specific race or event (marathon, triathlon, etc.), but if you're just going for general fitness they're probably not necessary.

Posted November 08, 2017 by Tim Rankin

Are you really in shape?

Many of you jog or bike or go to the gym a couple times per week in pursuit of fitness. But are you actually in shape? How can you tell if you are truly fit inside and out? Just because a person can run 5 miles or bench press 300 pounds does not mean they are fit and healthy.

By true fitness, I mean full physical functional ability (no movement or strength limitations) and being free of diseases of western civilization (ex. T2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, etc.)

Below are some markers of true fitness, as well as several markers that people think are good indicators of fitness, but really have little or no correlation:

Good indicators of fitness:

-Resting heart rate - 60bpm or lower is a good indication of fitness.
-Resting Blood pressure - 120/80 is a good target range for most of us.
-Blood sugar and insulin control.
-Bone Density - good bone density levels help avoid injury as we age.
-Blood Lipid Ratios - A Triglyceride to HDL ratio (mg/dl) of 2 to 1 or less is ideal. 4 to 1 or more is too high.
-Body composition - are you carrying more than 10 extra pounds of visceral fat around on your belly, waist, thighs, etc.? Is your body fat percentage over 25% if you are female or 15-16% if you are male? If so, you are not in great shape!
-Lean muscle mass and muscle strength - this is critical to health as you age. Can you lift 40-50 lb or more without hurting yourself? Can you sit down on the floor and get back up without using your hands, or at least without using an aid such as a chair? Can you walk/hike including hills for an hour or more without becoming too tired/sore/uncomfortable? If not, you are not in good shape.
-Aerobic capacity - can you recover quickly (in a minute or two) from a sprint or rigorous activity?

The more of these indicators of fitness that you achieve, the more in shape and healthy you will be.

Poor indicators of fitness:

-How far you can jog - you can build up your skill and enough lower body strength to jog many miles at a time, but could still be overfat, muscularly flacid, and have bad heart. Remember Jim Fixx, who wrote the book on running, died while jogging at age 52 of a heart attack.
- How long you can cycle or swim - see above regarding jogging.
- Leanness - simply being thin is not an indicator of fitness. If you do not have adequate strength and lean muscle mass, you are at risk for injury and Osteoporosis.
-Any individual strength metric - many individuals go to the gym and demonstrate strength by bench pressing or dead lifting some large amount of weight. While these people may have some strength, they are often cheating and using terrible form, risking injury, and not addressing their beer gut, high blood pressure, or other real fitness markers.

Amazingly, there is one activity that improves every good indicator of real fitness mentioned above: High Intensity Slow Motion weight training. This is what we offer at Total Results. All of the above markers for fitness can be achieved in just a few minutes each week, with very little risk of injury! This revolutionary activity stimulates the body to make critical changes inside and out, and when combined with a natural, moderate diet and a healthy lifestyle allows you to achieve a lifetime of fitness!

Do not wait any longer to get in shape!

Posted October 29, 2017 by Tim Rankin

Is Jogging worth it?

Now that cooler weather has arrived in the mid-atlantic region, I see more and more neighbors out jogging around the neighborhood. Presumably most are doing this to improve their fitness levels. Unfortunately for them, that is not the case. Let's look at what really happens when you jog at a steady pace for 45 minutes to an hour:

First, you will burn several hundred calories. However, remember when you are looking at the tread mill computer or the fitness tracker on your wrist, they take into account your basal metabolic rate in addition to the activity. So, if the computer says you have burned 300 calories, you have really only burned 220 to 240 calories above your baseline rate. If you are lucky you have not just stimulated your appetite; however, most people do. If you then go home and eat some fruit or a protein bar to counter your hunger, you have completely negated any calories burned during your run!

Second, contrary to popular belief, steady state activity like jogging does nothing for the lungs and very little for the heart. The stimulus is simply not intense enough to improve lung capacity or enhance cardiovascular efficiency. In fact, most "improvements" people make over time are attributed to skill improvement (ex. more efficient stride length, sole strike, arm movement, etc.) The leg muscles can see some initial strengthening but over time this can halt and even reverse (see below).

Third, jogging frequently (meaning about 4 days or more per week) will cause loss of muscle mass. Steady state activity like jogging only uses a small percentage of your muscle fibers. Jogging does not put a high demand on muscles - that is precisely why you can jog for a long time. When you do an activity like jogging excessively, it sends signals to your body to get rid of that excess muscle mass you are not using. Over time, frequent joggers will lose much of their lean muscle mass. For instance, take a look at top marathon runners. Do you see any muscle mass on them? They actually look emaciated. In the long run, this is not good for your health.

Fourth, jogging has a very high injury rate. The high force of the foot hitting the pavement repeatedly over time can cause damage to your feet, ankles, shins, knees, hips, and back! We have had many clients at Total Results over the years who were runners for years until injuries forced them to stop. In fact, several had to have corrective surgeries and even joint replacement.

I understand the allure of jogging. It is very simple - throw on a pair of shoes and head out the front door. Breathe a little harder. Work up a little sweat. Feel better about yourself. You think you are "getting in shape". However, as mentioned, jogging burns relatively few calories, does not improve cardiovscular health or fitness, can tear down muscle mass and therefore lower your metabolism, and has a high rate of injury over time. All this begs the question, is jogging worth it? Unless you are training for a particular athletic competition, the answer is NO!

So what should you do instead of jogging? First, walking is a great activity to do every day. It burns the same calories per mile as jogging, is great for mental health, and is much safer than jogging due to the lower forces involved. Second, you must lift heavy things once in awhile in order to stimulate the skeletal muscles and the cardiovascular system to adapt in improve. This is our specialty at Total Results. Lastly, you must eat modestly and mostly natural foods in order to have a caloric balance and get adequate nutrition. By following these simple steps, you will improve health and fitness levels more than by running but without the risks associated with running.

Posted October 14, 2017 by Tim Rankin