Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ginkgo Biloba supplement or just a pretty tree?

I've heard about people taking Ginkgo biloba capsules, several years ago. In fact, I think I first run across this supplement about 16 years ago. Although, this extract from the Ginkgo biloba tree most likely has some positive effects on the body, the most touted claim for this substance is its ability to improve and preserve memory and possibly preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease. These super marketing claims for enhanced cognitive function is what sells the pills, but by most studies I have read, they simply just aren't true and there is no clear-cut evidence to support these wild claims. Personally, in my opinion, when it comes to enhanced brain function, I think it is a big slop of pill-pushing herbal baloney.

Here are a few excerpts from Wikipedia:

---Ginkgo for dementia?
Extracts of Ginkgo leaves contain flavonoid glycosides and terpenoids (ginkgolides, bilobalides) and have been used pharmaceutically. Ginkgo supplements are usually taken in the range of 40–200 mg per day. Recently, careful clinical trials have shown Ginkgo to be ineffective in treating dementia or preventing the onset of Alzheimer's Disease in normal people.

---Ginkgo for memory?
Ginkgo is believed to have nootropic properties, and is mainly used as memory and concentration enhancer, and anti-vertigo agent. However, studies differ about its efficacy. The largest and longest independent clinical trial to assess Ginkgo biloba’s ability to prevent memory loss has found that the supplement does not prevent or delay dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Some controversy has arisen over the conclusions drawn by some studies that were funded by a firm which marketed Ginkgo.

In 2002 a long-anticipated paper appeared in JAMA titled "Ginkgo for memory enhancement: a randomized controlled trial." This Williams College study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging rather than Schwabe, examined the effects of ginkgo consumption on healthy volunteers older than 60. The conclusion, now cited in the National Institutes of Health's ginkgo fact sheet, said: "When taken following the manufacturer's instructions, ginkgo provides no measurable benefit in memory or related cognitive function to adults with healthy cognitive function." ... The impact of this seemingly damning assessment, however, was ameliorated by the almost simultaneous publication of a Schwabe-sponsored study in the less prestigious journal Human Psychopharmacology. This rival study, conducted at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, was rejected by JAMA, and came to a very different—if not exactly sweeping—conclusion: There was ample evidence to support "the potential efficacy of Ginkgo biloba EGb 761 in enhancing certain neuropsychological/memory processes of cognitively intact older adults, 60 years of age and over."

---As you can see, the conflict of studies can cause confusion, but one must wonder what the motives truly are: The truth, whether it works or not? Or, how can we sell more products? And so on...

---More attention needs to be paid to Ginkgo biloba's other potential health benefits, such as:

Out of the many conflicting research results, Ginkgo extract may have three effects on the human body: improvement in blood flow (including micro-circulation in small capillaries) to most tissues and organs; protection against oxidative cell damage from free radicals; and blockage of many of the effects of platelet-activating factor (platelet aggregation, blood clotting) that have been related to the development of a number of cardiovascular, renal, respiratory and central nervous system disorders. Ginkgo can be used for intermittent claudication (muscle pain, generally in the calf, that occurs intermittently during physical activity/exercise).
Some studies suggest a link between ginkgo and the easing of the symptoms of tinnitus (constant ringing of the ears).

---As you can see, when it comes to the battle over whether this supplement can enhance memory or is it just merely a pretty tree, it is obvious that we should just let Ginkgo thrive as beautiful shade trees, at least to me. Think about it: This supplement most likely does improve blood circulation and is an antioxidant, etc., but what's so unique about that? Now, if you have a product to enhance brain power then wow(!), you have yourself a unique product line. You get my drift? Anyway, on to the side effects......

---Ginkgo Side Effects per Wikipedia:

Ginkgo may have undesirable effects, especially for individuals with blood circulation disorders and those taking anticoagulants such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or warfarin, although recent studies have found that ginkgo has little or no effect on the anticoagulant properties or pharmacodynamics of warfarin in healthy subjects. Ginkgo should also not be used by people who are taking certain types of antidepressants (monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or by pregnant women, without first consulting a doctor.
Ginkgo side effects and cautions include: possible increased risk of bleeding, gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, and restlessness. If any side effects are experienced, consumption should be stopped immediately.

---Ahh, the good ol' side effects section always makes you just wanna go start popping their product down your throat, right? Ha-ha! Regardless of all the health talk, Ginkgo biloba still makes for a very pretty tree......

[Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ginkgo_Biloba_Leaves_-_Black_Background.jpg]

Read more about this subject, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginkgo_biloba

---End of Post

Friday, January 21, 2011

Picking out the right Heavy bag / Speed bag Stand

If you have the room or an outdoor garage with lots of open space, these things are an excellent addition to your physical fitness routine. Also, if you're big into martial arts or boxing, using a speed bag and heavy bag can greatly help with your technique, power, and form.

But, this particular post isn't about the types of speed/heavy bags, it is about picking out the right stand for you. And most importantly, is your room in good enough condition to have one?

First, lets get a few things out of the way. If you have an old house, you may need to check a few things in the room you plan on putting it - before buying one of these stands. One must remember, there are a lot of vibrations and banging going on, when using such things - especially the heavy bag.

Check the floor, for starters. Some old buildings have weak spots in the floor. If you find some in the area you were going to place the stand, then just forget it or find somewhere else. In addition to the weight of the stand and the heavy bag, you'll have to place weighted plates or weights at the base of the stand, just to keep it somewhat anchored down. If you got weak floors, this adds up to a lot of weight and could possibly end up causing major damage that could have been avoided.
Next, check the ceiling. Yes, I said the ceiling. I know, you're not going to be doing anything up there or hanging your bag from it since you got a stand, but remember what I said about all those vibrations from the impacts of beating the shit out of your heavy bag? Generally, the speed bag shouldn't be of any worry, as long as it is on a sturdy stand. Anyway, I know for a fact that a weak ceiling will give way if you vigorously use a heavy bag in the same room very often. I've seen it happen before. In fact, a few years ago, I ended up selling my heavy bag / speed bag stand, mainly because of having a weak ceiling. True, I could have got the ceiling fixed, but it wasn't my house; ha!

Okay, now that you have checked for the obvious weak spots in your room, lets get on with picking out the right type of stand...

What do you want if for? If you would like to have a decent sized heavy bag to beat the hell out of - just to relieve pent-up frustrations, or you are mainly interested in developing punching power, or you're real tight for room, you may just want to buy a punching bag / heavy bag stand, as shown below:

[Click the image below, to view a wide selection of punching bag stands]
Okay, now if you're more into the sport of boxing and/or would like to have a combo stand that comes equipped with a speed bag, looking to improve hand-eye-coordination, and if you have plenty of floor space, you may be interested in this type, as shown below:
[Click the image below, to view a wide selection of punching bag stands]
Actually, if you really are just interested in the speed bag, you can buy it by itself. They are often wall-braced, and I just don't trust them (when using in the house) unless they are attached to a stand, but that's just me. It's your call and these things can be quite pricey, so make sure you really want what you select or have the room for it, when picking out the right heavy bag / speed bag stand.

---End of Post

Related Link:  "Body Opponent Heavy Bag - BOB"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How much can you curl, not hurl?

On certain occasions and every now and then, I run across a flaming fool who doesn't even know how to execute arm curls and/or even know how much weight they can truly curl, but yet they often claim to be a physical fitness guru at the same time. Oh, man... Have you ever heard of something called "form" or perhaps the little phrase that says "don't cheat yourself?"

I ask, how much can you curl, not hurl - for very obvious reasons. See..., many folks, especially the newbies, only think about the amount of weight that is on the bar, when doing straight curls in the stand-up position. By the way, unlike any other type of curl, the stand-up position with a single bar with weights for the curl exercise, opens more opportunities to cheat than a brothel or bordello in a big city on a Friday freakin' night.

Anyway, I really hate it when somebody brags about how they can "curl" an x-amount of weight when they really only "hurl" the weight upon them, using their back, hips, etc., and/or anything but their biceps & forearms - just to achieve the status of "I curled this and that amount." When in fact, they are usually weak as hell, and just blowing hot air with ignorance... WTF is wrong with these people?

It is also especially funny, when the same folks are contested to prove their strength on an incline slant, using only their arms to raise the weight, or when they are challenged at performing dumbbell curls in the sitting position using nothing else on their body but their arms, and they fail miserably. LOL!

The point is really simple here, and many people know exactly what I'm talking about whether you are either professional weight lifters or knowledgeable physical fitness amateurs or just have plain common sense, and that is: Never cheat on an exercise, no matter what it is; if you can't lift the amount of weight on the bar, etc., never compensate by altering your form by hurling the weight in an awkward fashion, bending improperly, or using other body parts that are not normally required for the exercise, and so on.

I hate to say it, but some people out there really need to get their face smashed into a big pile of dog shit before they'll ever understand, but nevertheless, quit fucking cheating yourself and be honest in what you are able to lift. Besides, if you continue to cheat yourself and take shortcuts - such as poor form, you may end up injuring yourself later on. Man up, and start from ground zero. Besides, since when has lying to yourself ever amounted to anything good? On a change of subject, but yet still related, check out the image below... Ha-ha!

---End of Post "How much can you curl, not hurl?"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Eat Eggs for Protein

Recently, I wrote a post about how protein is overrated. However, it is still very important. On that particular blog entry, I spoke about how it is asinine to think that you need all these protein shakes, pills, and supplements, and that, unless you are taking steroids or on growth hormones, your body can only handle and/or need so much protein at one time. Anyway, that's enough about how the marketing world has ruined the perspective of protein, and that is another reason why I'm speaking about the incredible, edible egg.

Yes folks, just like the old days, we're talking about eating eggs for protein. Don't even bother thinking about those cholesterol myths, unless you already have an existing medical problem. If you'd like to read why I say such things, visit my "Cholesterol Myths Debunked" post that I wrote on a website of mine a while back, for more information.

Now, back to the subject... Eggs, when consuming both the egg whites and the yolk, are a complete source of protein and provide loads of essential amino acids. Plus, the egg yolks - due to the sulfur content, also help detoxify the body. Speaking of "back in the day" when you would see or hear about how bodybuilders drank raw eggs, I would definitely pass on that option of intake. The risks for getting salmonella nowadays, in my opinion, would be higher due to the mass demand for egg production and the way many chickens are raised in crowded, stressful conditions. There is no need to drink raw eggs, and there are so many delicious ways to prepare them. One minor suggestion, is that if you have a few extra cents, go ahead and try to purchase the eggs that contain the Omega-3 fatty acids; it's just another added benefit to the already healthy, nutritious egg. By the way, eggs are not only good for protein, but they are packed with key nutrients that help keep your body strong and healthy.

In addition to all of this, eggs are also a good source of the amino acid Taurine. If you'd like to read about why this is important, visit the blog post "Health Benefits of Taurine."

Okay, now that we realize that this stuff is not bad like many wanna-be health gurus often try to tell ya, how do like 'em? A quick & easy way is to simply fry them up in a healthy Omega-3 rich oil, such as Canola oil. Many people like to scramble their eggs; just make sure you butter the pan before you go to fry your scrambled eggs. Personally, I add a little seasoned salt, pepper, hot sauce, and milk to my scrambled eggs before pouring them into the frying pan, and it comes out rather tasty and unlike the typical, basic scrambled eggs that usually hit people's breakfast plate. If you're watching your calories and are looking for the lowest calorie version, hard-boiled eggs are the way to go. Just put the eggs in a sauce pan filled with water, boil for about 7 to 10 minutes; replace the hot water with cold - to cool them off; crack and peel the shell; season to taste and enjoy.

Now, there are a few things you can do with hard-boiled eggs. One, is the way I just mentioned prior. Two, you can pickle them in a jar to enjoy at a later date, and three, you can prepare deviled eggs. I love deviled eggs, and I used to only eat them during the holidays when my granny made 'em. But this last Christmas I got to thinking, "you know, these things appear to be simple to make, yet I've never even tried to do this." Let me just say, they are no problem at all to make and if you're on a diet that requires excellent sources of protein, the recipe below may be just what you're looking for - especially if you are getting tired of eating eggs prepared the same old ways (boiled, fried, scrambled).

Quick & Easy Recipe for Deviled Eggs:

"Classic Deviled Eggs" [Great for any occasion; serve chilled]

6 boiled eggs, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise or salad dressing, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt & pepper.
---Side Note: I usually replace the teaspoon of vinegar and tablespoon of sugar with a couple tablespoons of sweet relish.

To hard cook eggs, place eggs in enough cold water to cover completely and bring to a rolling boil over high heat; reduce heat to a lower boil and cook an additional 12 minutes (I rarely cook them over 10 minutes, but that's what the recipe says). Promptly chill the eggs in ice water to help keep the yolks bright yellow.
Remove shells from eggs and halve lengthwise with a knife. Carefully remove the yolks and place in a medium bowl. Mash yolks with a fork. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Lightly spoon mixture back into egg white halves. Garnish with a light sprinkling of paprika (optional). Refrigerate until served.

Well, there you have it... Now, go eat some eggs for protein; they're good for you!


---End of Post

Gain Muscle Mass & Power without weights

This is a fairly simple concept, yet it has become overshadowed by all the marketing hype and advanced methods of training, down through the years. True, using those lovely cast iron plates and weights and/or bulky gym equipment, proves to be very effective when it concerns gaining power and muscle mass. However, the traditional methods of using no weights can also be very effective and, depending on the type of physical fitness you're seeking, the old school methods may be better for certain types of gains.

Lets say, for example, you are into martial arts. Piling on muscle using the bench press and leg press machine, may just slow you down in combat. You need to be strong, quick, and agile in martial arts, and by doing exercises without dead weights and by performing the ones that involve your own body weight instead, it will be more effective for your desired goals. Plus, many of these exercises without weights, also boost your flexibility, and so on.  'Click Here' for information about Human-shaped Punching Bags.

Okay, lets forget about combat or even sports for that matter. Many folks just simply don't have the room for all this equipment nor can they afford pricey gym memberships. That reason alone, is why many folks (who are interested in physical fitness) seek to gain muscle mass & power without weights - using whatever method possible.

You know, this blog post reminds me of the movie "Rocky 4," when Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) fought the big Russian (Dolph Lundgren). In the movie, Rocky trained using all natural methods while the over-sized, steroid-taking Russian used all this high-tech machinery and fancy gym equipment. Rocky ended up super quick, extra strong for his body weight, and had excellent endurance; the Russian was bulky, herculean, slow, and pampered. I must add, though, I probably wouldn't tell some steroid-freak like the Russian in that movie, that they were pampered, well, at least not to their face - ha! Anyway, the point is, this stuff just doesn't only happen in the movies. Many of your best athletes and Olympic champions use training tactics that doesn't involve all this sophisticated equipment and cast iron weights.

If you're more interested in circuit training and/or don't have time for a regular routine, I mentioned a couple ideas in my "workout without workouts" post.

Anyway, this post boils down to a promo for the "Power Tower." This station provides all the essentials: a sturdy pull-up bar, push-up bars, a dip stand, and allows for leg lifts to work your abdominal region. The only area the Power Tower doesn't focus on, is the legs. Just being mobile, walking, running, doing a few squats, and overall just being active, should take care of that. Personally, I've never understood why anyone would want massive, overly muscular legs. Sure, you may be able to squat your house or be able to pull a semi-truck, but really, all it does is slow you down. I want to be quick, not sluggish, but everybody has their own unique idea of how they see or want things. I'm just saying, the Power Tower will not provide you with leg exercises, but it totally prevails in upper body fitness.

If you'd like to read more about the mighty Power Tower, visit:
http://perpendicularity.org/blog/2010/05/04/power-tower-upper-body-fitness/

If you'd like to skip all the reading, and just browse through a few selections, click the image below:
---End of Post "Gain Muscle Mass & Power without weights"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Flexing Muscles in the Mirror to help Sculpt Body

Yeah, it sounds a bit vain, but this stuff actually works. After some of those hard workouts and while you're feeling that "pump," it is not a bad idea to go find you a big mirror and start flexing those muscles. The whole process of flexing and holding for several seconds, can actually help sculpt your body for a few reasons.

First, I'll talk about one of the reasons this works, and it's actually proven:

Isometric exercise or isometrics are a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction (compared to dynamic/isotonic movements). Isometrics are done in static positions, rather than being dynamic through a range of motion. The joint and muscle are either worked against an immovable force or are held in a static position while opposed by resistance. The same applies to when you flex your muscles and hold them for a period of time, just as many bodybuilders incorporate this type of isometric exercise in the form of flexing, into their regular routine.

Basically, without all the excess verbiage, Isometric exercise is a form of exercise involving the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint.

There are various types of isometric exercises that doesn't involve flexing in front of a mirror, but regardless, it seems to have some benefit when it comes to strength (from a certain, limited angle) and sculpting the body. However, I would only use this as a supplemental exercise and not a primary form of training. You need to exercise using a full range of motion, as well, and I believe that it is far superior to isometric training, hands down.

Okay, here's why I keep mentioning the mirror:

Of course, you don't need a mirror to flex your little heart out, but the second reason, even though it is unproven by science, is that this allows your mind to become more involved. Just imagine yourself being more toned and ripped up, while looking in the mirror. Concentrate on the muscles you really want to target, flex, hold, and relax. Now that you've got your mind involved, you have an extra boost and a sense of motivation for future workouts. Plus, I really believe that the mind has more to do with your health, than many people give it credit for.

If you'd like to read about a good example of mind over body, involving physical fitness, visit a recent blog post I wrote (Mystery of Muscle Memory) @ http://health-fitness-guru.blogspot.com/2010/11/mystery-of-muscle-memory.html

Hey, if you get caught flexing your muscles in the mirror too often, just tell 'em: "Hey, I'm not vain or anything like that, I'm just performing some isometric exercises to help sculpt my freakin' body, damn it!" Ha-ha!

---End of Post

Monday, January 10, 2011

Workout without "Workouts"

Yeah, now that sounds like an odd statement, but what I mean by "workout without workouts" is rather simple. This is about fitting in miniature bouts of exertions that are spread out into a regular routine within each day, 5 days a week, and it will never seem like you're actually "working out." Based on a 5-day plan: Say, do a certain amount of push-ups in the morning, a small amount of pull-ups at noon, a few sit-ups right before bed. The next day, do a few dumbbell curls in the morning, a set of squats at noon, and a few push-ups right before bed, and so on...

It all adds up, and you'd be surprised at the results that will occur over time. Now, if you're seeking big gains in muscle mass, this will not be effective. I'm talking about the average Joe who is wanting to stay in shape or maybe tone up a bit, get a little stronger, improve overall circulatory health and/or become a little more physically fit, without ever having to endure long "workouts" or feel like they need to have regular, long, grueling exercise sessions, and whatnot.

Now, be creative and remember, you're doing this throughout the day and periodically through the week, so don't get locked in on any particular exercise or you will break the routine and you may end up losing interest and just drop the whole concept all together. See, this method really works well for the ones who get bored easily with long workouts and lose motivation half-way during training. If you can stick through this easy-to-do "workout without workouts" method, you'll be doing this stuff during the day like it is a habit. For once, a habit that is easy to acquire that isn't bad for you!

Supplies: Okay, you may already have a lot of physical fitness gear and equipment or you may not. Either way, you won't need a whole lot of anything. If you don't have room for a weight set or free weights, that is no big deal. However, you may need to purchase a pull-up bar, push-up bars (optional - you don't really have to have them), dumbbells, a dual Ab Wheel (also optional, but it is an old, effective method for working the abs) and hand grips, along with a few other circuit training items that are not bulky and are easily used without setup time or tension adjustments. Think "on the go" when you apply this method, and you'll start to get the knack of this in no time at all. Personally, I strongly recommend the Power Tower, since it will provide you with a station to do your pull-ups, push-ups, dips, and leg lifts (for lower abs) all in one stand! I'll provide the link to the Power Tower, in just a moment.

I'm not going to tell you how you should or shouldn't do this, and everybody has a different tempo and lifestyle, so if you decide to regularly workout without workouts, adjust accordingly to your demand and goal. What I will do, is provide a few shopping links below, in case you know for sure that you may at least need to purchase a few items before you start this easy method of training.

---> 'Click Here' for the Perfect Pull-Up and Perfect Push-Up Bars

---> 'Click Here' for the Power Tower (pull-ups, dips, push-ups, leg lifts, all in one)
---End of Post "Workout without Workouts"

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Natural ways to Detoxify your Liver

Under normal circumstances, the human body can easily detoxify itself. Within the body, your Kidneys & Liver are the powerhouse for such detoxifying activities. However, living in polluted conditions, having bad habits such as smoking tobacco and drinking large amounts of alcohol (for example), eating a poor diet, and not getting enough rest, can all factor in and overload your system which allows toxic substances & chemicals to build up in your body and organs.

Now, here's where the marketers come into play and try to sell a bunch of asinine products that, well, simply do not work. Surely most of you have heard from one time or another, about some super "detox" product or miracle pill or bogus plan. ...Yes, I'm talking about those things that some people are willing to lose dignity over so they can advertise you baloney products, just to make a profit off of your ignorance, desperation and/or gullibility therein. ...But seriously, unless there is a major medical problem involved, there are many natural ways to detoxify your liver and/or your body, for that matter.

I keep mentioning the liver because, without a doubt, it is your primary filter and processor for such things, and it also carries out numerous amounts of other functions, protein synthesis, and so on. In fact, the Liver is the second largest organ in your body, being that your skin is the largest, since it is technically considered an organ.

Anyway, you don't need to purchase some big "liver detox" products and, once again, under normal circumstances, you typically won't have to do anything at all outside of eating reasonably healthy forms of food and breathing semi-clean air. Enough about that, lets get on with some of the natural methods that you can use, if you are really living a taxed lifestyle.

One easy way to help detoxify your body, is to simply pick a day or two a month, and fast (diet/abstain from food). Just drink plenty of fluids and only eat fruits and maybe a few vegetables, but in general, do not consume much of anything that requires very much digestion. Now this works, but if you're like me and have a fast metabolism, we don't have the pounds or fat reserve to shed just to "detoxify" for a few days. What little extra poundage I have, I need to keep for the days I'm stressed or sick and/or don't feel like eating much. If you're rather plump or of a medium to medium-heavy weight, this may be the perfect method for you.

Okay, if you're looking for foods that are naturally great for detoxifying your liver, try eating more of these sulfur-based consumables:

Egg Yolks, Cabbage, Broccoli, Onions, Garlic, Artichoke, Asparagus, Spinach, and Radishes. Of course, there are others, but these are what I consider to be the "heart of the list."

Beverages such as Coffee, are also known to protect the liver from damage cause by excessive drinking. ...Throw in some Green tea and Chocolate, and you are even more protected from the free radical damage caused by some of these toxic substances.

Vitamin C plays a big role in the initial phases of detoxification. Obviously, anything natural and involves things such as fruits and vegetables, is bound to be good for you, duh! A simple juice diet, works well for many, when trying to purify and/or purge the body from built-up toxic chemicals.

If you're seeking natural herbal supplements, I'd recommend Ginseng, Taurine (non-herbal), and Milk Thistle. If you're interested in reading more about Milk Thistle capsules, and especially if you drink alcohol on a regular basis and smoke tobacco daily, you may want to visit:

http://perpendicularity.org/blog/2010/05/03/liver-detox-milk-thistle/

Eat, drink, and be merry... Cheers!
---End of Post "Natural ways to Detoxify your Liver"