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GAM BIT’S HEALTH & WELLNESS > JANUARY 2011 > VOLUME 3 > NUM BER 1

G A M B I T ’ S H E A LT H + W E L L N E S S

THE

RIGHT

TRACK HALF-MARATHONS:

A FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT

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FITNESS AND NUTRITION INFO TO JUMP-START YOUR YEAR.

EXERCISE & THE MINDBODY CONNECTION

9

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART (RATE)

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Health & Wellness > bestofneworleans.com > JANUARY 04 > 2011

02

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expert advice

A formula for monitoring your heart rate

the Juice

Pros and cons of a juice fast

Health & Wellness > bestofneworleans.com > JANYARY 04 > 2011

the Source

Dr. W. Scott Griffies on exercise’s mind-body connection

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how training for a half-marathon transformed one young man from couch potato to athlete — and how it can do the same for you

Feet of

Endurance By tr av is a nd rews

T

Travis andrews (kneeling) is all smiles afTer compleTing The BaTon rouge Beach half-maraThon in novemBer 2010.

week, add a mile to both the short and long run, and start training for the marathon months in advance. If completing a half-marathon is a New Year’s resolution, there is easily enough time to train for February’s New Orleans’ Rock ’n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon. My training consisted of short runs at Audubon Park, starting and ending along the river at the Fly, and long runs looping half of City Park

on the weekends. Mark Berger, an investing partner in Varsity Sports New Orleans and the creator of Varsity Sports Running and Social Club NOLA, suggests running in a group to receive both coaching and moral support. “It’s easier to do it with someone,” Berger says. There is no fee to join his group, which meets on Tuesdays, Thursdays (when it starts and ends at various bars, including the Bulldog

and Cooter Brown’s) and Saturdays. Runners who want to join need only check the calendar at www.varsityrunning.com and show up. “We try to involve everyone in the (running) community, whether they are running 1 mile or a marathon,” Berger says. Having others to run with really does help, as does proper gear. Owen says about 55 to 60 percent of runners pronate (roll their feet page 7

Health & Wellness > bestofneworleans.com > JANYARY 04 > 2011

he path stretches on, seemingly endless, and sweat drips into my eyes from beneath a black New Orleans Saints cap. I have miles to go before I sleep — another 2.3 miles, to be specific. Ignoring my pounding heart and the pain slicing my calves, I think back to why I’m doing this: Three years ago, at age 20, I glanced at the scale and saw the number 268. This was the lowest day of my life. I’m not sure how it all happened: the spiral out of control, the scale’s numbers gradually rising, my self-esteem plummeting. I had no self-control, and I worked all night at a college newspaper, eating junk food out of paper bags. I started running three years ago when I joined the LSU Rowing Club. I lost weight, but after graduating, I needed a new activity to keep the pounds off. I found it in races, in which I learned there are many different ways to train for a half-marathon, and everybody has a different approach. “Everyone is a little different in the sense that they need to figure out what keeps them motivated,” says half-marathon veteran Ann Elise Borchardt. Marathoner and LSU kinesiology senior Daniel Ragus cross-trains with biking and swimming when preparing for a marathon. Ultimately, though, any marathon training involves a lot of running. As co-owner of sporting goods store Southern Runner Sports on Magazine Street, former president of New Orleans Track Club and a veteran of 10 marathons, George Owen recommends aspiring marathoners run about six times a week. Run a consistent distance for most of the week (I started with two miles a day) and go for a long run on the weekend that doubles that distance. Every

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Health & Wellness > bestofneworleans.com > JANUARY 04 > 2011

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toward the inside) and two to three percent of runners supernate (roll their feet toward the outside). The rest have a neutral step. Vastly different shoes are needed for these different types of steps, which is why Owen and his team look at ankle structure when they help new customers. With the wrong shoes, “you could end up at the doctor,� Owen says. Repetitive stress, including overpronating the foot, can lead to plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia, a connective tissue which extends from the heel to the toe. However, the risk of plantar fasciitis can be reduced with proper footwear, according to an August 2004 Runner’s World article. Runners already plagued with plantar fasciitis can mitigate its painful effects by wearing training shoes with flexible midsoles, like the Nike 5.0. A research study conducted by the University of British Columbia and published in the Dec. 2009 issue of The Physician and Sportsmedicine found subjects reported a significant decrease in pain after six months of training in shoes with flexible midsoles. It’s also important to replace running shoes periodically. Owen suggests a new pair every 300 to 500 miles or every eight months, whichever comes first. However, these guidelines apply only if the shoes are kept dry. By alternating between two pairs of shoes, you can extend their longevity far beyond that of a single pair worn daily. When the shoes wear out, they let you know through pain in your knees, ankles and back. See a doctor if you experience persistent pain in the knees or ankles. Because cotton socks absorb moisture, synthetic socks are a better bet. Synthetic materials wick away moisture, keeping the runner light and dry. It’s best to layer synthetic materials in the winter rather than heavy cotton ones to increase warmth and minimize uncomfortable friction. This applies not only to socks but also shorts and tops. Berger learned this the hard way when he ended his first race wearing a blood-soaked cotton shirt, compliments of his rubbed-raw nipples. Even if you have a solid foundation of training and appropriate gear, when you run a full or half-marathon, you will experience physical discomfort at some point, which is why many people fear long-distance races. How-

“Find a mantra and recite it to yourself when things get hard during your run.� — Katelyn young, Baton Rouge’s exeRFit Family Fitness

ever, coach Katelyn Young of Baton Rouge’s Exerfit Family Fitness says she embraces the adage: Believe in yourself, and you can do it. “Too many people pass up the chance to do a race like this because they think it is beyond their capability,� Young says. “Find a mantra and recite it to yourself when things get hard during your run.� Her advice rings true as I spot the end of the race ahead, complete with buckets of Vitamin Water, beer, a feast of fried fish and jambalaya, and an awaiting crowd. As I cross the finish line and the medal is lowered around my neck, I remember the day three years prior — before I ever ran a single mile — when I looked at that scale and saw the number 268. The new number I have is 2:03:55, the time it took me to run 13.1 miles.

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Health & Wellness > bestofneworleans.com > JANYARY 04 > 2011

N m E R ax E W ak e w S ith O Y yo a L EA ur m U on T R th IO ’S ly m N a

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e x e r ci s e fo r li f e

Three’s A charm

Training For A TriaThlon oFFers VAriety And Fun. By Lee Cutrone

Health & Wellness > bestofneworleans.com > JANUARY 04 > 2011

T

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he holidays are over and, according to your list of New Year resolutions, so are your days as a couch potato. You’ve made up your mind and you’re committed. With a steady program of individually tailored workouts, you can not only become a fitter version of your former self in just three months, you can ready yourself for a triathlon. “People think triathlons are for the elite (athletes), but anyone can do this,” says coach Kevin Pilet of Greater New Orleans Triathletes, a website and personal training program for triathletes. “You can make it a lifestyle that you can enjoy every day. It’s a sport that keeps you from getting bored, and it’s fun.” A basic triathlon (the season runs from April to November) includes a halfmile swim, a 15-mile bike ride and a 5K (3.1 mile) run. Pilet’s triathlon training includes all three sports, plus a program of core strength training using weights or calisthenics. “The first thing you need to have is a goal,” says Pilet, a triathlete for two decades and a trainer for more than 10 years. You also must know how to swim, be able to make time for workouts and have basic equipment, including a bike and running and swimming gear. Pilet assesses clients according to their fitness levels and starts them with several weeks of conditioning workouts designed to use muscles that haven’t been exercised on a regular basis. Basic conditioning is followed by “brick sessions” which combine all three sports, one behind the other, to build endurance. In addition to motivating his clients and monitoring their progress, Pilet provides nutrition, hydration, rest and recovery advice. He also leads clients on weekly, 50-mile Saturday morning bike rides (from Lake Pontchartrain to Venetian Isles and back) and weekly swimming sessions in Lake Pontchartrain during warmer months. “A coach is there to progressively bring you along,” Pilet says. Included here are training tips and a generalized overview for a 12-week training schedule (Pilet’s training is customized for clients). For more information, visit www.gnotri.com or contact Pilet at 251-4414 or kevin@gnotri.com.

Tips Athletes in training should consume a nutritional recovery drink or food (high protein, high carbohydrate) within 20 minutes of completing a workout. “Regular chocolate milk is one of the best recovery drinks you can have,” Pilet says. Rest is vital to performance. For optimum results, Pilet recommends eight hours of sleep a night. A low heart rate training session is more beneficial than a high-intensity anaerobic workout. If you don’t overexert yourself, you are less likely to sustain an injury and will require less recovery time.

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swim Three Times weekly: One 30-minute continuous endurance swim One technique workout (different drills for development) One speed workout

Bike Three Times weekly: One one-hour ride practicing spinning (changing between big chain ring and small chain ring) One ride-run “brick” workout: Ride 60 minutes, run 30 minutes off the bike. One two-hour endurance workout run Three or four Times weekly: One or two 30-minute easy runs One long run (about an hour), easy One 40-minute run, speeding it up a little

Training exercises during weeks one through four should be performed at 60 percent effort: Keep your heart rate low to build your conditioning. During weeks five through eight, intensity increases. Pick up the pace until you are giving 70 percent of your maximum effort. You should be panting slightly, but not be out of breath. During weeks nine and 10 increase your intensity so it falls in the range of 75 to 85 percent. Increase your intensity to 85 percent during speed workouts. During week 11, taper back down to 60 or 70 percent effort to recover. Week 12: race day.


S M a r t ta LK O N h e a Lt h By M I S Sy W I LK I N S O N

hough it’s common knowledge that exercise reduces stress, Dr. W. Scott Griffies, t medical director of the New Orleans Center for Mind-Body Health (536 Bienville St., 355-0509; www.nocmbh.com) and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, says the mind and body influence one another in ways that are more complex and varied than this simple equation suggests. Here, he shares a few words about the mind-body connection — and why getting fit for the New Year may affect your mental state as much your waistline.

Tell us about yourself and what you do at the New Orleans Center for Mind-Body Health. We help people identify unhealthy mind-body interactions and address those with self-care methods like diaphragmatic breathing, muscle relaxation and mindfulness training. I am a traditional psychiatrist, so I do a fairly traditional diagnostic assessment and evaluate (patients’) difficulties and needs. I prescribe medication if appropriate, but also a combination of psychotherapy and mind-body skills training.

What are mind-body skills?

Our autonomic nervous system has two main components: the sympathetic nervous system, which has to do with our fight-or-flight stress response, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which has to do with our relaxation response. In our culture, we spend way too much time in the sympathetic nervous system and the stress circuitry.

What effect does this stress have on the body? When we are stressed, it affects not only our mental health, but our physical health, especially if we are under persistent stress or are having difficulty regulating that. The mind and the body are always communicating. For example, Dr. Edmund Jacobson, a doctor in the early 1900s, found that there is a neuromuscular connection between our muscles and brain. When the brain perceives tension in the body, it interprets the tension as meaning there is a threat in the environment and that it needs to rev up the stress response.

doesn’t apply to the present. Our ability to stand back and reflect is evolutionarily new, and those circuits are very tenuous and fragile. It is difficult not to get pulled into those reactions if our self-preservational brain feels there is something threatening about the situation.

What kind of effects does chronic stress have on our health? The stress response increases cortisol, and chronic cortisol can cause immuno suppression. With immuno suppression, people are more prone to colds, viruses and other illnesses. It can cause a person to deposit more fat around the middle waist and organs and break down more muscle and bone, which can increase problems such as osteoporosis. People can also have increased adrenaline, which revs up the fight-or-flight system and promotes immune factors called cytokines, which can increase risks of a variety of illnesses. Cytokines are also released when we have the flu, so if stress increases their presence, we can feel burnt out and foggy, just like if you had a low-level flu that went on forever.

Why is it so difficult to relax, even when we know it is the best thing for us?

How does exercise benefit our minds as well as our bodies?

Our brain is built by evolution to react, not to reflect. We are bringing the past into the present all the time and reacting to present situations based on past experience that

Exercise has the great benefit of decreasing stress factors and promoting a number of neurotransmitters that help diminish these long-term problems. The recom-

What changes do you see in patients who have been paying attention to breathwork, muscle relaxation and exercise? We become more observant, less apt to live in the automatic, reactive way. We live in a more reflective way, which helps us make better decisions and judgments for ourselves. There is evidence from functional MRIs that shows how the front part of the brain is activated with this practice of paying attention and doing mind-body skills. This is the part of the brain thought to promote a higher ordered sense of self regulation and executive function. We are all coping with certain levels of stress and certain ways the brain has been encoded and developed. It takes work and constant attention to what is going on to be able to autonomously and independently regulate oneself. But with that comes a sense of internal confidence, a sense that “I have tools to manage my internal world and stress levels, and I am not just dependent on medications to regulate myself.” Being able to step back and not get pulled into those internal forces and motivations is maximized by the teaching of mindfulness. This is a long-term proposition of constantly learning to be more reflective.

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Health & Wellness > bestofneworleans.com > JANYARY 04 > 2011

It is a broad term which encompasses methods of using the mind to manage the body’s unhealthy stress and emotional dysregulation. Managing our stress with mind-body skills, exercise, yoga or just healthy time off can give us a greater ability to step back and make executive decisions based on clearer, more discriminatory information. Our programs include training in diaphragmatic breath, progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness — a method of paying attention to thoughts, feelings and sensations in a way that promotes observation and reflection as opposed to repetitious reactive behaviors, relationships or interpersonal interactions. So there are two main goals: teaching people how to utilize their minds to shift out of the stress circuit and teaching them mindfulness.

What is the stress circuit?

mendation is to exercise 30 minutes a day and watch one’s nutrition. Yoga is a wonderful way of doing not only good exercise, but since it is focused on an attunement to the body, it is a type of meditation. Some people do better with a movement meditation like yoga, because they don’t like to sit still. Incorporating a way of paying attention to their thoughts, feelings and sensations combined with movement is something they find much more attractive and fruitful.

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Health & Wellness > bestofneworleans.com > JANUARY 04 > 2011

The First weekend of every month features: Dr. Henri Roca, Medical Director of Greenwich Hospital’s Center for Integrative Medicine. The Second weekend of every month features: Dr. Lee Matthews, psychologist, on staff with the Akula Foundation, Grief Resource Center. 3rd and 4th weekends are physicians and community health organization. Tune in...Call in...every Saturday 9am - 10am

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FroM the proFeSSIonalS oF eaSt j e F F e r S o n g e n e r a l h o S p I ta l

e at to lI ve

FaSt tIMeS

fresh juice fasts are full of vitamins By Missy Wilkinson

— and controversy.

I

Succulent SunrISe Serves one one one one one

what &

how

carrot apple orange pear

Wash all the fruit. Peel the orange, leaving the white pith on the fruit, remove seeds from the apple, and cut the top and tip off the carrot. Feed the fruit through your juicer, discard or compost the pulp and consume juice within 10 minutes to maximize the amount of micronutrients and living enzymes. If you don’t have a juicer, follow the same steps, but put the fruit in a blender and puree. Strain through a layer of cheesecloth to separate juice from pulp.

tailor your workout to your fitness goals by monitoring your heart rate. By katie kidder CrosBie

I

f the conventional wisdom, “Move around more. Eat less,” makes you think weight loss isn’t rocket science, you may be surprised to learn how exact a science it can be. As it turns out, not all caloric burn is created equal. For example, exercising at lower heart rates can burn more fat than exercising at higher rates. But does that mean taking a slow stroll is a better weight loss tactic than jogging? Not really. Exercise expenditure is categorized into several different zones, which correspond to various percentages of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate (MHR) is the highest number of beats per minute your heart would beat if you were running as fast as possible. The process for obtaining your MHR can be as simple as using a predictive formula or as involved as a comprehensive test that measures your endurance capacity (VO2 Max). Fitness expert Mackie Shilstone, executive director of the Fitness Principle with Mackie Shilstone at East Jefferson General Hospital, explains that by measuring VO2 Max through specialized equipment and testing, experts at the Fitness Principle can pinpoint, among other variables, the MHR and therefore have the most accurate data for determining appropriate heart rate zones to optimize fat utilization. “Our goal is to determine the ventilatory threshold or defection point, which will help us determine when we shift toward higher carbohydrate utilization and less fat as a fuel source,” Shilstone says. The average person interested in target heart rate zones for weight control and fitness can probably forgo high-tech testing. People interested in weight control can opt for the Karvonen method, a simple calculation anyone can use to estimate his or her MHR and target heart rate zones. Heart rate zones are based on a percentage of your MHR. According to the American Heart Association, optimum heart rate zones for fitness should be between 50 and 85 percent. Although these numbers vary from individual to individual and even within the course of a person’s life, most people cannot sustain a heart rate of 90 percent or higher for very long. Conversely, heart

rates under 50 percent may not be high enough for effective exercise. To calculate target heart rate zones, you must establish your resting heart rate (RHR), your maximum heart rate (MHR) and your heart rate reserve (HRR). First find your resting heart rate by taking your heart rate first thing in the morning before you get up or by taking it after lying down for 20 minutes. To establish your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. The MHR equation for a person 30 years of age is 220 - 30 = 190. Find your heart rate reserve by subtracting your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate. For example, if a 30-year-old has a resting heart rate of 70, the equation for HRR would be 190 - 70=120 Then, to determine a heart rate zone at 60 percent, multiply your heart rate reserve by 60 percent and add it back to your resting heart rate. For this example, the formula would be (120 x .60) + 70= 142. In this scenario, a heart rate of 142 means this person is exercising at 60 percent. Repeat this equation for 70, 80 and 90 percent to determine all of your target heart rate zones. “The higher you go above your defection point heart rate, the less you rely on fat as fuel,” Shilstone says. That is not to say you aren’t burning plenty of calories when you exercise at higher rates, but you tend to burn more carbohydrates and less fat stores. “Sometimes less is more if you can go longer,” Shilstone says. The key for calorie burning is to move your body at a specific intensity for at least of 270 minutes a week. Shilstone recommends an easy, safe and effective technique to help you optimize fat utilization during exercise. Known as the talk test, is derived from track coach and Nike cofounder Bill Bowerman and simply means pushing your body to a point below becoming breathless. You should be able to carry on a conversation with yourself out loud, thus remaining below your ventilatory threshold. “Optimizing your energy system management can be as simple as talking to yourself or as scientific as the testing performed at the Fitness Principle,” Shilstone says.

Health & Wellness > bestofneworleans.com > JANYARY 04 > 2011

f you’re even marginally involved with holistic health paradigms (maybe you take the occasional bikram yoga class or buy organic produce at Whole Foods), you’re probably familiar with juice fasting. Touted by believers as a panacea for a cornucopia of physical and mental ailments, decried by skeptics as a scam diet, juice fasts are as controversial as they are vitamin-C laden. The most notorious is Stanley Burroughs’ Master Cleanse, which advocates consumption of a mix of lemon or lime juice, maple syrup, distilled water and cayenne pepper — a spicy, organic lemonade, in other words. However, juice fasting can include any number of fresh-squeezed organic juices. Proponents say the break from digestion gives the body more energy, which it can devote toward healing old ailments and ridding itself of accumulated toxins. “It seems like a lot of the claims (supporting juice fasting) were backed up by research that was being ignored by members of the medical community,” says Aaron Nitzkin, an adjunct professor of linguistics and English at Tulane University who has gone on five fasts since 2002, ranging in length from eight to 28 days. “I experienced major healing — a joint problem I had resolved itself while I was on the fast.” Krista Violet, who formerly owned Dixie Bee juice bar and now sells her organic juices at farmers markets and festivals, says dietary changes, including consumption of fresh juices, healed her psoriasis, eczema and digestive problems. Technically, the juice fast isn’t really a fast, since the juice delivers enough caloric value to meet minimum daily values. However, dietitian Corey Walsh, founder and director of Real Life Nutritional Counseling, says she doesn’t recommend juice fasting. “I am not one to promote fasting in any way,” Walsh says. “I understand you are getting the calories, but for that time frame, if all you are getting is sugar, you’re missing out on other important nutrients. I think it can very much negatively affect your metabolism.” Walsh points out that any weight loss incurred while on the fast won’t be sustained after its completion. “If you do end up losing weight from the process, it is going to be more muscle and water. You aren’t going to be losing body fat.” Nitzkin says he did lose some muscle mass during his long (21 days or more) fasts, but that for him and other juice fasters he knows, weight loss was never the goal. Walsh ascribes any good feelings to the fact that refined flours and processed foods are removed from the diet when juice fasting. “I wonder if that clarity is because all they are consuming is juice, or because they are taking processed foods out of their diets? I come from a place of eating fresh, whole, sufficient amounts of food, the simpler and fresher the better.” That being said, she advocates juice as a good way to get a lot of vitamins and minerals, especially for people who otherwise wouldn’t consume the recommended five to seven daily servings of fruits and vegetables, have trouble digesting fruit or don’t like its texture. “Juicing in general is very nutritious,” Walsh says. “But it is not something I would recommend exclusively.” There’s no denying the healthy effects of the potent brew of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in a fresh cup of juice. For sheer convenience and deliciousness, juice is hard to beat. Violet offers this recipe, “Succulent Sunrise,” a juice blend she says is high in antioxidants, vitamins A, B and C, fiber and potassium.

exercising to Your own Beat

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