Unfair Gym Closures During COVID

It seems unimaginable that some businesses would still be forced to close almost six months since the COVID19 pandemic began. In the beginning, it made sense to close because we had no idea what this virus was and we had to flatten the curve. However, once the curve flattened (back in April) it made sense to open businesses slowly and have strict guidelines for safety and to record data. Every action has a reaction, viruses and human behavior are not that simple. The longer the lockdown goes on, the more you see other things like suicide rates, mental health issues and domestic violence rise. Extended periods of isolation is not only bad for the mind, but impacts the immune system and overall health. While initially locking down was the correct course of action, many experts believe we need to pay more attention to the consequences at this point.

The majority of true professionals complied and even agreed with the initial lockdown. Truthfully, I believe even more businesses and activities should have been shut down in the very beginning simply because we had no data on this virus. Trainers and gym owners are not looking to risk their customer’s health and their own health. I would never even fathom risking my client’s and my family’s health to go to work; no amount of money would make me do that.  I told my clients no gym and no in-home services until we see where this virus goes and what the guidelines are to open safely. Certified professional trainers have to adhere to the standard of care set by the industry educators, as they are representatives of that certifying agency. Simply it means, what a prudent professional trainer would do in the same or similar situation. This standard protects the consumer from negligent actions by a business or employee. True professionals adhere to this standard of care and always put their client’s and patients first. Our job is to help people live a healthier life, not hurt them. If there was clear research that demonstrated gyms should not open, I would not open regardless of the financial impact. However, I do think it is horribly unfair to close businesses and offer so little financial support. The PPP was not great for the service industry and did not cover as much as the public would like to believe. Businesses cannot be treated as a one size fits all, it just does not work that way. The fitness industry has been brushed aside this entire pandemic. How can Americans be expected to take health professionals seriously when the government deems us so unimportant. Even the gyms that are open are not making anywhere near enough income, so of course they still need help.  Our landlords are expected to just give free rent; how is that fair? The government should be giving small businesses enough money to pay their bills if they are going to keep us closed. We cannot make up the business we are losing so loans just turn into stressful debt. Giving us the financial support we so desperately need solves two problems; landlords get paid and businesses do not end up owing a fortune. Many responsible business owners save money. We always plan for unexpected things that may impact our income, but nobody expects a complete loss. As an owner I have safe money in case I get hurt or sick. The difference is I am completely closed and I have to pay the usual overhead with zero income. Nobody plans for that and certainly not for six months of it. Even in normal circumstances in my absence the business still runs, pays for itself and gives me a stream of income so it really would not be so devastating. Honestly though, how is it fair that us owners have to burn all of our hard earned savings because of something we had no control of? Loans do not make up for all the lost business; we need forgivable money based on our rent, electric and insurance – all heavy business expenses.  How many other industries got bailed out and literally some needed it after one month of being closed? If you cannot weather one month of being closed, then you probably should not be open to begin with. In some circumstances the government bailed out industries that were actually responsible for their situation, but refuse to help us when we did nothing wrong other than exist. Certain groups of people can destroy their industry and just get a tax funded bail out. Think about how many people that have government and similar type jobs that are still getting paid full salary to work less hours or none at all while nurses and other providers work more for the same or less money. All the talk about the extra $600 keeping people lazy may have some truth, but that money actually helped people like me. While the extra $600 is a drop in the bucket when considering the huge overheads gyms have, at least it was something. This entire pandemic just proves how few resources we put towards health and wellness.

My main issues with the closure order is that the decision lacks the relevant data to justify the claim that a gym is a dangerous place and there is no plan of action even mentioned for us. There is evidence to prove gyms are NOT more dangerous than similar businesses currently open.  I do not expect a politician to be a health expert and understand gym ownership and management, it is not their job. Me trying to do the job as a politician is as ridiculous as a politician trying to be a health and wellness expert. However, I do expect the people in power to have the tools necessary to surround themselves with true experts that actually have real life experience in the industry they want to regulate. The fact that no experts have explained why NY gyms cannot open when over 44 states have gyms that safely opened is simply unfair. I understand that Governor Cuomo is a NY guy like me and back in the day anyone who trained at some of those gyms probably still have bad memories that stick out in our minds. While the industry has some issues still, it has come a long way and is getting better every day. The true professionals are essential to health and wellness. Our facilities and practices are not that of the prehistoric gyms we went to as kids. We do not pack people like sardines in dirty places with uneducated trainers, we are much more than that. The fact that CT gyms have been open since June 17th proves my point because the infection rate is among the lowest in the US, and continued to decline once gyms opened. As a wellness and education professional I depend on peer reviewed data, published experiences of other health professionals, education seminars by industry experts and my 20 years of experience when designing programs and making decisions on people’s health. I do not make decisions or publish material simply based on whims or theories, I have to prove what I say and do. As an expert witness I have heard the famous “everybody knows” line. It is one of my favorite lines because it simply means the attorney has little or no specific data to prove their claim. At this point there is abundant data and publications by reputable sources that conclude a compliant gym is no more likely to expose a person to COVID19 than any other business.  As long as every facility follows cleanliness, occupancy and social distancing guidelines, people will be safe and improve their health through exercise.

Responsible gyms owners agree that following guidelines that include special attention to social distancing and cleanliness is the key to success. There is enough data and states open that prove gyms can safely open. Even if the gyms have to operate at lower occupancies than restaurants and bars to start, at least allow us a chance. Gym owners understand this is a process and have guidelines in place to take it slow and have industry accountability systems in place. We deserve a chance and our customers deserve to have a choice if they want to come. We are not enforcing cancellations and we are not charging people while shut down.

I truly believe that part of the issue is without a barrier of entry and at least some mandated requirements, the fitness industry attracts some characters that do not belong and make the actual professionals look bad. This lack of regulation is most definitely why our industry is suffering and is not looked upon as more than simple recreation. States may get tax revenue from gyms and trainers, but that is it. Other professions that require licenses and registration bring in direct revenue to the state and make sure professionals are actually qualified to render services. Many have fought to avoid regulation because they think it will hurt the industry. I mostly disagree; in my opinion some regulation is exactly what we need. There is a segment of trainers out there that make the professionals look bad and hurts our cause. The simplest way to start fixing our industry is to create a mandatory bi-annual state registration fee, maybe $100 for the first time and $75 after that. The minimum requirements would be a current accredited certification, $500,000 of liability insurance and current cpr/aed. For higher level professionals with more credentials such as a degree in the field or nutrition specialties, registration is the same except you must turn in the credential to prove your advertised title. For example, a trainer with a degree in Kinesiology would simply turn in their degree in order to use the title Kinesiologist. This registration process will create state revenue and a way to make bad trainers that do not adhere to the standard of care accountable. If a trainer behaves inappropriately or is negligent due to lack of professionalism they may have their registration suspended. As of now trainers really suffer no recourse for negligence because the employer takes the brunt of their mistakes. My biggest case was an over 10-million-dollar verdict for a stroke victim who suffered due to the trainer’s negligence.. Sadly, the trainer just went and got another job at another gym and the new employer knew nothing about it. A registration system with mandatory insurance would eliminate bad trainers just like bad drivers. In my opinion it is about public safety especially in current times. Gyms can be graded on cleanliness. As an industry we would balance and keep each other accountable to our mission and our customers. With all of that being said, gyms deserve a chance just like the rest of the businesses that have reopened. There is no reason to force us shut any longer.

Charles DeFrancesco, BS, CPT



Cathleen O’GradyJun. 26, 2020, et al. “It’s Safe to Go Back to the Gym-If There’s Little COVID-19 around, Study Suggests.” Science, 28 June 2020, www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/it-s-safe-go-back-gym-if-there-s-little-covid-19-around-study-suggests#:~:text=A%20study%20on%20the%20risk,to%20go%20through%20peer%20review.

Moody, P. (2020, August 03). Michigan Fitness Officials: Not One Case of COVID Traced to Any Re-Opened Gym in USA. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.moodyonthemarket.com/michigan-fitness-officials-not-one-case-of-covid-traced-to-any-re-opened-gym-in-usa/?fbclid=IwAR351LAojDGFMbtc2U2bGKHD8zo8ylQm6aZL2Ymj9DZEB7ELCJN9vVQz5uk



How to Exercise Safely at Home and Outside During COVID-19

In the ongoing fight against coronavirus, it’s not enough to just stay home, wash your hands, wear masks, etc. You also need to keep your body healthy and your immune system strong to better fend off COVID-19. With this in mind, exercise is absolutely essential for the entire family — not just during the lockdown, but also as you ease back into the world at large. From working out at home to taking your exercises outdoors, here’s everything that you need to know.

Home Exercises for the Family

With exercising at home a real necessity these days, it’s truly fortunate that it’s relatively simple to do so. Thanks to technology, online exercise classes can be done at home are plenty, and it’s just a matter of choosing the best ones that work for you and your family.


  • There’s no dearth of free exercise classes online that the entire family can participate in.

  • Many fitness studios and gyms — including The Arena — are offering virtual training sessions for their homebound clients.

  • Whether you’re just starting out or transitioning to a home practice, you have your pick of the best online yoga classes to help maintain both your physical and mental health.

  • And yes, yoga will benefit your kids, too—maybe even helping to calm those little minds who are bored and restless in lockdown.


A Wellness-Oriented Home

The lure of the couch and electronics when you’re stuck at home can be great, which is why setting up your home for wellness can be the extra push that you and your family need to exercise and stay healthy in the pandemic.


  • Setting up a home gym is worth doing — not just to motivate your family to exercise, but also to ensure their safety while doing so.

  • Installing rubber flooring is absolutely essential in minimizing the risk of injury as your family gets active at home.

  • Home exercise equipment that supports your fitness goals yet doesn’t take up plenty of space is worth investing in, too.

  • In a pinch, you can also get creative and make use of household objects or even just your body weight if you’re unable to acquire home gym equipment.


Ease Into the Outdoors

Restrictions are starting to get lifted in many locales, so it can be worth exercising out in the great outdoors again and enjoying nature’s inherent benefits. However, don’t get complacent just yet, and make sure to take precautions as you start taking your family outside.


  • It’s understandable if you’re not rushing back to the gym just yet.

  • Instead, look into safe outdoor activities that the family can do.

  • Activities that make social distancing easy like hiking are ideal if you must go outdoors, but you’ll definitely want to hike responsibly.

  • In fact, be very aware of the dos and don’ts of exercising outdoors at this time.


Keeping your family fit and healthy is a must in fighting off the virus, but you also have to keep doing it in such a way that COVID-19 doesn’t find you. Prevention is still better than cure, after all, so keep exercising at home when you can and stay safe outside whenever possible.

by Anya Willis


photo via pixels.com

5 Tips to Build Muscles and Gain Strength

Almost everyone wishes to gain muscles and increase their body strength. However, not many people succeed in their quest to develop remarkable body shape. Muscle building requires much more than just the regular workout sessions and diet. You must reschedule your meal timings as well as workout routine according to the body part that you target from time to time. Along with this, proper sleep and recovery is the prerequisite to ecstatic muscular regeneration and gains. You might want to rethink the kind of exercises to focus on during the muscle gain spree as well.

Keep reading to know the effective tips that will make you gain as well as retain muscle for a longer duration.


1.   Stick To Multi-Joint Exercise


Bodybuilding is a matter of consistency and top-notch patience. Apart from this, even the kind of workout you perform determines the positive results in the long run. You must target the bigger muscle groups by performing multi-joint exercises. Instead of focusing on one exercise, try doing a set of multiple exercises like squats, lunges, planks, and butt bridges. Not only will this improve your joint health, but also help you build strength in no time. That way, you can perform high-intensity workouts without any hassles. Make sure to adhere to the workouts that involve the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle joints.

Ideal Exercises

  • Squats are the wholesome exercises that target multiple joints as well as muscles simultaneously. It works several muscles like quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Along with this, the joints like knee, ankle, and elbow also undergo significant movements with these exercises.
  • Planks, the workouts that help you develop the core strength and target the core muscles are highly beneficial in muscle gaining spree. Some muscle groups like the obliques, rectus abdominis, latissimus dorsi, and core muscles strengthen with a few sets only.
  • Lunges are yet another commendable exercise targeting your knee joint and leg musculature significantly. Make sure to try out the various types of lunges like side lunges and forward lunges for faster results

    2.   Increase The Protein Intake

    • Leguminous Plants are a rich source of protein and provide almost half the total protein intake recommended for muscle growth. You must eat the beans, lentils, and soy foods to gain muscle in no time.



      One of the most important components of the muscles is amino acids. To gain muscles faster, you need to consume more protein than contain innumerable amino acids. Make sure to incorporate more protein in your diet for top-notch muscle growth as well as regeneration. You might want to increase the protein intake after workout sessions to help in muscle recovery and repair processes. During the workouts, the muscle fragments tear up and undergo extensive Damage. With the heavy protein meals, you can increase the repair, which helps in better muscle gain as well as retention. For optimal results, you can buy sarms to boost muscle recovery procedure significantly. Around 1.5 gramsper kilogram of body weight of the protein is ideal for the people who wish to gain muscle and attain a muscular body.

      Protein-Rich Foods

      • Leguminous Plants are a rich source of protein and provide almost half the total protein intake recommended for muscle growth. You must eat the beans, lentils, and soy foods to gain muscle in no time.
      • Nuts & Seeds are yet another amazing proteinaceous snack option that you can consider between the meals. From groundnuts to walnuts, every type contains top-notch levels of proteins for better body shape.



    3.   Devote Time For Recovery



    Often, workout enthusiasts tend to overlook the importance of muscle recovery and regeneration. If you think that you can gain muscle just by exercising day and night, then you’re wrong. Your body adapts to the replication of muscle cells during the time you rest and recover from the heavy sessions. In case you don’t give your body the time to rest, you might undergo chronic musculoskeletal disorders and malfunctioning. Along with this, it slows down the growth of muscles and decreases the muscle gain significantly.




    • Repairs the Micro-Tears In Muscles that develop during the extensive workout sessions. Also, it promotes muscle regeneration as well as replication which fetch the much-needed muscle gain.


    • Promotes Muscle Retention owing to an increase in the muscle gain process. This makes the life of muscle cells much longer than usual.


    4.   Carb Cycling


  • Source

    Instead of reducing the carbohydrate intake, you need to reschedule the times when you consume your carbs. The best time to incorporate more carbs into your system is right after the workout session. Make sure to take around 8 to 12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. You might want to increase the carb intake in case you level up your bodybuilding spree. This is because your body needs glycogen to generate energy which increases your efficiency in the gym. For top-notch and faster muscle gain, make sure to eat your carbs after the workout. Also, make sure to stay away from the foods containing artificial sweeteners like sodas and desserts.



    Healthy Carbohydrate-Rich Foods


    • Oatmeals contain high levels of carbs along with the fibers that help in better digestion. Also, it provides the much-needed glycogen to meet the energy requirements.


    • Sweet potatoes & Brown Rice contain significant levels of carbohydrates and other nutrients essential for building muscle.


    • Fruits like berries, apples, peaches, and bananas contain top-notch carbs and help in providing energy in no time. It’s always beneficial to munch on some bananas or apples after your workout to replenish the lost energy.


    • Veggies rich in carbs like Tomatoes, Asparagus, Spinach, and Broccoli are highly essential to meet your energy goals

      5.   Focus On The Workout Volume


      Instead of performing the high-intensity workouts, you need to focus on performing the medium-intensity workouts multiple times. A minimum of 10 to 15 repetitions of one particular workout is ideal for better muscle gaining and strength building. Also, make sure not to take more than 30 to 45 seconds of break between each repetition. High volume training helps in fetching better endurance and makes you gain commendable strength. That way, you can easily perform high-intensity workouts without fail. Keep doing the same workout until the saturation point to stimulate your muscle cells to gain muscle significantly.



      • Joint Damage subsides due to high volume training. This makes you last longer in the gym and doesn’t cause any joint-related disturbances.


      • Promotes CNS Functioning which in turn accelerates your performance and increases the duration of your workout. With better reflexes, you can continue to train without feeling lethargic, sore, or confused.


      • Increases Strength develops better endurance about the workout sessions. Also, it prepares you for the long workout hours and maintains a top-notch immunity. To gain muscle faster, you must promote endurance and stick to high volume rather than high-intensity exercises.


      Bottom Line


      Muscle training is all about developing strength and staying consistent throughout the journey. You might feel like giving up now and then due to excessive soreness and lethargy. However, you must continue to perform the medium-intensity and high-volume workouts to see faster results. Apart from this, you must eat more protein and steroids preparations to gain as well as retain muscles for a long duration. Prefer to consume the carbs after your workout session as it replenishes the lost energy in the gym. Refer to the muscle-gain tips mentioned above to develop the muscular body type with few efforts.

      By Jessica Smith

Overcoming Fear of Positive Transformation

Many people feel insecure when they hear of making changes. The thought of change has triggered the emotional mind of many over the years and these triggers have often hindered transformation and success.

Positive change is merely the ability to modify your ways in order to make improvements. You can use a variety of techniques in order to transform your personal characteristics. Transformation occurs by amending patterns, behaviors, habits and thinking.

The fear of change is often an illusionary state of mind. Many people fail to challenge their fears making it difficult to get through the day.

Making positive transformations is rewarding, since it builds self-esteem and strength of character. We can use visualizations to make constructive transformations.

Start with visualizing yourself. Focus on the negative and positive. Are you a negative thinker, or a positive thinker? If you are negative, then work harder at building your self-esteem and confidence. It will empower you to make personal transformations that lead you to success.

Positive change occurs by sticking with your plan while working to achieve your goals. For instance, if you intend to lose weight, then you must stick with an exercise routine and dietary guidelines. You must adjust to something new. When transforming behaviors, habits and thinking to productive patterns, it brings much greater rewards.

When you stay stuck in an unchanged pattern, it encumbers you from achieving success. Face fears directly to make productive changes and it will guide you to building self-esteem.

People with low self-esteem are often afraid to transform, which is clearly linked to the fear of accepting difference. Change, even when positive, can create discomfort because it is something different than what we’re used to. We must be open to accepting change by retraining the mind.

Self-analysis can help you make positive transformations while building self-esteem.

To make constructive changes and eventually transform, start by assessing the self. Self-analysis is the ability to evaluate the self. Often when one goes through this, they find issues they did not know existed. For instance, discovering being afraid to be alone. This is a common fear amongst many people, yet many do not realize that this fear is embedded in the subliminal and unconscious mind. By self-analyzing, one can discover his or her fears and work to eliminate the problem.

When one self-analyzes, often he or she can make positive transformations and build self-esteem by expressing his or her feelings and thoughts. This person can accordingly admit to his or her admissions while recognizing his or her qualities and the way that one behaves. Throughout the process, you actually become closer to yourself, which then builds self-esteem. By becoming closer to self, you can focus on personal achievements and gratitiude to build a stronger strength of character. You will find satisfaction within yourself by ding this often.

Self-analysis makes it possible to discover the feelings that make you feel uncomfortable, something often avoided for obvious reasons. By facing these issues and confronting and understanding your fears, you will often be better able to remove obstacles and roadblocks to your success.

By Dr. Robert Inesta DC L.Ac CFMP CCSP
Westchester Sports & Wellness
ViaVitae Health

Overcoming Fear of Positive Transformation


Which Motivation Style is More Effective?

A young tennis player just hit a crashing forehand to win a championship match. Parents, relatives, and coach run to congratulate him. From the sidelines, we hear all sorts of complimentary comments: “you played so well,” “you are a great player,” I knew you were going to beat him,” your strategy for the game really paid off,” and “what a super effort!”

Praising is often indicated to be a strong motivating factor for young athletes to continue participating in their chosen sports. On the one hand, young athletes love to receive every ounce of positive attention. It makes them feel pumped up and ready to go again. On the other hand, praising the athlete vs. the effort are two very different things.

Ego Focus vs. Skill Focus

Ego focus occurs when an athlete’s self-perception is primarily derived from his/her ability or natural talent over effort. A young basketball player, who is taller than his teammates, exudes confidence as he is better able to get more rebounds, run faster, and steal more balls than his teammates. Winning over his competitors is used as his measure of competence. His talents are verbally reinforced by the coach and parents, whose remarks focused on how great he is and what a fine future he will have. This young athlete completely embraces the well-intended praises as he continues to display strong, and often time flashy ball handling. Even when the team loses, he hears that he is not responsible to carry the team all by himself and losing just happened as the team puts too much expectation on him. In essence, to be seen as a winner becomes the essential ingredient for an ego focused athlete.

Skill focused emphasizes on the incremental completion of tasks to achieve a greater level of competence. The same basketball player embraces his learned skills to achieve his best and uses constant valuable game and practice feedback to make adjustments and learn through the process. The game is used as an experiential laboratory where the learned experience is used to make constant improvements. Irrespective with the end result of the game this athlete, who also seeks to win, is praised by coaches and parents for his effort, ability to stay focused, and positive display of team cohesion.  Consequently, the foundation to achieve best results is based on the constant improvement of skill development.

It is normal for athletes to embrace a combination of both skill and ego focus. It may well be that a tennis player is very determined to follow a program routine to enhance fitness and skills during practice, but becomes more ego focused when competing at a high-level championship final, having more visibility from college coaches, playing against a home town rival or competing for a scholarship.

What’s most important is that in a performance event, where an athlete may easily be tempted to be absorbed by his/her ego, a coach becomes a strong leader to help steer the focus toward regaining task-involving cues.

A comment like, “work hard at every point, hitting the ball deep into the back of the court just like you very well did during practice” helps an athlete to bring attention to what she has more control over and feels more confident about. On the other hand, had the coach said, “your ranking in better than hers, hence you will do great!” brings a very different message. The tennis player may feel pumped up at first, but, when feeling game pressure, anxiety creeps in and negative thoughts will follow. From that moment on, it becomes that much more difficult to mentally remain in the game.

In a recent interview, Rafael Nadal shared his mental approach toward practice. He said, “I do not go to practice unless I have a goal in mind to work on.” Rafael is the perfect example of the athlete whose talk-focused approach has propelled him to win multiple grand slam titles. His work ethics span around the constant improvement of his tennis skills, the enhancement of his fitness levels, and placing careful attention to his nutrition and dietary needs.

Where do you measure your Ego vs Task Focused orientation? Take a look at the link below and do your own assessment.


Ego or Task Focused?

Athletes will be well advised to shift their attention toward the development of a task focused mindset. The development of practice routines and learning from each playing experience are the essential skills that foster confidence and trust. An athlete that fully embraces his/her skills looks at challenges as an opportunity to grow rather than an invitation to avoid.


Alex Diaz, PhD

Sports Mental Edge ©

I Hate January

I went to the gym this morning. It was packed with more than triple the number of people that are there on a typical Saturday morning. My interval training class was crowded making it physically challenging to avoid being crushed with other sweaty bodies. Everyone was in my space. I don’t like jockeying for sp ace when I am working out. I go to the gym partially for he social aspect of seeing other motivated individuals
and friends, but more to work out.


I don’t like that parking is difficult when I get to the gym in January. I don’t like that I
have to sign up for some classes in advance or else I will be blocked out. I hate in the
locker room that I have find a locker way in the back corner and on the top row because
all the other lockers are taken. I can barely find an area on the mat to warm up and
stretch out. And after my crowded class, even the showers are packed. So, should I
leave my gym and find somewhere else to work out? Maybe I should just work out at
home? No need, because February is around the corner.

After 3-5 weeks from the start of the new year, the resolutions will fade back into
oblivion for 11 more months. The overcrowded conditions will no longer exist.
Everything will go back to where it should be. Did you know that only 25% of people
keep their new year’s resolutions for 30 days and only 8% for the year? This is a sad


So how do you keep working out and not be part of the majority who give up? You need
to answer the question of what is your motivation. What works is making small changes.
Don’t jump on the elliptical for 45 minutes when you haven’t even done a 20 minute
work out. Build up to your goal and make it realistic. If you do too much too soon you
are more likely to give up and more importantly more likely to get hurt. Getting hurt will
set you back in achieving your work out goal and makes you more likely to quit.

Another way to keep your resolutions are to have a friend or two commit to it as well.
The days where one of you is lazy, the other person will be your motivation. If you don’t
work out you will not only disappoint yourself but your friend also. A work out buddy is a
very effective technique.

Writing down your goals and work outs will also keep you going to the gym. Use a
calendar program and write down a day in advance what exercises you will do or the
time you are planning on going to the gym. I like the app MyFitnessPal which is free and
allows you track your weight, foods, and work outs. Watching yourself achieve your
goals will push you to keep going.

If you made resolutions it is up to you follow through and achieve them. Decide if you really want to succeed or are willing to quit. Remember most people won’t pursue their goals for more than a few weeks so stick out the crowded gym until February when the herds will thin.


Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA

Director Orthopedic Surgery Westchester Sport & Spine at White Plains Hospital Center

What Should I Know About Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is prevalent in our society, and many people are confused about how to eat to control the levels in their blood. Cholesterol is made by the body in the liver, and it is also ingested through the consumption of animal protein, such as meat, eggs, and cheese.

Our body needs cholesterol for many of the its metabolic processes. Cholesterol is a part of cell membranes, and it has a role in the production of vitamin D, hormones, and bile acids. Bile acids are used to break down fats during the digestive process. However, too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to plaque formation, whereby plaque sticks to the walls of the arteries and causes atherosclerosis. This may lead to coronary artery disease where the arteries are narrowed and blocked.

When we have our dietary cholesterol taken, we usually look at the total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol (high density lipoproteins), LDL cholesterol (low density lipoproteins), VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol, and triglycerides. LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad cholesterol,” carries most of the cholesterol to your body cells, and when the level is high, it can cause a buildup of plaque and clog the arteries. HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) is responsible for transporting cholesterol from the body back to the liver, which then removes it from the body. VLDL cholesterol mainly carries triglycerides, which can also lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood which are stored in fat cells for energy in the body, but they also can contribute to atherosclerosis.

High cholesterol levels are usually caused by an unhealthy lifestyle including poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, and smoking. Additionally, cholesterol levels tend to increase with weight and age. High levels have also been associated with family history and race. Historically, the American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended restrictions on the intake of dietary cholesterol, trans fat and saturated fat (especially from eggs), which can potentially increase cholesterol levels in the blood. However, a study published in Circulation found that after reviewing 17 studies, there did not seem to be a significant association between dietary cholesterol and heart disease or egg consumption and heart disease. In fact, the new guidelines from The AHA do not limit daily cholesterol level anymore. The old standard was to consume less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol for the population at large and less than 200 milligrams for those with a history of high cholesterol. Instead, now the focus has become focusing on the diet as a whole and choosing whole grains, vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and nuts rather counting the amount consumed every day. As far as eggs, two studies published in 2018 show that eggs do not raise the risk of heart disease and may even be protective. The AHA guidelines still restrict eggs to one per day for those with heart disease and two per day for those with normal cholesterol.Besides the research on eggs, some recent research has shown that saturated fat may not impact CVD risk as originally thought.

The take home message is moderation. Eat a diet with healthy fats, plenty of fruits and vegetables and some lean protein. Exercise and maintain a healthy weight and don’t fixate on any one part of your diet or lifestyle – look at it as a whole.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5577766/ and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30084105

by Denise Groothuis MS RD CFMP
THE ARENA and MAZE Center for Men’s Health

Track Your Success

If you want to get in shape, work out. How simple is that? Easy to say, but hard to do. You must find what motivates you. Most people respond very well to schedules and routines. That is why I recommend putting your workouts in a calendar before you work out. This works best if you write out a week or month in advance. If you have in your schedule spin class Saturday at 9:30AM you are much more likely to go then if just say I will go work out at some point over the weekend. Having a buddy also helps. Someone to push you when you are feeling lazy will give you the external motivation when it isn’t coming from yourself. Also, having someone you are pushing will motivate you to not quit.
I make going to the gym part of my daily routine every day except Thursdays. It is the way I start every day and it as much a part of my morning as breakfast and brushing my teeth. On the weekends I book a class at the gym and work out with a friend whenever possible. If I miss a day, I feel bad. The days where I don’t feel like going, I just push through and 100% of the time I feel better afterwards. I like to work out in the mornings, but whatever time works best for you is fine. Just make it a part of your day.
Another trick to motivate you is to document your progress. You can document your workouts and see how many times you have gone. You can also track results like weight loss or strength gains. Seeing progress is a reward. Some people like to post their results and see this as motivation, but I would hate to disappoint all of my followers.
For one of my sons when he was in high school, he wanted (needed?) to get in shape for soccer. He was relatively small (genetically my fault) and needed to make size and strength gains. We both committed to working out together in the basement 3 times/week for 3 months. There were days I had to fight with him to motivate him, but once he started actually seeing gains he was hooked. The first time we lifted, he benched 40 lbs. and curled 10lb dumbbells. He was tearful at how weak he was. He told me his friends could bench over 150 lbs. I knew he wanted to quit and give up, but he also knew he really wanted to be on the soccer team. He pushed through.
We documented every work out including what exercise, how much weight and how many reps he performed. The first 2 weeks he was in pain and was constantly whining and complaining. But then something happened. His form improved and he actually wanted to work out more. He wanted to increase the weight and was able to do so. He was dramatically improving. Six weeks into working out, I videotaped him curling shirtless and sent it to his big brother who never says anything positive to him. He simply replied, “WTF, is that Ty??” At the end of 3 months he was able to bench 120 lbs. for 6 reps and looked bigger and much more defined. It was noticeable and he was ecstatic with his results.
You know where you want to get and you already know how to get there. All you need is the push. Use a calendar and set a schedule in advance. Find a buddy or class that forces you to go. Use a trainer if you need one. Document your progress and hard work. All of these steps will keep you on the track to better health.

Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA
Director of Orthopedic Surgery
Westchester Sport & Spine of White Plains Hospital