Monthly Archives: January 2014

Germs and the Gym

It’s the end of January. You’ve finally got yourself into a little workout routine and maybe you’re starting to make some progress and see some results. This makes you happy. You should be! This is hard work! And just when you’re starting to believe you will see your goal, BAM, you get the plague.

This scenario is all too familiar to me! And it raises the question, “Should you work out if you’re not 100%”?

I have a definite opinion on this, but only because I repeatedly made the same mistake for years until I learned to listen to my body.

But before you hear from me:

What do the Doctors say?

If you google this subject you will find that doctors generally agree it’s ok to workout if you’re symptoms are “above the neck”. Imagine symptoms associated with the common cold including a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing and watery eyes. If you have “below the neck” symptoms, hacking cough, chest congestion and/or tightness, then it’s advisable to take some time off. Also, they advise against working out at all if you have a fever, feel fatigued or have widespread muscle aches.

While this medical ‘guidance’ is helpful it’s really not that cut and dry. People are different. Circumstances are different. You have to know yourself.

What I’ve learned:

The best way to get my point across is to give you an example.

A few years ago I was deep in my training when I got cold symptoms. I know a lot of people who don’t slow down for a cold. I decided to follow their example. The result for me? I believe I was responsible for giving myself pneumonia!

I have asthma, so I’m not like ‘a lot of people’ when it comes to the common cold. I didn’t always have asthma though. I developed it as an adult, so I had a lot to learn!

The first thing I learned is that dangerous illnesses can stem from a simple germ and feed on stubbornness. I didn’t ‘want’ to take a break. Heaven forbid I miss a workout! There were two things I didn’t realize. First, my body was laboring much harder doing a familiar workout because I wasn’t well. Second, my body was already working hard to get better. A lose, lose situation!

A simple cold turned into pneumonia because I refused to rest. I was out for weeks.

If you won’t do it for yourself, think about the other guy.

I truly believe that whenever I get the plague it’s from the gym (or shopping cart handles, but that’s another blog). No one who goes to the gym wants a germ infested person contaminating all the equipment. In my opinion, if your nose is all runny and you’re sneezing everywhere, you should definitely stay home no matter what the internet says.

The final question.

I’ve learned that if you have to keep asking yourself, “Should I work out, I’m not really feeling great,” the answer is “NO, you should not work out.” Give yourself a break. You will probably recover faster with a little rest and may just prevent your fellow gym friends from catching your plague.

Everyone wins!

Going Green

269538-green-teaI’ve always been a tea drinker. I look forward to a hot cup or two every morning. It gets me going.

For years I was loyal to Lipton black tea. Why? Because that’s what my parents bought. It was what I grew up on. I didn’t know anything else.

A few years ago I bought my first package of green tea because it was part of a cleanse I was trying. It tasted slightly different but it was good! Adding a little douse of fresh lemon made it taste just like what I was used to, BUT with added health benefits. I was sold and never turned back to the dark side.

Why is Green Tea a Great Choice?

269538-green-tea-leaves

Minimal Processing

In general, the best foods and beverages for you are the ones with the least amount of processing. All teas (except herbal) come from the same type of bush (Camellia Sinensis). The level of processing determines the type of tea. Green tea is the least processed type of tea and therefore contains the most antioxidants of all the varieties.

More on Antioxidants

Antioxidants delay or prevent cell damage.

The antioxidants in tea are called polyphenols.

Catechins are a type of polyphenol found in large amounts in tea and are a very powerful antioxidant. (Catechins are also found in much smaller amounts in red wine and chocolate). Catechins are like little warriors that are believed to help fight various cancers, heart disease, diabetes and also help reduce inflammation in the body.

By weight, green tea is 20-45% polyphenols. Of this, 60-80% are in the form of catechins. That’s a lot of natural power fighting for your health!

Considered One of the World’s Healthiest Drinks

There have been numerous studies on green tea over the years which show a multitude of health benefits. Unsweetened, natural brewed tea has zero calories and is packed full of antioxidants. Adding vitamin C in the form of lemon makes the healthy compounds of green tea easier to absorb. (Dairy, on the other hand, makes the good properties harder to absorb).

Low Caffeine

Green tea contains less caffeine than black tea and far less caffeine than coffee.

Weight Loss

There have been many studies on green tea and weight loss, but they don’t all agree. While some studies have shown that green tea helps increase metabolism and fat burning, others don’t show an increase at all. It’s possible the effects may depend on the individual.

In any case, replacing a sugary or processed beverage with green tea is a good thing!

Final Thoughts

This little list of mine just touches the surface of the health benefits of green tea. I know that not everyone is a tea fan. (Hey, I can’t stomach the taste of coffee. I get it!). But if you’re a tea drinker anyway, why not give it a try?

Cheers!