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Exercise: the key to slowing your biological clock.

My Grandpa passed away from cancer yesterday afternoon, after a long and happy 89 years of life. He was kind, loving and generous and dedicated his life to his family,especially to his wife who he adored and would have done anything for. He was a veteran from world war 2, father of 6, and grandfather of… Too many of us to count! He was an athlete through and through, doing many sports including running, swimming, golf and his absolute favorite, tennis. Up until only a few months ago he played tennis regularly, giving guys half his age a run for their money. As a result, he was able to lead a very independent, active and fruitful life. In memory of his life long love of tennis, this article will be about the role of exercise on health in old age. This article is dedicated to my grandpa, mom, and the rest of my family.

Aging entails to a slow reduction of muscle, strength, energy and ultimately a reduced ability to partake in day to day activities. It results in a chronic low grade of inflammation, a reduced level of antioxidant capacity and an increased level of reactive oxygen species. Maximal physiological function is seen at about 20 years of age. From then on theres about a 10% function reduction, in terms of heart health and strength, per decade and about 30% by about the age of 60. These reductions reach a limit at about 90, when a loss of independence is often seen. Heart beats are slowed, muscle mass is reduced, bones lose their ability to make new cells, metabolisms decline, etc. While this loss of function is unfortunately inevitable, many factors, on top of genetics, modulate the rate of function loss. Exercise, diet and overall lifestyle are huge factors that determine longevity and health.

The American College of Sports Medicine and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of exercise to get the many associated health benefits. Unfortunately, less then half of us regularly exercise, and even fewer elderly individuals do so. Older adults are often discouraged about exercise programs, especially when they have led previously sedentary lives or have a chronic health condition. Inactivity tends to increase the progression of muscle loss and weakness, resulting in a higher fall risk and a reduction of functionality later in life. An exercise program is therefore an effective way to age with grace and get the most out of your later years. My grandpa managed to stay completely independent, while playing tennis 3 or so times a week; an amazing feat for someone in there 80s! He was a prime example of all of the benefits exercise comes with.

A combination of strength and endurance training (concurrent training) is seen to be the most effective way to counteract the function declines associated with old age.Strength training is great because it results in muscle growth and power whereas endurance training is seen to really enhance aerobic capacity and metabolism by our muscles (e.g. Increased mitochondria, myoglobin, capillary density, etc.). Concurrent training has been seen to have good results in treating many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, fibromyalgia, cancer, arthritis, and so on. Regular exercise in general is a great way to maintain a healthy body weight, improve flexibility, reduce inflammation, increase balance, improve blood sugar control and counteract the enhanced bone mineral reductions in elderly individuals.

Mental health is also greatly affected by exercise. Depression is becoming more and more common, especially in older populations, and is predicted to be the most prominent disease in elderly by 2020. Exercise is seen to improve mood, reduce risks for dementia, slow cognitive decline and improve overall brain health.Furthermore, exercise helps to improve sleep, stress and self confidence and is an effective treatment strategy for individuals suffering from depression. My grandpa was always happy, positive and extremely intelligent; obviously a lot of this was from other factors such as genetics and upbringing, but exercise definitely had a contribution.

No matter previous activity or inactivity levels, anyone can benefit from regular exercise. So how do you get going? It may be daunting to start, but exercise really doesn’t have to be anything extreme, you just need to get moving! If you were previously sedentary, start slow and maybe consider getting a green light from your doctor if you have some preexisting condition. Commit to a schedule and force yourself to stick to it; eventually it will become a habit and in no time at all you’ll reap its rewards. Exercise shouldn’t hurt or make you feel like crap, so if you feel off during activity, take it seriously. Good endurance workouts for older individuals (and anyone for that matter) can include walking, yoga, fitness classes and even aquafit. Strength exercises can be done with free weights, resistance bands or your own body weight (rock climbing anyone?). It’s best to find activities that you enjoy and can maybe even get competitive with, like my grandpa with tennis, so that you wont dread your workouts.

Exercise is more and more important as you get older and is seen to manage pain and inflammation, boost energy, keep a healthy brain, decrease risks for disease and allow an increased independence. Exercise really is the key to staying healthy, functional and strong as you age. Hopefully this article has given some of you guys that extra assentive to stay active, especially as you get older.

R.I.P Grandpa

Bridle C, Spanjers K, Patel S, Atherton N, Lamb S. (2012) Effect of exercise on depression severity in older people. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.111.095174.

Cadore E, Izquierdo M. (2012) How to simultaneously optimize muscle strength, power, functional capacity, and cardiovascular gains in the elderly: an update. doi:10.1007/s11357-012-9503-x.

Deslandes A. (2013) The biological clock keeps ticking, but exercise may turn it back.Arq Neuropsiquiatr.71(2):113-8.

Kemmler W, Haberle L, Stengel S. (2012) Effects of exercise on fracture reduction in older adults. doi:10.1007/s00198-012-2248-7.

Animal vs. vegetable based protein

Long time! Sorry guys! Midterm season caught me off guard and I had to take a bit of a break from blogging, but theyre done and over with! Wohoo!  Lots of change for me within the last month; my sister married her boyfriend of about a decade- so happy to have another brother in law annndddd I got a nutrition job!! :):)  Climbing outside is getting hard given the temperature and my sissyness in the cold lol :p, I guess I’ll have to make do with indoor climbing for the time being until I can get some time off of work to head back south!

Annyways, my blog today will be about protein supplementation- in particular, animal based verses plant based… some controversial views- hope you enjoy! :p And let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns! Negative or positive, I’m always happy to get feedback :)

Protein intake that exceeds the recommended daily allowance is widely used by athletes. Many athletes look to protein supplements in order to decrease recovery time and increase gains from their workouts; this in turn will increase their performance ability. Which protein source for a supplement is the best choice for athletes? Animal based or plant based? This is a question that has been hotly debated for years with factors such as absorption, completeness and alkalinity playing major roles.

Common sources of animal protein for supplementation include whey protein and egg protein; both are fast-absorbing. Casein protein is also an animal based product; it comes from beef and is slow absorbing.  Vegan options include soy and hemp (among others); both are of moderate absorption. Animal and plant protein supplements both provide complete amino acid profiles; animal based proteins have higher sulfur amino acid concentrations than plant based proteins, which may or may not be a good thing. Are the variations in absorption rates something we really need to concern ourselves with? Recent work has indicated that absorption rate of protein supplements is not of dire importance for a faster recovery in athletes. In my books, in terms of absorption and amino acid profile, vegan and animal supplements both serve their purpose well.

So what are some other considerations we should take in determining which source of protein is better for athletes? Drug Administrations allows certain concentrations of chemicals into our foods which have resulted in the allowance of many contaminants into protein powders including cadmium, arsenic, lead and mercury. The amounts may result in toxicity, predominantly in the liver, if users consume more than one serving per day, like many athletes do. Obviously an athlete who is straining their liver with toxin metabolism will not be able to reach a maximum performance. Animal based proteins show the highest concentrations of these chemicals, although that’s not to say that people who consume animal based proteins are on a path towards liver failure (just ones that are consuming way too much). With additives aside, how would an additive free animal based protein supplement compare to a vegan one?

Animal proteins are associated with higher saturated fats and cholesterol which may increase the risk for heart disease. Vegetable based proteins have no cholesterol, lower saturated fat and higher fibre content which are shown to improve glucose tolerance and risk for heart disease. That said, the above facts do not seem like something an athlete would have to concern themselves with. On the other hand, animal proteins also have higher amounts of sulphur containing amino acids, which contribute to increased acidity within our body. Our body must then waste energy to correct this! Enzymes cannot function at their full capacity when the pH is not that of a healthy, physiological pH and therefore athletes with acidosis will not be able to reach their full performance potential. On the flip side, vegan proteins are alkalizing which helps athletes remain at a normal physiological pH.

Alkaline diets promote recovery, decrease inflammation, and decrease muscle and joint pain and stiffness. That decreased recovery time means that athletes will be able to train more and as a result see quicker gains. The removal of stress from poor nutrition also means that athletes will be able to sleep better which is another factor for promoting recovery as well as managing sugar and caffeine cravings. A healthy athlete will be more likely to have a longer career and increased energy to train and compete.

Although vegetable based protein supplements may be a healthier option for athletes, they are deficient in a few things that would be beneficial to athletes. Heme iron for example is not present in vegetables, although non-heme iron is. Non-heme iron is not as bioavailable as heme iron and, since athletes require more oxygen delivery to their active muscles, non-heme iron may not be sufficient enough to sustain a healthy iron status. Iron deficiency anemia is a common problem, as well as anemia due to vitamin b12 (which is also only present in animals), in vegetarian and vegan athletes. Creatine is also lacking in vegetables, which is important in power during performance. With all of that said, the above can be supplemented into vegan athletes’ diets which will provide ample amounts of the above nutrients. Also, omnivore athletes will have these nutrients in their diets through other sources and therefore they wouldn’t be an important factor in which protein supplement is better for them.

Now it’s your turn to decide for yourself which protein source is better! Knowledge is power; instead of listening to mainstream marketing, take your health into your own hands and educate yourself to become the informed consumer we should all be.

And That Is How Teens Get Their Way

Here’s how it went:

Son A wants to go to the court with his friends. He asks me to take him. I’m exhausted and was begging for a quick nap so I ask my husband if he would drive him over.

I lay down on the sofa though I should have laid down in the garage, it would have been more peaceful.

Son A walks over and whispers, “Do you think Dad would mind picking up Friend 1 and Friend 2?”

I tell him whether I think Dad would mind is irrelevant, he needs to ask Dad directly.

I closed my eyes again.

I hear Son A walk over to Dad and ask him.

All is well. They head out.

Not two minutes later, Son B walks in the door. I knew from the start what was going to happen.

He walks over and whispers, “Hey, where’s my brother going?”

I didn’t bother opening my eyes, I just mutter, “To the courts.”

He walks away.

A few seconds later I hear his feet shuffling slowly over the floor and toward me. He quietly asks, “Who is he going with?”

I tell him it wasn’t my turn to take the roll call and I turn over toward the back of the sofa. For those of you cringing at my sarcasm, one day you may have a teenager and will understand that you need something to act as a buffer to wanting to pull your hair out. This is especially true when you need a nap and cannot get one because of constant interruptions. In a way, a little snark can be therapeutic.

I can still hear him breathing behind me. After a few more seconds he says “I missed them leaving by about two minutes. I passed them on the way home!”

I say nothing. I don’t want to even breathe as I’m afraid he’ll mistake it for submission to what I know is his determination to get to the courts too.

He shuffles around another minute or two then whispers again, “Hey, um… Do you think Dad would mind driving me over when he gets back?”

At this point, I’m trying to figure out why the kids seem to think I know what Dad would or wouldn’t mind. Do they think I have ESP or something?

I find myself telling Son B the same thing I told Son A – He needs to ask Dad, not me. But then it occurs to me Son B would never hesitate to ask me to drive him over after I just got home from driving Son A and am now questioning why this is. “Because I know you would do it,” was his response.

Sadly he’s right.  I would have.

I should have maintained my focus and held perfectly still and not answered him, because like a T-Rex his response is based on movement. Without surprise, I see the light bulb above his head power on and next, I hear, “Would you take me over when Dad gets home? Then I wouldn’t have to ask Dad and you guys would be like doing 1/2 the driving each so it’s fair!”

 

Fair??? Fair to who? I can’t even get a 2-minute nap in – there is no fair here! I can’t help but start laughing at this point because the logic is flawless and he is glimmering on sincerity, but none-the-less in a last ditch rally to protect my authoritative presence I tell him, “No. I really want to get a nap. I’m exhausted. You’ll have to break down and ask your Dad.”

I have retaken the land! Well, at least the living room.

I shouldn’t have celebrated so soon though because just as quickly as he walked back to his room he has returned. This time to ask, “How long until you think Dad will be home? ”

I’m giggling uncontrollably at this point. I give. I lost. I’m defeated.

If my husband didn’t take him when he got home I was going to – getting him out of the house was the only way I would get my nap!

And that my fellow parents are how teenagers get their way.

 

For the record – No, I never got to nap that day. Note to self: Next time remember to lay still and not answer – no matter what!

Mutual Friends at Present Company

OPENING RECEPTION Friday May 11, 6pm-12am

Several months ago Present Company used an algorithm to point to the combined mutual Facebook friends of its three principals. Everyone on that list received a letter, on business letterhead, informing their participation in a show they did not know existed. Similarly, social media attempts to create a personalized simulation of content creation. Its use and activity can be traced and routed, but to what end? Context creation could be justified as a means to superimpose these virtual norms back into a fixed time and place through visual and spatial relationships. To the point where friendship is mutable enough to inform, if not author, new artworks, projects, performances, events, and writings.

FEATURING Yasmeen Al Awadi, Eric W. Araujo, Adele Balderston, Brian Bell, Lisa Blatt, Allison Chess, Colby Claycomb, Nick Corey, Kathryn Cornelius, Jean-Michel Crapanzano, Daily Situations, Drawings by Brian Brooks/Thought by Erin Sickler, Ellie Dicola, Linn Edwards, Jason Eisner, Maria Elvira Dieppa, Thom Flynn, Jennifer Esther Garcia (We-Are-Familia), Ryan Hackett, Heng-Gil Han, Felicity Hogan, Takashi Horisaki, Katarina Jerinic, David O. Johnson, Scott Kiernan, Freek Lomme, Isabel Manalo, Patrick McDonough, Jayme McLellan & Carole Wagner Greenwood, Rafael Theodore Melendez, Naomi Miller, Irvin Morazan, Joey Piziali, Edwin Ramoran, Patrick Resing, Jorge Rojas, David Sanchez Burr, Jen Schwarting, Stoff Smulson, Danniel Swatosh presents Przemek Godycki, Champneys Taylor, Trish Tillman, Karin van Pinxteren, Mark Van Proyen and Rachel Wilberforce.

ENTRANCE 103 N. 13th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
DATES May 11 – June 3, 2012
GALLERY HOURS Saturday & Sunday noon–6pm and by appointment

Present Company evolves from the collaborative exploits of Brian Balderston, José Ruiz and Chad Stayrook. Over the past several years, the principals have exhibited their own work and developed curatorial projects for national and international audiences in numerous art spaces, galleries, museums and biennials. Their 2,100 sq. ft. space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a decentralized, evolving platform that entertains all relevant areas of artistic production and promotion.

Mmmmm, Broccoli! Blanching Broccoli to Freeze

A small local grocer had fresh broccoli florets on an awesome sale and I couldn’t help but buy it up. But, when I got home I realized that okay, maybe I bought a little too much, so I decided to go ahead and freeze some. But to just toss it in the freezer isn’t good enough. I needed to blanch it first. Blanching removes the bacteria to help keep certain fruits and veggies from going bad in the freezer. The process is simple:

 

 

1. Start with very fresh thoroughly rinsed broccoli. Cut the florets to the size desired.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3. While the water is boiling fill a large bowl with cool water and lots of ice.

4. Carefully add broccoli to the boiling water and cook briefly. Depending on size 1 and 1/2 to 3 minutes. Do not overcrowd the pot.  

5. Transfer the broccoli to the ice bath you prepared. This will halt the cooking process and prevent soggy florets.

6. After the broccoli has been cooled completely (1 and 1/2 to 3 minutes in the ice bath should do the trick) move the broccoli to a colander or paper towel to dry.

7. Once sufficiently dried pack in a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. Label and freeze.

 

(Read about ways to keep your kitchen clean)

 

To cook after freezing, bring a pot of water to a boil and add frozen broccoli. Cook for approximately 1 minuted, drain & serve. Be careful not to overcook the broccoli or it will end up soggy and mushy.

Mmmmm, broccoli!

We-are-familia’s Genogram

Currently and throughout 2011, WE-ARE-FAMILIA plans to host a succession of exhibitions and free cultural events in otherwise unoccupied  raw spaces within Brooklyn, Queens, and Miami— Beginning Tuesday, August 24, 2010 with help from Long Island City’s boutique real estate agency Modern Spaces, WE-ARE-FAMILIA takes up residency in a newly constructed building located at Ten63 Jackson Avenue. In this exhibition, WE-ARE-FAMILIA will unveil its newest Keepsake Boxes and present works by the group’s individual artists, all of who have drawn acclaim in their own right and individual careers. With over 24 artists featured, this will be the largest WE-ARE-FAMILIA exhibition to date. The exhibition will be split between a street level storefront open to the public and a penthouse apartment open by appointment only.

The show, entitled GENOGRAM, is a telling display of artwork that is diverse in its forms of expression (from photography to video to painting) yet finds common ground and tendencies. It is a study of family and families in all of their many forms, exploring circles of people, ideas, and traditions, and, drawing contributions from a majority of We-Are-Familia’s members, maps a family tree of the collective itself.  Featured artists include: Amy Ruppel, Anton Lopez, Chad Phillips, Chris Yormick, David Trumpf, Eliana Perez, Fabian Bedolla, Hisham Bharoocha, Jacob Williams, Jeff Lewis, Jesse Brown, Jennifer Garcia, Leah Ellis, Marc McAndrews, Mike Skinner, Peter Kienzle / Superette, Randy Lott, Nille Svensson/Sweden Graphics, Thundercut, Tobias Zarius, Tine Lundsfryd, Yoh Nagao and Brandon Downing of the Flarf Collective.

OPENING
Ten63 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City, New York 11101
Tuesday, August 24 from 7 to 10 PM
with performance by SOFT CIRCLE.

GALLERY HOURS
Weekdays from 4 to 9 PM.
Saturdays from 4 to 11 PM with DJ CEROCK.
Sundays from 4 to 8 PM.
Closed Mondays.

CLOSING (RSVP ONLY)
Sunday, September 5th, Sunset to 11PM
Private exhibition in Penthouse A with DJ CEROCK.
$20.00 suggested donation at the door.
Limited space available.
rsvp art (at) we-are-familia.com

Above images by: Yoh Nagao and Hisham Bharoocha.

Why Can’t My Kitchen Stay Cleaned?!?

At the end of the evening, right before bed, I do a room-to-room sweep of the house to pick up odds and ends and put them away. It takes me maybe 10 minutes, maybe 20 if its been a busy day to go through the majority of the rooms. The room that gives me the most trouble though is the kitchen. I have been having the hardest time trying to keep this room neat and organized and frankly it is driving me crazy. I don’t want to spend a half hour of more at bed time re-cleaning what I already thought I cleaned after dinner. So I decided to evaluate the room and pinpoint my trouble spots & find solutions.

Issue #1 Too many things that don’t belong – I have a reasonable amount of counter space plus a bar-height counter that sits above my prep counter and when my youngest was in his early investigative stage, I would place everything I didn’t want in his reach on these two counter spaces but it has developed into a habit and the clutter has taken over. The mail, my purse, drinking glasses, the kids’ school work and other odds and end line the upper counter and have slowly trickled down to a portion of the lower counter. Our computer printer was even on it (although neatly tucked in the corner above the desk in the dining room).

Solution: I need to break bad habits and put these things elsewhere

  • Since my youngest is older and is more understanding of what he can and cannot play with, I think it is time to move the mail and other paperwork back to the desk or better yet eliminate as much as possible by signing up of electronic statements, magazines, etc.
  • I’m creating the habit of sorting the mail right when I pick it up. Recycling envelopes & junk mail, filing statements & bills and so forth.
  • I took away my junk basket. All it did was give me a place to accumulate junk! Without it I’m forced to return things back to where they belong.
Issue #2: Even what does belong is taking over – I have a stand mixer, 2 coffee makers, a coffee grinder, a knife block, a microwave, a cutting board, a tool caddy, a toaster oven, a paper towel holder, a napkin holder, a banana holder….Where is the counter!?!? Surprisingly there is still quite a bit of space (assuming I get everything that doesn’t belong out of there!) but it is still cluttered. And then on top of my refrigerator is a slow cooker, a mini deep fryer (that we use maybe 2x a year) and a toaster… I have quite a few cabinets, but they are filled too, but I’ll get to that in a minute!
Solution: De-clutter
  • I needed to eliminate things I am not using so I donated the extra coffee maker & the toaster plus the extra kitchen tools & utensils.
  • The stand mixer needs a new home. I use it once a week or less so I wanted it in an easily accessible spot but off of my counter. After I sorted through a large cabinet it had plenty of new space that was perfect for it. I also put away the coffee grinder right next to the coffee and sugar bins in the cupboard. Being grouped together they are easy for my husband to find when he needs them.
  • The hanging tool rack near the stove & the tool caddy was a bit redundant so the counter caddy was removed. The few tools I decided to keep when into the tool drawer (Yes, I had a tool caddy, a tool rack, and a tool drawer…)
  • My favorite idea was removing the bulky knife block & replacing it with a magnetic knife bar.The knives are still easy to get to and I feel a bit better about their location – not as easy for little ones to grab at.
  • I have not done this yet, but I plan to replace the counter paper towel stand with a holder for either under the cabinet or inside a cabinet door – I just need to find something that works for me.
  • And of course, now that I eliminated the paper and other non-kitchen items there is a tremendous amount of space now!

Issue#3 The cabinets and drawers – they were too overflowing. It is hard to find what was needed & hard to put it away again.

Solution: Make space and organize!

  • I went through each cabinet and drawer and pulled out everything in them. Anything that hadn’t been used recently was not put back. I had 4 of the same cookie sheets. I’m all for having an extra one, but 4 of the same?? I also had 2 full sets of dishes – both were just everyday dishes and we rarely used more than one set, so one was packed up into storage. If we don’t use miss them after a few months I will donate them as well.
  • Food storage containers were a big mess. Bowls without lids, lids without bowls…too many of all of it! So there I was again, sorting through each and every piece deciding what should be kept and what needed to go. I kept a handful and the rest were either donated or recycled.
  • I am rather particular about how I organized my food cabinets because I hate wasting foods. It is just such a shame to me not only to waste the money but also to waste the food itself! So this was the one area in my kitchen that needed very little help, but I am considering some options such as baskets and storage containers for our pantry staples & snack foods.

Issue #4 Keeping it clean!

Even though I know I’m making it sound like we are a very messy bunch, we really aren’t but we do have some bad habits – like letting the dishes pile up after dinner or leaving things like a box of crackers on the counter. I am doing my best to break this habit but I think the key here is that we are now organized and there is less cluttered so it is much easier now!

 

I do still have a few projects for the kitchen – number one being painting it but I need the weather to warm up so it will have to wait another month or so. I also used this great inspiration from a pin on Pinterest for the measuring cup spoon rack that I plan to add a measuring conversions chart too – but I have yet to decide how I would like to do mine, so it is a nice little project for the future!