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The Health Pros and Cons of Beer Drinking

I was researching heartburn recently and was dismayed to learn that beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks can trigger heartburn.

So let us mark that as the #1 reason why I need to cut back on drinking beer (it is true, even us personal trainers have difficulties cutting back on certain unhealthy foods).

Thus I decided to research and make a list of other reasons why I should not drink beer (so often). And while I was at it I also discovered there were positives to drinking beer in moderation.


#1. Causes Heartburn and Stomach Ulcers

The alcohol in beer can trigger acid reflux, which in turns causes heartburn. Despite the name this doesn't actually hurt your heart, but it can cause severe chest pain and even neck pain. The acid reflux can also lead to stomach ulcers.

#2. Calories

Typically it doesn't list it on the label, but beer typically has 154 calories per 356 mL can. Lately I have been trying to solve this problem by switching to a low calorie beer that has only 80 calories in it (which is approx. 36% less calories than orange juice).

For reference, 3500 calories equals 1 lb of fat. Thus drinking 23 cans of beer over a 1 month period could cause you to gain 1 lb if you are not exercising to keep off the weight.

#3. Beer can trigger asthma attacks.

#4. Beer is harmful to someone who has a history of congestive heart failure.

#5. Drinking too much beer can cause gout, insomnia, high blood pressure, liver disease, neurological conditions, pancreatitis, and mental problems. Beer should also never be consumed 2 weeks before any kind of surgery.


#1. Used in moderation, beer helps prevent diseases of the heart and circulatory system, including coronary heart disease, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), heart failure, heart attack, and stroke. Beer reduces the chance of death from heart attack and ischemic left ventricular (LV) dysfunction. While it is true that beer can prevent congestive heart failure, it actually hurts people who already have that condition.

#2. Beer is also used for treating Alzheimer's disease, weak bones (osteoporosis), gallstones, type 2 diabetes, heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes, kidney stones, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and other cancers.

#3. Beer is used by pregnant women to increase the flow of breast milk - however it should be noted that the alcohol can get into the breast milk and then trigger health problems for the baby.

#4. Beer helps stimulate the appetite and digestion.

#5. Beer prevents ulcers by reducing the chances of a Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection. H. pylori is the bacterium that causes ulcers.


A little beer can actually be beneficial. Too much obviously is dangerous. Perhaps I am on the right track sticking with my low calorie beer.

The Benefits of Exercising NOW, before Winter begins

"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." - Benjamin Franklin.

Every winter I create a weightlifting exercise program for me to do indoors during the winter months. This year I have decided to start early. What is nice is that even though I started on Wednesday, I am already seeing results by Monday.

I make this exercise program for me to do every Winter because I know I won't be outside as much exercising during the Winter. Thus I have to compensate for my lack of outdoor exercise by doing more indoor exercises.

When choosing which exercises to do weightlifting makes good logical sense because it requires less space to do properly when compared to jogging, running, swimming, tennis, golf, archery, boxing, etc. In some cases even less equipment, because I don't have an indoor pool handy. :p

So what exercises do I do?

#1. Chinups using a chinup bar installed in a doorway near the washroom. This guarantees I am building biceps in a hurry.

#2. Dumbbell exercises designed to target the shoulders, triceps, and pectorals.

#3. Old School Exercises like Sit-Ups and Push-Ups. The sit-ups target the abdominal muscles and the push-ups target pectorals, various back muscles, triceps and shoulders.

#4. Jumping Jacks - I love jumping jacks while listening to music. This is a quick indoor cardio that burns a lot of calories in a relatively short time. The more you do the more you burn. It also builds strong calves and ankles.

#5. Squats with Light Weights - This is for targeting my thighs and calves. Stronger leg muscles builds better balance and makes you faster when you need to run in a hurry.

The other thing I want to get back to is the concept that there are benefits to be reaped NOW by getting into exercising right away instead of postponing it for later. As a personal trainer Winter is the slow time of the year for me, which means I would normally be exercising less. But because I like to maintain my physique and improve upon it I complement my workout in the Winter with the weightlifting and old school exercises. Last year I didn't start my weightlifting routine until December - when there was already snow on the ground. Partially because I moved in November last year and was still sorting through boxes.

But this year I am all settled in and I felt a sense of urgency to get back into it early this year so I started my new weightlifting regimen on Wednesday October 1st. I didn't set out to pick that day, it just happened to be that day. So I did weightlifting on Wednesday, Thursday, took a break on Friday and Saturday to let my muscles relax, then again on Sunday, and now it is Monday... and I am seeing some fast results.

I am not just talking extra muscles either although I am definitely feeling more buff. I am sleeping better too. I am going to bed earlier, getting up at 6:15 before my alarm goes off at 7 AM, I feel well rested and alert, my appetite is up, and I am feeling super positive about myself.

And according to my bathroom scale I have put on 4 lbs very recently - which will be mostly muscle and increased bone density. (For record keeping I have gone from 190 to 194.)

I should point out that normally people don't put on a lot of muscle in a hurry unless they have the right combination of metabolic rate, exercise, protein/nutrient intake, etc. If you are interested in this topic of how fast muscles can grow I suggest reading the following two articles:

How Fast can you Grow Muscle

Two Alternative Models for Predicting Muscle Growth

If you read the 2nd article I have posted my own model for predicting muscle growth which takes in factors like Height, Shoulder Width, Metabolic Rate, Dietary Sufficiency, Gender, Exercise Rate, and Training Category - which makes it the most comprehensive method of predicting muscle growth.

There is also the Muscle Memory factor - which is difficult to calculate. Basically what that is is when a weightlifter gets sick for a long period of time they lose a bunch of muscle mass, but when they get back into weightlifting again - even after years - they are faster at putting on the muscle because the old muscles retain the memory. This is likely the biggest factor for me right now, allowing me to build up muscle a lot faster than I normally would.

My goal this Winter is to put on at least 20 lbs of muscle and weigh 210 lbs by mid-March.

And if sleeping better and feeling healthier is a side benefit, so be it. Those are benefits I like having.

Note - This Winter I also going to be doing Archery Biathlon (combo of cross country skiing and archery) once there is snow on the ground, which combines a high intensity cardio exercise with a resistance training exercise.

New Archery Biathlon Logo

Oral Health connected to Overall Health

Now here is some interesting myth busting - your oral health is actually connected to your overall health, including your mental health.

Many people think that oral health is independent from the rest of their body - believing that they can have bad teeth and dental problems and that it is somehow separate from other parts of your body.

So let us start with some facts / interesting tidbits which will make you realize just how connected they are.

#1. One of the first side effects smokers get when they first start smoking is a yellowing of their teeth. If they brush regularly this won't be that visible, but over time this starts to wear down on their teeth as the chemicals released during the process of smoking wear down the enamel on their teeth - and enamel erosion leads to teeth loss. So if you can imagine dying of cancer, imagine being toothless and also dying of cancer.

#2. Bacteria in your mouth is normal. The problem however is that when you get too much bacteria in your mouth they start to produce acid which causes problems for your teeth - and when swallowed the acid harms your neck, stomach and lungs as the acid and bacteria spreads. People with poor dental hygiene are more prone to getting sick because bacteria spreads more easily through their system. They are also more prone to getting heartburn due to acid reflux.

#3. Various medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers and diuretics — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease.

#4. Oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease — plays a role in some diseases. In addition, certain diseases, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and others, can lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems that much more problematic.

#5. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, especially your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach themselves to damaged areas in your heart.

#6. Cardiovascular disease. Heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke are sometimes linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.

#7. Periodontitis has been linked to premature births and low birth weight of babies, decreasing their chances of survival.

#8. Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting your gums at risk. Gum disease is more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Likewise, people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.

#9. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS and similar diseases.

#10. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — is linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.

#11. Tooth loss before age 35 is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and a risk factor for other mental health problems.

#12. Sjogren's syndrome — an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth, which in turn leads to higher levels of bacteria and too much acid wear on your teeth.

A couple weeks ago I went to a new dentist near Rosedale - Archer Dental near the corner of Sherbourne and Bloor - and I was amazed at the form they had me fill out during my first visit. It covered a long list of medications for heart disease, diabetes and many other health issues that at the time I thought was unrelated to oral health care.

But evidently I was wrong. After all I am not a dentist. So I had to do quite a bit of research in preparing this post so I could learn why that form was so comprehensive with respect to other health conditions.

Now I feel so much more educated on this topic and decided to share some of my myth busting info with others.

So what can you do to improve your dental health / overall health? Luckily I have made a list.

12 things can you do to improve your overall health AND your dental health

#1. Brush 2 to 3 times daily.

#2. Floss daily.

#3. Eat healthier meals that .

#4. Eat healthier snacks in-between meals.

#5. Rinse out your mouth regularly with anti-bacterial mouthwash.

#6. Chew sugar-free gum (removes bacteria from your mouth).

#7. If you are a smoker, stop smoking.

#8. Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.

#9. Schedule dental checkups regularly.

#10. Find a dentist you actually LIKE (this improves your odds of going there). eg. I really liked Archer Dental (and not just because it has archer in the name) because they spent the time explaining things to me and made me feel really comfortable about what they doing with my teeth. I am actually looking forward to my next visit.

#11. Contact your dentist immediately if you have an oral health emergency. Don't delay and wait for it to get worse.

#12. If you don't have dental insurance from your workplace, look into getting dental insurance. (eg. Manulife Financial offers Coverme "Flexcare" health/dental insurance. This is not a promotion, I am just quoting the first company that came up when I Googled 'dental insurance toronto'.) Or failing that set aside money every year just for your dental needs, which is what I do. The latter requires more fiscal discipline.

Tennis - and why I suck at it

I suck at tennis.

However I should note that I only tried tennis once back in university because a friend asked me to help him train - and he had years of experience whereas I had never even held a tennis racquet before.

And he thoroughly defeated me, as to be expected when someone experienced and skilled faces someone who is totally inexperienced and has no tennis skills yet to speak of. Plus he had one heck of a back-swing.

Thus my "suckiness at tennis" is really because I knew nothing about it, had zero experience and after that incident in university I never pursued tennis.

Had I actually pursued it however I could have gotten much better. No one near professional I would wager. But at least I would no longer suck at it.

And that really is the essence of dedication. In order to excel at a sport you really need to dedicate yourself to it.

Take archery for example. Ignoring a hiatus during university I have been doing archery for approx. 25 years. That is some serious dedication on my part. And to put my archery skill in perspective earlier today I shot a nice cluster of arrows at 50 yards (150 feet) using a 45 lb traditional recurve bow. That feat  requires some serious strength, dedication and patience. Lots and lots of practice, weight lifting and even yoga went into training to be able to do archery feats of skill and strength.

So my message for people out there exercising / seeking to try a new sport: Don't give up on the first day like I did with tennis. I acknowledge I suck at tennis and I know why I suck at tennis. But maybe someday I will get into it. There is a tennis court 3 minutes from my home so I could easily get back into it.

Or I could get back into baseball or hockey. There is also a baseball diamond and a hockey rink nearby too. Lots of options.

12 Things People do on their Lunch Hour - and how it benefits you health wise

People do lots of things during their lunch hours. But what they do during those 60 minutes can have lasting effects on your health.

#1. Leave the Office / Avoid their Desk.

= Less stress = Less over-eating due to stress and better quality sleep due to lack of stress.

#2. Eat Healthy.

= Healthier bones, muscles, organs. Lots of benefits.

#3. Workout / Exercise.

= Burns fat, builds muscle and reduces stress, causes healthier sleep patterns.

#4. Have a Nap.

= Better quality sleep, reduced stress. Naps also make you more productive and energetic.

#5. Run Errands.

= Light exercise and you feel better about yourself having accomplished lots of things today.

#6. Read.

#7. Unplug their Devices.

#8. Network with Colleagues.

#9. Enjoy time with Friends.

6, 7, 8, 9 = Less stress = Less over-eating due to stress and better quality sleep due to lack of stress.

#10. Plan their Afternoon, Evening, Weekend.

= A well planned out schedule with time for exercise, time for play, time to accomplish things, and time to relax.

#11. Working during your lunch hour...

= More stress will cause you to overeat and effect your sleep patterns. Your lunch hour is meant to be a break for a reason, so you can eat, relax and recuperate. If you just keep working during your lunch hour you are just hurting yourself over the long term.

#12. Smoke

= Lung cancer and a host of other physical problems. Seriously, do you really want to have your happiness to be based on a nicotine addiction? Do yourself a favour, throw away the tobacco and never touch the stuff again. If you tell yourself you're not allowed to even touch tobacco products and your willpower is strong enough, you can quit cold turkey.
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