How to Keep Cholesterol in Check

How to Keep Cholesterol in Check

How to keep Cholesterol in Check
plaque in artery headed to heart

In this article, we explain the importance and the potential dangers of cholesterol. With a simple solution, you will find out how to keep your cholesterol in check, in just 4 weeks.

 

“It is possible to have too much of a good thing.” – Aesop

Too much water.

Too much sun.

Too much exercise.

And your body would say this is also true about cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that our body uses to develop other necessary substances like hormones, vitamin D, the membranes of cells, and bile.

We need cholesterol. 

Too much of it can be dangerous though, hence why cholesterol-controlling practices such as strength training have become so highly sought after. 

Going back to the concept of too much of a good thing becoming bad, an excess of cholesterol is considered a “risk factor.” 

In other words, when high levels of cholesterol exist, people are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or develop diabetes or heart disease. 

A 2020 study published in the journal Circulation estimates that 38% of US adults — about two out of every five people — have high cholesterol! When you combine that with the prevalence of heart disease, which kills over 600,000 people annually in the US, it’s clear that keeping cholesterol in check is a national health concern.

How Much Cholesterol is Too Much?

There are a few measures used to determine whether you have a healthy level of cholesterol or too much of it. (Technically, the ways in which we measure cholesterol aren’t directly measuring cholesterol itself. We measure other particles that relate to cholesterol.) 

Keep Cholesterol in Check Infographic

The following are the most common measures of cholesterol:

  1. HDLs: high-density lipoproteins. These are commonly referred to as the “good cholesterol.” This is the only measure of cholesterol that we want to increase to improve health. 
  2. LDLs: low-density lipoproteins. These are referred to as “bad cholesterol.” 
  3. Triglycerides: these are particles of fat which are found in the body and blood stream. 
  4. Total cholesterol: a total number that includes LDLs, HDLs, and a fraction of the triglyceride total. This is the most comprehensive assessment of cholesterol quantity. Total cholesterol can be skewed by any of the lipoproteins and triglycerides, so if you have high “good cholesterol,” your total cholesterol can also appear high when “bad cholesterol” is normal.

Ideally, we want high HDLs and low LDLs, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.

How to Control Cholesterol

How do we accomplish that and minimize our risk of having heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke?

how to keep cholesterol in check with diet and exercise infographic

Diet to keep your cholesterol in check

A few dietary approaches are shown to work:

  • Eliminate the consumption of trans fats. Trans fats are artificially created fats found in some vegetable oils (try olive oil or avocado oil instead!), baked goods, and non-organic peanut butters.
  • Eat more fiber, specifically soluble fiber. Fiber blocks the absorption of cholesterol from the foods we eat. Foods high in soluble fiber include black beans, lentils, chia seeds, flaxseeds, dried fig, and dried prunes.
  • Consume whey protein. Whey supplementation can reduce triglyceride levels.

Exercise to keep your cholesterol in check

In addition to dietary strategies, another success method is…strength training!

Strength training is a well-established way to manage cholesterol levels. In fact, a research article which tallied the results of 29 studies and over 1,300 adults concluded that strength training reduces total cholesterol, LDLs, and triglycerides. 

These changes could happen after as little as four weeks of training.

Researchers noted that strength training is additionally helpful for controlling cholesterol when people consistently attend their workouts, lose weight, gain muscle, or lift very challenging weights. 

If improving cholesterol levels is important to you, consider combining strength training with some of the dietary approaches listed above. 

Having high cholesterol is an indication that you might be headed toward heart disease, the number one cause of death in the US. 

Fortunately, you have a large say in your own outcome. You can keep your cholesterol in check with a few simple diet changes and a strength training program. 

A single month of strength training with The Perfect Workout can make a significant positive change in your cholesterol… and overall health.

  1. Kelley, G.A. & Kelley, K.S. (2008). Impact of progressive resistance training on lipids and lipoproteins in adults: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Elsevier, 48, 9-19.
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020). Top 5 lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935
  3. Sarin, H.V., Ahtiainen, J.P., Hulmi, J.J., Ihalainen, J.K., Walker, S., Kuusmaa-Schildt, M. … Peltonen, H. (2019). Resistance training induces antiatherogenic effects on metabolomic pathways. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 51(9), 1866-1875.
  4. Virani, S.S., Alonso, A., Benjamin, E.J., Callaway, C.W., Carson, A.P. … Tsao, C.W. (2020). Heart disease and stroke statistics — 2020 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 141(9), e139-e596.

Create Healthy Habits & Improve Your Life

Create healthy habits & improve your life

Timothy Spellman Personal Trainer

After losing 100 pounds and keeping it off for over 15 years, Timothy Spellman became a Certified Personal Trainer and has helped hundreds of clients create healthy habits and improve their lives.

Now, he’s doing it virtually.

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As a young adult, Timothy moved from Boston to Phoenix and his personal training career flourished while acquiring certifications as a NASM Weight Loss, Corrective Exercise, and Behavioral Change Specialist. 

Timothy ultimately moved to San Diego and was introduced to slow-motion strength training. Week after week, he noticed increased levels of energy and strength, and he even became leaner. He decided to expand his knowledge of exercise and got certified with The Perfect Workout. 

Today he is one of our highly successful Virtual Personal Trainers. Timothy believes he gives clients the tools to achieve and sustain their goals by helping them implement slow-motion training and altering their habits. 

 “I love working with clients, motivating them, and helping them achieve their goals.”

The Importance of a Healthy Routine

When the first shutdown happened and many of us became a little bit more sedentary than usual, Timothy reinforced to his clients how important it is to stick to a healthy routine.

He knows firsthand how easy it can be to backslide into old patterns and unhealthy habits like not exercising, or spending too much time on the couch watching Netflix. And when this happens, the body craves exercise, physically and psychologically.

Tim Spellman quote

“There's a tremendous mental and psychological benefit to exercising, just in terms of the hormones that are released to make you feel better, feel more accomplished. [Routines] can be as simple as making your bed first thing in the morning. It sets the tone for the rest of the day in terms of sticking through with habits. And I approach exercise in that same way. I feel like it's something to feel accomplished and kind of proud that you're doing good for your body.”

Having a consistent, yet simple routine like exercising 20 minutes, twice a week makes sticking to it all the more easier.

Want some simple and easy ways to feel healthier now? Check out these 10 Healthy Habits to Start.. And they only take 20 minutes.

If It Hadn’t Been For Strength Training...

A couple years ago, one of Timothy’s Del Mar clients experienced an unfortunate fall in a grocery store parking lot and broke her shoulder. 

When the surgeon was performing surgery, he said she had two and a half times more muscle around her rotator cuff and her deltoids than he had ever seen in anybody her age before. 

“She was so proud of that.” 

Because of her age and the severity of the fall, had she not been strength training, it's likely that her rotator cuff would have been completely shattered and beyond the point of repair.

More Energy for Daily Life

Another one of Timothy’s Del Mar clients started with the intention of wanting to improve his golf game.

Every time he would come into the studio, he would talk to Timothy about how he now had more endurance when walking the golf course. 

Timothy’s client and a bunch of buddies would go on trips throughout the country to play different golf courses. During one of his last trips, all the guys needed to take naps after they were done playing to get some recovery time. But he was completely spry, ready to go throughout the rest of the day, with an abundance of energy. 

“It’s little things like that, that you start to notice over time. These benefits that are not necessarily quantifiable in terms of data, nothing that you can track on a chart, but in the way that you are functioning day-to-day.”

Healthy Habits Can Be Virtual

Having spent many hours training clients inside of a studio as well as virtually, Timothy knows slow-motion strength training like the back of his hand. 

And it doesn’t matter where you exercise. Consistency is what is going to help you maintain this healthy habit. 

For anyone who might be skeptical about Virtual Training, Timothy has a message for you!

“Virtual workouts are just as challenging if not more than the in studio workouts. I challenge anybody to give it a try just to see for yourself how good of a workout you can still get with minimal equipment. I've got some clients that have nothing other than access to the floor, a flat wall and a bath towel. And we can still get them a killer workout.”

Tim Spellman Quote 2

At The Perfect Workout we have a wonderful team of Trainers ready and capable of serving clients of all fitness levels.

With Virtual Training, our Trainers like Timothy are also great at being able to adapt to what you have available to you at home and making sure that your virtual workout is going to be just as safe. 

“We may not be right there, but we are keeping that the same watchful eye on you as we would be as we're in the studio. And we’re that much more focused on your form to make sure that we're keeping you as safe as possible since you are in a little bit more of an unstable environment.”

Share with a friend or book an Introductory Workout for yourself today!

10 Healthy Habits to Start (Only 20 minutes!)

10 Habits to Improve Health

10 healthy habits to improve health

Creating a healthier life, diet, mindset or relationship can feel very motivating this time of year – and also a little overwhelming.

But a healthier you can happen now with just the slightest shifts in behavior.

Master of transformation Tony Robbins teaches something called the 2-millimeter rule. It’s the idea that an ultra-slight, 2mm change in behavior can yield drastic results.

We took that approach and applied it to healthy habits. How can we continually shift our health: body, mind, and spirit just 20 minutes at a time?

Here’s what we came up with…

Practice Gratitude

Studies show that practicing gratitude can actually improve your physical and psychological health. By feeling grateful and appreciative, you can alleviate stress, reduce toxins in the body, and improve sleep and overall feeling of well-being.

Guess what? You can feel grateful and appreciative about ANYTHING. It can be about something in the past, something you are currently experiencing, or even something you desire to happen.

In fact, the brain does not know the difference between reality or imagination.

Director of Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at CU Boulder, Tor Wager said, ”Imagination is a neurological reality that can impact our brains and bodies in ways that matter for our wellbeing,”

This means you can reap the benefits of practicing gratitude, even by dreaming up something that hasn’t happened yet!

And the best part. You can do it any time, anywhere. 

Although it may not take 20 minutes to feel grateful, we encourage you to take the time so it truly becomes a practice. 

Spending 20 minutes a day on gratitude and  is easy

Practice Gratitude

Take a Walk

Move your body by doing what it’s made to do – walk!

It’s probably no surprise to you that walking is good for your health. You simply feel better when you can be up and about, moving around.

Harvard Health shared research that outlined some enlightening benefits to walking:

  • Supports weight maintenance and helps prevent weight gain
  • Can help reduce sugar cravings
  • Reduces joint pain 
  • Lowers risk of breast cancer
  • Boosts immunity

You’ll want to be consistently strength training for exercise but walking serves as an excellent activity to do on rest days.

 

Bodies in motion, stay in motion. Take a break from the computer today and replace it with a 20-minute stroll.

Grounding to Recharge

Grounding, also known as earthing, is a direct contact between the earth and skin to “recharge” or heal the body. Most commonly, grounding is done by simply placing your bare hands or feet on natural ground.

Grounding “enables free electrons from the Earth’s surface to spread over and into the body, where they can have antioxidant effects.” (NCBI)

Research shows grounding can help improve sleep, reduce stress, heal wounds faster, and more!  

“Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers Quarterback added Earthing to his optimized wellness and fitness routine aimed at extending his active playing days and overall health.”

— Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

We encourage you to take 20 minutes and get your grounding on outside but here’s a cheat for those who are stuck inside all day…

You can find tools such as grounding mats that simulate the experience of grounding so you can get the benefits of this electro-recharge while working at your desk.

Sun Exposure

Getting regular exposure to a little sunshine helps your body absorb Vitamin D, an important vitamin that isn’t found in a lot of foods.

Why do we need vitamin D?


By getting enough Vitamin D, we keep our bones, muscles, and teeth healthy and strong, and help prevent deficiencies and diseases like Osteoporosis.

Weather not cooperating? Sun lamps can be a great alternative for those who don’t live in sunny climates or want to bring the sunshine inside.

Power Napping

We realize that not everyone can fall asleep like a baby on demand, but for those of you who can – it may be time to start power napping!

Research shows, “An ultra short period of only 6 min of napping is already sufficient to significantly boost declarative memory performance.” (Journal of Sleep Research)

Not only does a very quick power nap help improve memory but it also has the following positive effects on our health…

Power napping (a nap typically under 30 minutes) can:

  • Reduce overall sleepiness throughout the day
  • Improve memory
  • Improve learning
  • Boost emotional stability

Consider this your permission slip to take a little siesta this week. 20 minutes might be all you need.

Eat Slowly

Anyone else inhale their food?

Research shows that eating rapidly is linked to individuals having a higher body-mass index.

Why?

It can take up to 20 minutes (there’s that magic number again) for the “I’m Full” signal to reach the brain.

Slowing down the process of eating at meals by taking 20 minutes per meal or simply adding 5 more minutes per meal a day could be an extremely easy, yet impactful shift to help you lose weight.

Digital Detox

Email, text message, FaceTime, Zoom, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Netflix…. The list goes on.

On any given day, we are consuming hours of digital information and for many, that consists of social media platforms.

Although technology allows us to connect with others worldwide, social media usage affects everyone differently.

Some studies show too much time spent online, particularly social media can lead to addictive behaviors, self-esteem issues, narcissistic tendencies, and feelings of isolation.

While a recent Harvard article shows that social media usage can have a positive impact on mental well-being.

And it varies across different demographics, races, age and socioeconomic statuses, 

If you struggle with intentional social media use, we suggest a 20-minute digital detox each day. Put the phone down, close the laptop, turn off the news, and replace it with one of the many healthy habits we’ve outlined here.

Need help with your digital detox? Try the free Forest app It helps you stay focused and be present by setting time limits. When you don’t want to access certain platforms or websites on your digital device, it gives you incentive by planting or “killing” beautiful digital trees.

Laugh More

Do we really need to tell you to laugh more?

It feels downright GOOD to laugh and we could all use more of it. Laughter can increase dopamine and serotonin which may produce similar effects as antidepressants.

Take 20 minutes to play a game, tell some jokes, or watch some funny home videos and LAUGH a little.

Here’s a funny video we LOVE.

 

Meditate

Clear your mind, clear your energy, clear your stress.

Meditation has been shown to have significant improvements on health and aside from practicing gratitude, may be THE best 20 minutes well spent. (Outside your 20-minute, twice a week workouts, of course 😉 )

Studies have shown meditation can:

  • Prevent respiratory illness
  • Help people stop smoking
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Improve functional ability
  • Be a therapeutic option for those with illness and diseases

Meditation can take place anytime anywhere as long as you can remain distraction free.

Although tapestries and incense are welcome, they are not needed to get the benefits of this magic method.

One of our favorite meditation apps is Headspace which has several meditation options for your unique needs.

Strength Train

Exercise in general is necessary for a healthy body and mind. Safe, effective and efficient exercise is achieved with slow-motion strength training. 

Here’s 13 Reasons WHY every adult should be doing it

Slow-motion strength training. 20 minutes, twice a week. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Take 20 minutes for these 10 healthy habits to start improving your health:

  1. Practice Gratitude
  2. Take a Walk
  3. Ground Yourself
  4. Get some sunshine
  5. Take a nap
  6. Eat slower
  7. Take a digital detox
  8. Laugh more
  9. Meditate
  10. Strength Train

Let us help you start today.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/?sh=bca261e183c0

 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/walking-your-steps-to-health

 

Oschman, James L et al. “The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.” Journal of inflammation research vol. 8 83-96. 24 Mar. 2015, doi:10.2147/JIR.S69656

 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-101#intro

 

LAHL, O., WISPEL, C., WILLIGENS, B. and PIETROWSKY, R. (2008), An ultra short episode of sleep is sufficient to promote declarative memory performance. Journal of Sleep Research, 17: 3-10. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00622.x

 

Leong SL, Madden C, Gray A, Waters D, Horwath C. Faster self-reported speed of eating is related to higher body mass index in a nationwide survey of middle-aged women. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Aug;111(8):1192-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.05.012. PMID: 21802566.

 

Andreassen CS, Pallesen S, Griffiths MD. The relationship between addictive use of social media, narcissism, and self-esteem: Findings from a large national survey. Addict Behav. 2017 Jan;64:287-293. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.03.006. Epub 2016 Mar 19. PMID: 27072491.

 

https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/social-media-positive-mental-health/&sa=D&ust=1611007812189000&usg=AOvVaw2inMG5N7zTBxigcBblOZ6h

Cha MY, Hong HS.   Effect and Path Analysis of Laughter Therapy on Serotonin, Depression and Quality of Life in Middle-aged Women.   J Korean Acad Nurs. 2015 Apr;45(2):221-230.   https://doi.org/10.4040/jkan.2015.45.2.221



Barrett B, Hayney MS, Muller D, et al. Meditation or exercise for preventing acute respiratory infection: a randomized controlled trial. Annals of Family Medicine. 2012;10:337–346.

 

 

Carim-Todd L, Mitchell SH, Oken BS. Mind-body practices: an alternative, drug-free treatment for smoking cessation? A systematic review of the literature. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2013;132(3):399–410.

 

Chen KW, Berger CC, Manheimer E, et al. Meditative therapies for reducing anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depression and Anxiety. 2012;29(7):545–562.

 

Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Balderson BH, et al. Effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction vs cognitive behavioral therapy or usual care on back pain and functional limitations in adults with chronic low back pain: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2016;315(12):1240–1249.

 

 

Gaylord SA, Palsson OS, Garland EL, et al. Mindfulness training reduces the severity of irritable bowel syndrome in women: results of a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2011;106(9):1678–1688.

 

 

Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EM, et al. Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2014;174(3):357–368.

 

 

Jedel S, Hoffman A, Merriman P, et al. A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction to prevent flare-up in patients with inactive ulcerative colitis. Digestion. 2014;89:142–155.

Lakhan SE, Schofield KL. Mindfulness-based therapies in the treatment of somatization disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2013;26;8(8):e71834.

Free weights vs Machines - members strength training

Free Weights vs Machines

Free Weights vs Machines, What’s Better? Free weights or machines? This debate has existed in the fitness industry since the first strength training machines were

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