Health Sidebar II: BMI vs BFP

James Hetfield.Image via Wikipedia
I've been wanting to talk about this for a while but didn't have the time (or had too much time procrastinating...just being honest). I'm watching Dr. Oz right now and he gave this lady her BMI. He said it was "32," which is supposed to be high.

To tell you the truth, I was never a fan of BMI. However, before I go into my rant, let me explain what BMI is...(click on the Read More link at bottom for more)

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is calculated by a person's weight and height. It does not measure body fat directly but it's good if you want an inexpensive way for you to get a good idea of your health.

Does that make sense to you?

OK, great. BMI is a cheap way to figure out your health (or not). But how does it help? Why would I want a number to figure out when I'm obese when I can just look in the mirror? Why would I want this number when I can just get my Body Fat Percentage (BFP). Basically, BMI is inaccurate. Just because a person has a high BMI doesn't mean that they're NOT healthy. If you calculate your BMI and it's on the high side, your doctor or health practitioner will have to take other tests to determine whether your high BMI is a cause for concern.

A great example of this is an athlete. They may have a high BMI but they may have that BMI because they have a lot of muscle (BMI takes into account muscle and fat...and does not separate the two). For more information on BMI, click here.


Before I answer this question specifically, it's first important for me to talk about weight. Your total weight consists of the ratio of muscle, fat, water, bone, blood (up to 7% of your total body weight is blood...check out this site for more details), and other minor factors. Technically speaking, this is called your Body Composition.

Body Fat Percentage is one of the most important factors in your weight. Too much fat (in ratio to muscle and water) can be very detrimental to your health...on so many levels (I'm sure we have all heard of the term 'obese' before...this comes from your body fat percentage).

Importantly, for women, body fat percentage is critical if you have fibroids or another reproductive issue because excess body fat creates excess estrogen.

The good news is that you no longer have to go through extraneous means to get your body fat percentage. Tanita is a company that makes great scales. They have affordable scales that can take your body fat percentage. For more information on this company, click here.

I'm going to leave it here...for now, of course. I'll talk more about body fat and how it relates to women in my next post. I think it's so important for men and women (obese, overweight, underweight, it doesn't matter) to know your body fat percentage. It will be key in helping you to gain, maintain, or lose weight in a healthy manner.

Until next time...stay strong, stay healthy, and fight dis-ease!

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Happy Holidays!

I know I haven't been around for a while. I haven't forgot about my blogs nor you. It's not like I have neglected you, I just had to deal with real life for a bit. Some of it was bad but most of it was good.

Does it help if I explain to you what has been going wrong in my life? Nope. Why? Because every single one of us has issues. We all have things we have to face in life - some of it good and some of it bad (depending on your perception of things).

We ALL need to take our time this year. Take our time with making our decisions, setting boundaries, and living life to the fullest. We also need to take our time to savor the present moment. Only by living in the present moment can we be grateful for all the things in our life.

What does "living in the present moment" mean? For me, it means not to think about the past as well as not thinking about the future (projecting. It also means not to project or fantasize about the outcome you want. Let's say you meet a guy and you like him. Instead of thinking about your wedding day (and you haven't even gone out on a single date...this is projection at its worst), think about why you like this guy and how you can make him a part of your life NOW! That's the present moment!

Click on the "Read More" link for more of this post...

This year, I'm going to make it a point to live in the present moment as much as I can. These blogs aren't going to write themselves and just keeping ideas in my head and not putting them on paper just makes no sense. I can't let my past affect me. I can't let my future (or possible future) affect me either. Most of all, I can't let my imagination or wishing for this or that affect me from doing what I need to do NOW.

If you are like me, then you need to make this change as soon as possible. Otherwise, everything you have strived to achieve will be for naught. It's almost 2010. This year should be about responsibility and accountability.

(With this said, I was going to do a blog on what I said I was going to do last year and if I did it or not. It's time I listen to myself and not look in the past...except when it comes to the topics I need to post on here. ;))

So have a Happy Holidays and let make this a New Year of change!

Blessed Love and until next time...
Stay strong, stay healthy, and fight dis-ease! :D

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Essential 4 Series: Breathing Methods - Tai Chi I

When people ask me how I started on this path to health, I reply by saying, "Yoga saved my life" and then I talk about how I finally connected with Yoga. While Yoga did save my life, it's not the first thing that got me on the path to wellness. I learned how to properly breathe way before I met up with Yoga.

The year was was early in the year. It wasn't quite Spring yet but Winter was definitely over. To put it plainly, I was a serious pothead then. I also loved Kung Fu Movies. Watching the "Drive In Movies" on Channel 5 in Brooklyn was my Kung Fu fix...but I never even took a karate class.

Cover of Cover of Tai Chi Master
So back to 1995, I was hanging out with my friends one day, smoking (which was the usual back then), when one of my friends started talking about Kung Fu. I mentioned that I loooved Kung Fu movies and how much I always wanted to learn Tai Chi (by this time, I was a huge Jet Li favorite movie then was called the "Tai Chi Master" I was really open to what my friend had to say). My friend then said to me, "want to learn some Kung Fu right now?"

All of us...all 12 of us, immediately perked up. Our excitement seemed to come to a near boil in almost seconds as we all said a resounding "yes", like we were in the Pothead Church Choir. He told us to sit down and listen well.

Now that I look back, I realize that as soon as he said that, I calmed my body. My back became straighter. My shoulders relaxed. My chest, slightly elevated and I could feel my breath. I couldn't control what I didn't know about but I can safely say that I did notice something had changed. The air, maybe?

When everyone else sat down, I also noticed that he looked at me the most when speaking. I didn't think much of it back then, I just chalked it up to me starting the convo leading to this so I seemed the most eager to learn. I didn't know what I was going to feel. Tell you the truth, I didn't expect to feel anything. I thought it was all going to be BS.

He told us to fix our legs. "Do not cross them. Let them spread hip distance apart. Don't let your knees fall too far in or too far out. Let your hips control your legs. Sit up straight." The others already started to feel bored. The looks on their faces was a dead giveaway to what was to come. I gave them a look that calmed them least long enough for me to see what was really good.

"Bring your palms together." We all did it at the same time (maybe you should try this too
;)). "Now rub your palms until they become really hot. When they feel hot, rub them some more. When they are super hot, just separate your hands and watch what happens."

I rubbed my hands really hard. They started to burn when I separated them. I took a huge breath in and when I exhaled, my hands moved! I felt...a was a little electric almost. I took a huge breath in and my hands came closer. When I exhaled again, my hands separated further! I had no control over my hands what so ever but they still moved. I realized that with every breath, my hands moved further and further apart. What felt like a straight stream of energy now felt like an arch. As my hands opened up and towards the sky, it was as if I felt a rainbow in my hands.

And then it left. (don't forget to click the "Read More" link at the bottom of this post to continue)

I looked up at the sky as if I could actually see this feeling float away. I didn't see anything. I looked around at my friends. They were amazed at what they were feeling. Some of them were dismayed because they didn't feel it for too long. A few (only 2) didn't feel anything at all. I wasn't the only one who had my experience. There were 3 of us who did and we were straight buggin out!!

I asked my friend what kind of Kung Fu that was. He smiled and then laughed. All he needed was long hair and a flowing beard and he would have been able to call me "grasshopper" and I would call him "Sifu" (Chinese for "Master"). He told me to sit down again. What he told me after this would be the catalyst to changing my life forever:

What you felt was not Kung Fu, persay. What you felt was Chi. The essence of Kung Fu. The essence of Life. You have heard of Chi from the Kung Fu movies but have you ever felt it? (I nodded my head yes...I never felt it in my hands like that but I have felt it before). If you cannot feel your chi, then there is no reason for you to learn Kung Fu. None whatsoever.

I want you to start reading books on Chi. Chi is the life essence, your spirit, your soul. It is a part of the universal soul. There are many names for it. Chi is air but Air is not Chi. Get a book and read it. Then come back to me when you are done and tell me what you have learned.

The first book I purchased is called "The Essence of Tai Chi." With this book, I learned many things. The most important was how to breathe.

Before understanding the concept of breath, I wanted to know exactly what Tai Chi is. The name Tai Chi means "the ultimate" (pg. 6). But the ultimate what? Reading the book further, I came to understand that Tai Chi was regarded as the ultimate "art" - whether it was martial art, a healing art, or a spiritual art.

According to Tai Chi principles, which come from the book the T'ai Chi Bible, there are three forms of chi - all which come from the breath and can be manifested, grown, and maintained with the breath - chi, jung, and shen.

Chi is similar to prana (the term for "breath" and "lifeforce" in Sanskrit) in that it is considered that Chi is everywhere. According to The Essence of Tai Chi (pg. 33), "ch'i is...commonly known as the nature of things." "According to Tai Chi theory, the correct meaning of chi is..."internal energy." (pg. 34)

Jing is the power that is generated by chi.(pg. 35) Li is the physical strength resulting from body movement. (pg. 36) I understand how the terms work but want to explain it to you in the best way possible. So let me explain it this way:

If you strike a punch, the force that is released is a result of Li. However, if someone were to attack you and you were able to throw them on the ground with little physical force (or with your hand, like in the kung fu flicks), then that is Jing because you have the same power but without the physical strength.

Recently, I worked out at Embora Wellness and Movement Studio (which is no longer). I did a class with Emory Moore and he wanted us to do certain exercises that included martial arts and yoga techniques. As I was doing these exercises, I wasn't getting the full effect he was looking for. He explained to me that with Yoga, you keep the prana (or chi) inside. Everything stays inside. Martial Arts and Tai Chi is different because sooner than later, that chi needs to come out. You create the internal energy and let it out externally.

It was at that point, I realized that Emory was working with Chi, Li and Jing. However, I wanted something different.

I began to understand that I wanted to achieve shen, which means spirit. According to The Essence of Tai Chi, "when chi is purified, it elevates to shen." (pg. 35) Yoga Asana maybe similar to li and but at the end of the day, Yoga wants you to have shen - connection to your spirit, your true nature.

According to Tai Chi theory, meditation helps you to become aware of your chi (pg. 37) and condensed breathing helps to convert chi to jing (and yes, it's very similar to certain pranayama techniques - pg. 42).

Of course, I have more to talk about in regards to Tai Chi but I'll leave it here for now. Next time, I'll talk more about Tai Chi and its relation to Yoga. I'll also talk about certain Tai Chi practices you have to watch out for (especially in regards to breathing), how to increase your awareness of chi, and my experience with different Tai Chi forms.

Yeah, I took me long enough to write this but better late than never! :)

So until next time....stay strong, stay healthy, and fight dis-ease! (l)

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Random Thoughts XXIII: The Biggest Loser Season 8

I love Reality TV. I really a fault. I have my cable Reality TV shows that I like (VH1 is a vice y'all) :D but I really dig a couple of Reality TV shows on the major channels. My favorite "Reality TV" show: The Biggest Loser.

I knew it was going to be a great show. I had no idea how great it would be. As I was watching the show from the beginning, I wanted to blog about it. Something in me held back. Even as I saw Shay weigh in at 476 lbs. :o I wanted to blog, but something held me back. When Shay seemingly quit, I thanked the heavens I didn't blog but then the urges came back as I saw the contestants in a battle with themselves.

And still, I held back from blogging. You KNOW I wanted to blog when the contestants went to the doctors and performed all of those tests! Wowwwweee! Yet still, I paused.

When the contestants had to weigh in and I saw great numbers, I wanted to post but something held me back still. I could imagine myself clicking on a new tab, loading this up and playing commentator to the sport of weight loss but I didn't do it. I couldn't. I didn't care why.

Once I saw the end, I knew it was time for me to blog. Alexandra, not even on the ranch for 1 week, ended up losing 60 lbs so far! (youpi) Amazing!!

The Biggest Loser is not only my favorite Reality TV show (even ANTM comes in a distant second), it's my favorite TV show hands down (yes, it beat out Law & Order - all of them! (lol))! Why? Because this show inspires me in so many different ways. The emotions that I feel for these contestants are not pity nor compassion. The emotions I feel - down to the tears I shed - is admiration, respect, and love. Because finally, they are on a path to admire, respect and love themselves.

You see, we are all victims of self-neglect, whether we are obese or not. There are a lot of people like the Youth Pastor who did not realize he has Type 2 Diabetes. How many people live their lives, not realizing what aliments ravage their bodies and they live their lives for everyone else....but themselves.

I, too, am a victim of self-neglect. It may not last as long as someone that is not aware of the state of their health but it does happen. Stress is the ultimate sign of self-neglect because stress can lead to an array of dis-eases - big and small.

When I watch this show, I want to make my life better. I want to get up and take all the anger and frustration and the stress and just clean my house or go for a run or do an hour of Yoga in my home.

All it takes is one small step.

The number 8 is a very powerful number. It is my favorite number and it represents infinity - to build and destroy...which are infinite and needed for balance and growth. So Season 8 of The Biggest Loser should be a season of power. The motivation to destroy what you were so that you can build anew.

The most ironic thing about this show (and life in general) is that in order to lose weight or be able to heal, you have to make a choice. The only tool that is needed and is most important is your mind.

I can't wait to see what Episode 2 has to offer. I can't wait to finally update this blog like I'm supposed to. Maybe that will be my accomplishment for this Season 8 of The Biggest Loser. I'll finally catchup to all the things that I need to in regards to this blog and my other one, Healthy Junk.

You ready? I am. ;)
Until next time...stay strong, stay healthy, and fight dis-ease! (l)

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