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Battling common health problems - Start living better today

In this writing we are going to address common health problems that people face:

  • Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Declining fitness

Each of these issues often play host to other common ailments such as high cholesterol, joint problems, heart problems, and hormone dysfunction. By making lifestyle changes, such as improved eating, more activity (including but not limited to exercise), minimizing or eliminating alcohol and smoking consumption, and tracking health markers, a person can prevent or combat obesity, diabetes, and declining fitness, as well as all of the issues that come with these. Let us brief delve into each topic. Health problems—battling obesity Obesity is a "hot word" in the world today, especially in the United States. Stats about American obesity are calculated and thrown around in various debates, articles, or other mediums of information sharing. The term obesity has varying definitions based on the resource accessed for said definition. One definition notes obesity as "the state of being obese due to an excess of body fat." That seems like a fair definition and we like the idea that the definition focuses on "excess fat" not "excess weight." Excess weight versus excess fat In the United States, body mass index, more commonly referred to as BMI, is used to measure obesity. It, like the height and weight tables it uses as a calculation source, only looks at your height compared to your weight to arrive at a conclusion as to whether you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. This is a flawed approach. A few problems with the BMI are:

  • BMI does not account for gender differences—according to it, a 5'7" male should weigh the same as a female of equal height

  • BMI does not account for body composition differences—a 6'0" 200-pound male with 10 body fat is viewed the same as a 6'0" 200-pound male with 30 percent body fat

  • BMI does not account for fitness—a 170-pound 5'10" person may be an avid runner, lifter, and someone who regularly works on mobility with an appropriate nutrition approach, but the BMI would categorize this person the same as the 170-pound 5'10" person who does not work out and eats pizza for dinner every night

  • BMI does not consider health markers such as blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, etc.

BMI can be a starting point We dislike BMI. It puts Nathan as overweight and borderline obese (yeah, you read that right). When he carried 30 pounds more muscle, he was borderline morbidly obese (seriously). Never mind the fact that all his health markers are/were good, that he is very fit (borderline super fit), and carries a body fat percentage less than or equal to 10 percent year-round. We've seen this happen with other persons as well. It is not uncommon for athletes, especially those in sports where muscle play a major role in performance, to be categorized as overweight or obese according to the BMI. That said, the BMI can be a starting point, especially for the average person. That is, it can be a starting point for someone who does not work out, is not muscular, is not very active, or otherwise is non-fit and/or leads a sedentary lifestyle. You can check your BMI here: Obesity numbers There are many resources for information about obesity. For specific numbers you can view the report 'Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2011–2014' here The piece notes "The prevalence of obesity was 36.5% (crude estimate) among U.S. adults during 2011–2014" meaning more than one in three adults in America are obese. For youths, the obesity number is about 1 in 5. Keep in mind this does not account for overweight persons. If overweight persons are included, the numbers are higher, with some resources suggesting the number is as high as 70 percent of the population. You can read more here The numbers are not surprising. When shopping, sitting at the park, or out in social settings, we've watched and sometimes counted the numbers of people who were overweight, at a glance. To put things in perspective, it was easier to count the individuals that were not overweight, at a glance. This is anecdotal, of course, but if you spent enough time watching the public, you would likely see this as well. There are exceptions of course. If you always hang around people that work out, odds are you won’t see this trend. However, go to Walmart, JC Penny, Target, Macy's Kohl's, Lowe's, Best Buy, or other similar retailers, and watch the people that come and go. Over time, you'll start to see the trend. Battling obesity We have a love-hate relationship with Greg Glassman, the outspoken leader of CrossFit. That said, he makes some points. In this video and the corresponding CrossFit Journal article he notes the problem is not complex and the solution "is simple, but it’s also hard.” The problem is people eat too much and are not active enough. The "cure" to obesity and related health issues is nutritional control and activity. Pretty simple right? But, as Glassman notes, the difficulty lies in actually doing the work. We've encountered so many people that know they need to eat better and be more active, but they lack the motivation to do something about it. Motivation is the problem in most cases. Take the first step Maybe you're overweight or obese; may be you're not. Regardless, if you're reading this newsletter or blog post, you have some health and fitness goal you're trying to achieve. If you use the content we produce to push you toward your goals, awesome; keep it up. If you have not already taken the first step in that direction, now is the time to do so. Tomorrow never comes when it concerns putting off your goals. You say you'll start tomorrow, but the next day you say the same thing. This isn’t Little Orphan Annie. The sun won’t come out tomorrow and make everything bright and easy for you. Life is always in the way if you let it be. You must take control and make your life what you want it to be. Health problems—The battle against diabetes Last time we focused on obesity. Now we want to focus on a health concern commonly associated with obesity: diabetes. We could focus on many different potential health problems linked to a person being significantly overweight, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint pain, etc., but diabetes is one of the more concerning issues, which is why we want to address it. What is diabetes? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, better known as the CDC, Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood. This is why many people refer to diabetes as “sugar.” Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. You can read more here: Imagine that for a moment, the fact that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. The top ten causes of death in the US, according to the CDC, are:

  • Heart disease: 633,842

  • Cancer: 595,930

  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 155,041

  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 146,571

  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 140,323

  • Alzheimer’s disease: 110,561

  • Diabetes: 79,535

  • Influenza and pneumonia: 57,062

  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 49,959

  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 44,193

You can read more here: Now think about how many people who have diabetes, specifically Type 2, that are also overweight as well as out of shape and have risk factors for heart diseases, stroke, or other weight/diabetes related issues. Type 1 versus Type 2 diabetes The CDC states, Type 1 diabetes, previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile onset diabetes, may account for 5 percent to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Risk factors are less well defined for Type 1 diabetes than for Type 2 diabetes, but autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors are involved in the development of this type of diabetes. while also noting, Type 2 diabetes was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for about 90 percent to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes. These definitions may or may not clarify things for you, but simply put, Type 1 diabetes often has something to do with a person on a genetic level and you might hear someone refer to being "born with Type 1 diabetes" while Type 2 diabetes is generally the result of lifestyle choices. In other simple terms, if you have Type 1, it's probably not your fault, if you have Type 2, it probably is. Now that might seem a bit harsh, but of the people who come to us with diabetes, 100 percent of them have Type 2. At the same time, these people are overweight and out of shape, with poor eating and lifestyle habits as they apply to health and fitness. The connection has been long documented. The battle against diabetes Diabetes can lead to serious complications. According to Medline Plus, If you have diabetes, your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Over time, this can cause problems with other body functions, such as your kidneys, nerves, feet, and eyes. Having diabetes can also put you at a higher risk for heart disease and bone and joint disorders. Other long-term complications of diabetes include skin problems, digestive problems, sexual dysfunction, and problems with your teeth and gums. Read more here: Avoiding Type 1 diabetes may not be possible. Avoiding Type 2 is possible. For both diagnoses, the approach to avoiding or managing is similar. What you need to do is:

  • Avoid being overweight

  • Minimize or abstain from habits such as drinking and smoking

  • Engage in good nutritional practices

  • Get active

  • Remember you are in control of and responsible for managing your health

The points are simple in design but may be hard to implement due to a lack of knowledge, or more often than not, a lack of motivation. That said, if you want to avoid or manage diabetes you must take steps to do so. Do not rely on medications, surgeries, or other methods. These are only short-term fixes. If you do not change the underlying behavioral and lifestyle issues that are the root cause of your health problems and the key to managing your health problems, then you will continue to have issues, no matter how many drugs you take or procedures you have. If you want to learn more about our services, visit the homepage for our site here: We offer a variety of services for training and nutrition. Just visit the page, read the write-up, and visit the links to the service pages to learn more and sign-up.

Health problems—Defeating declining fitness One of the biggest threats any person faces as he or she ages is the decline of fitness. Fitness does not have a definition in the universal sense, as perspective influences what fitness is. Simply put, for the purposes of this writing, fitness is the ability to complete physical work. For example, your fitness level is the cumulative physical work you can perform, such as running a mile, lifting 50 pounds overhead, or completing a day of hard manual labor.

What should your level of fitness be? Now that is a good question and a singular answer does not exist. Some people believe if you can run one mile, you are fit, while others believe a person who runs a marathon is fit. Some people believe if you can lift 20 pounds overheard you are fit, while others believe you should be able to lift hundreds of pounds overhead. Some people believe you should be able to complete metcon workouts such as those engaged in by CrossFit enthusiasts to be considered fit. Without a universal definition, the answer to "what should your fitness level be" becomes a subjective one. For the sake of this writing, we'll state your fitness level should be enough to allow you to engage in daily activities. Now, for some people, that sets the bar very low. Some people work sedentary jobs, lead sedentary lives, and don’t need a fitness level beyond being able to walk from the office to the car or around the grocery store. We, of course, do not think this is an acceptable level of fitness. If you've read our blogs or newsletters enough or worked with us, you know we expect a person to be able to jog a mile, and pick-up 50 pounds from the ground and put it overhead in an arms-extended position. This applies to both men and women and means that each person will be able to pick-up a small child or a 40-pound bag of dog food or softener salt, and will have the cardio ability to play outside with the kids or engage in a moderate-difficulty workday at a manual labor job. It's all relative The fitness level you should have is relative to your need. As noted above, if you lived a sedentary lifestyle, arguably your fitness level could be very low, as you do not have a high need. For us, fitness means being able to run fast, lift heavy weights, engage in metcon workouts, perform calisthenics, and do all the other things we do in and out of workouts. For us, fitness is also improving out abilities year over year. For the powerlifter, fitness may simply mean being able to complete the big three—the bench press, back squat, and deadlift—and having enough energy to train for progress. For these individuals, an increase in strength may be the only improvement in fitness they are looking for. For the competitive CrossFitter, fitness includes walking on their hands, running multiple miles at a pace of seven minutes or faster, lifting hundreds of pounds on various lifts (overhead squat, clean and jerk, etc.), and being able to traverse complex obstacles as well as lift odd objects, among other abilities. A bare minimum If you want a bare minimum to strive for, then shoot for this:

  • Full range, pain-free motion of all joints

  • 50-pound deadlift or another hip-hinge movement

  • 50-pound overhead press

  • 50-pound squat, such as the back squat, front squat, or dumbbell squat

  • One mile run in 10 minutes

Regardless of your age, all of these movements and the given weights are possible. Depending on your physical condition, you may need some accommodation, at least in the beginning, and you'll need to address these as they apply to you. If you don't know how, find someone who can help you. If you want to learn more about our services, visit the homepage for our site here: We offer a variety of services for training and nutrition. Just visit the page, read the write-up, and visit the links to the service pages to learn more and sign-up.

Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, and the International Sports Sciences Association. Nathan has 17 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.

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