Sake

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Today’s task is to do a blog about the health benefits of Sake (Japanese rice wine), since TY KU gifted all the Health Kwest khantestants a free sample of theirs. I don’t drink, so this is all speculative to me, but here’s what I found:

  • Sake is less of an irritant than other alcohols, so it can be a good choice if you want to drink but have a sensitive stomach, ulcers or gastritis.
  • Several of sake’s components have been shown to improve skin tone and pigmentation.
  • One study even showed that topically applied sake stimulated sensory neurons and improved skin elasticity.
  • Sake contains selenium, a necessary mineral.
  • Sake also contains more amino acids than any other alcoholic beverage.
  • Some studies have shown that regular sake consumption leads to a lower risk of certain cancers and improved cholesterol numbers.
  • Sake has been shown to improve blood circulation which may help prevent arterial diseases and may also help slow the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“Little Black Dress”

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Today’s task reads like this:

Coke, one of our supporters in this campaign, supports a campaign called, “Little Black Dress” where they support people to be healthy and get back into that outfit they want to fit one day or again!  Take a photo of you and your dream outfit (or if you can wear it again let’s see it!) and post it on your blog. This can be something you want to fit back into or a new style you’re excited to wear soon!

Obviously, I don’t have a little black dress.  Even more, I don’t really have an outfit that I wanted to wear or to get back into, other than just generally fitting into smaller clothes.  So, after scouring my closet, I came up with this:Image

This is the suit I had when I got married 14 years ago, and I haven’t really fit into it for at least 10-12.  So, that’s the closest I could come up with.  It would be fun to have this suit fit again.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

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Today’s task for Health Kwest was to write a blog about any physical and emotional changes you have felt during the Health Kwest so far, but I’m not really sure what to write. I can’t say that I have noticed any emotional changes at all, other than just the general excitement of being in this contest. I haven’t lost enough weight to where I would expect an emotional change over it. Hmm, maybe I’m a little bummed at not having lost as much weight as I wanted by this point. Anyway, I have never been very emotional about my weight, so I don’t expect to be so when I lose it.
Physically, I have felt mostly tired and often sore. The feelings I get directly from the weight loss (not caused by the weight-losing-actions) are very minor and fleeting. I’m not really close to my goal weight, so the changes are still very subtle. Every once in a while though I do seem a little thinner, like in a picture or when I see myself in the mirror. Occasionally I will notice that my arm feels firmer from weight lifting, but again… minor. I think when I start to get closer to my goal weight (and I still have over 50 lbs to get there) the changes will be more apparent.
The one thing I have noticed distinctly, is that a few pairs of pants and some shirts that were starting to feel snug at my previous weight are now back to fitting me properly. I really can’t wait until those ones are getting honestly loose and I can start to fit into some of my “skinnier” clothes*.

* I don’t own any “skinny” clothes, having never been skinny in my life, but I do still have some from when I was skinnier.

Workout Music

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Today’s task was to blog about ten of our favorite music tracks that we like to exercise to.  I had a hard time narrowing it down to only ten.  When I exercise, I usually prefer to have very fast and/or hard music going because that’s what really gets my energy up.  Typically I will turn on either a punk, techno or hard rock mix for my exercise time.  So, here are some of my favorites to workout to (in no particular order):

  1. Thousand Foot Krutch – Move
  2. BT – The Revolution
  3. Cowboy Mouth – This Much Fun
  4. M4SONIC – Weapon
  5. The Crystal Method – Weapons of Mass Distortion
  6. 883 – Cloro
  7. Pendulum – Slam
  8. Reel Big Fish – Good Thing
  9. Disturbed – 10,000 Fists
  10. Linkin Park – Bleed It Out

Usually, the exercising I’m doing is weight lifting in the gym, but I will also turn music on sometimes when I’m on my treadmill.  It really helps me to go faster and resist fatigue to have music I link pumping in my ears when I’m walking or lifting weights.

Someone I admire

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Today’s task was to pick someone we admire and basically ask them for advice on doing HealthKwest.  The person I picked to interview is my wife, Alissa.  That may sound kind of cliché, but she is an incredible woman and already an inspiration to me.  Especially because in the last few years she decided to get into running.  She was not really what I would have called a running type, but she has come to love it, really gives it 110%, and she has improved immensely over time.  She has even done several half marathons and one full one. 

 

Alissa got into running because her friend asked her if she wanted to start running togethr and she said yes.  To Alissa, to be successful you have to have a goal to strive towards and you have someone behind you to support you.  That is why she likes doing races.  They give her specific deadlines where she is pushing towards that with a final time to show how well you’ve improved.  It is important to have little steps in the process.  Having little goals to reach (a best per-minute time, a new distance covered at once, etc.) makes the process easier than just aiming for a nebulous end.  Alissa’s friend is her accountability.  Besides often setting their goals, and frequently their pace, she is constantly following up with Alissa to make sure she is doing all the training runs and other tasks they set for themselves.  The process goes both ways.  Alissa says that this mutual accountability allows them to motivate each other and keeps them from finding excuses not to do the work they need to in order to succeed in their next scheduled race. 

Limited Time Only!

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I’ve mentioned before that one of the best things about eating at Genghis Grill is the wide variety of ingredients you have at your disposal.  Well, in addition to the normal meats and veggies, they occasionally have “Limited time only” special items.  Today I decided to try one of those.  My special item for today was Pulled Pork.  It was a very nice addition to what would have been my normal bowl there.  Today when I went the restaurant was quite crowded and (I think as a result) my bowl’s ingredients were somewhat burned.  Surprisingly, this actually added to the flavor of the pork (not so much on the onions that were black).  My only real gripe with the pulled pork selection was that it seemed to stick between my teeth worse than any of the other meats I usually use.  Oh, and this “special” ingredient has been there for this entire month so far.  No idea when they’ll “pull” it (pun intended) and replace it with another.

Green tea

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The three main types of tea, Green, Black, and Oolong, are all derived from the same plant: Camellia siensis.  The only significant difference is how they are processed before being brewed.  In all cases, tea has antioxidants called polyphenols (like in red wine) which are believed to improve health in several areas.  Green tea, because of its processing, is believed to be the highest in antioxidant levels. 

Epidemiological and clinical studies around the world have found at least tentative health benefits in preventing cancer, improving cholesterol numbers, preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), improving digestion and reducing bowel diseases, preventing and controlling diabetes, and (of course) boosting weight loss.  The studies have been highly variable, and largely owing to the complex and inconsistent nature of a natural substance such as tea, the results must be taken with a grain of salt.  Still, considering that tea is one of the most widely available drinks in the world, it would not be a difficult endeavor to perform your own experiment to see how green tea might benefit your personal health. 

The Red Diamond company gave every Khantestant a box of their green tea to try during the contest.  I do not partake of any teas for religious reasons, but I thank them for the offer.  I gifted my box to a coworker who regularly drinks tea and he said it was good. 

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Whole grains

As our societies advanced, we have had more time to devote to enjoying life and not just eking out a living between the work we had to do to survive.  With this, we began to expand our palates and started refining our foods, and including a lot more things like sugar and flavors just for taste.  We are finding now that the use of more refined foods has a cost: namely, that it has removed a lot of the key parts of our once robust diet and replaced them with empty flavors and calories.

There has been a lot of push for whole grains now.  So what is a whole grain?  A whole grain is something like wheat, corn, millet, oat, etc., that has undergone a minimum amount of processing.  Specifically, they have not been “milled,” or had the bran and germ removed.  The process of milling removes these essential components, robbing our grains of much of the vitamins and fiber they once had.

The nutrients in whole grains have been shown to play a key role in reducing the risk of disease. For example, the antioxidants in whole grains are believed to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal and hormone-dependent cancers. Soluble fiber in whole grains has been shown to decrease the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) while increasing the “good” cholesterol (HDL). Fiber also helps regulate your gastrointestinal system, alleviating constipation and promoting colonic health. Eating whole grains may also prevent the onset of type two diabetes. The fiber in whole grains slows the digestion of carbohydrates, helping your body maintain steady blood sugar levels.

My bowl for the day with brown rice as my starch.

My bowl for the day with brown rice as my starch.

Stress

Today we were asked to blog about stress and how we handle it, especially as it pertains to the Health Kwest contest.  I’m not sure I can really comment on this, because I tend not to stress about things.  I do find that a certain amount of tension can help me when I have a task to do.  That is to say, that knowing something is due very soon helps me to somehow get more focused on getting it done.  Having a task that I know I can’t complete in time is frustrating, but honestly I don’t really dwell on it, so it doesn’t cause me too much stress.

With Health Kwest, the only thing that stresses me is time.  I’m very busy at work, and want to spend time with my family as well, but I know I need to be getting more exercise in, and it’s hard to do all that in one day.  Even the trip to GG, as pleasurable as it is, takes me over an hour to do (drive time included) rather than just eating something at home or at work.  I really wish I had an extra hour or two to spend in the gym, or even an extra half hour so I could make it to the nice gym a bit away from work, instead of being relegated to the small workout room we have at work.  Even with this, though, I really don’t stress about it.  I know there have been times I feel stressed, but it just doesn’t seem to be something that really impacts my life in a significantly negative way.

Here’s to your heart?

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Today’s task is to blog about the health benefits of red wine.  For some time now, I have heard of this possibility in various news and blog sources, but I had never really looked into it since I do not drink alcohol.  So now that I have looked into it, here’s what I’ve found.

Red wine is known to contain several antioxidants, the most interesting of which is a polyphenol called resveratrol.  Polyphenols on the whole consist of a wide-range of natural and synthetic organic molecules, some of which are highly caustic or carcinogenic.  Others, especially those occurring in fruits and other edible plants, are more likely to be of the helpful, antioxidant variety.  Resveratrol is, of course, one of the good ones.  Resveratrol and resveratrol-containing foods have long been used in traditional medicines around the world, which is likely what caused it to be the focus of further research.

Several studies over the last decade have shown many promising health benefits.  These include: increased “good” cholesterol (HDL), decreased “bad” cholesterol (LDL), decreased inflammation and reduced blood clotting.  All of these are beneficial, especially for your heart and arteries.  However, most of these studies were done on animals (rats, mice and pigs) and the ones done with humans have either been short-lived or showed no significant benefits.  In addition, the doses used in animal studies were often thousands of times higher that a person could naturally consume in a day. 

Positive benefits of resveratrol have been demonstrated in mammals, and of the natural sources where humans might encounter it, dry, red wines are the most likely and most concentrated places to find it.  If you already drink alcohol occasionally, choosing a glass or two of red wine with a meal may improve your health.  If you don’t already drink, you are probably better off staying away from alcohol. The known downsides of alcohol (possible addiction, impaired thinking/acting, liver damage) do not justify beginning to drink just to get the possible upsides of resveratrol.  Besides, resveratrol can be obtained in other means, such as from herbal extracts containing Japanese Knotweed.

Speaking of wine, if you do drink it there is one other way you can use that to “do your heart some good.”  That is by supporting One Hope Wine.  They are partnered with Genghis Grill and with Health Kwest (our welcome kit included a gift card for their website, www.onehopewine.com).  The reason supporting One Hope is good for your heart, is because One Hope donates 50% of their profits to select charities around the globe, such as providing meals for needy children, planting trees, and providing clean water in remote areas.  Since I don’t drink alcohol, I re-gifted my gift card to a friend who I know enjoys red wine.  She hasn’t told me how it was yet, but she was excited about the charitable benefits of this company.