Keep Fit - - Stay Healthy - - Be Happy

September 2008

Issue #001

A warm welcome to all our new subscribers! Seeing as this is the first issue, that's everyone. =)

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1. Asad's Thoughts (Editor's Note)
2. Lifestyle Questionnaire
3. Fat Burning Meals
4. Health Myth of the Month
5. Free Gym Day
6. Monthly Salt Tip
7. Exclusive Guest Article - Cool Down Stretches
8. New Pages on
9. The Happy Tip

Asad's Thoughts

Hi all, I'm Asad (the editor), if you want to learn a little more about me and my fitness journey, click here.

I am by no means a "fitness freak". I don't have the "perfect" beach body and nor do I want one. I'm happy with a slightly toned and healthy body. Why? Because I've been through the experience of injury and returning to fitness so many times, it's changed my outlook on life.

Fitness isn't an obsession for me. It's not a necessity or a chore. Exercise and fitness is just a normal part of my life. It's not something I do to "get fit" or "lose weight". It's something I do because I enjoy doing it; the fitness, fat loss, muscle gain are all consequences of that.

That's just me. My story's unique, just like yours is.

Most people want to be fitter, but a lack of motivation holds them back. Whenever I try and force myself to do something I don't really enjoy (jogging), I manage to make excuses in my head and talk myself out of it. It's only natural. That's why doing an activity you enjoy is crucial, you end up talking yourself into doing it! Self-talk is important, I'll cover it in more depth in a later issue.

I think too much is said about fitness, not enough is actually done. There are too many vultures out there looking to make quick money with fad products and gimmicks. Don't get caught up in that. There are very few people who create books and products because they actually want to help. That's why if I ever recommend a product, I make sure it's quality and value for money.

Talking about quality products, if you didn't manage to get your free e-books after signing up, here are the links for you to save now:

  • Fat Loss Tips
  • Training Nutrition Secrets
  • Tasty Fat Loss Recipes
  • Supplement Company Secrets
  • OK that's enough of me for now. Just remember if things ever get too confusing, go back to basics. Eat a balanced diet, and do some sort of activity that you enjoy. Keep things simple.

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    Lifestyle Questionnaire

    Find out just how healthy your lifestyle is. Get a pen and paper, write the 3 headings of "Heart", "Lungs" and "Liver" at the top of the page. Go through all the questions below, writing down each score under the relevant heading as you go along. For example, if your answer to the first question is "obese", then put 5 under heart and 2 under lungs. There is no liver option so that's 0.

    Add up your scores, so you'll end up with 3 totals. You can find out what your totals mean at the end. Going through the questions honestly and writing down your scores engages your brain, and gives you great visual feedback for an honest reflection of your lifestyle.

    Note: If you can't see the questions below, copy and paste this link into a new browser window:


    Heart and Arteries

  • Score 0 - 15: Your lifestyle is OK for your heart at the moment. Include some sort of regular exercise in your life, if you don't already.
  • Score 16 - 38: Your lifestyle might be harming your heart and arteries. Your risk of heart attack is higher if you smoke, eat lots of saturated fat, are overweight and don't exercise much. Make small changes at a time to reverse this.
  • Score Above 39: Your lifestyle is seriously harming your heart. If you don't change your smoking, eating, drinking and exercise habits immediately, you are in great danger of a heart attack. See your doctor before anything else.
  • Lungs

  • Score 0 - 7: Your lifestyle is kind to your lungs, mainly because you don't smoke. Avoid passive smoking where possible.
  • Score 8 - 11: Your air passages are suffering from mucus build-up, as a result of smoking. You will get breathless quicker when exerting yourself. Your risks of lung and other cancers are very high.
  • Score Above 12: Your smoking is drastically shortening your life. The process of dying from the result of smoking is painful and traumatic. You should quit smoking immediately. Others have done it, so can you.
  • Liver

  • Score 0 - 5: You are within the recommended safe drinking limits. Bear in mind, the safe limits are an average, your personal safe limit may be lower. Try and stay well below the maximum safe limit (21 units/week for men, 14 units/week for women).
  • Score 6 - 12: Your alcohol intake is above the safe limit. Your liver will start to enlarge, and may suffer some irreversible damage. Cut your drinking down to the safe limits.
  • Score Above 13: You are way over the safe limits, your liver is literally dying inside you. If you carry on drinking the same amounts, you are in danger of cirrhosis of the liver.

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    Fat Burning Meals

    Breakfast - Cottage Cheese Grapefruit

    Peel and cut a pink grapefruit into segments. Mix with 150 grams of plain cottage cheese, 1 chopped apricot and 1 teaspoon of sweet raisins. Pour 1 teaspoon of honey over the mix.

    Lunch - Hummus Wraps

    Dollop a tablespoon of hummus in the middle of a tortilla wrap. Add some salad leaves, wrap and munch with some celery sticks, carrot sticks or bell pepper strips.

    Dinner - Salmon with Mashed Potato

    Peel 180 grams of sweet potato and boil for 20 minutes. Shake some pepper and paprika on a 100 gram (approx.) salmon fillet, and grill for 6 minutes. Mash the cooked potato with 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 chopped spring onion, 1 tablespoon fat-free salad dressing and a touch of pepper. Place the salmon and mashed potato on a plate with some lettuce on the side.

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    Health Myth of the Month

    Flu jab injections give you the flu...


    The shot doesn't contain any live virus, so it can't give you the flu. You may have a sore arm or slight fever after the injection.

    Back to Contents

    Free Gym Day

    Let's face it, most gyms have relaxing facilities we'd like to use on a daily basis. But we either can't afford them, or they're not worth the annual fee.

    A cheeky solution is to get a free day pass when you really need some good relaxation. Or maybe you just want to blast out an intense workout in the pool followed by some weights and a yoga class (gotta make the most of the day!)

    Most gyms allow you 1 free day pass, so spread them out wisely between different gyms. Here are some links...



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    Monthly Salt Tip

    Snack tips to reduce your salt intake:

    Keep - Fromage frais (0.1g salt per 90g).

    Swap - Sausages for fresh cooked pork (0.8g salt).

    Avoid - Chicken nuggets (1.3g salt per 6 nuggets).

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    Exclusive Guest Article

    Cool Down

    Recover Faster & Avoid Injury!

    A few months ago, you may remember an issue of The Stretching & Sports Injury Newsletter titled; Warm Up Activities & Stretching Exercises. That article covered the warm up in quite some detail, so I thought it was about time we had a look at the other end of your work out, the Cool Down.

    Many people dismiss the cool down as a waste of time, or simply unimportant. In reality the cool down is just as important as the warm up, and if you want to stay injury free, it's vital.

    Although the warm up and cool down are just as important as each other, they are important for different reasons. While the main purpose of warming up is to prepare the body and mind for strenuous activity, cooling down plays a different role.

    Why Cool Down?
    The main aim of the cool down is to promote recovery and return the body to a pre exercise, or pre work out level. During a strenuous work out your body goes through a number of stressful processes. Muscle fibres, tendons and ligaments get damaged, and waste products build up within your body.

    The cool down, performed properly, will assist your body in its repair process. One area the cool down will help with, is "post exercise muscle soreness." This is the soreness that is usually experienced the day after a tough work out. Most people experience this after having a lay-off from exercise, or at the beginning of their sports season. I remember running a half marathon with very little preparation, and finding it difficult to walk down steps the next day because my quadriceps were so sore. That discomfort is "post exercise muscle soreness."

    This soreness is caused by a number of things. Firstly, during exercise, tiny tears called micro tears develop within the muscle fibres. These micro tears cause swelling of the muscle tissues which in turn puts pressure on the nerve endings and results in pain.

    Secondly, when exercising, your heart is pumping large amount of blood to the working muscles. This blood is carrying both oxygen and nutrients that the working muscles need. When the blood reaches the muscles the oxygen and nutrients are used up. Then the force of the contracting (exercising) muscles pushes the blood back to the heart where it is re-oxygenated.

    However, when the exercise stops, so does the force that pushes the blood back to the heart. This blood, as well as waste products like lactic acid, stays in the muscles, which in turn causes swelling and pain. This process is often referred to as "blood pooling."

    So, the cool down helps all this by keeping the blood circulating, which in turn helps to prevent blood pooling and also removes waste products from the muscles. This circulating blood also brings with it the oxygen and nutrients needed by the muscles, tendons and ligaments for repair.

    The Key Parts of an Effective Cool Down
    Now we know what the cool down does and why it is so important, lets have a look at the structure of an effective cool down. There are three key elements, or parts, which should be included to ensure an effective and complete cool down. They are;

    1. Gentle exercise;
    2. Stretching; and
    3. Re-fuel.

    All three parts are equally important and any one part should not be neglected or thought of as not necessary. All three elements work together to repair and replenish the body after exercise.

    To follow are two examples of effective cool downs. The first is an example of a cool down used by a professional athlete. The second is typical of someone who simply exercises for general health, fitness and fun.

    Cool Down Routines

    Example 1: - For the Professional
    * 10 to 15 minutes of easy exercise. Be sure that the easy exercise resembles the type of exercise that was done during your work out. For example, if your workout involved a lot of running, cool down with easy jogging or walking.

    * Include some deep breathing as part of your easy exercise to help oxygenate your system.

    * Follow with about 20 to 30 minutes of stretching. Static stretching and PNF stretching is usually best.

    * Re-fuel. Both fluid and food are important. Drink plenty of water, plus a good quality sports drink. The best type of food to eat straight after a work out is that which is easily digestible. Fruit is a good example.

    Example 2: - For the Amateur
    * 3 to 5 minutes of easy exercise. Be sure that the easy exercise resembles the type of exercise that was done during your work out. For example, if your workout involved a lot of running, cool down with easy jogging or walking.

    * Include some deep breathing as part of your easy exercise to help oxygenate your system.

    * Follow with about 5 to 10 minutes of stretching. Static stretching and PNF stretching is usually best.

    * Re-fuel. Both fluid and food are important. Drink plenty of water, plus a good quality sports drink. The best type of food to eat straight after a work out is that which is easily digestible. Fruit is a good example.

    Getting serious about your cool down and following the above examples will make sure you recover quicker from your work outs, and stay injury free.

    Copyright © 2008 The Stretching Institute™
    Article by Brad Walker. Brad is a leading stretching and
    sports injury consultant with nearly 20 years experience
    in the health and fitness industry. For more free articles
    on stretching, flexibility and sports injury, subscribe to
    The Stretching & Sports Injury Report by visiting
    The Stretching Institute.

    Back to Contents

    New Pages on

    If you haven't been to the site in a while, check out these new pages:

  • Essential Stretching Exercises - Scroll down that page and click on each stretch to see more instructions and videos.
  • Mediterranean Recipes - For the perfect food from Spain, Italy and Greece. Discover why the food from these Med countries is so good, and tips to cook their signature dishes.
  • Exercise and Stress - Enjoy your exercise and stress will melt away. Find out how exercise helps to manage stress, and what types of activity are best for your stress.

  • Back to Contents

    The Happy Tip

    No matter what happens in life, whatever it decides to throw at us, ultimately I believe we are here to be happy. Whether it's a great new job, the perfect partner, a fun night out, a tasty meal, enjoyable get the picture...we're always in pursuit of happiness.

    Here's 1 tip to help on the way:

    Get your hands dirty. Our brains produce less happy hormones (serotonin) in autumn and winter. But research from Bristol University (UK) found that exposure to a bug called Mycobacterium vaccae that lives in soil, actually increases serotonin levels. Go get gardening!

    Back to Contents

    In Next Month's Issue...

  • A shopper's guide to additives
  • Start a new sport (new regular)
  • Fitness equipment gem (new regular)
  • Prepare yourself for exercise
  • Exclusive guest article
  • PLUS all the other regulars

  • Ask Asad

    If you've enjoyed reading this newsletter, please pass it on to your friends and family and let them know. Here's the link again:

    Thanks so much for your help and support.

    If you have any questions, comments (good or bad), or ideas, just contact me. If you want a specific question covered in detail in a future issue, please let me know.

    Until next month...

    Keep Fit -- Stay Healthy -- Be Happy

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