MiniPost: Snow Shovelling with Polar FA-20 vs FT-60

Feedback. We know it's valuable. We know we need it to help progress toward our well-formed outcomes. There are so many ways to collect and analyze feedback that it boggles the mind but I have been very pleased with one particular way of measuring feedback regarding my physical activity and performance over time: electronic heart rate monitors.

I've been using a Polar FT60 heart rate monitor to help track my workouts and their effectiveness, allowing the STAR training program to guide my efforts. It provides great feedback and measurability which I will write about in the future - remember for now that feedback helps your relentless self-improvement and helps to fuel aggressive optimism. 

A while ago I also stumbled across an FA-20 Activity Monitor on clearance. It was affordable enough that I decided to pick one up just to try it out. It's based on computing your activity levels all day long rather than just in relatively short bouts of intense exercise, although it does have workout tracking built in (not heart rate-based, but accelerometer based).  This difference in measurement was highlighted today when I wore both units while shovelling the sidewalk. 

My FT-60 estimated my calories burned during the snow shovelling bout as around 220 while the FA-20, using my body motion, decided that I was still having a "lazy day"  (seriously, the watch literally says this stuff) and that I had burned about 6 calories since putting it on for the day.

It's probably calibrated around the swinging motion of your arms while walking or running and shovelling snow does not match those movements, leading to the interesting feedback I got. Lesson: use the right tool to measure the right activity. Even a HRM might not be completely accurate but it's at least available to be graphed in context with all of my other exercise. I've read that the newer FT-80 might be a better fit for someone doing the varied activities that I do (including some weight training) but for now I absolutely love the FT-60 and won't train without it.

That said, I am thinking of wearing my FA-20 more just to see what it thinks of my non-training activity levels.  I think it's meant more as an entry-level device to get sedentary people moving, who will then probably want to upgrade to something more interesting like the FT- devices.



Posted by Steve in Health and wellness, Motivation | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mid-day Nap May Be Heart-Healthy

According to a report making the rounds this week, researchers believe that working Greeks (who also probably have more mediterranean-diet elements working in their favor) who take a mid-day nap have a lower incidence of heart disease.

It's known that many of us have that natural circadian rhythm that leads us to feel drowsy before  bedtime and shortly after lunch time. In the United States, napping is not part of the working culture and I myself do not take full naps but will frequently enter into a light trance, meditate, or even pray just when that drowsiness hits.

The researchers say that this is just a preliminary finding and that the world should not go ahead and adopt daily naps just yet, so take this news with as much salt as you feel necessary.

Posted by Steve in Health and wellness | Permalink | Comments (0)

4 Simple Steps to Improve Your Health

Ready? Each step is the same, and you repeat them every day. Drink a cup of tea!
According to the Daily Mail, researchers are stating that intake of tea, even black tea, is a healthful practice with diverse benefits such as increased concentration, dental health and cardiovascular benefits.

I don't know how far we should go with this practice, but it's here in this article. 
I tend to drink quite a bit of tea, along with coffee (which doctors usually want us to drink less of) so maybe it will balance out somehow?

In any case, the process of brewing tea can be brought into your meditation practicce. The Japanese call it "tea ceremony".  While I am not a tea ceremony practitioner, I can advocate that the steps in making tea lend themselves to that quiet concentration that we strive for in daily life. Bring your full attention into the process of gathering your materials, boiling water, brewing and drinking the tea.  Use hyperaesthesia to amplify every sense and bring yourself totally into the present moment, and enjoy the calm of sipping your favorite tea blend.

Posted by Steve in Health and wellness, Meditation, Nutrition | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dr. Andrew Weil: For sugar cravings, hypnosis and stress control may help

Dr. Andrew Weil, pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, writes in the Tucson Citizen that sugar cravings may be helped by hypnosis, and the use of breathing techniques in order to reduce stress.

According to Dr. Weil: "Eating sweets can increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin,
which can help you relax, suggesting that some cravings are
stress-related. Studies at the University of California-San Francisco
reported last year that chronic stress may explain why some people
crave comfort foods."

Perhaps it's possible to ask your unconsious to help regulate your sugar cravings. The unconscious would have many resources at its disposal, most importantly the external behaviors that get us into trouble in the first place. Dr. Weil has suggestions for these behaviors as well, including choosing snacks with a low glycemic index, eating bitter foods, and he even recommends the supplement gymnema sylvestre.

For more information, visit the article itself on the Tucson Citizen web site, or visit Dr. Andrew Weil's own site.

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Posted by Steve in Health and wellness, NLP / Hypnosis, Peak Performance, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABC News Reports on Psychedelic Magic Mushrooms

Quite a surprise from the Google News site- the ABC News web site has published a Reuters article covering recent research into the beneficial effects of psilocybin mushrooms. Apparently 60% of the volunteers who received an extract of psilocybin reported a "full mystical experience".

But the interesting part  to me is the two month followup:

Two months after getting the drug, 79 percent of the volunteers said they felt a moderately or greatly increased well-being or life satisfaction, according to the report published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

Maybe we can't try and tease too much out of a wire story, but the  percentage of people from the study reporting a moderate or great increase in wellbeing evidently (according to this article) exceeds the apparent percentage of people who reported a mystical experience.

But other than this weird observation, perhaps we can ignore the means used to achieve a peak experience in this case and focus on the concept that peak experience can have lasting positive effects.
So are thosse of us using positive psychology, NLP, hypnosis, or even exercise and martial arts just chasing a high? I've heard that accusation leveled against  peak performance seekers many a time. Perhaps now, with research like this, we can begin to back up scientifically the lasting benefits of our personal mind tech.

Posted by Steve in Health and wellness, NLP / Hypnosis, Peak Performance, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Insomnia Drug May Reverse Vegeative State

This article from the BBC explains the findings of doctors who have administered the insomnia drug Zolpidem to patients in a persistent vegetative state.

According to the article, the drug seems to awaken dormant areas of the brain which then act as a sort of failover circuit to function in place of the damaged areas of the patient's brain, allowing them to have conversations and even in one case catch a basketball.

Caution: the article quotes another doctor who questions whether they were truly in a PVS, but acknowledges that if they really were, then this finding is very interesting indeed. Perhaps some of those who awakened under this drug were actually afflicted by some other condition.

Either way, what an awesome reminder of our capacity to recover and to route around damage.

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Life Extension Foundation is Having a Clearance Sale

I'm not an affiliate sales site for Life Extension, but I value their products and, if you've been reading this blog, you know I support their mission :-)

For those of you that are members, or are thinking of becoming members, Life Extension is having a clearance sale of many of their popular supplements in order to make room for new formulations and fresh inventory. The cool thing about Life Extension is that they do the research, and they actually update their products in accord with the most current knowledge in nutritional supplements.

Discounts in the clearance sale range from 60-80% and the sale includes such items as Super Alpha Lipoic Acid with Biotin, Coenzyme Q10, Silybinin Plus, Cognitex, Resveratrol, Super CLA Blend with Guarana and Sesame Lignans, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and of course several variants of Life Extension Mix.

Head on over to to take a gander at their offer, and to join up hit

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Posted by Steve in Health and wellness, Nutrition, Supplements / Nutrition | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

L-Theanine: Take a Chill Pill

I've been using L-theanine supplements periodically for a few years now. And a lot of us get it through one of our favorite beverages, green tea. What's l-theanine? Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

Theanine is an amino acid, commonly found in tea (infusions of Camellia sinensis), that can produce a feeling of relaxation. Theanine produces these effects by increasing the level of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) production. Theanine affects the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. It also inhibits glutamic acid excitotoxicity.

Theanine is most readily available in green tea and can also be purchased as a supplement. Unusual for an amino acid, it crosses the blood-brain barrier in animal studies. It is also theorized that the GABA-binding properties of theanine reduce the caffeine buzz delivered in black tea versus that of coffee. It also promotes alpha wave production in the brain. Alpha waves are commonly associated with a state of alert relaxation. Theanine is not removed by the decaffeination process because it is not an alkaloid.

What's all that boil down to? L-theanine is espoused by the Life Extension Foundation as a vehicle to help reduce stress and fight free radicals. I've even heard it called "zen in a bottle".  I wouldn't go quite that far, but it may come in handy in certain circumstances.

If these claims are true, L-theanine might be useful as a supplement to help take the edge off a very stressful day. Readers of this site will no doubt have an arsenal of breathing techniques and hypnotic triggers set for relaxation and stress reduction. So maybe we don't need supplemental l-theanine at all, especially if we're getting small amounts of it through drinking tea.

I decided that its potential was interesting enough to begin tracking information about l-theanine like I'm tracking resveratrol, omega 3 (fish oil) and green tea for life extension and peak performance. While none of this information is validated by the FDA, for informational purposes we might want to keep an eye on supplements of this nature.

Posted by Steve in Health and wellness, Nutrition, Supplements / Nutrition | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Green Tea: Antiobesity Effect Gets More Attention

The linked article's headline says "deserves more attention" but the article goes on to detail how green tea, and its component epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) are getting attention for their effects on obesity.

From the article: "Green tea, green tea
catechins, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) have been demonstrated
in cell culture and animal models of obesity to reduce adipocyte
differentiation and proliferation, lipogenesis, fat mass, body weight,
fat absorption, plasma levels of triglycerides, free fatty acids,
cholesterol, glucose, insulin and leptin, as well as to increase
beta-oxidation and thermogenesis."

Green tea is a beverage that's consumed around the world and as its health benefits are revealed, it's gaining popularity in the U.S., where obesity is a growing health concern. Other studies have suggested possible other health effects related to cancer and aging.

While I am not a doctor and can't authoritatively state that green tea is good for what ails ya, I can continue enjoying a few cups a day of this refreshing drink.

For the rest of the story, visit Life Extension Daily News.

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iPod Video: A Portable Yoga Studio?

A few months ago I wrote about the potentials of the iPod as a self-improvement device or meditation machine. Audio books, seminar recordings, meditation sessions, and hypnosis mp3 files could be arranged in a subsection of your iPod library, enabling a portable audio dojo right in your pocket.

Imagine my surprise when I found this press release from YogaYak about going one step further: using the video iPod to create a portable yoga studio!

PORTABLE YOGA: YOGA CLASSES FOR CELL PHONES & IPOD AT WWW.YOGAYAK.COM (PRLEAP.COM) is an online yoga studio offering video classes in Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, Meditation, Pranayama and a free community Forum. For $9.95US per month, our members gain access to our complete library of classes for PC’s, Mac and now, video classes for IPod and cellular phones. Our classes are also available in MP3 format for those wanting a selection of audio classes.

For travelers, business people, commuters, students or anyone wishing to take their yoga practice with them, offers an exciting and low-cost way to bring meditation and yoga into daily life.

We take information with us virtually wherever we go, and we are always on the move; we take our stress with us wherever we go and now, with we can take yoga, meditation and a deep breath with us wherever we go and whenever we need it. is run by Yogayak Productions Ltd.; a Vancouver, British Columbia based company. We are committed to bringing quality multi-disciplinary yoga instruction to the online community.

Posted by Steve in Health and wellness, Meditation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack