Newsletter Volume 1, Number 5

December 29, 2005

From my Diary

  • Strength Training and Abs: Last week I described how my workouts follow an 8-week cycle, based on Bryan Haycock's HST program, Hypertrophic Specific Training.

    This week I started the 10's (10 repetitions). This means that I increased the weights by 20% and do 10 repetitions per exercise. The 10's are known to increase muscle mass. If increasing muscle mass is our goal, why don't we forget about the others and do only the 10's? Bryan Haycock explains that muscle research has shown we need to follow a rational approach: strengthen joints with the 15's, build muscle with the 10's, and consolidate muscle structure with the 5's. These three phases can also be viewed as: endurance (15's), growth (10's), strength (5's).

  • Aerobic Exercises: Lifting weights builds skeletal muscles, but aerobic exercise is essential for heart health. You often read that to build muscle, you have to cut back on the aerobics. Bodybuilders who follow this advice run the risk of developing heart disease ignoring the most important muscle of all, the heart muscle.

  • Still Unaccustomed to My New Look: Last week my wife and two of our nieces were following me to the car. Veronica (22) said to Esther (19), "Look! From the back, Uncle Fred looks like an 18-year old". Moee Choo said, "Yeah, but turn it around and you get 81". I cracked up at the time—we have the same bizarre sense of humor. In the shower this morning, when I remembered my wife's joke, I laughed again, thinking: How come I didn't know it's possible to keep the shape of a teenager? I must have believed the stereotype: that older adults have to be gross looking!

    As I showered, I realized that I am still not used to living in the athletic body I have now, with no pot belly, with muscles and sinews visible in place of rolls of fat, with more than just the beginnings of a six-pack, the loose skin fiming up as it is stretched by muscle where once it was stretched by fat. As a teenager, I was skinny but had no muscle. So seeing muscle is really a whole new experience. I doubt if the muscles will ever be bulky. Not that it's impossible at my age (74), but the techniques for bulking up get more risky with age and increased risk is not part of my agenda. Besides, my goal is different: What I aim to do by age 80 is to gain about 10 pounds (5 kg) of muscle and lose 12 pounds (6 kg) of fat. That might mean all the difference to the quality of life in my 80's and maybe 90's, when I aim to be pushing someone else's wheelchair, instead of sitting in one.

    The reason we cannot see alternative realities for ourselves is we lack imagination: We do not believe we can become what we wish to become. This lack of imagination is not restricted to body shape. Lack of imagination limits what we can achieve in any skill or endeavor. To overcome this barrier, we can use the visualization techniques of psycho-cybernetics.

Tips of the Week

  • Salmon for Health? Yes, but you must be careful to check that it is wild salmon, not farmed salmon. Pacific canned salmon may be more heart healthy than fresh salmon. For fresh fish, choose instead from one of the wild varieties: haddock, cod, herring, mackerel, halibut, and sea bass.

    Floyd Chilton, professor of pharmacology, has measured the kinds of fats in a variety of foods and has calculated an "Inflammation Index", based on the amount of AA (arachidonic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) in the foods. This Index tells us roughly the ratio of omega-6 fat to omega-3 fat in the foods. The higher the ratio, the higher the content of AA (inflammatory fat) and the lower the content of EPA (anti-inflammatory fat).

    Wild pink salmon has an index of 5, so it's anti-inflammatory. Farmed Atlantic salmon has an index of 150, as high as cured bacon (150) and higher than cured ham (110) and lean beef (around 50). Wild Atlantic salmon has an index of 50, as high as lean beef and many times higher than Pacific salmon, which ranges from 10 down to 2. Alaskan pink salmon not only has a low inflammation index (5), but is also a short-lived fish that has a mercury content so low it is often not measurable. Try a salmon casserole based on a one-pound can (450 g) of wild Alaska pink salmon. If you don't get enough fish, try fish oil capsules (omega-3 oil/EPA/DHA). Look for the statement: molecularly distilled. That's your assurance that the fish oil contains no mercury. Note: Dr Chilton's research indicates that, if you take GLA (primrose oil or borage oil), you need to take an equivalent amount EPA/DHA to ensure that the GLA does not convert to AA.

  • Alternative Medicine & Supplements : If you are taking both prescription drugs and herbal medicines or supplements, you should ask your doctor about possible dangerous interactions. In a study by Beth L. Abramson, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, 45% of people taking one or more prescription drugs were also taking herbal medicines or supplements.

    Some herbals can interfere with heart drugs. For example: St. John's wort can interfere with the levels of certain cardiac drugs such as digoxin and warfarin; licorice can worsen high blood pressure; and high doses of hawthorn berries can be risky to patients on prescribed heart medications. (American Heart Association, 2005. Scientific Sessions: Abstract 2520. Presented Nov. 15, 2005.)


  • Nathan Pritikin was working for the US Government after World War II, when he learned from classified documents that those countries which consume the most fat have the most arterial disease. During the Second World War, arterial disease diminished drastically in Europe because fatty foods were in short supply. Later, at the age of 41, Pritikin himself was diagnosed with heart disease, with cholesterol over 160. He remembered his discovery and set out to cure himself. Nathan Pritikin promoted the first successful approach to treating heart disease by diet and exercise. The closest modern equivalents are the DASH diet and the Ornish diet.

    In 1985, Pritikin took his own life when he believed he had lost his 35-year struggle with leukemia. The results of his autopsy were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and showed that Nathan Pritikin's arteries were free of any signs of heart disease, and were as "soft and pliable" as a teenager's. "In a man 69 years old," wrote pathologist Jeffrey Hubbard, "the near absence of atherosclerosis and the complete absence of its effects are remarkable." The Pritikin Story.
Fred Colbourne It's never too late!

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