Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guest Post by David Haas: Fitness During and After Cancer

Fitness During and After Cancer

by David Haas
Exercise improves energy, builds strength, boosts immunity, controls weight and promotes better sleep. Perhaps these are the very reasons that patients undergoing cancer treatments should participate in a regular fitness regimen. Whether recently diagnosed, currently receiving treatment or going through remission, exercise should be a priority to improve the overall quality of life.

An expert panel for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released guidelines in 2010 that encourages cancer patients get out and exercise as often as possible. This is contrary to the previous thought that cancer patients should rest. Research shows that moderate aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes, five times per week is generally recommended depending on the type of cancer and treatment. Programs consisting of weight training, moderate cardio activities and swimming can be designed on a case-by-case basis by a qualified fitness trainer.

Research shows that inactivity often occurs after diagnosis. This can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, which can cause depression, weight gain and a slow recovery. While 70 percent of patients experience fatigue during treatment, it has been shown that rest does not relieve this condition and being sedentary often leads to muscle loss. Exercise can control weight gain and weight loss depending on the patient's situation. The ACSM suggests that both groups can improve lean body mass and increase strength. In addition, it is one of the best ways to improve mood and regain energy.

Stamina, fitness level, stage of cancer and type of cancer are all factors in the type of fitness regimen a patient chooses. For instance, mesothelioma patients may find that moderate to high-intensity cardiovascular activities limited due to decreased lung function. For those situations, as well as beginners to exercise, short walks, bike rides and lightweight training 20 to 30 minutes per day is sufficient. Yoga is another low-impact activity that can improve lung function and muscle development. Later stage cancers can cause weakened immunity and in those cases, lighter exercise at home or in the fresh air may be a better choice than a public, enclosed gym.

Over-exercising can be harmful resulting in nausea, dizziness, injuries and even illness, so easing in to a fitness routine is the best way to go. The patient’s doctor should always approve workouts.

The diagnosis of cancer can be extremely overwhelming. Exercise can be an outlet to relieve stress and enhance emotional wellbeing. No matter the activity, exercise should be fun instead of a chore. Find something enjoyable and make it a part of your life during treatment and for years to come. Regain control of your life with a regular fitness regimen that can improve health and keep cancer from coming back.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Back Version 1

Since I'm trying to improve the strength of my back, I typically train for it twice a week. This is also the body part that I try packing on as much weight for resistance that I possibly can. Therefore, typically this work out is done after a day of rest. Also, since I train back twice a week, I try to make adjustments between the first and second work outs to change things up. I may change the actual routine, the weighted resistance, or I may add more sets. For the most part, I start off the week with this back work out which is almost identical to Frank's work out:

Ice1cube's Back Work Out

45-50 Minutes Work Out with Minimal Rest

Pull Ups:
  • 2 sets of 10 reps warm up
  • 2 sets of 8 reps with 35 lbs
  • 2 sets of 6 reps with 45 lbs
  • 2 sets of 4-5 reps with 55 lbs
  • Burn out set until failure with 45 lbs
  • Burn out set until failure with 35 lbs
  • Burn out set until failure with no weights
I bought the dip belt on Amazon for less than $30, and it is definitely useful for extra resistance for dips or pull ups. Personally, I enjoy doing weighted pull ups because it is so difficult. It requires and allows me to really push my own limits. I used to struggle doing body weight pull ups, but since trying to push myself through these weighted pull ups, I have seen improvements in my strength. I get a drive out of doing what I'm not good at and what makes me struggle. If your strength is in pull ups, then find another routine you struggle in and push yourself to improvement. I also like to do weighted pull ups because not only does it work on your back, but it really burns your biceps. This is the reason why I rarely do any bicep curls because I'd rather work multiple muscle groups with an intense work out routine.

Stiff Legged Deadlifts
  • 1 set of 10 reps at 135 lbs
  • 2 sets of 10 reps at 155 lbs
  • 2 sets of 10 reps at 175 lbs
Stiff Legged Deadlifts. I stacked 2x45 lbs plates as a platform.

Stiff legged deadlift is another compound exercise. It concentrates on multiple muscle groups. Stiff legged deadlifts really concentrate on the lower back, legs, and butt. The platform really allows for a further stretch to these muscles compared to the regular deadlifts. Also, as you get tired and increase the weighted resistance, there will be the additional burn in the forearms. Working multiple muscle groups allow for more calories to be burned and provides an efficient work out.

 Underhand Barbell Row
  • 1 set of 10 reps at 95 lbs
  • 2 sets of 10 reps at 125 lbs
  • 2 sets of 8-10 reps at 135 lbs
Make sure to keep your back straight and flex your back when you bring the bar to your abdominal region during these barbell rows.

Seated Rows, Lat Pull Downs, Body Weight Pull Ups CIRCUIT STYLE
  • Seated Rows: Sets of 10 at 105-120 lbs
  • Lat Pull Downs: Sets of 10 at 100 lbs
  • Body Weight Pull Ups: Sets of 8-10
Lat Pull Downs. I have my knees pointed down to the floor to flex my core while working on my lats

With the remainder of the time of the 45-50 minutes, I usually try to push through these routines in a circuit training style. At this point, I am not too worried about how much weight there is. I'm more worried about the burn and the pace I'm going at. Basically, move quickly and try to beat the clock while maintaining good form to prevent injuries. The more sets you are able to push through, the more burn and better results you will have. Do not waste time resting because you will be able to rest after this last leg of the race!

Post-Work Out February 2011
Do not forget to refuel your body after the work out ASAP!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Legs and Core Version 1

It is very easy for our bodies to quickly adapt to the same work outs. We work out to see changes. This same concept of change in our bodies and fitness levels should also be applied to the work outs. Lack of change to our work outs lead to a plateauing effect, in which our bodies have adapted to the exercise routine. This leads to no gains being obtained whether our goals are to become stronger, leaner, or fitter. In terms of gains, our bodies thrive under a state of confusion. New routines or intensity levels prevent our bodies from becoming accustomed to the typical daily moves. Confusion requires the body to expend more energy. It also forces our muscles to work harder, and in turn, this allows us to become stronger. With that being said, this posting is called version 1 because it is one routine out of many possibilities for legs and core.


Warm up
  • 5 minutes of moderate to fast paced walk at 2/3 max incline on the treadmill.
Because the walk is on an incline, it is easier to get a stretch into the legs. Try to alternate longer and shorter strides to stretch out the muscles in your legs.

  • 10 sets of 10 squats at 135lbs.

Squats are one of the best exercises to do. Whether your intention is to burn calories or strengthen and build muscles. Squats are classified as a compound exercise. This means that it works out multiple muscles in your body simultaneously. This is in comparison to isolating and focusing on one muscle (such as a bicep curl). Working multiple muscles allow for building overall strength and burning more calories. The weights used in every work out is relative to your abilities, but that does not mean that you should not try to push your limits. Remember to minimize your rest duration in between the sets. Keeping the intensity level high allows for better results. If there is no struggle, then the work out is not intense enough. Personally, I keep the weight at a moderate level in order to be able to push for a total of 100 squats. My focus is to keep proper form and to squat as low to the floor as possible. The lower the squat, the more of a burn you will feel in your gluts and buttocks.

  • Hanging leg raises
  • Prison cell push up
  • Decline leg raises
  • Sit ups/Crunches
I use the remaining of the 45 minutes after the warm up and squats to work on my core. Leg raises have more of a focus on the lower abdominal region while sit ups and crunches focus more on the upper abdominal region. Prison cell push ups focus on your overall core strength. I usually do these work outs in a circuit training fashion. Meaning, one exercise comes up right after another. Circuit training is designed to make you burn calories and sweat vigorously. There should be no rest period in between any of these exercises other than to catch your breath for a quick second. This is the last stretch of the work out and all of your energy should be expended for the remaining time of the 45 minute work out.

Do not forget to rejuvenate your body with the proper nutrition after a work out. If you do not refuel your muscles, there will be no strengthening or building of the muscles. Instead your body will continue to break down your own bodily supply of necessary proteins to fuel your body (this prevents obtaining the gains stated earlier). The reality of working out is that what we eat and when we eat is just as important or more important than what we do in the gym.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chest Work Out and Meal Plan

I wasn't always a fan of eating breakfast. If you're not used to eating early in the morning, you may find it difficult to even swallow your food without feeling like it's quite forceful. Like any other process, it takes time to adapt. I try to have breakfast within the first 15 minutes after I wake up because it is important to start up our metabolism. Our bodies are pretty much starved while we're asleep, so it is necessary to refuel. I typically have the same breakfast meal during the weekdays because it's faster to prepare and eat prior to taking off to work/school.

Peanut Butter on Wheat toast, Kashi Go Lean with fat free milk, low carb protein shake. I prefer taking the multivitamin with breakfast so there's plenty of time for absorption of the vitamins and minerals to occur for usage during the entire day.
This is what I carry in my lunch bag to work daily. A sandwich, 2 chicken and sweet potato meals, and about 4-5 fruits.

About 2 and half hours later, I have a sandwich (I'm usually done with breakfast at 6:30am and out the door to work). When I'm at work, I typically time myself to eat around 9:00ish.

2 slices of whole wheat bread with lettuce and 98% fat free ham. I typically have a fruit with every meal.

At 10:30ish I have another low carb protein shake with an apple for refueling purposes prior to the gym at 11:15 to 11:30ish. An apple works well for me prior to the gym, especially, if i start to feel a bit hungry or feel as if my blood sugar is starting to decline.

As for the gym portion of my day, I typically go during my lunch hour at work because we're located conveniently next to a 24 Hour Fitness. For my work out, I like to strive for higher intensity and try to not spend as much time at the gym. I aim for intensity levels that will physically make me struggle for the 45 minutes. Rest times are minimized in between sets. Work outs longer than an hour send your body into a catabolic stage and you result in breaking up the building blocks in your body (protein) for energy. If you're trying to build muscle mass, this would be counterintuitive to your goal.

I tend to start off by warming up. I do this by doing incline interval runs on the treadmill. I alternate walking for a minute followed by running for a minute during the 10 minute duration.

I worked with the barbell today for my chest work out. My chest has been a weak point, so I always try my best to push my limits.

Flat Bench
  • 2 Sets for warm up (135lbs)
  • 5 Working sets (increase in weight as set progresses: 185 to 225)
  • 1 Burn out set (135lbs)
I am definitely struggling at this weight that's why I needed a spotter. My aim here is to make my muscles struggle and tear some muscle fibers so they can rebuild and strengthen.

My goal has been to be able to bench these 2 plates on my own, but I currently can't. Regardless, I try to push my limits every day until failure, which helps me keep the intensity level high and productive.

Decline Bench
  • 2 Sets at 135 lbs
  • 3 Sets at 155 lbs
  • 1 Burn out set at 135 lbs
At this point, I am pretty tired, but I am just trying to keep pushing. It's helpful to have a work out buddy during these times just in case you feel like the weights will drop on you ahahaha.

Incline Bench
  • 4 Sets at 115 lbs
  • 1 Set at 135 lbs
By the time I start doing incline bench, I'm running short on time and I'm definitely fatigued. I just try my best to do as much as I can, especially, since this is a tough routine for me.

Once I hit the locker room, I drink my protein shake (Muscle Milk Light) before showering and getting ready to head back to work. I choose this protein shake because it has some carbs in it which is essential for a post-work out recovery since your muscles are depleted of the fuel. It also has only 20 grams of proteins which is under the amount of absorption per meal (30g) since I will be eating in half an hour. I drink the protein shake right after the work out and do not wait after the showers to prevent from going into catabolism. I use protein as a way to buy me time before I can have another chance to eat.

For the remainder of the day, here's what I eat for every 2-3 hours.

Chicken breast with baked sweet potatoes and an orange.

I'm usually home by this time so I can have a soup with my meal. Chicken breast, baked sweet potatoes, cabbage and tofu soup, and an orange.

Chicken breast with cauliflower, mushrooms, and green bell peppers.

These are some pics of then and now. I am pretty much aiming for Hanh's pic for the month of July in the 2007 calendar issue LOL.


March 2010

January 2011

I'm currently trying to get a bit leaner. I want to develop my lower abs and obliques. I am also trying to strengthen my chest and back. As for size, I am happy with the way I am at 150 lbs, so I am trying to lean up and just maintain my size.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dieting, the Worst Part to Change

Dieting is always the worst part to change when it comes to wanting to transform your body and health. It is tough to change eating habits because the best tasting food items are always the worst for you! Also, healthy affordable foods just aren't very appealing. If anyone is like me, I have the stomach capacity of at least 3 people combined. I go into buffets with the intentions of making sure the restaurant does not profit off of me LOL. Also, I'm usually the one that finishes my friends' dishes along with my own. The transitioning portion of changing my food selections into healthier and wiser food choice is/was/will be the hardest part. Going to the gym is easy, but not eating that cookie is hard. It was tough for me because I love to eat and I can eat a whole lot. Here are some pics of the things that I had to give up in order to discipline myself for better results, which was not easy at all.

Dieting is a big part of working out if you want to see visible results. I have worked out in the past and neglected to diet wisely. The results were not very noticeable. My current goal is to become leaner. I am not looking to pack on huge size, but instead, more definition. It is important for me to stay proportional, so I am not aiming to pass the 150ish lbs mark. I'm currently 22 years old, 5'7" and about 150 lbs. Ever since changing my diet, I have put on about 3-5 lbs to hit that 150 mark. I feel healthier and more energetic overall. I try to eat every 2 to 2 and a half hours because I'll usually be really hungry if I push for 3 hours.

Here are some of the things that I am currently eating as part of my meals:

Kashi Go Lean Cereal

These were on sale so I stocked up on them (hahaha). I usually have Kashi Go Lean Cereal for breakfast, peanut butter on whole grain bread, hard boiled egg whites or a protein shake/bar. I also usually have some fruits with my meals (apple/banana/orange). This is usually the time I take my multivitamin as well (Pure Essence One N' Only). I eat peanut butter in the morning because of the good fats found in nuts. Also, ingesting some fat in the morning helps with starting up fat metabolism in your body. I prefer taking multivitamins with a meal although it is not required because some of the vitamins (D, E, A, K) are fat soluble. They will not get absorbed unless there is a source of fat in your small intestine (where absorption of nutrients usually occurs).

Pure Essence One N' Only Multivitamin
Shaken beef with brown rice and some hot sauce just for my own preferred dip.

Egg whites, green bell peppers, mushrooms, ham, and brown rice.

I use ham because it is salty since I do not use any seasoning for the other items.

Carne Asada Burrito

When I'm lazy to prepare my food, I usually get a carne asada burrito. I do not eat the tortilla because it is made up of simple sugars. Processed sugar is what spikes your blood sugar quickly. It is higher on the glycemic index compared to complex carbohydrates (brown rice, whole grain bread). The faster your blood sugar spikes, the more insulin will be released in your body. Insulin promotes the synthesis of fat.

Chicken breast, mushrooms, green bell peppers, ham.

Most of the time I usually eat chicken breast with sweet potatoes because that is a lot easier to pack and heat up for work.

When I don't have time to eat a full meal or if I feel like I didn't eat enough protein in the meal, I usually have a protein shake or eat a protein bar as well. The protein shakes that I take are the ones with very little carbs and fat because I'm trying to lean up. I eat Pure Protein bars because they have less carbs compared to the majority of other bars I have looked at.

I don't try to stuff myself when I eat ever since I changed my diet because there are so many meals in a day. Your body can only absorb about 30grams of protein per meal. Any excess protein will be excreted. These smaller meals work out pretty well. It keeps you satisfied for the 2-3 hour duration and everything in your meal can be efficiently absorbed.