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Post Questions for WAISdom's Fitness Guru
Created by John Eipper on 05/21/20 4:21 AM

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Questions for WAISdom's Fitness Guru (Enrique Torner, USA, 05/21/20 4:21 am)

I want to thank Ric Mauricio (May 20th) for his gracious post agreeing with my thoughts on the correspondence between stress and bad health, and well as for describing his typical workout, which adds up to about 60 minutes! Hey! I thought you shouldn't work out more than 30 minutes! So, his point is that you shouldn't do more than 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, and that you should combine that with anaerobic exercise. This combination is the winning bid.

I have been lucky to have great virtual coaches because, as I mentioned on WAIS in the past, I am subscribed to The Great Courses Plus, which includes courses on health and fitness taught by world-class experts. I have followed a combination of Mayo Clinic dietary advice together with fitness workouts from different coaches, and they all agree with Ric: large muscle workouts are the ones that help the most because they combine aerobic with anaerobic exercises. Each fitness/lecture is 30-45 minutes long, and I had been doing those 3-4 times a week until COVID-19 threw me off; after that, I have to admit my regularity went down because of lack of time and focus.

However, I continued focusing on three main components: Myfitnesspal app, which you can download into your smartphone and you can input your weight and calories consumed and burnt, letting you know how you are doing calorie-wise through the day; habit changes, which Mayo recommends (I practically stopped consuming sweets, and have been eating fruit with every meal, and have been trying to avoid second helpings and eat in moderation, limit high-fat products, and add as much fiber as possible); and exercise whenever possible, which has been about 15 minutes of high-intensity calisthenics and/or martial arts, mostly at the end of the day. For 2-3 weeks, I added walking outside with my daughters at a beautiful cemetery that is just two blocks away and has plenty of space and walking/bike riding trails. Actually, my daughters ride their bikes while I walk. Now that I'm on vacation, I should be able to find more time to go back to previous 30-45 minute workouts, but I'm having a hard time going back to that.

This leads to a couple of questions for Ric: 1) How do you manage to keep the good habits going over a long period of time?; and 2) how do you overcome a weight plateau? To put it plainly, last year, on January first I started the whole thing of dieting and exercising and lost about 15 pounds in 4-5 months, which left me at a reasonably good weight. Then, content that I had achieved my goal, I gradually let it go, and, right after Christmas (when I probably gained a few pounds in a short period of time), I had almost regained all that I had lost! After that, nothing like a new year to incentivize to try again, so I did. Then, bad health news incentivized me even more, and my doctor telling me that I had to lose weight to improve my fatty liver was a further incentive.

Well, now I have lost 25 pounds, feel pretty good (my BMI is normal again), but, afraid of gaining what I lost, even though I'm fine now, I feel like it would be better if I lost 10 more, but have plateaued on my weight, which has been about the same for the last month. So, in other words, once you have achieved your goal, how do you keep it steady? Would you like to be my personal coach? For now, I printed your workout and will try to follow it.

Thank you, Ric!

JE comments:  Can I throw in another question for Ricardo Mauricio, FG (Fitness Guru)?  It's about aging and weight gain.  We all know the metabolism slows with the years, and retirement inevitably leads to reduced activity.  (Of course one should be an "active senior," but reality intervenes.)  "Virtual" teaching of late is almost like retirement, but with additional stress.  I have been moving less in my daily life--and snacking more.  The result:  coronabloat.  Short of the obvious answer--discipline--is there anything I can do?

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  • Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet (Jordi Molins, Spain 05/22/20 7:16 AM)
    Enrique Torner asked: "1) How do you manage to keep the good [diet and fitness] habits going over a long period of time?  And 2) how do you overcome a weight plateau?"

    Scientists such as David Sinclair (Harvard), Valter Longo (UCLA) and Satchin Panda (Salk Institute) tend to converge towards the following recommendations:

    1. Follow a ketogenic diet: no sugar, no refined carbohydrates, eat whole, unprocessed foods. Eat lots of fats, especially olive oil, fatty fish, avocados, nuts and coconut oil. Eat lots of vegetables. Try to reduce protein consumption as much as possible, especially red meat. Do not restrict calories (at least, consciously).

    2. Follow Time Restricted Eating: eat in a 6-hour window, fast for 18 hours. Water fast for 3-5 days (under medical supervision) at least once per year. Try not to eat within 3 hours of going to sleep.

    3. Weight training: at least 150 minutes per week. Ideally, just before you break your fast. Eat clean protein (including BCAA) and creatine just after the workout.

    4. Check your genes: having APOE4 and / or MTHFR polymorphism may require an individual plan for the rest of your life. Dale Bredesen has interesting insights about Alzheimer's disease, especially in relation to APOE4.

    The ketogenic diet dramatically reduces hunger pangs for a big part of the population (especially males), resulting in a high success rate (instead, restricting calories has a failure rate of 99.9% for obese people).

    The most important indicator for longevity is blood glucose level. Ketogenic diet, time-restricted eating and weight training reduce blood glucose levels and inflammation, as well as insulin resistance.

    JE comments:  This is all convincing, Jordi.  I love olive oil, avocados, and nuts (fish not so much).  Unfortunately, my "strategy" has always been to find a trendy diet that lines up with my existing eating preferences.  My favorite:  "carb-loading," which was all the rage in the 1980s.

    Yesterday in the supermarket I saw a new keto-friendly ice cream called Rebel.  At $8 per pint, it's twice the price of even the "premium" brands.  Rebellion invariably has its costs, but why are foods for special diets so expensive?

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  • Ric Mauricio on Coronabloat: Practice Social Distancing (from the Fridge) (John Eipper, USA 05/22/20 8:03 AM)

    Ric Mauricio writes:

    Yes, Enrique Torner (May 21st) is correct. Aerobic exercise should not exceed 30 minutes. So anaerobic plus aerobic can equal 60 minutes. Now we are on the same page. Another research tidbit: Research has shown that anaerobic followed by aerobic is 20% more efficient than aerobic followed by anaerobic. Of course, with every bit of research that I read, I ask the question, "why?" Well, it seems that if you do aerobic first, your anaerobic workout is less than optimum because you've just expended a lot of energy with the aerobic workout. OK, makes sense.

    I sometimes feel like a 2-year old, always asking "why?" And I love questions about fitness (and investments as well). As Agatha Christie's famous character Hercule Poirot often refers to it as exercising the little gray cells. I once was asked by a gym member whether carbs from beer is worse than carbs from foods. I explained to him that it is more a complex carb vs. simple carb question. Foods containing simple carbs are white bread, white rice, and plain pasta. And what is beer but liquid bread?  The problem with beer is that not only is a simple carb but because it is liquid, it goes down a lot easier and it is easier to consume a lot of it without thinking. Plus beer is empty calories, with no nutritional value. And voilà, beer belly.

    Which leads to the next question: nutrition. I don't like diets. I find that a balanced diet of whole proteins (vegetarian pretenders tend not to eat complete protein with all the amino acids; real vegetarians who study the nutritional value of what they eat will mix and match various vegetarian dishes to acquire the complete amino acids), complex carbs, and fruits/vegetables with high fiber content works the best. I do not use a large dinner plate, but rather the smaller plate. Eating less processed foods works very well. By the way, "diet" sodas actually make you gain weight. It's the artificial sweeteners (usually aspartame).

    Another research tidbit: I have a book (which, for the life of me, I cannot find amongst all the "stuff" I have) and it put forth a regiment called "cycling." No, not cycling, as if on a bicycle, but cycling your diet. It recommended that you eat limited nutritional meals for 4 days, then pig out (still eat nutritional food, but just more of it) on the fifth day. Explanation: After 4 days, your body gets used to the limited diet, and your metabolism will adjust to the limited diet and therefore slow down. Ah, that explains why people will diet, then stop losing weight after a few days (could be 5 days, could be 2 weeks). Ah, yes, the plateauing. Now, unless you write this down on a journal, it is very challenging to keep track of when that fifth day is. Like, OK, you diet from Sunday to Wednesday, then the fifth day is Thursday. Then the next four days would be Friday to Monday. So your next fifth day is Tuesday. So I have modified this to have either a Saturday or a Sunday be the fifth day, every week (so technically, every seventh day). Best to make this day the day that you would most likely have family or friend get-togethers. This way, you will both ramp up your metabolism again for the following week, and you won't feel guilty. This also answers Enrique's question #2.

    As for question #1, it can be indeed challenging to keep motivated. My workouts are part of my lifestyle. It is a part of my daily schedule like brushing my teeth or sleeping. I mix the exercises up, so as to keep the workout fun. Positive thinking keeps it from appearing as drudgery. Even when I am on vacation, my hotel has a gym. I find it more enjoyable to work out in a gym with other people than to work out at home. But, and this is a big "but," I find many people have developed bad habits in the gym. I've observed people doing a set of exercises, then sitting down and going through their smart phones for 3 to 5 minutes (one woman actually sat for 45 minutes before doing another exercise). Another issue is the socializing (yes, I am guilty of this). Doing a set, then talking to people for 3 to 5 minutes. Yes, they spend two hours in the gym, but their exercise time is only 12 minutes. And not very intense exercise at that. Just going through the motions. There was once a guy who asked me how to get into shape and after a few suggestions, he proceeded to do one exercise, then started talking to a girl on an exercycle. After 10 minutes, I said to him, "I thought you said you wanted to get into shape." He said, "oh, yeah" and went to exercise. The girl on the bicycle mouthed silently, "thank you."

    As to John's question: again, I can find no scientific evidence that aging slows down your metabolism. But yes, older people do exhibit slower metabolism. It appears that slowing metabolism is caused more by slowing activity rather than aging. I am proof of that. My wedding band is now rather loose on my finger, which means, that I am at a lighter weight than before I was married. One suggestion for you: social distancing from the refrigerator and pantry. LOL. And applying the responses to Enrique's questions above.

    Now I have a question for Dr. Arturo Ezquerro. After reading many our posts regarding the President, I am curious. His net worth was estimated to be $200M in 1979 and now estimated to be $3.1B in 2019. If one were to have invested $200M in 1979 in the passive S&P 500, that $200M would have been worth around $12B in 2019. That is obviously a real underperformance. Could his exaggeration and lying be because he realizes that he truly is a fake billionaire, never having really succeeded in anything? In fact, I could find nothing that would suggest that he has been successful at anything--investments, marriage. I find that many people make up things to cover up their own insecurities.

    JE comments:  Besides being WAISdom's Fitness Guru, Ric Mauricio is invariably the first to tell the emperor he's naked.  Remember when Ric cold-called and challenged Carly Fiorina?  As for Trump, who readers know I never defend, he did achieve something post-1979 that's more valuable than money:  fame/notoriety and unprecedented power.  Is this worth more than an anonymous $12 billion?  Glad we have a psychiatrist on board to help us understand this.

    Ric, sorry to have stolen your "social distancing from the fridge" quote for the title of your post, but it's a COVID-era classic.  I've already tried out the expression (twice!), and it's a hit with the fellow inmates of WAIS HQ.

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    • Thoughts on Dieting, Fad Diets...and Common Sense (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 05/25/20 4:54 AM)
      I have read with interest the latest WAIS posts on diets and exercise programs.

      For as long as I can remember, I have listened to and read about dozens of diets for losing weight, routines about exercise, rules for healthy eating, all supposedly to produce miracles in a short time. I have also heard about foods claimed to be "bad" for your health, and not long after, some study or nutrition expert claims the opposite. All too often this information generates expectations in people, who when faced with reality or failure, become frustrated worse than the anguish of feeling obese or in poor physical condition.

      Although it seems scientifically obvious that eating saturated fats is harmful to your health, and eating vegetables and fruits is very good, or eating many sugars or processed foods is also harmful, the reality is that we are constantly exposed to contradictory information and sometimes without any scientific foundation. For psychological reasons we pay too much attention to the warnings. I confess I have stopped paying attention to all this information. I follow my own rules, being physically active, exercising moderately and walking, some tennis. Above all I follow the advice, perhaps unorthodox, that I once heard from someone in Spain: "Eat little of everything and much of nothing."

      JE comments: My Argentine friend from graduate school, Osvaldo Pardo, who sadly passed away in 2017, expressed it in colorful terms: To lose weight, eat less and poop more ("comer menos y cagar más"). I've been tempted for years to publish this incontrovertible wisdom on WAIS, but now is the time.

      I miss our laughs together, Osvaldo.

      José Ignacio Soler mentions foods that go in and out of style, always with a study or three to back it up. Probably no food fits this category better than the lowly egg. We could also add red wine and any kind of meat. Now--egads--we learn that smokers are more immune to COVID-19.

      I'm still looking forward to the "healthier living through fried foods" diet.

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