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Monthly Archives: February 2015

How to Lose Weight with the hCG Diet

The hCG diet has swept the nation by storm over the past 3 or 4 years, but what’s the truth about all of the hype? Is it safe or even effective? Let’s talk about how this diet works and if it’s for you.

What is the hCG Diet

There are a lot of crazy claims out there when it comes to fad diets. Losing weight without even trying isn’t really a major surprise when you hear this come up in any type of weight loss marketing on TV. It’s the norm. So is that what the HCG diet is about?

hCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin and is a natural hormone that the body produces during pregnancy. The process for this diet is that you go to an hCG center and get a shot, or simply take a homeopathic product that can be purchased at a local store, like sprays, pellets or even oral drops.

The problem with the hCG diet is that it limits your caloric consumption to 500 calories per day. This is very low, which isn’t far from fasting. This diet will also last up to 8 weeks. Many researchers believe that the low calorie consumption is the reason for the rapid weight loss, and not the hCG itself.

Some key points about the hCG diet:

  • You can purchase “homeopathic” products at local stores
  • Or you can find a local health care provider that can give you an hCG shot
  • This diet limits your caloric intake to only 500 calories per day
  • The diet lasts for 8 weeks (each day consisting of 500 calories)
  • Research has shown nothing to indicate that this diet actually works
  • Not FDA approved for weight loss
  • Each meal needs to include a protein, (a) veggies, one bread and one fruit.
  • Most fish is not allowed
  • Broiled or grilled beef, chicken breast, white fish, crab, shrimp or lobster is okay with no visible fat
  • Veggies: spinach, green salad, tomatoes, chicory, oniones, fennel, asparagus, cucumbers, chicory, chard and cabbage
  • Bread: a breadstick or one piece of melba toast
  • Fruit: apple, orange, strawberries or half a grapefruit
  • No sugar allowed
  • No butter or oils allowed

These are just some of the details of an hCG diet, which means that it’s pretty difficult to sustain for 8 weeks. However, if you’re able to eat like this for 8 weeks, you will definitely lose some fat, especially if you can keep up a decent workout regimen.

Is the hCG Diet Worth the Effort

Yes and no. Look, at 500 calories you could easily drop a lot of fat. You’re basically taking the idea of fasting and just adding an extremely limited amount of calories. This is very difficult at times, maybe even more difficult than a fast for many, simply because once you have food you always want more. At least that’s how it works with the majority of people who have weight issues.

Personally, I would suggest trying out intermittent fasting for a few weeks instead, unless you have tried without much success. IF (intermittent fasting) is a great way to limit intake of calories, but also allow your body to burn off those calories and even get a break from digesting that food a bit longer than usual.

If you want to go the more brutal route, then definitely try a 24 hour fast to see how you feel, then you can even attempt a few days a week while also integrating intermittent fasting during days you eat. You can read more about that above.

hCG costs money for shots that are unproven to work. The lack of calories are what increases your chances to lose weight fast. This is really the only reason you will lose that weight, in my honest opinion. I don’t believe in magical pills or ‘natural weight loss cures’. You get what you put into your diet. If you put fat (fats, calories and carbs) into your diet, you get fat out of it. That’s the reality.

Skip the hCG and try intermittent fasting, or even water fasting.

Read more:

Beware Synthetic Marijuana or ‘Spice’!

Health officials, in the USA,more specifically Mississipi and surrounding areas,state that more than 300 users of synthetic marijuana ,known as “spice” ,have made hospital visits over the last month,following usage of this man-made drug, of dubious origin.

These products are marketed as a natural alternative to marijuana, but experts say they are anything but organic and contain many chemicals and agents,that have unknown effects on the human body.

“Spice”, once concocted into it’s liquid form with such chemical additives, can then be delivered as any number of substances, i.e. liquid, paper or e-cigarettes.

Symptoms presented after use are many but primarily, hallucinations, increased heart rate, suicidal thoughts and uncontrollable rage.

It comes in many brand guises like Black Mamba, K-2 and Mister Smiles and worryingly accessible, can be bought on the Internet, on the street, or often gas stations and convenience stores across the United States sometimes sold as herbal incense.

So if you see your kids apparently sucking a piece of blotting paper,ask questions!

Exercise Effective Remedy For Depression

Exercise Effective Remedy For Depression

With approximately one million Australians currently suffering from depression and this figure expected to grow even further in future years, it’s no surprise medical practitioners, researchers and people with depression are looking to natural remedies like exercise to treat the illness.

A recent systematic review published in the Journal of Science in Medicine and Sport has affirmed regular exercise is likely to be effective in the treatment of depression symptoms.

Central Queensland University Researcher and Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) Spokesperson Robert Stanton said with the prevalence of antidepressant medication dispensed within Australia having increased by more than 95 per cent within the last decade, it had been critical to pinpoint the appropriate dose of exercise for treating depression symptoms most effectively.

‘Understanding the appropriate exercise dosage for people with depression will provide accredited exercise physiologists with a framework that may be adopted in clinical practice to improve quality of life, possibly without the use of medication,” Mr Stanton said.

‘My research partner, Associate Professor Peter Reaburn, and I found exercise programs that comprise moderate-intensity, supervised aerobic sessions that last for 30-40 minutes and are undertaken three to four times weekly over a period of at least nine weeks are likely to be most effective in the treatment of depression symptoms.”

‘In fact, some studies show exercise to be equally as effective as medication or psychological interventions in reducing symptoms of depression.”

Mr Stanton said the research also suggested an affect-regulated approach to exercise – that is, where the intensity of an exercise session is determined by how the patient feels during the bout of exercise – may have the potential to increase short and long term adherence to exercise programs for people with depression.

‘For some participants, exercising at a physiologically determined -moderate’ intensity may not always be perceived as pleasant,” Mr Stanton said.

‘Where motivation to commence and maintain exercise is low, it may be valuable to change the session’s intensity to a level that the participant feels is more acceptable.”

Depression research and information body The Black Dog Institute points out regular exercise can be used to alleviate a number of symptoms of depression by increasing energy levels, improving sleep, distracting the sufferer from worries and inspiring a sense of control and self-esteem.

Mr Stanton said exercising in a group also had the potential to provide people with depression with social support and reduce loneliness.

‘We’ve really just scratched the tip of the iceberg with this research, and it would be interesting to delve even deeper into the best exercise modes for people with depression, whether solo or group exercise sessions are more beneficial and what the best model for exercise progression may be,” Mr Stanton said.

‘People with depression carry a significantly greater risk of chronic disease and premature mortality risk compared to those without depression, so it’s crucial that appropriate steps are taken to treat the illness,” Mr Stanton said.

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is the peak professional body for exercise and sports science in Australia and provides national leadership and advocacy on key issues.  It supports its 3,500+ members and the community through fostering excellence in professional practice, education, training and research.

Emotional Wellness for Law Enforcement Curriculum

I am hoping to be starting the Master Instructor Certification Course (MICC) sponsored by the California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST). 
All MICC students are required to design a law enforcement course from 3-5 days in length, which will be submitted to POST for approval. If approved, it will become a POST reimbursable course offered statewide. POST courses tend to have much better attendance because officers get CPT credit for them. 
My course will be on Emotional Wellness for Law Enforcement. 
In addition to having grown up in a law enforcement family, I am an 11 year police veteran, and a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. While my professional and personal experience in this area have a place in the design of the course, it is far from enough. 
I would like to correspond with others who feel strongly about the need for our peace officers to be as emotionally healthy as possible  throughout the span of their lives. If you are one of the following and would be willing to share your ideas on the development of this course, please contact me.
  • Law Enforcement Officers (LEO)  
  • LEO, mental health clinician or others that who teach in this area
  • Mental health professionals working with LEO’s
  • LEO peer supporters
  • Researchers
  • LEO family members
  • Anyone else with a verse to contribute
For those of us with a vested interest in this topic, this is a fantastic opportunity.  My goal here is to learn as much as possible from as many different people as I can. 
In addition to collaborators, I will be looking for subject matter experts (SME) for various topical areas (e.g., John Violanti for LEO stress). If you are a SME or know someone who may be willing to donate a bit of their time to a good cause, please let me know. I will be interviewing SME’s at some length. 
It is important to note the focus of this project will be on “Lifetime Emotional Wellness.” To use an analogy, at the basic police academy in CA, the class on physical training is called, “Lifetime Fitness.” Recruits begin physical training on the first day of the academy. Their last day of PT is usually the day before graduation.  It is pounded into our heads that fitness is not to stop once we leave the academy; that it is for life. This is the type of framework I intent to use for emotional wellness. 
While the course will include secondary and tertiary prevention (i.e., what to do once problems exist), a focus will be on developing, maintaining, and constantly improving one’s emotional wellness. I see a gap here in the literature and training. My bias is that, as peace officers, we should go beyond “surviving” this career [no jab here toward Gilmartin’s invaluable work]. We should know about and be willing to work toward lives filled with meaning, happiness, and healthy relationships. 
Finally, something about the design of the course. The fundamental question the CA POST IDI program asks is, how do adults learn? Everything in the program is geared toward adult student learning. To explain what is meant by “learning” here, let me contrast it with “going to a training.” 
As most of us know, the typical training involves someone lecturing to the class for long periods of time, with a PPT in the background. In fact, sadly perhaps, this is how I’ve conducted most of my trainings (which is part of the reason I started the IDI program). So, lecture, PPT, the odd video or two and get out a half hour early. Sound familiar? 
In designing this course, my question will be, what learning exercises, delivery methods, learning styles and modes, and learning verification tools will I use to ensure the greatest chance that students will actually use what is taught? In other words, rib sticking stuff. Ultimately, this will not be “Jeff Shannon’s” training. It will contain enough detail and clarity that any law enforcement trainer will be able to use the lesson plan and teach the same stuff. My question to you is, What “stuff” should be in there? 
Thank you in advance for anything you can offer. 
Kind regards,
Ofc. Jeff Shannon, LMFT
        Berkeley Police Department
(510) 981-5779
(510) 595-5580 Office

Healthy Relationships in College

On this Valentine’s Day, let’s take a brief look at the ingredients of a good, healthy relationship. While the focus of this blog is on college students, what follows can certainly apply to anyone, at any age. College students have many opportunities to meet new friends and develop enriching relationships on campus. Such relationships can make the difference between a positive and negative college experience. It is important to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, and to know how to make choices to preserve the former and improve the latter. Here are a few hallmarks of a healthy relationship:

  • Mutual respect and civility
  • A sense of reciprocity, or “give and take”
  • Feeling supported and supporting the other
  • A significant degree of trust and honesty
  • Fairness and equality as adults
  • Comfort with emotional intimacy or closeness
  • Comfort with distance and “separateness”, or being able to have your own life apart from the other
  • Open, direct communication without fear of reprisal, hidden agendas, or manipulation
  • Good “boundaries”, or being able to set personal limits with self and others
While no relationship is perfect and we all have bad days, students should be able to evaluate their relationships and feel, on the whole, that they are positive and healthy. If they are less than healthy, steps should be taken to improve them. Such steps involve both assertiveness and listening. If you have concerns about the state of your relationships with family members, friends, roommates, faculty, co-workers or others, contact your campus counseling service for assistance.

Intermittent Fasting Diet

Intermittent fasting has been used by people since before history, really. They just didn’t call it that. The theory behind intermittent fasting is to eat between certain times of the day, stopping after a specific time and not eating until the next day at a specific time. But between those times you’re welcome to eat what you normally eat. However, adopting a healthier approach will allow you to reap the benefits of this diet.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Some people simply refer to Intermittent Fasting as “IF”. IF is simply a timed form of fasting, where you can benefit from fasting on a smaller scale. For example, some of the benefits of IF are:

  • Less time spent eating, and even cooking and preparing meals in some cases
  • Body fat reduction
  • Life extension is a possibility for some
  • More cognitive alertness based on the ability to increase norepinephrine
  • Increased autophagy, meaning you get healthier cells!

Why Try Intermittent Fasting

Most people, such as myself, give IF a try to help them lose weight/fat quicker. For me I wanted to see if it would help my indigestion issues that I was suffering from. While they did not disappear after IF (one month so far), they have gone down a bit. I believe that normal fasting would be much more beneficial to me for this issue as fasting allows the digestive system (smooth muscle) to slow down and actually rest itself.

IF allows people to lose fat fairly quickly due to the fact that you are not always thinking about food, and you’re cognitive alertness is much higher, which keeps you from ‘thinking’ that you need food.

How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting

The first thing you need to do before getting started with intermittent fasting is to decide on timing of your meals. You will have a ‘window’ of eating that you will be able to eat your meals. For instance, for me I would allow myself to eat between 11am and 6pm at night, giving me a 7 hour period to eat.

In this case I am working on a 17 hour fast from food, which helps my body take a break and digest food. It also allows me to stick to a better schedule to get things done throughout the day.

So go ahead, create a time frame that you will allow yourself to eat. Some people will give themselves an 8 hour window, some people will be less lenient and give themselves a 4 hour window for eating their meals.

One tip: adjust your eating schedule as you go along with it. You might find that you feel better when you have a larger period of time to eat vs a smaller time, or vice versa. Do what makes you feel best!

What I would encourage you to do is to first eat a good, last meal before getting started the next day.

On the first day I would encourage you to simply drink water for a day. This is a great way to get your body ready for a new lifestyle. It helps your body detoxify itself and prepare for the ‘starvation’ feeling that people think they have. It’s not starvation. You are not starving. Most people have too much fat, which means they couldn’t possibly starve to death in a day.

However, please consult your doctor before trying any of this, obviously!

What Can I Eat?

This is where some people will say “EAT WHAT YOU WANT! OMG! DO IT!”. I will not. I’m going to tell you to cut down on high carb foods and drinks and stick with lean proteins, more water (no soda, milk or any other sugary drinks) and plenty of greens.

That’s not to say that you can’t have a cheat meal here and there, just be careful with those cheat meals. I will sometimes have a larger meal and that’s all I’ll eat for that day. However, that’s not a good habit to make. Do yourself a favor and become more strict and eat smaller, healthier meals every hour, two or three, depending on the window of time you have.

On day 2 you will start eating again, but healthier, smaller meals. Right? Of course.

Water. Lots of Water.

Water is the source of life. We thrive off water and it keeps us living. I want you to start drinking water when you feel any hunger pangs. Again, this does not mean you are starving, it simply means you are hungry at that time. Your body is used to eating at that time, but you are trying something new for a reason. Stick to it.

By drinking water you are putting something into your stomach and it makes you feel less hungry. But it also keeps you hydrated.

Working out While Fasting

Yes, workout each day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small, brisk walk down the street. Keep your body moving. You aren’t starving your body of nutrients, so don’t use that as an excuse. You’re not ‘tired’, you are just less alert due to the changes you’re making. This will stop affecting you after a few days, trust me. For now you need to keep pushing on.

If you’re eating healthier you will not suffer at all. You will be thriving off of this new change in your diet. Your body will make great progress within a short period of time, but so will your overall health.

More Hardcore Diet

Some people will want to try a more hardcore version of this diet, such as a 23/1, which means 23 hours fasting and 1 hour a day for eating, meaning one meal. This is actually what I do every other day.

In fact, there’s other versions such as “eat-stop-eat” which I’ve tried, or even “every other day” which I have not.

Eat-stop-eat means to go one whole day (24 hours) without eating, then go back to IF for your 4-8 hour fasting period, then a few days later you’re back at no eating again, then a few more days of normal IF, then back to a 24 hour fast. This is very beneficial to many people who need to lose fat quicker. You basically go a few days a week without eating.

Every other day means to do the same as above, but this time you eat one day, don’t eat the next, then the next day you eat again. This is something I’m considering for health reasons, but it can be difficult for some people. I think it’s great for breaking bad habits.

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