Neither Sitting Nor Standing

I jerry-rigged a standing workstation at work a few months ago. I put the twin flat screen monitors and keyboard on a shelf that was the right height to look directly at the screens and type on the keyboard fairly ergonomically. I read somewhere that a standing workstation is better for health and comfort than sitting at a desk. I don’t find the standing workstation to be perfectly comfortable, but it is definitely better than sitting. My lower back gets a little stiff if I stand in one place too long, but when I sit in one place too long, I have even more issues, with leg discomfort and hunching my shoulders.

I want to say the average person burns 65 more calories a day at a standing workstation. If I had my druthers, I would have a walking or biking workstation, where I could actually move and burn more calories while on the job. This would probably help with the lower back stiffness. When I go to the gym and use the treadmill or exercise bike, I often watch Coursera video lectures on topics I am interested in or read Kindle books. I would have no problem exercising while working. I would just worry about getting the keyboard sweaty.

In truth, I don’t like sitting or standing at work. I want to be moving. Maybe I need to consider a career in fitness training or lifestyle coaching. My life is very good, so I think I have the cred to offer lifestyle advice. But it’s really pretty simple and I don't think it is that hard to do. The basics are as follows (I may have missed a couple things):

1. Avoid debt. Debt is slavery and ruins lives.

2. Eat a healthy, whole food diet. The Mediterranean or Paleolithic diets are good options. Avoid processed foods, dairy, refined grains and empty carbs. Don’t worry about meat and fat too much, just make sure it is healthy (organic or game meats, good fats like olive oil).

3. Exercise. I prefer passive exercise, like walking to the grocery store, riding my bike to work, lifting heavy music equipment when I play shows with my band. But if passive exercise isn’t an option for you, do active exercise (go to the gym or walk on a treadmill, etc.) as early in the day as you can. You get busy later in the day, so if you wait to exercise, the time tends to get away from you or you get too tired out to exercise. Morning workouts also energize you for a good part of the day and make your brain work better and stay alert. Science proved this some time ago.

4. Get good sleep and rest often.

5. Avoid negative people. This one isn’t always obvious, but negative or overly dramatic people will suck the life force right out of you.

6. Don’t smoke, take drugs, or drink too much alcohol. Obvious stuff. There is no high better than life, provided you follow these guidelines. Exercise can give you a natural endorphin high that makes everything feel better. Now, if you are a teenager, you aren't going to listen to any adults. I know this. So experiment. But then realize these things are considered really dumb by everyone except losers and Millenials, and move on.

7. Avoid stress. This often goes hand in hand with many of the above. Your mind and body are like a vessel and this vessel can only hold a finite amount of stress (such as financial stress due to debt or personal stress due to negative people or physical stress due to smoking and poor diet and lack of exercise) before it spills over and causes health problems. Diet and exercise increase the volume of this vessel allowing you to handle stress better. Good sleep helps empty the vessel before it gets too full. Science has proven that stress is really the leading killer of people, because it causes the body to release stress hormones that damage bodily functions. Because stress is caused by all of the above, all of the above are killers.


Natural Sleep Aids - Insomnia Cures

One of the best natural sleep aids I have found to date is the Sleep formula from Now Foods.

I used to work at a job that was really stressful before I quit it for the benefit of my health and well-being. But while I was working there, I would have bad episodes of insomnia, waking up in the night with anxiety and my mind racing at full speed, such that I could not fall back to sleep. It was an exhausting three months at that job.

One day, I bought some Sleep formula from Now Foods via the Vitamin Fun House and started taking some right before bed. It worked immediately, giving me much more restful sleep.

After I quit that horrible job and found a much less stressful one, I had less need for an herbal sleep aid. However, I sometimes still require it.

For example, I sometimes foolishly drink a cup of coffee in the evening and by bed time, my mind is still amped up too high to fall asleep.

Another example is that I am also a semi-professional musician and when I perform on stage, I get an adrenaline rush that is also hard to quell once the show is over and I need to go home and sleep.

When I am not amped up, but just need a bit of relaxation to help me fall asleep, one capsule (half the recommended dose) of Sleep does the trick. When I want to really sleep soundly and deeply, two capsules puts me into a virtual coma.

Now, it is possible this is all placebo effect. But the fact that two capsules knocks me out better than one suggests there is something to it. Remain skeptical of any online claims about insomnia cures, including this one. I have no vested interest in this product. It can't hurt and it might help, so give it a try if nothing else seems to be doing it for you and you don't want to switch to hard drugs just yet.

The nice thing about the product is that I feel rested after a sleep induced by Sleep. It's not a drug. The herbs it contains are soporifics, like hops and valerian, that make you drowsy (Note: Hops is actually related to marijuana).

Sleep by Now Foods is a quality herbal sleep aid I feel I can endorse as a veteran nutrition researcher who understands the problem of finding quality supplements in the unregulated supplement market.

I can only report what I observe and this seems to work for me. If you are looking for something to calm the mind and assist in sleeping better, give this a try.


Airborne Supplement As a Cold/Flu Preventive?

On New Year's Eve or shortly thereafter, I picked up my first mild cold or flu bug of the winter. It started as a dry cough, followed by nasal congestion and drainage, leading to a sore throat. I had some mild body aches, which made me think it was a flu virus.

I decided to throw my usual armory or over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu remedies at it, so I drove to the nearby HyVee and perused their pharmacy section for some good options.

One of the available remedies was Airborne, a supplement of vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts advertised to support the immune system, help defend against free radicals, and promote overall health. The FDA forbids supplement manufacturers from making any cure or prevention claims on supplements unless clinically proven, and indeed, as a cold and flu remedy, Airborne has no strong clinical science to support its efficacy, per se. In fact, the maker of Airborne lost a class action law suit on claims it was making about the cold fighting powers of its product.

But the new generic advertising message was still quite clear...it can't hurt and it might help.

Given that the stuff was fairly cheap, I thought, "what the heck?" and bought a 10 count vial of the dissolvable tablets (lemon flavor) for about $5 (their marketing worked on me!).

I followed the directions, dropping an effervescent tablet into a glass of warm water every 3-4 hours and used the drink to chase down my other OTC remedies: Benadryl or Claritin for nasal decongestion, Robitussin DM for cough suppression, ibuprofen for the mild aches and probable fever. I sucked on Ricola herbal lozenges for my scratchy throat and also used (sparingly) an oxymetazoline based nasal spray at night so I could breathe through my nose while sleeping.

This barrage of OTC remedies seemed to do the trick and after about three days, the cold had been knocked back substantially and I was on the mend. That was a fast recovery compared with most of the colds I get around this time of year. They usually last seven to 10 days, or longer. But I had received a flu shot a few months ago, and that may have limited the intensity of the infection, if it was in fact a flu bug.

I have no way of knowing if the Airborne supplement had any impact on my cold whatsoever, but I did glance at the ingredients list and it contained a lot of things I knew (from my eight years in R&D at a vitamin company) were anecdotally reported to fight colds and flu.

Most notable, of course, was the high vitamin C content (about 1667% of the recommended daily value per tablet). Growing up, my mom would always megadose my sister and me with vitamin C whenever we got sick, though I don't recall it ever doing much good. Airborne also contains decent amounts of vitamins A and E (can't hurt...might help).

Of the minerals in Airborne, zinc is the one most closely associated with fighting colds and there is some mild clinical evidence for its efficacy when taken preventively or in the early stages of a cold. Airborne also contains selenium, a trace element with mixed effects on immunity. Selenium tends to be deficient in the general population and is essential for the function of many antioxidant enzymes used by the immune system. So there is a logical (if not clinical) case to be made for including selenium in the formula of the Airborne supplement.

Airborne also contains Echinacea, an herb long associated with immune support. Though not conclusively proven to be clinically effective against colds, Echinacea does appear to influence the immune system and may act as an adaptogenic herb, strengthening the immune system when taken preventively.

It is unlikely that Airborne does much to cure colds and flu. However, taken preventively during the cold and flu season, it might bolster immune defenses against colds and flu, thus minimizing the intensity and/or duration of colds and flu.

It can't hurt and it might help...

MORE INFORMATION: http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/12/cold-flu-treatments-lifestyle-health-swine-flu-h1n1.html