Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

May 2023

There is More to Exercise Than Meets the Eye

Many well-intentioned people begin an exercise regimen because they want to achieve the visual benefits that a properly structured program will bring them. They desire to gain muscle, lose fat, reduce inches in their waistline, and look younger. Sometimes a specific upcoming event is the catalyst in making the decision to start working out: a class reunion, a wedding, or even a vacation. Appearance is certainly important, and most of us want to look our very best (myself included). Seeing physical improvements builds a feeling of confidence that can give you a real boost as you go through your day. However, I think it's important to realize that a comprehensive weight training program can do far more for you than just stimulate visual physical improvements. The changes in body shape merely scratch the surface, as there is far more to Total Results exercise than meets the eye.

There are numerous published studies that show exercise has a positive impact on those struggling with depression. Mental health has received a growing amount of attention in recent years, and we are certainly much more aware of the triggers that can lead to negative mental health events. Let's face it, most people go through something at one point or another in their lives, and anything that can help reduce depression in those that have been clinically diagnosed is a good thing. Even people who suffer from the occasional "down in the dumps" moods can benefit. The feeling of accomplishment that one experiences after finishing an extremely demanding Total Results workout can do wonders for your mood and should not be underestimated. Even though our clients are fatigued and out of breath at the end of a session, I often tell them I want them to feel better when they leave than they did when they came in the front door. If you are feeling stressed (who isn't?) and anxious, a Total Results session can be the perfect antidote.

The twenty minutes that our workouts last is an opportunity for you to take time just for yourself. If you're a busy parent, professional, or just someone who typically has a packed schedule, you are likely being pulled in many different directions throughout the course of a given day. Some of us need to block out time in our calendars just to catch up on emails or read a few pages of a book. An exercise session is an appointment just for you; it is a chance to shut out the outside world just for a little while and focus on doing something beneficial for your mind and body. If you're like me, these opportunities don't come around very often during the hectic work week, so savor the one or two times a week that you can do it. If you really focus on your workout, it can be an incredibly introspective experience that has a positive impact on the rest of your day. As Rocky Balboa quipped in the film "Rocky Balboa", it's a chance to "get some stuff outta the basement."

In order to keep ourselves mentally and physically sharp, we need to regularly do things that are difficult. There is a concept known as voluntary hardship, where we put ourselves in uncomfortable, albeit safe, circumstances every so often in order to remind ourselves how fortunate we are, but also help us to avoid becoming complacent. Voluntary hardship can take on many forms, from taking a cold shower, to sleeping on a floor, reading a laborious book (think Dostoevsky or Gibbon), or even going outside in the winter for a walk without wearing a jacket. These actions toughen our minds and fortify our bodies. A Total Results exercise session falls perfectly into this category. It is a chance to face a challenge and come out stronger on the other side. Workouts are uncomfortable, often unpleasant, require intense mental focus, and are most definitely not fun. A twenty minute workout that involves pushing to and beyond muscular failure and moving quickly between exercises will improve your mental toughness and increase your tolerance for discomfort. This will help prepare you to mentally and physically handle life's moments of adversity.

Making an appointment with a Total Results instructor will help to instill a sense of accountability, but also provide some structure to your day and week. Some people require more structure, others require less. Individuals can certainly be over-regimented (I sometimes fall into this category), but on the whole, one needs to have a plan in place for how they expect to achieve what they want in life. I believe that structure and accountability go hand in hand; if you're not getting the results you want in life, ask yourself why. Scheduling an appointment is the first step; if you don't make it to your session there is no one else to blame but yourself. Having a regularly scheduled appointment means you need to prepare to be at your mental and physical best so that you can have an effective workout. That means you need to eat correctly and get proper sleep in the days leading up to your session. If you have a solid framework established, everything else generally falls into place. Once good habits are developed, they are easier to sustain. Most people tend to sleep more soundly when they are on an exercise regimen, and I have counseled many clients on developing a routine to help them improve their sleep habits.

As you can see, there is far more to exercise than just achieving noticeable physical improvements. Clients can establish a sense of purpose, take control of their health, become better educated, and focus on being an active rather than a passive participant in their lives. Total Results exercise is an opportunity to practice self-mastery, and your instructor will be your guide. This is all within your power, and it takes less than one hour per week. Mental and physical breakthroughs happen all the time here, and you can achieve things that you didn't think were even possible.

Posted May 18, 2023 by Matthew Romans

"Ravenous" - A Book Review

Author Sam Apple received an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and studied writing at Columbia University. He has written articles that have appeared in such diverse publications as The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, and ESPN The Magazine. In 2021 he wrote "Ravenous: Otto Warburg, the Nazis, and the Search for the Cancer-Diet Connection." It is a compelling read and a real page-turner; a non-fiction book that reads like fiction. Even if you are not normally a fan of science writing, you probably have had a friend or family member affected by cancer. If you value your health and you value learning, the information presented in this book should be of interest to you.

"Ravenous" covers the history of cancer research and experimentation in four parts, starting with the late 19th century and working up to the present. A central figure of the book is Otto Warburg, considered by many to be one of the preeminent German scientists of the first half of the 20th century. He was a contemporary of Albert Einstein, and in many ways Warburg was just as influential in his field of physiology as Einstein was in physics. By most accounts Warburg was stubborn, arrogant, and insufferable to be around; he expected those who worked in his lab to have his same drive and to keep the same round-the-clock schedule as he did. However flawed he may have been in dealing with others, this insatiable intellectual curiosity led to some amazing discoveries, as well as the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1931. Warburg's decision to study cancer was largely due to two factors: rising rates of cancer diagnoses in the western world (and Germany in particular), and also the curious case of Crown Prince Friedrich, heir to the throne of Germany. Friedrich was beloved by the German people, yet was diagnosed with and succumbed to cancer after merely four months on the throne. As an interesting footnote, history may have changed significantly if not for this unfortunate occurrence. The Crown Prince was said to detest war, favored democratic reforms, and was quite sympathetic to German Jews. Had he survived, Kaiser Wilhelm would not have come to power, World War I might not have occurred, and the world could have been spared the evil atrocities of Adolf Hitler and World War II.

Warburg's key discovery was that cancer cells, "Produce energy not through the usual citric acid cycle and oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria as observed in normal cells, but through a less efficient process of 'aerobic glycolysis' consisting of a high level of glucose uptake and glycolysis followed by lactic acid fermentation taking place in the cytosol, not in the mitochondria, even in the presence of abundant oxygen." This was a startling revelation, and it gave credence to the idea that cancer was largely a metabolic disease, not a genetic condition. The 'Warburg Effect' went a long way toward explaining not only how cancer cells multiply so rapidly in many cases, but it also shed light on why cancer rates started skyrocketing in the western world in the late 19th and early 20th century: increased sugar consumption. What was different in the more affluent western world, compared to most of the developing world, was that sugar was much more available and present in the foods people ate. Where it was more expensive and harder to produce, cancer rates remained relatively low. Once sugar became easier to produce, cancer rates in those areas climbed. Unfortunately, with the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, Warburg's progress stalled and his work began to suffer. He was constantly harassed for his Jewish heritage and rumors circulated about his homosexuality, so he found it extremely difficult to keep a staff together and have enough funding to continue his research. Yet he stubbornly refused to leave Germany as many other prominent scientists did during this time, and many of his colleagues harbored resentment toward him and his theories. Some of this was due to jealousy and Warburg's notoriously abrasive personality (he rarely admitted to being wrong), but he was also unfairly branded as a Nazi sympathizer. Unfortunately, much of Warburg's work was largely forgotten in the scientific community once James Watson and Francis Crick discovered DNA in 1953. At that point, cancer research shifted toward a genetic mindset rather than a metabolic inclination, and that was where the focus stayed for most of the next half century.

In the last twenty years or so, Otto Warburg's reputation has been rejuvenated as we have gained a greater understanding of the links between cancer and diabetes, the dangers of sugar and how diet can cause genetic predispositions to be expressed, and the role of insulin. Diabetes can either be type 1 (insulin dependent) or type 2 (insulin resistant); insulin is the hormone that is secreted by the pancreas to help the cells absorb the nutrients from the food we consume. If you consume a large percentage of your calories from carbohydrates (especially sugar), more insulin needs to be secreted in order to help the cells absorb nutrients. At a certain point one becomes insulin resistant, thus leading to type 2 diabetes. According to the author, "Since 1960 the diabetes rate in the United States has increased by 800 percent, and half of American adults are now estimated to have either diabetes or prediabetes." Further, a consensus report by the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society states that, "Epidemiologic evidence suggests that people with diabetes are at significantly higher risk for many forms of cancer." Fortunately, many younger scientists have taken up the mantle of Warburg's work and continue to explore the metabolic aspect of the disease, rather than simply tow the establishment line about it being simply genetic or environmental.

This book has many interesting components. There is certainly a historical and political angle that covers world events, but it also discloses the fun fact that Hitler was a sugar addict and that most of his teeth had fallen out near the end of his life. I also enjoyed the profile of Warburg's courage in standing up to the Nazis, and the price he paid for his bravery. Apple gives excellent examples of the modern impact of Warburg's work and how cancer treatments have changed over the years, but also what the future might hold. In this book we also learn that the first chemotherapy drugs originated from the emerging German chemical dye industry of the late 19th century. Paul Ehrlich is mentioned as a pioneer in the development of so-called "magic bullets" designed to target tumors while sparing healthy tissue. Unfortunately, as we know, this did not happen; as the author states, "Firing a bullet at cancer was like turning a gun on yourself."

"Ravenous" is a compelling book that I would recommend to anyone with an interest in history, cancer research, or science in general. Apple does a wonderful job of documenting the timeline of research, its origins, and where we may head in the future. His praise and his criticisms of Otto Warburg are accurate; he was right about many things, wrong about others, arrogant, but also brilliant. The author writes extremely well, as you might expect from someone who is on the MA in Science Writing at Johns Hopkins, and his prose makes you want to turn the page and see what's going to happen next. Pick up a copy and experience it for yourself.

Posted May 05, 2023 by Matthew Romans