IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  May 1, 2003

Real World Snacks

We know what we should eat right. However some of the recommended foods are just not what we are particularly craving at the time. Or, our body is missing something that we need and is manifesting itself as a craving. So what to do when we need to take the dive in the deep end? I prefer to snack on Cashews, an individual package of cookies (usually 4 in a pack), various fruit, dry cereal (oat based cereals are sweeter), cheese, beef jerky (some are good and some terrible but has no fat), popcorn (little butter). Some of these are have a lot of carbohydrates. So don't eat them at night while watching TV unless your trying to gain weight.

I used to keep a box of sugar cubes in my desk at work. People thought it was horrible; bad nutrition example. Then I told them that when I get a craving for a snack, the machine at work offered only Snickers, Mars bars and such, which have not only refined sugar but fat and a bunch of other ingredients. The sugar cube is pure sugar, no fat, no extras, and only 25 calories and satisfied the craving. You shouldn't need more than one.

If I needed to do a Snickers, I would break it in half and throw out one half right away or give it away. Most people will turn down your offer with a suspicious glance. It's now a tasty "low fat" snack, which taste a lot better that some of the health bars.

Of course there's all the regular foods recommended by the people that know, like celery, carrots and such. They have great fiber, no fat and low calories but sometimes you just feel like a nut.

Shin Splints

Running season is here. It's also a common season for shin splints. The commonly accepted belief is that it is caused excess pronation (rolling inward - bottoms of feet facing outward). The cure is not as easily defined. Rest alone may not be enough. Dehyration may be a contributing factor. Some shoes are just not meant for your feet. Another cause is using the wrong shoe for running, i.e., basketball or walking shoes. Resting without drinking enough water (6-8 glasses of water per day) and wearing the same shoes won't help the cure.

Observing when the shin splints started will help determine the cause. If you just bought new althetic shoes, then that's a clue. If you just changed the location of your run (hard vs. soft surface), the hard suface could be a problem. To be proactive and prevent the condition before it starts, wear the proper shoes for the activity, replace old worn-out shoes, stretch the calf muscles before and after the run, and drink enough water. You can also strengthen the shin muscles that are not necessarily strengthened by running by doing Toe Curls and Toes Raises. Toes crunches help develop the lower tibialis anterior muscle. This is best done by lifting a towel with your toes curled. Toe Raises are done by flexing the foot at the ankle (upward).

Q & A

Q: Step aerobics (and only step aerobics) is causing me extreme low back pain - how can I cure this?

A: Using multiple risers could be making it too high causing you to stoop over. Tight hamstrings can also cause lower back pain. Most back problems are due to weak back muscles. Lay off the step aerobics for a while and do the lower back extension machine with light weights. It could also be that the ab exercises are creating and unbalanced condition for your back as well. No name in Calgary, AB

Q: I have read with much interest your guidance about exercise during pregnancy! In connection with abdominal work and crunches in particular you state that there is controversy about carrying on exercising your abdominal muscles during pregnancy. What is the controversy exactly about? What are the downsides of doing so, and should you refrain from abdominal work, even if you have been very fit pre-pregnancy? Thanks very much for your reply and best regards, Pari in Denmark

A: It is a matter of using gravity and dynamics of such. The abdominal muscles are very strong, which are capable of pressing or crush against a very fragile fetus. Jumping up and down can cause stretching and straining of the internal structures. The dynamics of bouncing as in running can cause objects such as yourself or the internals themselves to increase in effective weight. This doesn't mean that you should be sedentary or wear pillows on your feet. The fetus is a lot more resilient and made to be so. However, our bodies really weren't design to run everyday. This is true of everyone and more so if you have gained 20 pounds of baby and supporting environmentals.

Q: I have reached a point in my workouts where I dont seem to be getting any stronger. I am a 5'9' 214 pound 46 year old man. I work out 3 times a week for about 1 hour per session. Do I need to intense my work out or change my workout to different exercise. Also, I need some good exercise for my waist. What do I do. No name.

A: The body gets used to the same routine and begins to resist any change. Work the same muscles but using different methods, different exercises. Best exercise for the waist is crunches, you don't want to build them too big, it will unbalance the "V" shape. Up your protein intake to 60% of your diet for a couple of weeks and see if that helps. Remember, carbs before and protein after the workout.

Q & A

Q: Where can I find information on the 'effects of heat and humidity on anaerobic sprint performance'.

A: Heat has a significant effect on aerobic performance but was wondering about anaerobic performances. Click here to access an informative web page by David E. Martin, Ph. D., Georgia State. See Page

Q: I started running at our university grounds daily(400m X 3 per day).After about 5 days, I started to experience a pain in the anterior surface of the right and left tibia. It's definetely a pain the bone, not the muscle. I stretch before and after running?, from Malinda in Sri Lanka

A: The pain that you are experiencing sounds like shin splints. They can be brought on by many things. It is generally believed to be caused by excess pronation of the foot. Give it a rest for a few days and then try a different pair of shoes. Stretching does help to avoid them but I have had them only with certain types of shoes. See article in this issue.

Q: Hello, I recently took early retirement from from my job. I'am to young to just stop and smell the roses. But I'am I fooling myself to think that at my age I could be a personal trainer ??? It's something I have thought about for the last two years, before I retired in Jan. 2003. I am a active person ,I roller or inline skate,ride my bike or go to the gym at least 3times a week. Now I have more time on my hands and it would be nice to make a little money and keep myself in shape at the same time. Please give me your opinion. Thank you, Brenda, retired Flight Attendant

A: It's not too late to begin thinking more about fitness and helping others to obtain information that you may already have. You would have much success especially with people in the same age group or older and there's no shortage of older people thinking about living longer and healthier. Good luck and go for it!

Q: I am a fitness kickboxing instructor. I teach 2 - 3 fairly intense classes per week. I am 7 weeks pregnant. This is my 4th pregnancy, (3rd baby). I am already starting to feel the fatigue associated with the 1st trimester. Should I/can I safely continue to teach and at what intensity. Should I be monitoring my heart rate?

A: I would start to reduce the high impact. However, you can still direct the class to higher impact. Also keep your doctor informed and ask for exercise advice specific to his knowledge of your situation.