Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

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Tagged health

Before you exercise: 7 side effects of fitness

U.S. Army

U.S. Army

Beyond the obvious weight loss and cardiovascular benefits of regular fitness, here are a few bonus consequences of working on your body:

  1. Your skin improves. If vanity is your top goal for getting in shape, I’ve got good news: Regular exercise, particularly when coupled with a healthy diet, does wonders to your hue. If you’re white and pasty like me, your skin starts glowing the longer you work out. It looks healthy, full of color, slightly tan. The reason: “Exercise enhances blood flow to skin,” says Dr. David Katz. Plus, sweating works as a natural cleaning agent, unclogging pores and removing oil and dirt for fewer zits. My skin has never looked healthier. What a pleasant surprise.  Continue reading…

How long will the latest food fad last?

fad_diets_dont_workIf there’s one certainty I’ve observed in life, it is this: Rather than just eating more produce, less meat, and smaller portions of food, humans will vilify something in an effort to simplify complex food choices. Instead of accepting a “moderation in all things” approach to life — which limits superiority complexes and indulgence — they insist on inventing artificial food guidelines to live by.

For example: In the ’80s, butter and natual sugar was bad, so Americans (at least) ate lots of margarine and artificial sweeteners. But those turned out to be worse, so now butter and sugar are back on the menu. In the ’90s, it was the low-fat diet, which in many ways still influences our culture, although not to the extent the diet did in its hey day. In the 2000s, it was low-carbs: Atkin’s diet, South Beach, and other variations. Nowadays, popular grains like wheat bread, oats, and barley are suddenly the enemy. Even though we’ve been eating gluten for thousands of years, it’s just as bad for us as other fad diets. Which is to say it’s not.

Continue reading…

This advice doesn’t apply to you

Hey, you. Yeah, you—the one reading this. The one that says ignorant things like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” “I’m busier than you,” or “I only require 3-4 hours of sleep.”

This research by Harvard obviously doesn’t apply to you, because you’re the exception in life. You’re superhuman.

For the rest of us, the study is a convincing reminder of mortality. Not only convincing, but alarming.

Continue reading…

Anxiously engaged: 5 hobbies I like

blake

My wife looked at me with bright amber eyes the other day and laughed in my face. “Is no hobby off limits for you?” she mused.

We were cleaning our attic and going through an old box of mine. It was a veritable time capsule of previous hobbies I once held dear. The one that made Lindsey laugh most were my magic tricks.

“How much did you spend on these?” she asked. “A few hundred,” I responded. “Let me guess, you only played with them for a few weeks,” she countered.

Probably.

You see, I lose interest in hobbies as quickly as I discover them. I do have lifelong passions—music and sports chief among them. But most of my hobbies are fleeting. I get what I need and then move on to new hobbies. The old ones remain as slice of my former self; a talking point with anyone who has shared my enthusiasm for x, y, or z.

But it’s not out of boredom that I lose interest in hobbies. It’s out of a desire to experience as many things as I can. Someday I’ll list a comprehensive set of passions that I chased in this life. But for now, here are personal hobbies I’m particularly keen on at the moment: Continue reading…

13 food strategies to combat gluttony

gluttony

Eating well is hard to do. Here are a 13 lucky food strategies I follow to keep extravagance at bay.

  1. Never order a cheeseburger. I said never. “But, Blake,” you ask, “Don’t you like cheese and beef?” Yes. Both are bursting with flavor. But there’s no sense overdoing it when each are good on their own. “I really wish this delicious burger had cheese on it,” said no one ever. “I really wish this grill cheese had meat on it,” also said no one ever. Pick one and enjoy.
  2. Hold the mayo and sour cream. Speaking of burgers, my wife and I made homemade ones over the weekend. Mine was topped with red onion, lettuce, tomato, Dijon mustard, and ketchup on a Texas toasted bun. It was a taste explosion, even without the mayo. Same goes for the tacos we had tonight. Beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, on a freshly cooked tortilla. No sour cream required. Again, sour cream and mayo are delicious, but there’s no sense in adding them to an already heavily-flavored meal. Continue reading…

Weight is a lousy motivator for long-term health. Find a real cause today.

blake-first-marathonIf you’re happy with your health, nutrition and self-image, skip to the next post. If not, read on.

In nine years of marriage, Lindsey and I have never owned a weight scale. Not one.

Why? Because they’re superficial, largely meaningless, and a lousy motivator of long-term health. Continue reading…

Want to live to 100? Do these nine things

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

One of my goals in life is to become a centenarian, someone over 100 years of age. A few years ago, a team of researchers identified four areas that had the highest number of centenarians per capita in the world. They studied these people, wrote a book about them, then distilled their similar lifestyles down to a set of consistent life-giving habits.

And by life giving, I really mean death halting. Since there’s no brake on death, the best you can do is ease off the accelerator. With my added commentary, here are nine ways to do just that, as compiled by author Dan Buettner:

  1. Find a physical activity you enjoy and keep doing it. Do it for as long as you enjoy it. If and when you tire of that activity, find something else that pleases you. For example, you could start jogging, and if that becomes a bore, move to biking. Then swimming. Then Pilates. Then kickboxing. Then underwater basket weaving. Whatever it is, be sure to do it at least three times a week, moreso for idle or cubicle people. (In my case, since I sit at a desk and work from home, I have to move a lot more than most people to achieve the optimal amount of fitness.)
  2. Stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, as opposed to being full. There’s a difference. About 20% less food per meal, in fact. In short, this is the best known way to eat less. Stop when satisfied instead of stuffing yourself. Continue reading…

How to eat well: 12 simple rules for healthy, happy eating

junkfood

Healthy food prolongs life. Junk food taketh away.

Here are 12 simple rules for healthy, happy eating, taken from Karen Le Billon’s French Kids Eat Everything, my own experience with food, and the good old Word of Wisdom (as validated by nearly 200 years of good health and a recent UCLA study).

  1. Always read the label. You are in charge of educating yourself on what you digest. When in doubt, pick food with the fewest included ingredients and artificial-sounding names (like xanthum gum)
  2. Avoid emotional eating. No food rewards, bribes for kids, or eating out of boredom or depression. Hard to do. Brushing your teeth can help. So can striking up a conversation with someone to take your mind off food.
  3. Avoid short-order or otherwise “fast” food. With exception to simple meals like bread and cheese, food that is fast (snacks, microwavable, drive-though etc) is usually filled with unnatural preservatives and additives that dilute the nutritional value of the food you consume. Continue reading…

Why college football coaches stuggle with health

Because they’re constantly chaperoning 120 players, “most of them 18-22 years of age,” reports the Associated Press:

Joker Phillips is 47 and in his first season as Kentucky’s head coach after 20 years as an assistant. He said he has made sure to keep good habits despite the demands of the job. “I still work out every day. I still get the same amount of sleep. I just think this game is important to me, but my family and personal health is more important,” he said. “I am a competitor and I do want to win, but I’m not going to let this game ruin my life.”

Remember when I almost killed myself running?

I like running.

With exception to an injury hiatus, I ran several times a week over the past two years. And since reading Born To Run, I do so enthusiastically (not begrudgingly like I once did).

I normally run continuously for 45 minutes to an hour. On occasion, two hours—whatever I feel like really. I don’t time myself or track miles—an act that makes running feel like work—I just run.

Two weeks ago, I was feeling especially light on my feet. When I left the house on an empty stomach that Saturday, I didn’t plan on running for three plus hours, but I did. I also didn’t take water or food with me, and nearly put myself in the hospital as a result.

Continue reading…

Calisthenics to make me harder, better, faster, stronger

At the recommendation of my surgeon, I started doing calisthenics this week in an effort to stretch my healing back and start building my core (so my lower discs don’t have to work so hard). I also need to lose more weight — I currently weigh 212 lbs. Not so fun fact: I weighed 185 at my wedding five years ago. But I digress.

After almost three months of atrophy, I’m amazed how quickly the human body becomes unfit. I’m breathing like crazy after only 10 push ups, whereas three months ago I was in the best shape I’ve been since high school. But I must say, the stretching and light work outs alleviate the lingering pain in my leg caused by a once flattened sciatic nerve. Is nice!

I’m anxious to get back to running, but have to wait another month before doing so. So have you been exercising? Tsk, tsk.

Man runs 50 marathons in 50 days

image.jpg

This is an oldie but goodie entitled The Perfect Human, courtesy of Wired.

Dean Karnazes ran 50 marathons in 50 days. He does 200 miles just for fun. He’ll race in 120-degree heat. Here are 12 secrets to his success.

Reading this article back in January 2007 was one of the reasons I took an interest in running.

Against my will, I’ve become a “Sorry, I got a bad back” guy

I ruptured a disc in my lower back on July 4. I successfully ran a 10K that day, but the spine cushion (as it is called) blew due to genetics, not physical exertion, I’m told. The demanding event and requisite training only aggravated an already degenerative disc.

On Friday, I had a discectomy to cure the problem, which slices through my back, drills a hole in my vertebrae, and traverses the sacred spinal canal to remove the loose fragment that was pinning my sciatic nerve against my bone, causing pain throughout my entire right leg.

Continue reading…

My right leg hates me right now.

Herniated Disc

After four weeks of inexplicable pain in my right leg, I was diagnosed with a herniated (possibly ruptured) disc in my lower back yesterday. Said injury partially blocks my sciatic nerve, making my right leg mad at me.

In all seriousness, it’s rather disabling — causing limping, an inability to sit or stand for long periods of time, and loss of feeling in my foot. Unbeknownst to me, it seems I sustained the injury during my 10K run on July 4.

If only I had maintained my previous life of idleness and extreme atrophy, none of this would have happened. ;)

(I should be fine, by the way, with at least a shot, physical therapy, and time. If not, routine surgery should take care of it. UPDATE: I had surgery in late August. It was a success and I’m on my way back to 100%.)