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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Healthy short forms: 4 acronyms you should know to become a fitter you in 2014

Posted: 20 Jan 2014 12:18 AM PST

Want to achieve a healthy body and a happy soul, but you're so busy and you really don't have the time? These four acronyms will help set you on the right path in 2014.

Love 'em or hate 'em, acronyms – like FTW or for the win – are so ubiquitous in our chats that it has altered the way we express ourselves. A few – like YOLO or you only live once – have for better or for worse emerged as reaffirming mottos. In that spirit, we've picked four acronyms predicted by experts to be the top fitness and nutrition trends of 2014. From yoga on water to deliberately missing parties, these short forms advocate simple, sustainable strategies for maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle.


High Intensity Interval Training appeared in 2007, but the principle of it has been around since 1966. Almost five decades ago, Japanese professor Izumi Tabata compared the performance of speed skaters who trained steadily to those who trained in short intense bursts. He found that the first group maintained their level of fitness, but the second batch which followed an early version of HIIT recorded significant improvement in muscle tone, metabolism and burning fat. Typically consisting of a three to 10 repetitions of high intensity exercises, separated by medium intensity exercises, one HIIT session lasts only four to 30 minutes. Its shorter duration and equal benefits have won fans worldwide and it's tipped to be the No. 1 fitness fad of 2014. Alas, experts warn newbies to exercise caution before taking on a HIIT: It's taxing on the heart and joints. Beginners should train conventionally and improve their cardiovascular fitness first before starting a HIIT regimen.

S.U.P. Yoga

Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga takes the discipline out to sea for a bit of surfing. Popping up on trend-spotter lists in 2011 as flo-yo or floating yoga, SUP yoga practitioners execute movements while balancing on a paddleboard out on flat water. Doing a bendy headstand on an oversized surfboard isn't everyone's idea of fun, but SUP yoga has been gaining disciples across America, Australia and Europe. Its appeal lies over the ocean: SUP yogis claim their water workout does wonders for a person's core strength and balance. Also, being out at sea is calming – and it doesn't hurt to be Instagram friendly. Pictures and videos of female yogis posing serenely on paddleboards are all over the Internet and they look amazing. Non-swimming yogis need not fret. The Indo Yoga Board has been designed for indoor use: It has a curved uneven bottom to emulate the wobbling sensation of a real paddleboard.

The 1:1:1 Diet

One Carb, One Fat, One Protein doesn't jump on the gluten-free, low-carb, juice-heavy, super-food diet craze. Instead, 36-year-old California-based nutritionist Rania Baytaneh advocates a sustainable eating habit, as postulated in her book The One One One Diet. She recommends believers practise a controlled approach to food intake: Munch regularly up to three meals and two snacks a day, and make sure main courses have one portion each of carbs, protein and fat. You won't go hungry: Non-starchy veg counts as a free food item, so you can gobble up as much as you want. For snacks, reach for fruits or seeds. Naturally, the diet means nothing without exercise, but the thing about 1:1:1 is its simplicity – no obsessive counting of calories and no banned food items. Yes, that Long Island Iced Tea (up to 780 calories) and ice cream sundae on a brownie is all right as long as it's taken in moderation.


F.O.M.O. or the fear of missing out sounds like rubbish, but it's a real phenomenon affecting people who feel left out of life due to the constant barrage of social media updates on parties, events and places they're not invited to. In 2012, Dr Andrew Przybylski of the Oxford Internet Institute found the condition most prevalent among those whose basic psychological needs – feeling engaged, nurtured and acknowledged – weren't being met. How to deal with it? Try J.O.M.O. or the joy of missing out, an iteration of Dr Danny Penman's mindful living approach as described in his book Mindfulness: Finding Peace In A Frantic World. It encourages FOMO victims to switch off the Internet and live real life at a regular human pace. That means dropping unrealistic expectations and stopping their relentless pursuit of everything. Going offline to enjoy the simple pleasures of life sounds old-fashioned, but if Oprah likes it, then everybody should get one.

Staying clean

Posted: 18 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Ex-users help heroin addicts out of death spiral.

THERE was a time when a shot of heroin was an important part of his morning routine.

In a way, it still is.

Larry Soper is a residential manager at the Interval Brotherhood Home (IBH) in Coventry Township, Ohio, US, where many of the area's heroin addicts go for residential treatment.

It's a facility funded by taxpayers through the county Alcohol Drug and Mental Health board.

Soper oversees about 30 men, who live at the facility for several weeks. Nearly every client is opiate dependent. His counterpart – women's house manager Nicole Cunningham – has about the same number of opiate-addicted females.

"Opiate users are younger and younger and younger," Soper said. "Before, the users were older, late 20s to 50s. Look at the clients we have now, 19, 20 years old."

Cunningham quickly agrees. Every day she works with young adults whose addictions started in the earlier teens. Streetwise herself after a prison stint, and five years sober, Cunningham seems amazed at the faces she sees.

Nicole Cunningham is the women's house manager at Interval Brotherhood Home in Akron, Ohio, which helps people overcome heroin addiction. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal/MCT)

Soper... The real issue is what brings people to using in the first place and what issues haven't they overcome. – MCT

"They're full-blown heroin addicts by the time they're 18 or 19 years old," she said.

For the past decade or so, law enforcement and government officials have hammered away at the painkiller market. Drugs such as Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycontin were loosely guarded, opening the market to pill mills to distribute the medication, and a black market to sell the goods.

America was viewed as the pain medicine capital of the world as millions of pills hit the market. Shady doctors prescribed them to patients who either wanted to abuse them or sell them.

So once the crackdown began, the cost rose while the availability dissipated.

Also drastically changing the drug landscape was the government order that certain high-potency painkillers be uncrushable. This change prevents users from injecting the drug for greater effect.

"I think (the painkiller crackdown) has exasperated the heroin use," Soper said.

As a result of the war on painkillers, heroin has risen dramatically in popularity. Once considered a skid-row drug, users today find the drug much cheaper than pain pills, and far more intoxicating.

On the downside, heroin is far more addicting. A user's tolerance to the drug grows quickly. At first, US$20 (RM64) worth of heroin could bring a new user a high for two days. Within weeks, that same user needs US$100 (RM320) of heroin just to feel normal and make it through the day.

Withdrawals are described as misery, full of body pain, cold sweats, vomiting and diarrhoea. The fear of withdrawing is largely the main spark keeping users on the drug.

"What I've seen is an increase in suburban kids. I've seen an increase in socioeconomics and white middle- to upper-class becoming more and more of our addicted clientele," Soper said. "We're looking at kids today with high academic achievements, from good suburban families. That's the back story of the opiate abuse."

Cunningham said the goal in residential treatment goes beyond beating an addiction. In most cases, she said, there is an underlying mental health issue – depression, bipolar disease – at the root of the drug use and the need to self-medicate.

"We need to look at what the motive is for someone to make that jump from social recreational drug use to all of a sudden being involved in incredibly dangerous, high-risk use," Soper said. "To change an element of their life, there's a motivation there. It's not just bad behaviour. There's always a driving force behind it.

"The real issue is what brings people to using in the first place and what issues haven't they overcome."

Treatment is not quick and easy. Providers say the aftercare following detox and rehab is vital. It is the physical pain of withdrawals that keep many using.

Dr Gregory Johnson, medical director at Community Health Center (CHC), said patients are often put on a medication regimen to ease the pain. The centre provides opioid addiction treatment.

Patients seeking to recover are sometimes prescribed methadone, a synthetic narcotic taken once a day "to stop withdrawal symptoms and reduce opiate cravings".

Some patients are put on suboxone to help their recovery.

CHC is treating more than 400 patients, many of whom make daily trips to the centre for medication. The recovery from heroin addiction is long-term, said Rebecca Mason, CHC's director of outpatient services. Some patients have been on methadone for 20-plus years.

"These patients are very sick," Dr Johnson said. "They can't function. Nobody dies from opiate withdrawals, but they wish they could."

Oriana House serves addicts at facilities throughout northeast Ohio. Sally Longstreth Fluck, the clinical director, said that 10 years ago, opiate addicts were rare. Now, 65% of their clients are opiate dependent.

Oriana provides drug and alcohol recovery treatment. The programme is outpatient, but intense: three hours a day, three days a week for six months, followed by four months of aftercare.

"I think what makes it different is the intensity," she said. "It's a rapid and intense addiction. It's cheaper. It's more accessible and it's more potent. But addiction is really a side effect to something else."

Many overdose victims never see it coming. Often, their death follows a rehab effort or detoxification visit. Once users get out and seek a high, they often fail to correct their tolerance level.

"They're an overdose waiting to happen because their tolerance went down," Cunningham said.

Cunningham, 32, grew up in the Ohio's Falls area. By the age of 12, she was abusing. In time, she'd have two children and serve four years in prison for selling meth. She was a heroin user for years.

She's been five years sober and working at IBH for almost a year.

Soper's story is similar. He said he was the spoiled suburban kid growing up in North Canton, Ohio. He worked as a journalist for years. He also used heroin, he said, every day for 15 years. Now, 43, he's been clean for the past eight-plus years.

Those seeking help from IBH sometimes have to wait four months for a bed. Their success rate isn't tracked.

"I don't know," Soper said. "I'd like to say in my heart that we've had a lot of success, but I know we don't."

The truth is, addiction is a life-long struggle. Aftercare is vital. Some succeed. Some don't. Some die.

"Treatment itself is not a cure-all," Soper said. "It takes years and years."

Soper said when he came to IBH, he was the "poster child for that guy who isn't going to make it".

In time, he did.

"My job is to tell other addicts how I stay sober," he said.

The lure of heroin is striking. Some start by snorting it through their nose. Others smoke it. Later, in order to squeeze out those fading effects that first drew the user's lust, heroin is heated in a spoon, sucked into a syringe and expelled into a vein.

In the Internet age, many young adults grow up seeing their film or music stars rise in fame, only to fall to drugs and rehab. Day after day, one celebrity after another announces a trip to rehab.

"I think there's a very romantic idea that young people have about addiction," Soper said. "I think they see this in movies and music. I think there's this idea that heroin is an antiseptic, that it's pain relief because a lot of our youth are in pain, whether it's mental health or emotional pain, and that makes it a very attractive drug.

"You don't need to go to the inner city," Soper said. – Akron Beacon Journal/McClatchy Tribune Information Services


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