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How to Avoid Overtraining

One of the most difficult problems for athletes is knowing when you are training too much. You make a muscle stronger only by stressing that muscle, feeling sore on the next day, and taking easy workouts or days off until the soreness goes away. Then you are supposed to take a hard workout again. If you do not feel soreness on the day after a hard workout, you have not injured your muscles, and they will not become stronger. However, if you try to work hard when your muscles feel sore, muscles do not recover and will feel sore all the time.

Every athlete knows that sometimes your muscles still feel little sore several days after a hard workout. You may think that you have recovered from your previous hard workout and you think you are ready to stress your muscles again. So you go ahead and try to run very fast and you start to feel sore all the time. Your joints, muscles and tendons ache. You feel tired. You can still run with the soreness in your muscles and tendons, but the soreness prevents you from running fast. Each succeeding day, the soreness increases and you think that you are sick, so you go to your doctor. He does a complete work-up and everything is normal, so you are stuck with a diagnosis of training too much.

Now you must go back to background training. If your sport is running, jog on the days that you can. Take days off when you feel sore. After several weeks, your muscle start to feel fresh again and you are able to start running. You are ready to start training again, but first you must promise yourself that you will never try to go hard when you feel soreness in your muscles and tendons. Set up a schedule in which you take a hard-fast workout, feel sore on the next day, and then go at an easy pace in your workouts until the soreness has completely disappeared.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Does yawning serve any useful function?

During yawning, you breathe in deeply while you hold your facial muscles tightly contracted. Normally, you breathe 15 to 20 times a minute. When you feel tired, you may breathe only half as often, and may not get as much oxygen as you need, which causes nerve cells in your brainstem to make you breathe deeper and faster, and your facial muscles to contract in a yawn.

Breathing deeper and faster brings in more oxygen which refreshes you for a few seconds, but it also causes you to blow off more carbon dioxide from your bloodstream, which can make you feel dizzy and more tired. So yawing also can help put you to sleep, which is the most effective treatment for tiredness. After you nap, you can wake up feeling refreshed.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?

The optimal weight gain is 20 to 40 pounds. If a woman does not gain at least 20 pounds during pregnancy, she is at increased risk for having a small baby, which increases risks of birth defects and even death. However, if you gain too much weight, you are at increased risk for complications during and after childbirth.

What you eat is even more important than the amount of weight you gain. You should eat plenty of whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Limit refined carbohydrates (foods made from white flour, white rice or milled corn), restrict added fats, and avoid partially hydrogenated fats. Both mother and child need essential fatty acids that are classified into omega-3s and omega-6s. Pregnancy uses up fatty acids, particularly omega-3s. Several recent studies show that post-partum depression may be caused by low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are found in all seeds, including nuts, beans and whole grains, but not in refined flour used for most bakery products and pastas. Partially hydrogenated fats deplete the body of omega-3 fatty acids and should be avoided. Pregnancy also depletes folic acid, and a deficiency can cause birth defects. Folic acid is found in leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans. Folic acid supplements are recommended for most pregnant women.


Recipe of the Week:
Three Sisters Soup

The "Three Sisters" are corn, beans and squash, which were grown together by American Indians. The beans climbed on the corn stalks and returned nitrogen to the soil, and the low-growing squash vines shaded all the roots and kept weeds from sprouting. They can all be combined in one pot of delicious soup!

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

June 27th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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