Staying Healthy: How can we help our immune systems right now?

Not one of mine but worth sharing

Lock Down Week 1


As the United Kingdom comes to the end of the first week of lock down, I am both impressed and saddened by what I have seen on social media this week. While many of the status updates have been from people supporting the Government requests and following the advice there are still some people thinking they know better then the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Science Officer. Some of the statuses I have seen have been questioning why it has taken so long for the lockdown to be enforced. Do people really need to be told that the NHS and the agencies that support the NHS have limited resources and if the lockdown was called too early this could have resulted in the NHS and supporting agencies being over-whelmed?
I have also seen status updates asking why the Government haven’t done the same as China. Again, do people not understand that the United Kingdom is a democracy and China is a dictatorship? If people reading this answer yes to the above two questions, then I cannot help you. Take a long look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what you would do if you were the Prime Minister. Would you take your lead from the Chief Scientist and Chief Medical officer like our Prime Minister or would you go on your hunches and tell the world it is a hoax like Donald Trump? Would you be like Trump and only think about how you could use the Global Pandemic to get re-elected? Again, if your answer is yes then I cannot help you.
Currently in the United Kingdom we are not on a complete lockdown like people in Spain, France and Italy. If people in the United Kingdom stop thinking they know better and follow the advice we may have some of the restrictions removed in three weeks’ time when the Government review the success of the lockdown. Be sensible, follow the Governments advice and we will not need to be in lockdown for as long as other countries.

Stay Safe and Healthy


Over the last two months I have seen both the best and the worst in human behaviour. In February you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing messages of, “Be Kind” following the suicide of a female celebrity charged with domestic assault. The media were pretending to show sympathy after weeks of publishing negative stories about the celebrity. Now in March as Governments around the world are trying to combat the spread of Covid-19/ Corona Virus people are buying more then they need of all items in shops, leaving lots of elderly and vulnerable people unable to get what they need as well as retail workers facing abuse on a daily basis from perfectly healthy people thinking they are the only people that matter. This morning I went to the chemist to collect my Antidepressants which have been delayed a day due to the NHS and delivery drivers being over-whelmed. I always use a telephone service to order my repeat prescription which works towards a five working day turnaround from order to delivery. I also always order when I have a minimum of eight tablets left just in-case there is an issue so that I do not run out. The dispenser was very friendly and professional with me, although the lady in front of me was less then understanding with the staff when her prescription was also delayed. I also saw footage on the television this morning of a Nurse in tears after a forty-eight hour shift unable to get any food for the day from her local supermarket due to morons being selfish. The Government may need to return to ration books in order to protect people from morons.
It appears that the, “Be Kind” messages of February, only counted when it didn’t affect anyone, showing just how selfish our society has become. I say appear as I have also seen some extraordinary kindness from people at the same time. This morning a retired professional football player who was earning more money in a week then most people earn in a year when he was playing has stopped taking bookings in both of his hotels so that NHS staff can stay in them for free, allowing NHS staff to continue to work without risking their families health, certain fast food chains are offering free hot drinks to NHS staff so long as they can provide staff ID, and I have seen some lower league football clubs on the news say that they are donating all of the food they had ordered for match day’s to local food banks and homeless charities while the season is put on hold.
Currently more people die each year in the UK from seasonal Influenza then have died of Covid-19 worldwide and the scientists say that for the majority of people will have a mild illness, meaning they may not realise they have had it. The trouble is that this is a completely new virus so there is currently no vaccine. That being said if we all play our part, follow the latest scientific advice and truly, “Be Kind” by only buying a maximum of three of each product like the retailers request, everybody will be able to have enough of what they need. Also do what you can to support local business which risk being forced into bankruptcy a result of lost trade.
It is also important to remember that the healthier you are the better your chances are of recovering from any illness. If you find that your local gym or leisure centre has been closed either by the owners to prevent the spread of Covid-19 or by what seems to be a soon to come Government order you can still keep yourself healthy and active. The cheapest thing you can do is to go out for a walk. You can also dust off that home exercise DVD, download a yoga app onto your phone or stream a workout using your computer. Lots of Personal Trainers offer a remote coaching service where they send you a daily workout. Whatever you do to keep fit and healthy remember to stay safe and follow the latest scientific advice.

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sertraline 1

A subject I have been unsure about making a post about is Antidepressants. For a long time, I kept it a closely guarded secret that I was on them only allowing a very select few people know I was taking them. Part of this was due to embarrassment about needing them. I have always tried to keep a happy face when I’m around people. The other reason was that for a long time I saw it as a sign of weakness that I needed them. I have always exercised and done my best to eat a healthy diet which countless studies have shown to be powerful natural Antidepressant’s. I have had various forms of talking therapies, joined lots of groups and tried new activities to help meet different people throughout my life. For some people it might be a surprise for them to learn that I have Anxiety and Depression since I am high functioning, however my body does not produce enough Serotonin on its own. The more talking therapies I had the more I began to realise that it is not a sign of weakness that I need Antidepressants, its simply the way my body works. If I had Type 1 Diabetes my body would not function properly without Insulin injections, it just so happens that my body needs Antidepressants to function.
Antidepressants come in a wide range of varieties and strengths as like all medications no two people will react the same way. Over the last ten years I have been on three different types of Antidepressants at different strengths. At first, I was prescribed 20 mg of Citalopram a day. This didn’t do much for me other then give me wind. The negative side effects of Citalopram can be found below:
• problems with memory or concentration.
• headache, drowsiness.
• dry mouth, increased sweating.
• numbness or tingling.
• increased appetite, nausea, diarrhea, gas.
• fast heartbeats, feeling shaky.
• sleep problems (insomnia), feeling tired.
• cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat.
• changes in weight
• difficulty having an orgasm.
I did not have any of the above, as stated all it did was give me wind. Citalopram is one of the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) group of medications. The job of these medicines is to increase the levels of a mood-enhancing chemical called serotonin in the brain.
The next Antidepressant medication I was prescribed was Fluoxetine Hydrochloride. At first, I was prescribed 20 mg a day however that was later increased to 40 mg a day. Fluoxetine Hydrochloride is another SSRI. This was a lot more effective and I ended up being on the medication for seven years. Fluoxetine side effects include:
• feeling sick (nausea)
• headaches
• being unable to sleep
• diarrhoea
• feeling tired or weak
• feeling sick (nausea)
• headaches
• being unable to sleep
• diarrhoea
• feeling tired or weak
• feeling sick (nausea)
• headaches
• being unable to sleep
• diarrhoea
• feeling tired or weak
• feeling sick (nausea)
• headaches
• being unable to sleep
• diarrhoea
• feeling tired or weak
For the last three years I have been taking Sertraline at 100 mg a day. Sertraline is another SSRI which can be used to treat Depression, Panic Attacks, OCD and PTSD. Side effects are:
• feeling sick
• headaches
• being unable to sleep
• Restlessness
• feeling sleepy
• diarrhoea
• dry mouth
• dizziness
• feeling tired or weak
• chest pain or pressure, or shortness of breath
• severe dizziness or passing out
• painful erections that last longer than 4 hours – this may happen even when you’re not having sex
• any bleeding that’s very bad or you can’t stop, such as cuts or nosebleeds that don’t stop within 10 minutes
• headaches, trouble focusing, memory problems, not thinking clearly, weakness, seizures, or losing your balance – these can be signs of low sodium levels
• thoughts about harming yourself or ending your life
• fits, feelings of euphoria, excessive enthusiasm or excitement, or a feeling of restlessness that means you can’t sit or stand still
• yellow skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow – this can be a sign of liver problems
• vomiting blood or dark vomit, coughing up blood, blood in your pee, black or red poo – these can be signs of bleeding from the gut
• bleeding from the gums or bruises that appear without a reason or that get bigger
• changes in your periods, such as heavy bleeding, spotting or bleeding between periods
• weight gain or weight loss without trying
When I first started taking Sertraline, I did have a lot of restlessness, this has subsided to a small degree. I still find myself twitching when I’m lying on my bed or sat on the sofa at a friend’s/ family members house. As far as dizziness is concerned this happens occasionally. It is more common on days when I have forgotten to take my tablet or when I have gone away and left them at home.
Despite the long list of side effects listed above the long- term benefits for me of taking these medications can not be ignored. Taking them has helped me to reduce the number of relapses I would have had had I not been on them. I have been able to come to terms with the fact that I have a chemical imbalance in my body which the SSRI’s have helped to correct and the fact that I am more open about my mental health issues is the biggest benefit of me taking SSRI’s.

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My Top Five Bodybuilders


I have been watching a lot of podcasts recently with both the current and retired professional bodybuilders. The question that they are all asked towards the end is who would be their top six bodybuilders of all time. I have been thinking about who my top five would be and I have found it harder to decide who to leave out as opposed to who I would put in. I have already written posts about some of my top five which should make it easier however below you will find my top five:
1. Sergio Oliva. Sergio Oliva holds the distinctions of being the second ever winner of the Mr Olympia contest, one of only three men to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bodybuilding contest and is also the most genetically gifted bodybuilder ever. His son, Sergio Oliva Junior currently competes in the IFBB.
2. Steve Reeves. Steve Reeves was the first true bodybuilding superstar. He won every contest available in the 1940’s and 1950’s, one of the first bodybuilders to move onto a career in movies when he played Hercules and had a successful writing career. If I could look like any bodybuilder it would be Steve Reeves.
3. Dorian Yates. Dorian Yates is England’s most successful bodybuilder with six consecutive Mr Olympia wins. The only Mr Olympia contest he lost was his first in 1991 when he placed second to the great Lee Haney who won his eight and last Mr Olympia before retiring. Dorian Yates was a true innovator when it came to bodybuilding. He took Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty Training principles and perfected them by taking what was useful for him and discarding what didn’t work for Dorian Yates.
4. Arnold Schwarzenegger. This was an easy one. Without Arnold Schwarzenegger bodybuilding would not have come as far as it has today. I like to think of Arnold as the Mohamed Ali of bodybuilding in that he knew how to promote not just himself but bodybuilding through movies, politics and by creating and promoting the Arnold Classic competition.
5. Dexter Jackson. No professional bodybuilder has won more contests then Dexter Jackson. Part of this is because there are more competitions that bodybuilders can enter now as opposed to when Steve Reeves was competing, partly due to the length of Dexter Jackson’s competitive career. Dexter Jackson’s first bodybuilding contest was the 1992 NPC Southern States where he placed third in the lightweight class. At the 2019 Mr Olympia he placed fourth. Keep in mind that Dexter Jackson is Fifty years old. Another reason is that Dexter Jackson is incredibly consistent with his conditioning. Dexter Jackson is known as, “The Blade” since he is always in great condition. Despite all his success Dexter Jackson is still incredibly humble.

I really wanted to make a top six however there were so many contenders such as Lee Haney, Reg Park, Mike Mentzer and Ronnie Coleman that could be included that choosing five was difficult enough. If I was to make a top six of each decade then all of them would be in the list for their respective era’s. Mike Mentzer was the first winner of the Mr Universe with a perfect score. Lee Haney was the first man to win eight Mr Olympia titles. Ronnie Coleman is the only other eight times Mr Olympia winner and in 2002 became the first person to win the Arnold Classic and Mr Olympia in the same year. Reg Park was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s idol, a true English Gentleman and took over from Steve Reeves in the role of Hercules.

Free-weights vs Machines


A common question I have been asked over the years is which is better, free-weights or resistance machines? While I recognise that resistance machines have their benefits, I have always preferred to use free-weights for most of my training. For a start a free-weight is fully adaptable to the proportions of the individual, where as a resistance machine will only move along a fixed path. This means that resistance machines can not adapt to the natural leverages of the individual user. The cams are set to fit the “average user”.
The case for free-weights also includes:
1. Free- weight exercise require the stabilisation muscles to work as well as the prime movers.
2. Free- weight exercises develop greater muscular balance and coordination. In the Dumbbell Bench Press the weaker arm must work just as hard as the stronger arm. With the Chest Press machine, the stronger arm will always take over.
3. Free- weights are relatively cheap and take up less space than resistance machines.
4. Free- weights provide more useful strength for sports as well as everyday life as they require the body to move as a single unit.
5. Free-weights provide greater muscle stimulation as they do not force the individual to move along a fixed path.
6. Free- weights provide greater variation of the same exercise then a resistance machine can.

The case for resistance machines includes:
1. Easily adjustable resistance levels. You simply need to adjust a pin.
2. Machines allow users to isolate specific muscles, such as the Hamstrings in the Leg Curl.
3. If an individual is training on their own resistance machines offer a level of safety which free-weights do not.
4. Machines allow beginners to develop the motor skills and body awareness of a movement.

When designing a complete exercise programme for yourself or another person it is a good idea to include some resistance machines, especially if the programme is for a beginner, however they should not dominate the exercise programme.

My Next Competition


My next weightlifting competition will be on June 14th in Basingstoke. Unlike my last competition I have plenty of time to prepare. I also have the advantage of knowing what to expect so all I really need to focus on is peaking for the competition. My aim will be to have my max weights for my last competition to be the opening weights for the next one. With a sensible training programme this will be achievable. For me the only competition I have that day will be myself. Each competition I enter the target will be to be better than I was in the previous competition. I will not worry too much about what the other competitors in my weight class will be up to that day or what weights they lift. So long as I am having fun and I make my opening weights for each lift then I will have done well.