December 20, 2014

The Feel Good Report

RISE AND SHINE

Ever meet one of those people who just loves getting out of bed in the morning? Me neither. We sleep in cycles, both light and heavy. When pried from heavy sleep by that stupid alarm clock, we feel tired longer. However, when rousted from light sleep, studies show that we feel refreshed—as if we actually slept. The SleepTracker Elite wristwatch vibrates to wake you after sensing the type of breathing, eye movement, heart rate, etc. that accompany light sleeping. Just set the watch to a time window when you need to wake up, and SleepTracker purports to make your waking experience as revitalizing as possible ($179; www.sleeptracker.com).  

The Voice of Reason: SleepTracker is useful for people with sleep disorders, such as paradoxical insomnia and circadian rhythm disorders, because it records sleep patterns. However, it is more effective in this capacity, as a reporting tool, than as a revitalizing wake-up remedy, says Dr. Jose R. Marquina of the Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine clinic in Naples. It’s more cost-effective than other sleep recorders, but “right now, there’s a lack of enough scientific or large data” on the SleepTracker’s effectiveness, says Marquina.

 

Best Exercise Apps

Recently, my 18-year-old nephew transformed himself from Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk (sans the green complexion and nasty ’tude). But he owes his new physique less to gamma rays than to a new iPhone weightlifting application. Fitness apps combine info and convenience, not to mention thrift, but also use technology to inject interesting quirks into daily regimens. The Fun Run Trainer by iFit Technologies (www.ifittechnologies.com), for example, uses Google Maps, Facebook and your smart phone to simulate everything from the Boston Marathon to a jog on the beach. Here are a few other useful fitness apps lauded by the Harvard Health Letter.

• Tap and Track records what you eat and your physical output, keeping track of how many calories you can consume per day to reach your target weight.

• Follow your heart health with HeartWise, which logs your blood pressure, pulse and weight, delivering regular arterial pressure readings.

Pocket First Aid and CPR gives detailed instructions in case of emergency through text and even video—a necessity for worrisome mothers everywhere.

• Relaxing would be easier if you had a personal guru on speed dial, right? The next best thing is Stress Free with Deepak Chopra, a mix of yoga, meditation and journaling.

 

Coffee, Tea or IV?

The goal of Trim Wellness Café, a new health center opening this month on Tamiami Trail in Naples, is to
“target optimal well-being” through customized vitamin cocktails. The hook is that the body absorbs 100 percent of vitamins that are given through IVs or injections. Trim Wellness touts its vitamins as being designed to treat everything from depression to PMS. For example, the café’s Trim Calm IV concoction promises to soothe anxiety, migraines or muscle tension. The café also offers hormone optimization (i.e., boosting a man’s flagging testosterone) and prescription weight loss plans, all in
a coffee house setting. 

The Voice of Reason: Vitamin IVs and injections “can be utilized properly,” says Elaine Hastings, a registered and licensed dietician and president of Fort Myers-based Associates in Nutrition. “Are they going to cure you? No. It’s not a magic bullet. It’s a tool.” A tool, she says, best used by those who don’t eat well, even for a short period of time, and are therefore lacking in zinc, iron or vitamin C. But even the elderly and extreme athletes can get their requisite vitamins by eating right.

 

Custom-Fit Knees

The process of replacing a knee sounds a lot like the methods of a serial killer. Techniques such as chiseling, shaving and drilling are often used on bone.

Ronald Grohowski, a 66-year-old Bonita Springs resident, witnessed the “gruesome” operation on an orthopedic surgeon’s website while researching prospective options for his own knee replacements. What the video showed left Grohowski a little nervous about traditional options.

Still, he needed relief. The pain from his osteoarthritis-plagued knees felt like bone crashing against bone with every step. Forty-five minute walks on the beach—strolls he loved taking with his wife—laid him up for days.

However, a consultation with Dr. H. Kurtis Biggs of the Joint Replacement Institute in Naples revealed a third option: Custom Fit Knee Replacement.

This fairly new procedure uses a 3-D CT scan or MRI image to accurately map a patient’s knee. The results are sent to a lab, which produces a precise cutting guide and custom implant for surgeons to follow during surgery. Consequently, less of the original, healthy bone is removed, and the implant is fitted flush to the precisely sculpted bone.

“We know exactly what size and shape [the knee is] before surgery,” Biggs says. “This cuts down on the number of instruments needed, [so it’s a] less invasive procedure. When I do a traditional knee replacement, I use a guide that goes into the femur. So [the Custom Fit Knee Replacement] reduces the risk of sustaining a pulmonary embolism or post-op bleeding.” Biggs also says the treatment reduces times for both surgery and recovery.

It should be noted that in 2008 The Journal of Arthroplasty reported that a manufacturer of a custom knee implant, OtisKnee, had “the potential for malalignment,” resulting in a “high risk of early failure.” That study was then attacked as shortsighted by another group of physicians in a subsequent edition of the journal. Biggs says OtisKnee was taken off the shelf after being purchased by another company, but has since been resubmitted to the FDA.
 
Even so, Biggs doesn’t use OtisKnee; he employs the Prophecy system, which he says has an “expected 90 to 95 percent success rate at 15 years based on traditional literature” if the implant is fitted appropriately and gender specific.
 
For Grohowski, the new knee procedure means enjoyable walks on the beach. “Now there’s no pain,” he says. “I’m doing everything I want to do.”
 
 
 
Fueling Fitness

January. A new year. Time to look in the mirror, take stock of what you see and, if you’re like me, cry. And then, of course, resolve to return to the gym. But the hardest thing about getting back there is summoning the energy. To make sure this year’s resolution sticks around, www.womenshealthmag.com offers these fitness-fueling foods to energize your workouts. The good news? They’re not nearly as bland as you might think.
 
Pre-workout: The Egg McMuffin (yes, from McDonald’s) features protein, fat and sugarless carbs, meaning you’ll have more energy while at the gym. 

During workout: Try GU, an energy gel that gives a boost of carbs, plus a bit of caffeine to really tweak your output. (And it’s easier to consume at the gym than a banana.)  

During workout (liquid): Choose water over sport drinks if you’re at the gym for less than an hour because you don’t need to restore lost sodium.
Post-workout: You can’t beat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich for carbs, protein and the right kind of fat, all of which help restore energy and build muscles. Plus, it’s cheap and tastes good.