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Today’s Health Upgrade
Member of the week
Pain pill problems (and how to fix them)
Recipe of the week
Have you listened to the podcast? Or as Arnold calls it, his good machine. It's similar to the email, but with a few slight changes and stories that could only be delivered by Arnold. Subscribe to Arnold's Pump Club podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Member of the week
This week’s member of the week is Mike K. I’m thrilled to have him be part of our village. Here’s what he wanted to share with all of you.
Ever since I can remember, Arnold has been a source of inspiration for me. Whether it was hearing him tell me to do my pushups and pullups as the Chairman of the President’s Council of Physical Fitness & Sports, or seeing him save human civilization by helping to destroy Skynet. His persona and presence always motivated me to do more, and help others.
So naturally, I was pumped up to be a member of this tribe way back in January and see what new and exciting things he would be sharing with us. Some of you may have been surprised to read about his advice on the benefits of practicing empathy with others and ourselves.
This makes sense, especially since most of us know him as a 7-time Mr. Olympia with the biggest biceps; the man who took out the Predator; and the Governor with the most intense work ethic in the room. However, I had the privilege of spending time with Arnold and experiencing his empathetic side a few years back, and it forever changed the course of my life.
As the winner of his Terminate Gerrymandering Contest to raise money for campaigns to stop gerrymandering around the United States in the fall of 2018, Arnold and his team flew my wife and me out to Budapest to spend a few days with him when he was filming Terminator: Dark Fate. We hung out on set, ate schnitzel for dinner, and pumped iron at 6 in the morning prior to him filming again.
While all of this was fantastic, I was really blown away by his approach to connecting with people, and his focus on learning more about me as a person. I could feel his genuine interest in me, and how my life experiences had gotten me to this point.
This was new to me personally, especially from someone I had just met. Having grown up in many situations where empathy was lacking, I could feel changes in my body and brain with this type of interaction. I couldn’t put it into words at that time, other than the fact it was new, and it felt really good.
Ironically, during that time, I had just started more training and incorporating empathy into my practice as a Physical Therapist. The Joe Weider of my life and my mentor, doctor Ben Burton, had just introduced me to the benefits of empathy. Lots of research suggests that empathy changes our brain structure, nervous system functioning, and health markers. This includes benefits such as better sleep, decreased blood pressure, decreased resting heart rate, and decreased cortisol levels. Essentially, you can think of practicing empathy as a way of pumping up and strengthening a different part of your brain!
Think better sleep, decreased blood pressure, decreased resting heart rate, and decreased cortisol levels. Essentially, you can think of practicing empathy as a way of pumping up and strengthening a different part of your brain!
After training for the past four years with my mentor and two other experts in the field, I can confidently say it has allowed me to be a better father to my two girls, husband, friend, and healthcare provider. It also has allowed me to be more consistent with my training, and nutrition, and improve my mental health. Arnold’s father's advice to him was always to “Be Useful.” Well, fellow tribe members, I can promise you this is one of the best ways to do that!
I would like to share a brief and effective way to start practicing more empathy. At its most basic level, it is the ability to understand and share the feelings and experiences of others. You could use the analogy of playing catch with someone. They are sharing their experience with you (throwing you the ball), you receive it (catch the ball), and then reflect it back to them (throw the ball back). There is no problem solving, no advice giving, just simply stating you understand and hear what they are sharing.
Empathetic responses could sound like: “That makes sense to me … I am hearing you are feeling [insert emotion here].” Or, “I am guessing that must make you feel [insert what you feel they are trying to express]”
You might be surprised by the way these types of responses are received and how making someone feel heard or understood can really lift them up. It’s all about reps, reps, reps. Like everything else here, it's taking the complexity and craziness out of things and simplifying them so that we can improve the lives of others, as well as our own. Give it a shot and PUMP UP those empathy muscles!
When to pop pain pills
Whether you realize it or not, your favorite over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication might not be working the way you think. Research suggests that NSAIDs (think medications like Advil or Motrin) can actually slow your recovery.
The reason is inflammation — or in this case — a lack of it. Inflammation is usually thought of as bad for your body, but it’s also necessary and can be good. After an injury, inflammation supports your natural healing process by removing dead cells and killing pathogens that could prevent your body from repairing. A little inflammation also helps you recover from exercise and supports muscle growth.
The pills can help reduce pain, but don’t confuse comfort for healing. When inflammation is reduced, the pain might feel less but your recovery could be longer.
This might feel like a no-win situation because when you’re in pain after an injury or surgery, you might need meds to help with tolerance. So, if you want the best of both worlds, new research suggests that only taking pain pills in the morning will help you take off the edge without disrupting your body’s natural healing process.
Compared to people who took NSAIDs throughout the day, those who only used medication in the morning had a significant increase in the 500 genes that play a role in healing and experienced much faster recovery.
15-Minute Recipe of the Week
It’s Daniel again, sharing another quick and easy recipe that helps me stay healthy. This is one of my favorites for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. And it probably takes about 5 minutes.
All you need is some bread (I prefer sourdough from a local bakery, and find that fresh bread just hits differently), eggs, butter or olive oil, and an avocado. Yeah, it's avocado toast, but it's a great recipe and mix of carbs, healthy fat, and protein.
Start by putting a tablespoon of butter or olive oil in a pan, and turn the heat to low. (I continue to measure oils and butter — it’s the only thing I measure — and I’ve seen myself get leaner instead of when I was eyeballing those portions.)
Crack an egg or two into the pan. Slice your bread (I like it thick), and throw it in the toaster.
Cut an avocado in half, and mash it in a bowl. I usually split one between my wife and me.
When the toast is ready, spread your mashed avocado on the toast, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
The egg takes the longest because I’ve found cooking low and slow makes perfect eggs. I like sunny side up, if you prefer another method, flip it. If not, throw it on top of your toast, add some more salt and pepper, and you’re good to go.
If I want more protein, I’ll add some of my shredded chicken. And sometimes we’ll add kimchi because it’s a favorite in our house. Having staples around at all times makes me more efficient than a Terminator with my grocery shopping. And, it helps me eat out less often. More importantly, it makes it easy to put together healthy meals without taking up much time. If you want help with more simple recipes or have any requests or quick recipes that work for you, let me know on Twitter.