Archive | October, 2017

Essential Oils – What’s in a Recipe for a Holy Anointing Oil?

Have you ever wondered what constituted a “holy anointing oil” in the Bible? We know what Moses used but what did Jesus use? That of course has been lost in history. One thing is for sure-he was not using cooking or lamp oil. For the early Christian church, olive oil played an important role, especially in the Oriental Christian rites. However, they rarely used olive oil by itself. It was mixed with a fragrant element. Until about the thirteenth or fourteenth century this fragrant element was balsam. (Recent research shows that balsam may have been the “Balm of Gilead.”) Prayers were said over the oil asking God to ‘sanctify’ the oil, that is, make it sacred so that the Holy Spirit could act through it. This sanctified oil was referred to as the “oil of anointing,” the “oil of prayer,” “oil of grace,” “oil of joy,” or “myron.” Once the oil was empowered through this prayer, it became a vehicle for sanctification so the healing that came from the oil was a result of the power of the Holy Spirit.

What Was in the Recipe Given to Moses?

Moses was given a recipe for a holy anointing oil by God that contained four oils: Myrrh, Cinnamon, Cassia and Calamus with a very small amount of olive oil thrown in as well. This would have made the oil stay on the body longer since aromatic oils-essential oils as they are called today-evaporate quickly. Essential oils are the life blood of the plant and many are antimicrobial, relaxing or invigorating. Some common oils used through the centuries to fragrance the holy anointing oils include: Balsam, Cinnamon, Benzoin, Frankincense, Orange, Jasmine, Musk, Ambergris, Civet, and Bergamot.

Orthodox Christian Chrism

Holy oil (chrism) in the Orthodox tradition consisted of pure olive oil to which a good proportion of wine and a large number of other ingredients-plants and spices was added. This oil was symbolic of the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit. It took three days to prepare this holy chrism which was blessed on Holy Thursday by the patriarch or metropolitan of each Orthodox Church. Byzantine chrism combined olive oil with between thirty-eight and fifty-seven aromatic substances, making it one of the most complex synergistic blends ever devised. If you have ever attended an Orthodox service, you know that generous amounts of incense and holy oils are used.

Roman Catholic Anointing Oils

In the Roman Catholic Church, there are three oils. Holy chrism-consecrated by the bishop, is used to anoint the newly baptized, to seal the candidates for confirmation and to anoint the hands of presbyters and the heads of bishops at ordination. This oil is also used to dedicate churches and altars. The oil of catechumens-used in the preparation of catechumens for their baptism. Oil for the sick used to bring comfort and support to those who are ill. There is very little difference in the make-up of these three oils. The base is pure olive oil with some fragrance provided by balsam or a similar sweet smelling oil.

Anointing in the Lutheran Church

The recipe for the anointing oil used in the Lutheran church according to the Lutheran Book of Worship (1982) called for the oil to be “olive oil to which an aromatic ingredient such as synthetic oil of cinnamon or oil of bergamot may be added.” This is the only reference I have found to a church using a “synthetic” oil in place of an essential oil. The symbolism of anointing has survived in this tradition if not the true meaning of healing body/mind/spirit with the oil.

How can we learn today the ancient art of healing with aromatic essential oils as anointing oils? Educational courses that are Christian-based can help us reclaim our rightful role in healing and anointing.

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Subclinical Hypothyroidism Symptoms: Should You Be Worried About This Thyroid Disorder?

Subclinical hypothyroidism symptoms can start at any time so you should be prepared and educated about the signs. Although it’s not an easy disease to diagnose, you should still have some concern over some of the symptoms and get checked.

Subclinical hypothyroidism happens when a person’s TSH level (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is slightly high. Thyroid stimulating hormones are not created in the thyroid gland, but in the pituitary gland. The main function of the TSH is to assist the thyroid gland into producing greater amounts of thyroid hormones.

If you have a higher TSH level, this means that you could be suffering from hypothyroidism. If you are not getting enough TSH, that could lead to hyperthyroidism.

The big debate in the medical community is when to treat patients who are showing subclinical hypothyroidism symptoms or signs. Some doctors feel that it is only necessary to monitor these patients, and other doctors want to give medicine to stop it from developing into full-blown hypothyroidism.

There is a strong case for treating the elderly or those with weakened immune systems once they start showing symptoms. The feeling is that people in these risk groups are more likely to have hypothyroidism in the near future.

Here is a Checklist of Well-Known Subclinical Hypothyroidism Symptoms:

  • Unexpected weight gain
  • Difficulty in getting a full night’s sleep
  • Problems and changes in menstruation
  • Difficulty in concentrating and easily forgetting things
  • Inability to tolerate the cold
  • Extremely dry skin
  • Bouts of depression
  • Problems with vision
  • Premature hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of some hearing

Most subclinical hypothyroidism symptoms aren’t any different than regular hypothyroidism. The symptoms are broad, and include things you see in many other illnesses. Subclinical hypothyroidism symptoms are not always present in some cases. Some patients are asymptomatic. This is what makes this condition so hard to diagnose.

Other Facts about Subclinical Hypothyroidism:

  • Sufferers have an elevated risk of heart failure in the future.
  • Women increase their risk of having miscarriages and giving birth to infants that could suffer developmental disorders.
  • A low dosage of thyroxine is suggested for certain risk groups, including people with a family history of atherosclerosis and those with other cardiovascular problems.
  • From the majority of patients who were suffering from this condition, those who had some sort of treatment, felt better overall.

So, what should you do if you think you are showing subclinical hypothyroidism symptoms? The first thing you should do is schedule a doctor’s appointment and get tested. If it is positive that you do have this illness, you should discuss all of your options with your doctor. There is no reason to make hasty decisions, because you have time to think it over.

If you choose not to take any medication, you need to monitor your symptoms closely over the following months. If they get severe, or you are having other issues, you should definitely get treated.

What’s important is that most cases of hypothyroidism can be treated fairly easily if they are taken care of early enough. Plus, there are many online resources that can educate you and help out on your road to recovery.

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Can Self Hypnosis Make You More Beautiful?

Many people are aware that self-hypnosis may be used to change bad habits. But they often ask whether self hypnosis can really be used to actually make you more beautiful and attractive. The answer is a qualified yes! As always, the objective of all hypnosis is to bypass the critical gatekeeper of the mind. That way, most of the improvements in our lives come to us much easier. But real change isn’t limited to habit control. The subconscious is also in charge of bodily systems, including the organs, cells, muscles, hormones and so much more.

Science has verified that the physical body, including things like psychosomatic natural improvement of body appearance, may be changed through self-hypnosis with the powerful tools of hypnotic suggestion. Whether it’s to lose body fat, increase muscular strength, reduce body pain or all the other things you’d you like to work on, if you can systematically and artfully provide yourself with the correct hypnotic suggestions, there are many wondrous changes that can happen for you.

In short, you can make yourself more beautiful with self-hypnosis provided you know what kind of suggestions will profoundly affect your subconscious mind! Here’s a good example from a self hypnosis lecture I recently gave. Marta, a self-hypnosis student, told me and the class she wanted to have more beautiful hair. So I encouraged the class to help craft some really effective self-hypnosis suggestions. Here’s how we broke it down.

We started with this suggestion: “I grow beautiful and lustrous black hair.” We then had her imagine what it would feel like and look like to have that kind of hair. And though it took her several applications of hypnosis over several weeks to achieve what she wanted, the change was finally apparent to Marta and all the classmates.

Her new hair seemed thicker, stronger and shinier while its texture seemed much improved to everyone around her. (She confirmed that her hair care products and regimen remained the same since we started this informal test.) Like Marta, if there is a particular area of your appearance you would like to beautify, you can use specific self-hypnosis suggestions to make it happen. Men, of course, can benefit just as well as women, with self-suggestions to make themselves look more handsome, vigorous and attractive also.

Self-hypnosis suggestions don’t have to get this specific to get results for you. You can craft suggestions to become more “overall” beautiful, handsome or attractive. That is enough for the subconscious to really begin making noticeable changes in your appearance. For best results, make sure your suggestions include the following:

  • Determine and recognize that your own subconscious mind can make you more attractive
  • Create vivid descriptions of just how it will feel to be more beautiful or handsome
  • Express in words how you will find greater benefit in your life (like attracting someone special)

Like Marta, it may take you time and application to make those hypnosis suggestions produce these exciting benefits. But I’ve seen it happen for my hypnotherapy clients who wanted to lose weight, control their diabetes blood glucose – and improve their appearance too. Just be patient, look for the changes and enjoy the transformation. It costs a lot less than cosmetic surgery, and it’s much more natural and a lot safer too.

Hypnosis can indeed make you more beautiful.

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Are Guggul and Red Yeast Rice a Safe and Effective Natural Remedy For High Cholesterol?

The natural nutrients guggul and red yeast rice have been used for hundreds of years in the worlds oldest healing traditions, Ayurvedic medicine of India and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Red yeast rice, used since the 7th century A.D. in China , is actually a cooked rice by-product which has been dried, and then used for medicinal purposes. Traditionally, it has been used as a digestive stimulant and to improve blood circulation.

The benefits of red yeast rice are attracting attention today largely because of its effectiveness in safely lowering cholesterol. It’s effectiveness for this purpose is backed by numerous reliable research studies as well as centuries of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Recent research has shown that people who had to discontinue use of prescription statin cholesterol drugs because of adverse side effects did well with red yeast rice and had impressive improvements in cholesterol levels.

The herb guggul has been used in Ayurvedic medicine traditionally for a wide range of conditions, including balancing cholesterol and triglyceride levels and it’s effectiveness for these conditions is now backed by solid clinical research.

In one particular research study, after three months of using guggul the result was lower levels of total cholesterol and serum triglycerides (ave. 23% reduction) in the majority of participants.

Two other research trials in India confirmed that guggul can lower total cholesterol and raise HDL (so-called “good cholesterol”). Some people in the clinical trials reported mild digestive upset. There are no other reports of adverse side effects.

The effects that it has on blood cholesterol levels is comparable to prescription cholesterol drugs, but it is without the side effects since it is a natural plant extract.

Are Guggul and Red Yeast Rice Safe?

The safety of red yeast rice is sometimes called into question by some researchers. Their argument is that since it contains compounds that seem to produce an effect similar to cholesterol lowering statin drugs, it may produce dangerous adverse side effects as do the drugs. So far, current research does not support this theory, although more research is needed, for now there is no solid evidence that red yeast rice is unsafe.

Guggul & red yeast rice are natural remedies that are mild and gentle to the body. They can be used safely for extended periods of time without risk of addiction. Centuries of use and modern research have shown these nutrients to be safe and without significant side effects.

Since everyone responds differently, you may want to consult your health care provider before starting any supplementation program or to have any questions or concerns addressed.

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Cluster Training: The Athlete’s Size and Strength Edge

All sport coaches would like big, strong athletes and most combative athletes want to be big and strong. However, most athletes and coaches run into a problem when training for both size and strength at the same time. The longer an athlete trains; usually they begin to hit a plateau with their current routine. They increase the volume (an increase in sets) or they increase the intensity (percentage of 1 repetition maximum, not perceived muscular discomfort), however they do not do both. Volume training is great for increasing muscle mass, and increasing strength-endurance, however it is not an effective method for stimulating neural (strength) gains.

Muscle mass is generally stimulated by neural gains. The higher the athlete’s maximal strength levels, the higher the intensity used in repetition exercises can be used. Another problem coaches and athletes run into with neural training is the rest intervals must be higher in intensity training for recovery of the neural system (CNS).

The problem is in the old saying, a trainee can train hard (intensity) or train long (volume) but cannot do both. Some coaches, such as T-Nation’s Chad Waterbury have proposed using a low(er) intensity 75-85% bracket and increasing the volume to accommodate this intensity bracket and a decrease in the rest intervals (i.e. 10 sets of 3 with a 6 repetition maximum, with 60 seconds rest intervals). While this is an excellent method and I am not putting it down, I feel there is a better way to work in a higher intensity bracket (80% to 100%) and utilize sufficient volume to increase both size AND strength!

Generally, novice athletes and trainees can make fantastic gains within the 60-70% intensity bracket, usually working their way to 80%. This 80% threshold rule is that strength generally is stimulated above this percentage and this usually calls for a decrease in sets and an increase in rest intervals. So our method will be working above this 80% threshold in every scenario.

Enter Cluster Training

Cluster training is not a new concept; in fact most Olympic weightlifters use this method without knowing it! Some very well know authors have done much to bring this powerful method to light such as Charles Poliquin, Christian Thibaudeau, and Mike Mahler to name a few. Olympic weightlifters must drop the weight to the ground after each repetition; this is followed by a short pause, and another repetition. Most Olympic weightlifters outside of the super-heavy weight division sport tremendously muscular, athletic physiques to go along with their incredible strength!

Cluster training allows the athlete or trainee to utilize intensity above the 80% threshold rule (generally even higher 85-100%), with sufficient volume to increase both strength and size (i.e. more reps at a higher intensity). However, this method is highly demanding on the central nervous system and is not recommended for beginners or high school freshmen and sophomores. While this is a powerful method, it should only be applied to ONE lift per movement group (horizontal push/pull, vertical push/pull, etc.) or ONE exercise per body part. Another caveat is that this method necessitates excellent spotters. If you do not have at least one good spotter, do not do this method. This is not a method that will be kind to an athlete if their spotter(s) decide to take a nap! Cluster training must also be broken into, not jumped into. I show will a progressive model to breaking into cluster training and moving into more advanced methods. Coach Thibaudeau breaks them into levels, level 1 consisting of three methods, level 2 consisting of three methods and level 3 consisting of two methods. For athletic purposes I will only be covering levels 1 and 2, level 3 will come at a later time.

Level 1

The first progression in cluster training is the extended 5s method, coined by Coach Thibaudeau. The goal of the extended 5s method is for the athlete to do 10 repetitions with a weight they can only do for 5 repetitions. Obviously this is an outstanding growth stimulus, as there is an increase in both intensity and volume (85% x 10 repetitions). An extended 5s set would go like this…

The athlete takes their 5 repetitions maximum (RM) and does 5 reps and then racks the bar. Resting approx 7-12 seconds (counted out loud by a training partner or spotter), the athlete then un-racks the bar and does another 2-3 repetitions. Upon racking the bar again, another rest of 7-12 seconds is taken, and a final 2-3 repetitions are performed. The goal of the set is to get 10 repetitions total. Generally an athlete will need two to three pauses to accomplish this. The athlete rests 3-5 minutes and repeats 3-5 times. This is an excellent introductory method to cluster training! Here is a summary…

Extended 5s Method

· Load- 80-85% of 1 RM or 5 RM (repetition maximum)

· Reps- 5 Reps with 5 RM, 7-12 pause, 2-3 Reps, 7-12 pause, 2-3 Reps

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 10 Repetitions with a 5 RM

The next progression in cluster training is the classic cluster method. Charles Poliquin wrote about this method in his text Modern Trends in Strength Training (2001) and Mike Mahler has written articles on this method calling it Rest-Pause Training. Regardless of the name, it is a powerful and effective method. This method is best used for increases in relative and maximal strength and hypertrophy of the type II-B muscle fibers (the ones with the most potential for force and power output). This method uses a higher intensity bracket than the extended 5s method, usually 87-92% of 1 RM and attempts to hit 5 intermitted repetitions with that load. A classic cluster set would go like this…

The athlete would take their 3-4 repetitions maximum and performs 1 rep, racks the bar, 7-12 seconds pause, 1 rep, 7-12 second pause in the rack, 1 rep, 7-12 seconds pause, 1 rep, 7-12 seconds pause, and a final 1 rep, and a 3-5 minute rest. Usually 3-5 sets are employed. Here is a summary…

Classic Cluster Method

· Load- 85-92% of 1 RM

· Reps- 5 Total Reps, intermitted, 1, pause, 1, pause, 1, pause, etc.

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 5 Repetitions with a 3-4 RM

The last progression in level 1 is the antagonist cluster method. This is basically a variation of the classic cluster method, with the exception being that the athlete alternates between to opposing exercises with minimal rest (the pause is taken by the opposing exercise being performed). Reps and sets still apply, however the execution of a set is a little different…

The athlete would take their 3-4 repetitions maximum and performs 1 rep of bench press, racks the bar, proceeds to do 1 rep of bent over barbell rows, 1 rep on the bench press, 1 rep of the row, 1 rep bench press, 1 rep of the row, 1 rep on the bench, 1 rep on the row, and a final 1 rep on the bench, and 1 final rep of the row and a 3-5 minute rest. Usually 3-5 sets are employed. Here is a summary…

Antagonist Cluster Method

· Load- 85-92% of 1 RM

· Reps- 5 Total Reps each antagonist exercise, 1 Rep Exercise 1, 1 Rep Exercise 2, etc.

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 5 Repetitions with a 3-4 RM on two opposing exercises

· For those who need to know antagonists, examples would be horizontal push and horizontal pull (bench and row), vertical push and vertical pull (shoulder press and chin up), quad dominant and hip dominant (squat and good morning), arms (curl and triceps extensions).

Level 2

It goes without saying that a foundation of cluster training should have been built in the previous level prior to taking on the more advanced methods here!

The first progression of the second level is named after the late Mike Mentzer, a highly successful bodybuilder. I first learned the Mentzer cluster method through Coach Thibaudeau’s excellent DVD on cluster training, and I continued to research it by reading Weight Training the Mike Mentzer Way. This is a very powerful method and should not be taken lightly. The goal of this method is to perform 4 to 5 total reps at 100-80% intensity. First the athlete will perform 2-3 singles in classic cluster fashion at 90-100% intensity and drop the weight approx 10% and perform another 1-2 repetitions with that weight in classic cluster fashion. For example…

The athlete takes 98% of their 1 RM and does 1 rep, racks the bar, 7-12 seconds pause, another 1 rep, 7-12 seconds pause, another 1 rep, 7-12 seconds pause, the spotter reduces the weight (in 7-12 seconds) and the athlete performs 1 more rep with this weight. Here is a summary…

Mentzer Cluster Method

· Load- 90-98% of 1 RM

· Reps- 4-5 Total Reps, intermitted, 1, pause, 1, pause, 1, pause, reduce weight 10%, 1 Rep

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 4-5 Repetitions with a 1-3 RM

The second progression is called the drop set cluster. This is a blend of the classic cluster method and the Mentzer cluster method. Most trainees know what a drop set is, a descending scheme of dropping weight after performing some repetitions. The drop set cluster still uses high intensity (90-100%) and drops the weight 5-10 lbs per drop on single repetitions. Again 5 reps are the target goal. An example being…

The athlete does 1 rep with 98-100% intensity, racks the bar, and the training partner or spotters remove 5-10 lbs from the bar during the 7-12 seconds pause, the athlete does another single, Racks the bar, the spotters proceed to strip 5-10 lbs, athlete performs another single, racks the bar and more weight is stripped, athlete does another rep, racks and spotters reduce weight further, and athlete completes last rep. The drop set cluster allows a higher level of muscular tension, due to the repetition’s slow speed and the rep is being performed at 100% maximal momentary strength (i.e. all muscle fibers are being recruited to lift the load) (Poliquin, Modern Trends in Strength Training, 18-19). A summary can be found here…

Drop Set Cluster Method

· Load- 90-100% of 1 RM

· Reps- 5 Total Reps, intermitted, 1, pause lower weight 5-10 lbs, 1, pause lower weight 5-10 lbs, 1, pause lower weight 5-10 lbs, 1 Rep, pause lower weight 5-10 lbs, 1 Rep, pause lower weight.

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 5 Repetitions with a 1-3 RM

The final progression in level 2 is called the accentuated eccentric cluster method. Caution: this method will require a competent spotter! As you might know, I do like to accentuate the eccentric portion of an exercise (see Eccentric Training for Athletes article). This method combines the classic cluster method with an accentuated eccentric portion of the lift. Again, the set and rep scheme stays close to the classic cluster method, however during the eccentric or lowering portion of the exercise, the training partner will push down on the bar and release at the mid point. This requires a very skilled spotter! They should only apply enough resistance to have the athlete still lower the bar under control! If the bar is dropping like a bag of bricks, it is not helping the athlete it is hurting them! Here is an example…

The athlete would take their 3-4 repetitions maximum and performs 1 rep with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, racks the bar, 7-12 seconds pause, 1 rep with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, 7-12 second pause in the rack, 1 rep with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, 7-12 seconds pause, 1 rep with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, 7-12 seconds pause, and a final 1 rep with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, and a 3-5 minute rest. Usually 3-5 sets are employed. Here is a summary…

Classic Cluster Method

· Load- 85-92% of 1 RM

· Reps- 5 Total Reps, intermitted, 1 with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, pause, 1 with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, pause, 1 with the training partner applying pressure to the bar in the lowering portion, pause, etc.

· Sets- 3-5

· Rest Intervals- 3-5 Minutes

· Target Goal- 5 Repetitions with a 3-4 RM

Advantages for the Athlete

In his Modern Trends in Strength Training (2001) text Charles Poliquin points out the advantages of using cluster training for athletes, this is what he wrote…

· A higher total number of repetitions with a higher mean intensity in the same amount of time as classic strength or neural based training

· Increased total training time under tension for the high-threshold fast-twitch fibers; a prerequisite for reaching hypertrophy of these selected fibers. This may seem contradictory to the concept of relative strength, but hypertrophy can be beneficial if it is done in the right motor units.

· Higher force/lower velocities repetitions-a prerequisite for inducing maximal strength gains.

Putting it together

Cluster training is without a doubt a growth and strength stimulus. But how do you incorporate it into a plan? Clusters should not be used for more than 3-4 weeks, or else the method will become stale and your body will have adapted to the method anyway. So the method must be integrated into a yearly plan or at least a periodized cycle.

If an athlete or coach utilizes a conjugate method approach, cluster training would fall into the plan as a Maximal Effort Method, due to its use of high loads. So one would essentially use it like this…

Max Effort Day

ME- Classic Cluster Method

Assistance work done using classic hypertrophy methods (2-4 x 8-12)

If the athlete or coach decides to utilize linear periodization, cluster training would fall within the Strength Phase bracket and each movement would be given the cluster training method.

Strength Phase

Day 1- Horizontal Push/Pull

Bench Press- Classic Cluster Method

Bent Over Barbell Row- Classic Cluster Method

If the athlete or coach is utilizing undulating periodization (i.e. rotating between various strength methods by weeks with a training cycle) cluster training could be used for maximal strength work.

Strength Weeks

Week 1 and 5

Day 1- Horizontal Push/Pull

Day 2- Hips Dominant/Quad Dominant

Day 3- Vertical Push/Pull

1 Exercise per Movement Group-

Classic Cluster Method

Cluster training is very versatile, and athletes can benefit from this method by increasing both strength and size. However, like any other training tool, this one should only be used in moderation due to the intense fatiguing effect it has on the Central Nervous System. Also this method requires competent spotters, a luxury some do not have.

Cluster training done properly can help to jump start new growth or new strength adaptations in athletes. It can also increase all ready existing levels of size and strength. Any athlete (with the proper foundation) can benefit from this style of training! Good luck implementing this method in your and your athlete’s training!

Sources & Further Study

1. Poliquin, Charles Modern Trends in Strength Training (Self Published) 2001.

2. Thibaudeau, Christian (2005) Cluster Training [DVD].

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Shaving – A Short History

Have you ever wandered who started the daily ritual of shaving?

Drawings in caves from the stone age, indicate that men of that era pulled the hair from their faces. They did not learn how to cut the hair until about 30,000 BC, when they used flint blades for that purpose. Early man also used the flint blades to cut the skin and then he placed colors to create designs.

From about 3,000 BC, copper blades were made for the cutting of hair in both India and Egypt. For the next few thousand years, many razors have been uncovered from archeological sites. In Denmark, razors with bronze blades and carved handles in leather cases have been found. Alexander the Great started the trend to have short hair and a shaved face. Roman women also started removing hair from their bodies through this period, using creams and drugs and the Roman men shaved every day, usually at the barbershop, if they did not have a servant. Indian men neatly trimmed their facial hair but removed their chest and pubic hairs by shaving. The Indian women removed the hair from their legs with tweezers. Some women removed the hair from their legs by singeing them with a lamp. Roman men were recognized as men after their first shave at age 21. Julius Caesar removes all his facial hairs with tweezers.

From about 100 AD, shaving becomes old-fashioned and the bearded look becomes the “in thing”, probably to cover a bad complexion.

The middle ages brought about large volumes of clothing and head-dresses and women once again removed any sight of facial hair every day. Men wore their beards long. Schools opened that teach people about personal grooming (cosmetics, hair management etc,) first in Spain and then in other places. Towards the end of the crusades, men started to be clean shaven again.

Queen Elizabeth maintains a lily white complexion and removes all hair form the eyebrows and forehead areas. The ladies of this day followed suit, but wore hairpieces as well. Not long after the men also removed all hair from the forehead.

Finally in the late 1700’s French men realized that they can shave themselves and French women shaved their heads completely, but wore decorative wigs. The first “safety razors” became available. They were not very safe, but promised to reduce the depth of any wound received whilst shaving! In the early 1800s English men boasted about the need to shave three times a day to maintain a proper image. European women were still concocting hair removal potions – which did not work!

The next hundred or so years provided many inventions for grooming, including “safety razors” and disposable razors by none other then Gillette (who are still a major player in providing grooming needs) Then in 1901 the double edged razor blade is invented by a joint venture between Gillette and Nickerson – and this is still available today. New designs continually appear until the a wind up razor was invented, followed by the electric razor. Women did not shave their underarms until a marketing campaign in the United States in 1918, where the advertisement maintained the underarm hair was both unhygienic and unfeminine. Col Shick designed a new type of razor in competition with Gillette and so the race for new and better razors was well and truly on. Shick invented the first dry electric shaver and Phillips of the Netherlands invented the first wet electric shaver. Twin blade, then triple blade and now quad blade disposable shavers are available.

The modern shaving devices are much safer and quicker to use then the earlier one, but like all fashion, perhaps the trend for shaving will change sometime in the future.

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Better Than Steroids – An Honest Review

In the book, Better Than Steroids, Dr. Warren Willey proposes that a NATURAL trainer can actually get results superior to a steroid user IF the natural trainer follows a proper training and nutrition program.

In this article I’ll let you know if the doctor delivers or if this book fails to live up to the hype.

Dr. Wiley contents that part of the reason steroid users get such great results is because you tend to eat better and train harder while you’re taking steroids. On page 21 he claims…

“I am going to teach you how to mimic anabolic steroids using diet and exercise!”

Next, he mentions a success story from one of this clients. No names are given, and no before and after pictures are presented. The client is simply listed as “L.D.”

In just 12 weeks, L.D. went from 182 pounds at 16.1% body fat to 177 pounds at 5.5% body fat. Which means L.D. not only lost 19.56 pounds of fat, he also gained 14.57 pounds of muscle AT THE SAME TIME!

Here’s the kicker: Dr. Wiley says LD was 60 years old at the time of this study and that he’s had other clients who have gained 30 pounds of lean muscle WHILE dropping 60 pounds of fat by following the same principles.

Now at this point, I’m smell something funny. Smells like Bull Sh*t.

But let’s continue. Doc goes on to talk about the importance of water and that food can actually be used as a drug. I liked this part of the book because all too often we forget just how powerful food can be. Food can be used to spike or depress insulin – just like a drug. And by timing your food intake (eating high carbohydrate foods around the time of your workout and reducing carbs during the rest of the day) you can take advantage of the drug-like qualities of food. Good stuff here.

Then Willey talks about how to calculate your recommended daily calorie intake and even provides 4 different eating plans. The eating plans are as follows:

Isocaloric: Splitting your daily caloric intake evenly among fats, carbs and protein.

Keto Run: Eating ultra-low carbs for 7-14 days at a time.

The modified Carb Drop: Doing a Keto run and then following it up with a carb load.

The Zig Zag: Eating high calories one day, then low calories the next day.

Overall, nothing groundbreaking here. In fact, I saw many similarities between these recommendations and Dan Duchaine’s recommendations in his book Underground BodyOpus. Both talk about using an isocaloric approach at first, then a super low carb diet when weight loss stalls and then adding weekend carb ups to allow you to gain muscle while stripping off fat.

The next few chapters cover pre and post workout meals.

Then we get to Chapter 12: Glycogen Supercompensation.

For me, this is where the book falls apart.

Willey opens with the following case study detailing the experiences of “C.V.” (Again, no full name or photos shown.)

C.V. started out 200 pounds and 8.9% body fat. He then did 10 days of super low carb dieting followed by 48 hours of high carb eating.

He ended up at 212 pounds and 8.0% body fat. On the surface, this looks impressive. And Dr. Warren Willey exclaims…

“There are no typos in the above chart! CV gained 12.8 pounds of muscle in a 48-hour load and actually lost some body fat!”

But this is just flat out wrong. He didn’t gain 12.8 pounds of muscle. He’s just holding water. Because that’s what happens when you cut carbs drastically low and then flood your system with a high dose of carbohydrates – your body ends up holding extra water.

And that’s fine – often times this is a good thing. But you can’t confuse holding extra water with building muscle. Willey is a medical doctor – he should understand the difference between muscle and bloat.

But apparently he doesn’t because he goes on to list even more examples of successful clients. In each case, it’s clear what happens – the client ends up holding excess water for a couple days and Willey chalks it up as “muscle gain”.

But it’s not. You don’t gain 12 pounds of muscle in two days. No one does. Not even steroid users.

From there, the rest of the book gives some bodybuilding routines that sound like something out of a Joe Weider mag – Giant sets, super sets, 21’s, pre-exhaust training, etc.

Oddly enough, this style of bodybuilding training usually works better for steroid users than it does for natural trainers.

Overall – the book fails to deliver on it’s main promise: Willey proves you can hold extra water for a few days by carb-loading, but fails to prove that his strategies can help you gain muscle and certainly fails to prove that these strategies can yield better results than steroids.

So I’d save your money and skip this book. If you want more information on carb loading and glycogen super compensation, track down a copy of Dan Duchaine’s Underground Bodyopus. The book is now 15 years old but Duchaine does a better job of mapping out the principles behind glycogen super compensation.

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10 Basement Renovation Ideas to Transform the Basement Into a Fun Space

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

The proverb manifests an important truth of life. If you do not take time off from work, your life will become dull and boring. It is necessary to cultivate a hobby to de-stress yourself. Also, it is essential to spend some time with your friends and family because it is not good to work all the time. But, enjoying your life doesn’t mean that you have to go out and spend money every weekend. You can make optimum use of the basement and create a personal fun space in your home.

One Basement: Multiple Possibilities

There are so many things that you can do with the basement. You can enhance its usage according to your requirements. But, before you begin the process of transforming it into your dream fun space, talk to a basement renovation contractor. He will be able to guide you with the renovation project and help you in making practical decisions. Here are a couple of basement renovation ideas that you can discuss with the contractor:

  1. Play-Area for Kids

If you want to spend more time with your family, you can opt for a play-area in the basement. Your kids will love it and it will help you to keep an eye on your little ones. Also, it will enable your kids to play in a safe and clean environment. To transform it into a play-area, you can add a couple of gaming consoles, society games, and similar entertainment options.

  1. Music Studio

If music is your life, you should take advantage of extra space in your home. Do not think that limited space in the basement can create a problem because an expert basement renovation contractor will show you creative ways of adding extra space to a cramped room. Also, you can sound-proof the area if you want to enjoy better music quality without disturbing other members of the family.

  1. Artist’s Workshop

If you love to paint, you need a vast space to deposit paints, brushes, and other painting equipment. Luckily, the basement can accommodate your entire painting gear if you renovate it properly to suit your needs. Using the basement area is a good idea because it will protect your masterpieces from prying eyes and keep it safe from the reach of kids.

  1. Gym

If you love to exercise, it can become your personal gym. You can install several fitness equipment and sports accessories in the basement. It will enable you to exercise without disturbance. You can also add a small fridge and fill it with cold, tasty beverages to cool you down after an intense workout.

  1. Boxing Ring

Some people are into fitness and bodybuilding. On the other hand, there are people who prefect sports such as boxing. If you are into boxing, you are aware that a boxing ring requires a lot of space. The basement in your home can provide you with enough space to create a boxing ring.

  1. Casino

It is possible to transform the basement into a casino. All that you have to do is install one or two poker tables, a Russian roulette, a blackjack table, etc. and create an atmosphere of a casino. Having a casino in your home will ensure that you do not spend money unnecessarily. You can spend time with your friends by playing poker in the basement. Installing ambient lighting and task lighting along with an open bar is a nice way of adding the feel of a casino to the area.

  1. Meditation Area

If you are a spiritual person, you can create a meditation area in your home. It can be an ideal space for relaxation. For a meditation area, you need proper ventilation and adequate natural light. So, discuss your requirements with the basement renovation contractor. Also, you can add a fireplace to create a peaceful atmosphere in the basement.

  1. Wine Cellar

Are you a wine connoisseur? You can use the basement to deposit your impressive collection of wine bottles. If you want to build a wine cellar in the basement, you will have to install special cooling devices as well as buy furniture to accommodate your collection.

  1. Home Theatre

Those who love movies can transform the basement into a genuine movie theatre. For it, you will have to invest in quality audio-video equipment, a comfortable sofa, and a small fridge filled with snacks and cold beverages. If you love watching movies with your family members, add a couple of comfortable armchairs. Do not forget to sound-proof the basement so that your movie watching experience doesn’t create any problem for other members of the family.

  1. Gaming Area

Are you a serious gamer? Do you love playing video games with your friends? You can customize the basement according to your requirements and install laptops and desktops that are specially designed to enhance your gaming experience. Do not forget to buy professional-quality webcams, headphones, and other gaming equipment for a better experience.

Two Birds; One Stone

The basement in your home can become your favorite place. Add your personal style to it and make it your den. Remember that spending your hard-earned money in restaurants and movie theatres is not the only way to enjoy your weekend. Instead, kill two birds with one stone. Consider basement renovation to increase the value of your home as well as create a fun space to de-stress and relax.

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My Best Lavender Herb Care Tips

Lavender herb is one of my personal favorites – that aroma just can’t be duplicated and always conjures up images of vast purple fields swaying in a gentle breeze – I could just roll around in its splendor! My herb garden is never without a handful of lavender shrubs, they are the perfect addition to my garden as a whole – tainting it with it’s sweet scent and giving that ever so slight sense of wilderness and mysticism. I love to sleep with a pouch of it’s dried leaves under my pillow at night to send me off into a peaceful sleep. My lavender plants take good care of me when I feel slightly under the weather and the least I can do is to give some TLC back.

I want to share with you some of my best tips to growing lavender and taking care of this marvelous herb so that it can flourish in your gardens as well as my own. This article will tell you all you need to know about taking care of lavender so that you can benefit from its medicinal, culinary and decorative offerings.

How to Give Lavender the Best Start.

Purchase seeds from any nursery or garden center. This herb loves to bask in the sun and needs around eight hours of sunlight a day so take this into consideration when finding the perfect spot to start seeding.

Get digging around the bed to loosen up soil and remove any obstructions such as pesky weeds, rocks or other debris. Lavender has a rather large root system and needs plenty of room, expect to dig six inches deep to allow the root to spread.

You can increase the soil’s fertility by adding some compost manure into the bed where your seeds will be planted.

Give your lavender a better chance by growing it first in a pot, at least for a couple of weeks before transferring it to your prepared bed. Remember that the soil should be loose as opposed to compact.

When moving to the designated beds, ensure there is plenty of space between seedlings to allow for air to circulate and individual roots to grow. Cover the roots with loose soil.

To help water and heat retention, layer a little sand over the soil and plants. You will need to water lavender frequently in the first year for optimal growth and condition.

Caring for Your Lavender

Water your plants regularly and allow them to feed by providing plenty of compost manure. If you notice that the plant is yellowing mix some liquid sea kelp with fish emulsion and dilute with water before utilizing.

If your plants are turning brown at the base then this is a sign to decrease the amount of watering.

Trim the leaves down around a third during spring to allow re-growth and an eventual fuller bush.

Regularly cut down on spent stems, this will prevent a woody and malformed growth. Dead ends will split the plant.

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How Serious Is Long Term Insomnia?

Long term insomnia is a serious sleep disorder that affects millions of people in the United States. Persistent insomnia, which is sometimes called chronic insomnia, is characterized by the inability to sleep that often persists for several nights. This type of sleep disorder can even last for up to months depending on the gravity of the problem.

Long term insomnia is often caused by a number of factors although most experts hold worrying as the culprit responsible. However not all experts believe that psychological factors are the root of persistent to this disorder. In some cases, it can even be a result of some type of physical problem.

Certain physiological factors have been found to cause persistent insomnia in some patients that participated in a study conducted by the Association of Sleep Disorders in the United States. An individual with physical disorders such as abnormal muscle activity or breathing problems often experience sleep disorders that can be as serious as persistent insomnia.

Long term insomnia can also be attributed to two well-known psychological factors namely depression and stress. Research has also shown that more women are at risk of experiencing it due to biological factors such as menopause. Other factors that can cause the disorder can also be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle with too much caffeine, nicotine or alcohol as well as late night snacks.

Dependence on prescription drugs such as anti-depressants can also lead to sleep disorders. Several environmental factors can also lead to persistent insomnia like excessive light or noise, working the night shift, and jet lag. Sleeping on an uncomfortable bed can also lead to it.

Easy Techniques to Ease Long Term Insomnia

Despite being a serious sleep disorder, people suffering from persistent insomnia need not worry, as there are natural remedies that can be employed to help ease the problem. The most logical solution would be to refrain from takings naps during the day. Too much sleep during the day will make it harder to sleep at night.

Yoga is a great exercise that can help a patient suffering persistent insomnia loosen up and focus. Yoga is a unique form of relaxation technique that can teach a person to meditate and visualize away their worries. Reducing stress will help decrease stress hormones.

Other than yoga, insomniacs can also engage in physically energizing workouts to raise adrenaline levels and increase the body’s core temperature. Exercise such as this is best done in the afternoon or even in the early evening as the hormone levels go down five to six hours after exercise can help promote deep sleep. Avoid exercising right before bedtime, as the body will be too stimulated to fall asleep.

Pass up a heavy meal at least four hours before hitting the sheets. Going to bed on a full stomach will make it harder to sleep, as the tummy feels bloated; however drinking a glass of warm milk before bedtime can help promote sleep as it contains tryptophan.

Aside from milk, other protein-rich foods like nuts, tuna, dates, and even potatoes can help promote sleep. These foods contain tryptophan, which is a chemical that sends a message to the brain that initiates the release of the hormone serotonin to help a person relax.

Alternative remedies such, as acupuncture may be a solution to persistent insomnia. This ancient Chinese remedy is known to be quite effective in treating a variety of sicknesses and is a dependable alternative to taking prescription drugs that at times can be addictive.

Vitamin and mineral supplements can also be taken to treat persistent insomnia. These may include calcium, zinc, and magnesium. Other types of supplements that can be taken to pacify the nervous system would be vitamins B3, B6, and C.

The overall ambience of the bedroom can cause a person to lose sleep. In some cases, loud wall colors or uncomfortable beddings, curtains or carpets with frenzied patterns can keep a person awake all night. It helps to have bedroom walls painted in soft pastel colors that are calming to look at.

Severe chronic insomnia will require professional assistance and a lot of patience on the part of the patient. It is also a good idea to start a sleep diary wherein the patient can write down their observations in order to identify any pattern that could have led to the sleeping disorder.

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