Q: Is yoga really as effective at helping to transform a body and maintain a tight physique as celebrities seem to suggest?
Marc via instinctmagazine.com
A: Yoga is great and is extremely effective at developing flexibility, balance and core strength—not to mention that it has a calming effect not traditionally seen in strength training. However, it’s something that should be done in combination with other forms of exercise, especially if you’re looking to transform your body. When you see celebrities and guys with amazing bodies, they are usually doing different types of exercise, eating clean and/or have great genetics. Now, if you’re looking to lose weight, yoga can definitely help, but you’re going to have to rely more heavily on resistance training and cardiovascular exercise to really see results. Yoga simply isn’t a high-calorie-burning activity compared to resistance training and cardio, so if you are trying to lose weight, you really need to pay attention to your calories burned versus calories consumed. If you’re aiming to gain lean muscle mass, yoga can definitely help by loosening muscles and joints that may get overtightened during strength training, thus preventing muscular imbalances and improving your posture. When it comes down to it, yoga can definitely help transform your body. Should you rely solely on it? Probably not. —MD
Q: Does cholesterol naturally rise with age? I’m a relatively healthy fortysomething guy, thin, eat well. I recently went to the doctor and was told that my cholesterol has greatly risen, seemingly out of nowhere.
Mark B. via instinctmagazine.com
A: Cholesterol does increase as we get older, but when I see a young man with a sudden increase in cholesterol, I first have his thyroid checked. Sometimes, an underactive thyroid will be detected, which gives a false elevation in total cholesterol and bad cholesterol. We know there are two types of cholesterol: bad cholesterol, called LDL (low density lipoprotein) and good cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein). Even within that there are two types of LDL, as well as two types of HDL. It’s not about the numbers—it’s about what particle is associated with either the LDL or HDL. For example, LDL is bad, but it could have a small particle or a large particle. A small particle LDL is associated with heart disease while a large particle LDL is not. The same is true of the good cholesterol. You need to ask your doctor to perform a lipid fraction test on your blood as it will determine your risk of heart disease. There are cardiac risks other than cholesterol, including fibrinogen, a plasma protein that plays a key role in normal blood clotting. In other words, you want your blood to be thin as wine, not thick as ketchup. If the fibrinogen level is greater than 400, there is a problem with the thickness of your blood. (I aim to have fibrinogen levels at 250.) I feel the cardiologists are focusing too much on LDL (bad) and that not enough emphasis is placed on high triglycerides and a low HDL (good) cholesterol. For your age, you could look into a supplement called Cardio L Forte. It is derived from plant products to decrease cholesterol levels. But be sure and be proactive in your health and speak with your doctor. —PF
Q: I recently started dating a guy, and he just told me that he’s HIV positive. I’m not, and though I appreciate him being honest, I have to admit that I’m a little uneasy about the news. I do like him, though, so is this just initial fear that will pass or a deal breaker that I need to acknowledge?
Patrick via instinctmagazine.com
A: It’s refreshing you chose to reach out so honestly with your concern. If your first reaction was, “I don’t want HIV,” that was a healthy response. No one wants HIV. Why would you? I’ve lived with this disease for most of my adult life and don’t recommend it to anyone. But consider that years of safer-sex experience tell us that two guys can have as much sex as they want and not infect each other. I’m hoping that safer sex is a routine part of your life, not something prompted by the guy you just met. If your second reaction was fear of getting into a relationship with a guy who has a health problem, well, everyone has or will eventually have a “health problem.” Seems like we’d all like to live long enough to have one all our own. With so many lifesaving combinations of HIV medicines available it’s now possible for an infected guy to live a normal life span. Finally, it’s okay if you decide that dating a guy who’s HIV positive presents too much anxiety for you—and him. Only you can decide if his status is a deal breaker. But do remember that you’re dating him and that it was your respective qualities that drew you together in the first place, not the virus. Consider using his disclosure as a way to deepen your understanding of each other. —FP