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"We now have evidence that a social media fad has led to catastrophic results." - Dr. Elvin Montbard, Harvard University

An Unusual Experience: A Terrifying Day in Boston

For Boston resident Megan Brown, January 11th should have begun as a typical weekday morning. Megan Brown woke up to her alarm at 6 am in her North End apartment and then things went terribly wrong. She was awake and conscious, yet unable to move. Her body lay completely still as her alarm continued to ring.

Her roommate, Ali Sherwin, recalled, "I knew something really weird was going on because Megan was an early riser who always jumped out of bed to get a head start on her day before leaving for work. It seemed very strange to hear her alarm blaring for a few minutes without interruption. I don't think I had ever heard it for more than 10 seconds."

Sherwin, understandably concerned, knocked on Brown's door, and, lacking a response, rushed in. She found her roommate and friend of eight years lying completely still with her eyes open. Sherwin, a physician at Tufts Medical Center, checked Brown's pulse and breath, both of which seemed normal, and then began to gently shake Brown. After several minutes of increasingly frantic attempts to help her friend wake up, Sherwin said, "Megan finally began blinking nervously, took a deep breath, and asked me why she couldn't move. She was terrified." Sherwin had called 9-1-1 and an ambulance arrived soon after Brown's temporary paralysis ended. Brown was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for testing and evaluation.

At first, the medical staff believed that Brown was experiencing sleep paralysis, a state in which individuals endure a brief inability to move, typically a few seconds. However, after realizing that by the time Brown was able to move, nearly 20 minutes had elapsed, the staff knew that something else was going on. More tests were done, including an evaluation of Brown's recent activities. Brown had taken part in four "Mannequin Challenges" as an organizer and participant, and that fact began to become more of a focus of the medical investigation. Brown was documented as the first case of hyper-extended sleep paralysis (HESP). The medical community is now worried that an outbreak may afflict tens of thousands of people over the next few months.

The Mannequin Challenge: All Fun & Games

The Mannequin Challenge, in which participants remain motionless while the camera filming them weaves its way around and between them, became a viral social media phenomenon last fall. It was popular in diverse groups across the globe, with participants including the Portugal national soccer team and star Cristiano Ronaldo, NBA superstar Steph Curry and his wife, singer-songwriter Adele, and Michelle Obama.

Gym Mannequin Challenge

The above video shows why the Mannequin Challenge became so popular: it is fun, allows for creativity, and looks really cool. As you can see, everyone in the video looks like a mannequin, carefully holding unique poses as the camera sweeps around them.

An estimated 22 million Americans have participated in the challenge since it began last October.

Long-Term Effects: A Warning From the Scientific Community

Megan Brown's case seemed like an anomaly at first. Over the last two months, however, similar cases were documented in Philadelphia, Winnipeg, Amsterdam, San Francisco, and Tel Aviv. While the Mannequin Challenge appears to be a playful and innocent activity, new research conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that participants are at-risk for experiencing hyper-extended sleep paralysis (HESP).

Sleep paralysis itself is not uncommon: 40 percent of Americans are affected at some point during their lifetime and six percent endure recurring sleep paralysis. Yet sleep paralysis does not last very long and is considered uncomfortable yet safe. NIH has reported 62 cases of HESP in which otherwise healthy individuals have experienced "consciousness without mobility" for 15 to 50 minutes at a time. In all cases, those affected had participated in at least one Mannequin Challenge event.

HESP can be dangerous -- and extraordinarily scary -- for those afflicted. Harvard Medical School neurologist Dr. Franklin Lestar noted, "the most disconcerting finding is that there does not seem to be any discernible predictor for which Mannequin Challenge participants will be afflicted." Therefore, there is no way to know which of the millions of people worldwide may experience hyper-extended paralysis the next time they wake up.

Early Hypothesis on Triggers for HESP

While the consensus is that the Mannequin Challenge causes HESP, the exact relationship between the event and the disorder has not been established. University of Pennsylvania neurologist Dr. R. Anthony Harris shared his hypothesis in the American Journal of Medicine. He argued, "As silly as it sounds, the old wives' tale we tell our children that 'if you keep making that face, it will stay that way forever,' has some truth. However, it is not the body that stays that way on its own. It is the mind that creates neuro-sensogenic loops that prevent the brain from communicating with the body and instructing it to move.

There is ample evidence to support Harris' position. A (notably small) study conducted by the Mayo Clinic closely monitored the brain activity of six individuals who have experienced Mannequin Challenge-induced HESP for 10 consecutive days and nights. Four of the study's participants experienced at least one episode of HESP during the study, and, in each case, the brain was firing neurons that were unable to transfer due to an expansion of synaptic clefts. Mayo Clinic Senior Director of Research Dr. Sally Chung said, "The brain knows what it wants to do, but it is unable to send the signals far, which effectively creates a series of 'unanswered calls.'" Chung says that eventually, the clefts shrink, which ends the HESP incident, therefore bringing mobility back to the individual afflicted.

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Every time I visit my doctor for my annual checkup I receive an official body mass index (BMI) that is documented in my files. I’m pretty sure you do too. But what exactly does BMI mean and what does it measure? Should we blindly trust BMI because doctors use it on both children and adults? Let’s take a closer look.

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Last weekend, the kids I babysat introduced me to the Jelly Belly Beanboozled board game right before dinner, with parental permission of course. I was told that you spin on your turn to decide what color jelly bean to try. Then, one of two similar looking but different tasting flavors could be yours. The kids each had spitting cups in case a flavor did not work out, based on their prior experience.

The first “negative” flavor I experienced was on my fourth turn. I picked the canned dog food instead of the chocolate pudding flavor since I listened to the wrong kid. The kids, however, were shocked that I didn’t think it tasted bad at all. Ironically, I thought it tasted pretty good, like a juicy, well-marinated piece of stir-fried pork. I probably liked it because I am a protein metabolic type and naturally crave meats often.

What is Metabolic Typing?
Just as there is no one particular workout routine that fits all people, there is no one diet that suits all people. Those who advocate for metabolic typing believe that each person has a unique metabolism and specific foods affect each person differently. The theory is that we should eat foods aligned to our metabolic type to improve our well-being.

Three General Metabolic Types
Most practitioners believe there are three different metabolic types. Type A is the protein type, type B is the carbo type, and type C is the mixed type that is somewhere in between. To find out what your personal metabolic type is, take the interactive metabolic typing quiz here. After you take the quiz and find out your results, read the explanations below.

Type A: Protein Type
As I mentioned, I am a type A (protein type). Protein types tend to crave fatty and salty foods. They should consume plenty of high-density, high-fat proteins. Think nuts, steak, red or darker meats, fish, whole milk, eggs, cheese, etc. Protein types are one of two things: either they possess fast oxidizers that burn carbohydrates too quickly or the parasympathetic branch of their autonomic nervous system is more dominant than the sympathetic branch. This means that the part of their nervous system that regulates the body at rest is stronger than the part of their nervous system that regulates the fight-or-flight response.

Although too much processed sugar can increase anxiety levels for protein types, this does not mean that they should not eat carbohydrates at all though. Protein types should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, picking starches from whole grains. Overall, their meals should probably consist of 50% proteins, 30% fats, and 20% carbohydrates.

Type B: Carbo Type
Type B metabolic types would do well on a diet of low fat and relatively low protein foods with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Carbo types may crave sweets and refined sugar when they need healthy carbohydrates. The carbohydrates will either strengthen their weaker parasympathetic systems or speed up their naturally slow cellular oxidation rates.

Nevertheless, carbo types should still include protein in most meals. They should focus on leaner, low fat meats like chicken, turkey, and fish, limiting their red meat consumption compared to protein types. Overall, their meals should probably consist of 20% proteins, 10% fats, and 70% carbohydrates, focusing mostly on vegetables with moderate levels of sugar and starch.

Type C: Mixed Type
Type C mixed metabolic types need to eat a mixture of protein type and carbo type foods. Good foods to eat for this metabolic type include turkey, chicken, beef, salmon, soy, yogurt, low-fat cheese, sweet potatoes, and bananas. These foods help mixed types support both sides of the nervous system and maintain their cellular oxidative rates. They can consume most types of fats, including those from whole milk as well as low-fat products. Overall, their meals should consist of 33% proteins, 33% fats, and 33% carbohydrates.

Your Metabolic Type May Evolve Through Your Life
According to naturopathic wellness expert Kate Klemer, your metabolic type can change over time. Personally, I have probably evolved from more of a mixed metabolic type to a protein type between grade school and college. This makes sense because the stresses of college have probably taken a toll on my sympathetic nervous system. Nevertheless, I do adopt a higher carbohydrate, more mixed type diet during cross-country season when I do crave more carbohydrates.

We’d love to hear from you. Please let us know what metabolic type you are after taking the quiz and how that has impacted your thoughts regarding your diet. Comment below or on our Facebook page or tweet us at @flytefitness.

Be Flyte Fit,

Dai Zhang
Contributing Writer, Flyte Fitness

P.S. DON’T FORGET TO SIGN UP FOR FITNESS UPDATES! CLICK THE BOX AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE!

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“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” - Bob Marley

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"Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven." - William Shakespeare

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One of the symbols of fitness in today’s world is six-pack abs. There is some debate about how to achieve this symbol of ultimate fitness, but the consensus is that one needs a combination of low body fat and strong core muscles to achieve it.

The Myth That Persists
Go to any gym in America and you’ll likely hear someone claiming that abdominal muscles are special and can be worked out on a daily basis. “Arnold Schwarzenegger,” some will argue, “did ab work every day.” Others will contend that because the muscles are small, they are much more resilient and can come back quickly after a workout.

The idea that sticks in the minds of many gym-goers, and even some personal trainers, that abdominal muscles differ somehow from other muscles in the body, is wrong. The logic goes: ab muscles are more resilient and therefore they can be worked hard on a daily basis. This logic, however, is flawed.

How Muscles Grow
We build muscles in three ways: muscle tension (applying load onto muscles that is more than they are used to), localized muscle damage (muscle fibers that require repairing), and metabolic stress (swelling around the muscles). An effective workout does all three of these. Muscle development, however, doesn’t happen in the gym. It happens later, as we rest. Our muscles need to recover from our workouts and as they do so they get stronger and grow. This is true for our quads, our glutes, and the muscles in our core.

Training Frequency & Tips
Abs are no different from any other muscle in your body which is why they should not be trained every day. To maximize muscle gain, your abs need rest days as well, just like the rest of your body. If desired, abs can be trained every other day, and two or three times a week is more than enough. In order to benefit from all your hard work, make sure you give all your muscles adequate rest.

Here’s the good news: you should never do a traditional sit up or crunch again. Instead, perform compound exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, and Core Flyte plank pikes, because these exercises engage your whole core. Core Flyte exercises engage all core muscles and hit them from different angles without annihilating them. So, we can add a core component to our regular workouts without overdoing it.

Nutrition Matters
Six-pack abs are seen when the rectus abdominis muscles, two parallel muscles running vertically, each separated by horizontal connective tissue bands, are prominent due to low body fat. Good nutrition is a prerequisite for seeing those abs. You can have the world’s strongest core, but if you don’t eat well and keep that body fat low, a pillow of fat will hide your treasured muscles. You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” This is doubly true for getting that visible six-pack. Low body fat enables our abdominal muscles to be visible and help our muscles recover and grow.

So, the next time a buddy or training partner suggests crushing your core in daily workouts, you have some ammo in the form of facts to use in response.

And remember, even if your abs are not visible, they exist. It is important to train them in order to receive the many functional benefits of a solid core.

We’d love to hear from you. How often do you train your abs? Comment below or on our Facebook page or tweet us at @flytefitness.

Be Flyte Fit,

Taylor Hahn
Contributing Writer, Flyte Fitness
Certified Group Fitness Instructor & Personal Trainer

P.S. DON’T FORGET TO SIGN UP FOR FITNESS UPDATES! CLICK THE BOX AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE!

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