I go where my heart leads me…

The meat of the problem

I think whether you’re vegetarian or vegan you probably get a bad rap from people. Not everyone, but some people: ‘Are you getting enough protein?’, ‘are you combining food to get the full protein spectrum’, ‘how do you stand not eating bacon?’ etc. Sure, being a vegetarian or following a plant based diet requires you to be aware of the amount of protein you are consuming, but so does being a meat eater. And of course there is the myth that following a plant based diet requires you to mix protein to get the complete branch chain amino acids that our body does not produce (there are 9 of them), also known as protein complementing. Check out the following links to read further about protein complementing and how it has been proven false. Eat enough plants to meet your caloric requirement and you will get the amino acids you need.

Choices

So what if you follow a plant based diet, or are interested in moving towards a plant based diet. What foods are there that can provide the protein that we need? Let me provide you with a list of foods rich in protein that will allow you to pack on muscle and strength:

  1. Hemp: Hemp hearts are a great source of protein, or you can also purchase hemp protein powder. 3 tablespoons contain 10 grams of protein and also contain omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids.
  2. Seitan: Holy high protein content! 21 grams per ½ cup! Seitan is a great source of protein and can be an alternative to tofu. You can bake, grill or even braise it.
  3. Kelp, nori, spirulina: Packing 8 to 32 grams of protein per cup and rich in calcium, iron , iodine and potassium.
  4. Avocado: 10 grams of protein in an awesome flavor packed green potato like treat. How can you not like avocados.
  5. Peas: 9 grams per cup. Eat two cups and you probably have met a quarter of your protein requirement for the day.
  6. Soy: 1 cup will get you 28 grams! Wow!
  7. Lentils: 1 cup will get 18 grams. Throw the lentils into a chili and add black beans or kidney beans and you have a high protein meal.
  8. Peanut butter: A staple for me. I probably eat about 4 tablespoons a day. Each tablespoon contains about 4 grams of protein.
  9. Almonds: The same. A tablespoon will have about 4 grams.
  10. Oatmeal: Believe it or not, 1 cup will have about 6 grams of protein.

It needs respect

Protein should not be overlooked. You need to be aware of how much you are consuming daily especially if you are active and looking to increase strength and muscle size. Of course consuming too much protein can be detrimental.

Don’t hesitate moving to a plant based diet if you are concerned if you will get enough protein. You will! Like any diet you need to be aware of what it is you are eating. That’s it. Know that there are a lot of options to get that protein. I have listed only 10 but there are so many more.

No regrets

As of January 2015, I have been following a plant based diet for about 8 months and would not switch back to eating products from an animal. I use the term products because I think farming has lost sight of farming food and now farm products. The dollar is the driver of how animals are farmed, and how animals are treated. I feel better both physically and mentally. And I feel better knowing I have contributed to lessening the harm that goes to animals being farmed and also lessening the negative impact to the environment.

In the words of a fighter I’m a fan of, ‘don’t be scared homie’. Make the move to a plant based diet knowing that you will get the protein you need.

Do it. Make a change. Be the change for a better earth.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

reasons only knew

And I heard everything
Now here I go…

Every 18 months the amount of transistors that could be put onto a computer’s processor would double. Basically that would mean that every 18 months computers performance would double. This has been the case for years.

Along with the increase in speed came the decrease in size, technology getting smaller. Smart phones have been coming with quad core processors for a while now. Recently at CES Intel showcased a system on a chip the size of a shirt button. The device will be used to power wearables along with other devices that need to be on. Computers in a sense are getting smaller and smaller and will continue to do so.

By now you are probably wondering what this has to do with fitness. Or you are thinking that I have totally forgotten that I am supposed to be writing a fitness blog. I’m ok, so don’t worry.

What it is

Just like we have smart phones, smart watches, etc., technology has made its way into the fitness world. Technology has already been there in the sense of heart rate monitors, timers, applications that run on your smart phone to track your runs, etc. But we are getting into a new area where performance feedback will be at your fingertips capturing important metrics, and in some cases capturing these metrics all day.

Clothing embedded with sensors analyzing your body’s metrics, fitness bands that monitor your activity level, and monitor your sleep. Socks that track your run. These devices are getting smaller and less obtrusive to wear. It’s coming to the point that all you need to do is put on a shirt and your vitals are monitored.

The new

Fitness bands. From monitoring heart rate, activity level, to sleep patterns. Personally, I think everyone would benefit from a heart rate monitor, at the least to prevent over training. Heart rate monitors are vital if you are serious about building your cardio or if you compete. It’s an easy way to know you are working at the intensity you need to. If you knew that your performance would increase by 10% in the same amount of time, or your recovery time would be less if you used one, would you? Another benefit of a fitness band is some of them will let you compete with others. You can share your results using social media, or you can compete against others who use the same band. It can be a fantastic motivator.

Sensoria offers socks that have sensors that tell you how far, how fast and also how well you ran. They have shirts and sports bras that will communicate to a heart rate monitor. No more having to wear a strap around your chest to monitor heart rate.

And what about a device the size of a band aid that you can wear 24×7 to provide feedback daily such heart rate, body temperature, exercise load. With this data you can train in the correct exertion zone and also be alerted if you are over training which can prevent sickness and or injury.

 

The road

Where is all this going? I believe that we are on the cusp of technology being integrated into fitness for everyone. Devices and the tech behind them are getting smaller and smaller and this is being done with what we understand about tech and with our current technology architecture if you will. Some people believe we are close to harnessing the functionality of quantum computing which will be the equivalent of moving from horse and buggy to a formula 1 race car. Also we have seen over the last 10 years more and more use of nano technology. I think we are not far from being able to swallow a tracking device that will communicate our performance and vitals to a wearable device.

 

Luddite

Some people may see this as a bad thing, or unnecessary. I guess it depends. If you are training to make gains be it strength and size, or improving cardio fitness, how will you know how you did if you haven’t measured your performance or body feedback? To take something I heard today, “working out is not rocket science”, but it is science especially if you want results and aren’t happy doing something that may hinder your results or slow down the process of getting these results.

How many people stop training due to over training at the beginning? What if those people had the technology to alert them when they hit the level that brought them out of the target area they should have been training? Would they have continued? Maybe.

How about using peer pressure and competition to keep motivated? These devices can give you that.

Choices

Do you need this technology to train? No. Do you need this technology to train smart? I believe so. Think of that red zone on your tachometer in your car. You stay away from that red zone, hopefully, because going into it is not good for the engine. Then why do we let our body go into the red zone.

If you are interested in some of the technology I have listed, decide what it is you want to monitor, or what features you are looking for and see what’s available that meets those needs.

Think of it as a small investment in your health and well-being. Believe me, you are worth it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

It’s still getting worse after everything I’ve tried

What if we decide to break these walls?

It’s already 2 weeks into the new year. So how are things going? I’m thinking things are going one of two ways: you’re well on your way to reaching your fitness goal, or you are already thinking about other ways to spend your time than in the gym.

Did you read my last couple of posts and instead of going full blast you decided to ease into it? I hope so because that is a good strategy to keep motivated and not get burned out. If you are starting to struggle to keep motivated and to keep going to the gym or wherever it is you train, I think now is a good time to reevaluate your approach.

Stand back

Evaluate why you are having a hard time to get motivated. I’m going to list some things that can impact motivation and see if one or more of them seem to be applicable:

  • Lack of sleep – If you are tired due to lack of sleep the primary thing on your mind is getting sleep. It can be tough to get motivated just to carry out simple things when tired so no wonder you are having a hard time getting yourself out for a workout.
    • Remedy: Umm, sleep. That’s it. Try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep if you can.
  • Getting sick, lack of energy – If you find that you are becoming sick more frequently than normal, are lacking energy even when at the gym there’s a good chance you have over trained. Sometimes we feel that if working out for an hour is beneficial than working out for 2 or 3 hours should be even better, right? Not necessarily. If you aren’t eating properly, getting the proper rest, and have awesome genetics than you are venturing into the territory of over training. The immune system becomes compromised and we get sick
    • Remedy: Stop over training! Reduce your workout by 50%. Do that for a week or two and see how you feel. Listen to your body and what it is telling you. One of the worst things that can happen when over training is injury. A way for your body to get you to finally listen and stop training.
  • Poor eating – Food is the fuel for our body that gets converted to energy. Garbage in / garbage out. If you aren’t eating well there is a good change you aren’t feeling well too. The food we eat has a big influence on our moods.
    • Remedy: Educate yourself on proper nutrition. Or to keep it simple start to eliminate simple carbs such as juice, pop, chips, candy, etc. Start eating complex carbs such as grains, vegetables. Check to see if you are getting enough protein for your body to rebuild itself. A general rule is .5 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight based on your activity level. The more active the higher amount of protein needed. Be sure to eat healthy fats too. Olive oil, coconut oil are good oils to use.

The same message

More of my posts lately have been focusing on how to get to the gym or wherever it is you workout instead of what to do when you are there. Why? Because if you aren’t even working out than what good is it knowing proper technique. We are at that time again where the gyms are full. But, not much longer and they will start to empty, again, like they did last year, and the year before that and…

Will this post make a difference? I don’t know but if it keeps one person working out instead of packing it in than it’s a success.

Don’t quit. Take one day at a time. Be in the minority and be proud of it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

before you know it…

There will always be a much, much more than this

In a previous post I spoke about the impending New Year’s resolution to get back into shape and make fitness part of your lifestyle. The heart of the article talked about easing into a change as large as this one. I think the same attention needs to be given to resolutions that centre on what we eat, and how we eat.

The importance

To me, eating well should be part of our lifestyle and not something we do only when things start to get out of hand. When it’s something we do only when the scale, or ourselves determine that we need to, most times things are done to address that extra weight that can be damaging to our bodies. I see it all the time, people following the newest and latest diet. People eating only cabbage, or only having a shake for lunch. Usually this is because even though it probably has taken months for the weight gain the person is dealing with they want that weight off as quickly as possible, no matter what.

The problem with this is this process can be damaging to our body. Usually the body is deprived of vital nutrients, or put into starvation mode because of the lack of calories. The process itself of gaining/losing weight over and over can be damaging to our body.

The fact is nutrition plays a huge role in how we perform day to day, and how we will perform and exist 20 to 30 years ahead. Damage we are doing to our bodies today may not be evident until much later in our lives when it’s too late to change our eating habits. If you consider yourself an athletic person look at it this way. A high performance car made to run on high octane fuel just does not run well on regular fuel. The affect can be felt immediately with loss of power and also long term when your mechanic is hitting you up for thousands of dollars due to the damage done to the engine from running low grade fuel. Your body really is no different. Garbage in / garbage out.

But don’t get me wrong. By no means am I saying you can only eat healthy foods and you need to eliminate all other foods. Doing that would make it very difficult to make eating healthy a lifestyle and you are most likely to end up back to where you were. We need to adopt a process that is realistic and doable, something that can be done gradually over time.

Options

To get to where you want to go, you need to know where you are coming from. Take a week and keep a record of everything you eat and drink. Then create 4 groups; fat, protein, carbs and water.  Now move each item you have written down into one of those groups.

Now take each group and break it into two sub groups; healthy and junk. As an example, a bag of chips would be considered junk. A baked potato kept simple and not loaded down with tons of cheese would be considered healthy.  Do you get the idea? If your meals come in the form of a box than you would want to read the label to see the ratio. I hope your meals aren’t coming in the form of a box. Processed food should be avoided since they are loaded with unhealthy fats (these fats are cheaper to use), sugar and salt.

Now you need to look at the ratio of fat, protein and carbs. Generally speaking the ratio should be around 30/30/40 respectively. This is a general recommendation without taking into account your age, sex, activity level. If you need a ratio that is more specific to you I would recommend you do some research or see someone who is a professional in the field of nutrition.

Now that you know what you are eating, how much of it are you eating? If you want to know the exact amount you need to measure what it is you are eating.  Measuring does not mean counting the number of bowls of cereal as an example or the number of cups of juice. How big is your bowl? There is no standard bowl you can buy. Because of this most of us who have a serving of cereal in our ‘bowl’ usually end up having 2 to 3 times the actual serving amount listed on the box. The same can be said for drinks. A cup is not a cup. Our western civilization has gradually moved towards much bigger bowls, plates and glasses. If you ever have the chance to go to Japan you will see what I mean. Their dishes are much smaller than ours.

So now that you know how much you are eating, are you surprised at the amount of calories? Probably. Most people are. Again, if you are looking for your daily caloric intake amount I would suggest you do  some research or speak to someone who is certified in this field.

How is looking so far. Where do you fall?  A lot of junk? A little junk? Too many calories? Don’t sweat it because you are now trying to do something about it and you are trying to turn things around.

A slow walk

So it took you a while to get to where you are now. 30, 50, 75 lbs overweight. Not feeling healthy? How long did it take? 6 months, a whole year? I’m sure it took a while so why the rush to lose the weight. Let’s look at this as a gradual process.

Looking at the groups and subgroups you created let’s try to eliminate 10% of the junk for the first couple of weeks. If you are someone who drinks a can of pop a day, for two days substitute water for the pop. If your caloric intake is on the high side try reducing it by 10% for two weeks.

Then, let’s try another 10% for two more weeks.

One month later and you are now drinking pop only 3 days a week from 7. Thinking about it, can you go without any pop at all? Probably. Gradually bringing the amount down has allowed your body to handle the change. Many studies are showing that the brain reacts to sugar the same way it reacts to cocaine, or heroin. The same areas of the brain become alive when consuming sugar as they do when taking certain drugs. Just like the heroin addict who needs to be weaned off of the drug, you need to gradually remove sugar from your diet.

Let’s go back and look at the groups I asked you to create. One of those groups was water. The importance of water should not be underestimated. We are mostly made up of water. When we are dehydrated our body has to work harder to pump blood. Dehydration can also lead to cramping up when training. So drink plenty of water.

The percentages I’m using are a general recommendation. If you feel you are able to reduce by a higher percentage than go ahead. Just don’t go off the deep end and start eliminating by 60% – 70%. The goal is to succeed, not fail.

The first step

Everything starts with the first step. It can be difficult, taking that step. Walk before you run. Make these changes letting this become part of your life moving forward instead of something you’ll do for 4 weeks.

Time is fleeting. Just like you looked at yourself wondering how you got where you were, you’ll be doing the same thing 6 months from now knowing how you got there. Glad that you are where you are. How would that feel?

Yours in health,

Darryl

In time with tear flow

I’ve been trying to do it right

Monday, January 5, 2015. I’m going to take a guess and pick this as the date most people will start their new exercise regimen. I’m hoping you’ve read my last post and have made the decision to ease into this and do it smartly.

Have you given it much thought? What it is you’re going to do? Or are you going to show up at your gym and let the staff show you around and pick out the equipment for you. It can be overwhelming, the amount of equipment: cardio equipment such as bikes, recumbent bikes, tread mills, stair climbers, elliptical machines, resistance equipment like free weights, machines, and even straps that suspend you from the ceiling! This can be overwhelming to say the least. But there are things you can do to be prepared so that when you are taken on the tour you are ready to ask questions.

I wasn’t prepared

So, what do you do? I think most people end up letting the gym staff recommend what to do. I guess that’s ok if you are ok with it. But you may be losing out. You could end up doing things that aren’t really interesting to you. I think a lot of times when this happens people just end up going through the motions. Then a month or two later the gym is no longer part of their routine.

It’s a lot to take in but I think it’s important to educate yourself as best as you can as to what it is you need to do and what it is you like to do. I’m one of those people who can run on a treadmill for an hour or two and it doesn’t bother me, in other words I don’t go crazy. Running on a treadmill for half an hour can be a challenge for most people because it is so freaken boring! Running nowhere, looking at the same scene over and over.

Maybe you have a passion for biking? I don’t know but you should know. If you don’t know than be flexible and try different equipment until you find something you like.

Something to remember. Cardio workouts do not need to be done on the traditional equipment such as treadmills, bikes, etc. A cardio workout can be in the form of simple things such as burpees, high knees, mountain climbers, etc. If you do end up using one of the traditional pieces of equipment don’t get stuck working out with your heart rate at a moderate to low rate. Read up on HIIT and you see why.

The other piece of the…

What about resistance training. Do you know why you are doing it? Do you have a goal? Do you know what equipment to use? Most likely not. But it’s your body, your time that is either going to benefit or be used wisely.

Know what it is you want to achieve talk to the person showing you around and let them know your goals. If you are still unsure as to what you are doing, engage a personal trainer and talk to her/him as to what your goals are.

Do you need to use the latest equipment such as TRX straps for suspension training? Maybe, but if you are a beginner I would pass on this. There is so much you can do with the basics of dumbbells, barbells, and some machines.

Simple

Know what it is you want to achieve. If you don’t have a goal how will you know if you are successful or how will you stay motivated? Having goals is an important part of fitness.

Try different things until you find something you like. If you aren’t engaged when working out you won’t be working out anymore. When the mind goes the body follows. I like that saying. It’s true in many aspects.

What else

Let’s see, have goals, try different equipment, keep it simple, do something you like. I think that’s a good start.

And ask questions. It’s your body, you are the one who will either benefit or suffer based on the training you do.

And how about this, hire a personal trainer even if it’s short term. You will be surprised, amazed at what they can do for you. I know you won’t regret it.

One more thing I want to say, and it’s important. You owe it to yourself to be what it is you want to be, to do what it is you want to do. It’s not always easy, but the good things aren’t always easy, are they.

You won’t regret it. I think you know that already.

Yours in health,

Darryl