Here by the sea and sand

Nothing ever goes as planned

It’s a life giving substance and without it we have 3 to 4 days before we will no longer be around on this planet. It is that important to our survival. On the other hand we can go up to 3 weeks without food, but not water. Our body is largely made up of water and every living cell needs it to function.

We are constantly losing water, through bodily functions such as going to the bathroom, sweating and also breathing. In extreme situations the body can lose 1 to 1.5 liters of sweat per hour. If this amount of water isn’t replenished it can lead to death as blood volume can decrease. A loss of water in the amount of 10% of your body weight is considered a medical emergency and if not reversed can lead to death.

What

But I’m not writing this to discuss extreme situations but more so how water plays an important role when exercising. Especially when it comes to performance and how we feel mentally when working out.

8oz water
8oz of water is almost a pint of beer

I think it’s a fair assumption to say that 99% of people who show up to exercise are already  dehydrated. Busy day, rushing around, not thinking about drinking water results in the body becoming somewhat dehydrated. Most of us consume drinks that have caffeine which is a diuretic which then causes us to pee out the water we do have. And when this happens and we then start exercising, sweating, we are losing even more water. And this can lead to a direct impact to our performance. And you probably won’t even notice or really understand why you didn’t perform as well as you should have.

A loss of 2% of your body weight through water loss can have a negative impact of up to 25% to your performance. Let’s look at an example:

  • Body weight = 120lbs
  • 2% of 120lbs = 2.4lbs
  • 80z of water  = half a pound

Now, let’s look at the average sweat rate. The average person sweats roughly 27.4 to 47.3 oz per hour when exercising. That’s 1.75lbs to 3lbs of water lost, almost close to the 2.4lbs if you are a ‘light’ sweater or over if you are heavy. Heres another way to look at it. Let’s say the average water bottle is 24oz (I hope you know how much yours holds) and you drink the whole contents during that hour. By this example you are still under the amount a light sweater loses during that hour. If you care about performance that should wake you up.

sweat
we need to replenish our fluid loss from sweat

Other performance problems caused by being dehydrated are lack of mental sharpness, cramping, muscles don’t perform as well. This can all add up to having a bad workout and not feeling like you owned the workout. Working out is tough as it should be hard, we all know that but you want to walk away feeling really good, not feeling like you were defeated. A well hydrated athlete will feel sharp, stronger, feeling like they can keep working out. Why? When well hydrated the heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood to provide oxygen and nutrients to the muscles thus providing better performance for the same amount of work being done.

But of course you are drinking water when you exercise so you are ok. I hope so but most of us are not drinking enough before and during exercise and as I stated earlier, most of us are running a water deficit when starting to exercise.

How

Here are some general guidelines to help ensure you are hydrated before, and during your exercise routine:

  • 2 -3 hours before: drink 17 – 20 ounces of water
  • 20 – 3- minutes before workout: 8 ounces of water
  • 10 – 20 minutes during exercise: 7 – 10 ounces of water
  • Within 30 minutes after workout: 8 ounces of water

Are you doing this? Are you sure? Just like measuring our heart rate to know what percentage of exertion we are exercising at you need to measure to be sure. And I’m pretty sure no one does this. It’s one of those things we really don’t pay attention to. Also, we tend to be light on the water we consume as we are afraid of upsetting our stomach if we drink too much. It’s that whole balance thing. And I don’t think we hear enough about this either. I can talk from experience that I know I don’t drink enough water. I discovered this by measuring out 8oz of water and then drinking it. I compared this to the amount of water I drink when running and and I am way under. Try this to see where you sit. Measure out 8oz of water and put it into your water bottle you tend to use. Now drink it in the same manner you do when you work out? Seems like a lot more?

What can be done to help get the water you need? You need to measure the amount you consume and sweat. How much does your water bottle hold? I hope you know because that’s a good place to start. If you don’t know how much water your water bottle holds measure it.

But how much do you need? Are you a light or heavy sweater? One way to know your requirements is to measure what you lose when working out.

Measure your sweat rate (make sure you are well hydrated before starting):

  • Start with going for a pee. Then weigh yourself without any clothes on (A)
  • After exercise towel yourself dry (be sure to dry your hair also) and measure your weight again without clothes on (B)
  • Subtract your post exercise weight (B) from your pre exercise weight (A)
  • Weight loss (C) = A-B
  • Subtract the weight of the water bottles to get the weight of water consumed (Z)
  • Add the weight of the water (Z) to amount of weight lost (C).
  • Subtract bodily void weight from total weight lost (C) – you can use .6lb for this per bathroom visit

Here’s an example:

1 hour run:

  • Starting weight: 160lbs
  • Ending weight: 158lbs
  • Fluid consumed = 30 ounces
  • 2lbs of weight loss = 32 ounces of sweat
  • Total fluid loss = 32 ounces lost + 30 ounces consumed = 62 ounces total

62 ounces of fluid loss for a one hour event = 62 ounces / hour.

Now, this is one example. There are different variables that come into play, things such as temperature, humidity and sea level. It’s always a good idea to measure your water requirements in different conditions and adjust accordingly.

*NOTE – As with anything, too much of something does not make it better. If you are consuming too much water (hyponatremia) it can cause nausea, headaches, confusion, fatigue, and in extreme cases, coma and death due to diluting your electrolytes. This is rare but it can happen.

Finally

Working out is exhausting enough. You wan to be able to push yourself as hard as you can and feel good doing it, not feel like you have been run over by a truck. Everyone is always looking for that something that will give them a boost. Here it is and it’s free, water. Consume proper amounts of water and you just increased your performance levels. Can it get any easier?

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

 

 

What it don’t get, I can’t use

I want money.

We live, have been living in a word of excess. Buy, buy, buy is the daily message albeit delivered in a more subtle way. People’s heroes are those who disparage their character for the sake of making more money. It’s cool to post images of your ‘worth’ on social media. It seems to be perfectly alright, perfectly justifiable  to fly thousands of miles to Brooklyn to throw a hand dolly into a bus all for the purpose of selling more pay per views. What was the quote from this person during the fight: ‘It’s only business’. Money at all costs.

Things like this unfortunately can influence people to become like these people who do these things. But, it can also be the antithesis for others. The ugliness of acts such as this can move people closer to the understanding that money isn’t everything, and money at any cost is wrong.

More isn’t always better but sometimes more is what we need.

When it comes to our body and what we feel is the body we want all the focus is on losing weight. When has there even been a product, a program, an infomercial on how to gain weight? NEVER that’s when. Yes, there are weight gain protein powders but the main message is to lose weight. Trying to find out how to gain weight in a healthy way could take some research and it can be really confusing and also disappointing. And I think too just like there is fat shaming, skinny shaming is also happening. Guys for years have felt the pressure to be muscular all the way back to the 50’s classic add of the skinny guy getting sand kicked on them buy the muscular guy at the beach all while the girl is laughing at the skinny dude. And the same with girls and women. You need to be thicc. The focus is never health and fitness but instead on no matter what it takes, you need to look like this. Don’t buy into this lie. Focusing on health and wellness instead of appearance will give you the things you need to stay healthy, be sick less, be less susceptible to disease, slow down aging, and ultimately if you do these things correctly you can mold your body like an artist molds clay and do it in a healthy way.

How

As simple as this solution seems I believe it is all that is needed. It’s not complicated because it doesn’t need to be. So if you are in doubt because it’s so simple, try not to discount it.

  • Eat a whole foods plant based diet whenever you are hungry

That’s it. Eating a whole foods plant based diet does not require you to worry if you are getting too much fat, too much protein, too many carbs, too much sugar, too much salt. A whole foods plant based diet followed properly means you are not eating processed foods, it means you are eating all the foods you need and you are getting nutrient dense foods, the foods your body wants and needs to repair and grow muscle tissue. If you feel you have been eating enough but aren’t adding the weight than you may need to evaluate what you are eating. Are you eating foods that are processed? These foods will make you feel full but they are not providing the nutrients you body needs to repair and grow. If you are already eating a whole foods plant based diet and aren’t gaining weight, then are you eating enough? Broken down to a basic principle, calories in cannot be less than calories out. If they are you will never gain weight. As an example a professional body builder may consume upwards of 4,000 calories a day.

If you have been working out hard and correctly and aren’t adding weight, this may be what you are missing. I want to keep this simple so I’m not going to get into formulas having to do with resting metabolic rate, caloric requirements based on sex and age. Keep it simple.

If you are not gaining weight and want to, then you have to eat more. 

Not many of us have the time, or the patience to count calories for everything we eat. That requires measuring every meal you eat. Keep it simple and always eat when you are hungry. That may mean eating 6 to 8 times a day. Don’t snack on worthless foods such as processed crackers, chips, things like that. If you are doing that switch those foods out for nutrient dense foods, the foods your body will use to make muscle. Besides, these foods that are nutrient dense taste awesome and who doesn’t want that? Substitute a nutrient/taste dense food such as a black bean avocado dip with pita chips for those potato chips you were going to have. Both will fill your craving for food but one gives you lots of fat which doesn’t provide muscle growth where as the other does provide the protein and carbs needed.

Again, keeping it simple follow the rule that your food needs to be whole foods plant based. Avoid processed foods as processing removes nutrients the body needs to grow. Replace this with foods that the body needs and the body will grow.

Finally

Whole foods plant based; Calories in > Calories out; Eat when Hungry = Weight gain.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Teach your silent sleep

Slow dawn

Many of my posts talking about working out usually emphasize the importance of intensity. For good reasons of course, intensity brings the results you need and are looking for.

But, there comes a time when you need to slow down. It’s referred to as the taper.

What

What is tapering? Tapering is taking the last week or more before your event and tapering back on the workouts, the intensity. Tapering is a very important cycle in your training regiment in preparation for your event that allows you to train less, eat more and sleep more! Tapering will help you perform  the way you want to perform in your event. It often gets overlooked as people generally think that they need to train hard all the way up to the event. Makes sense why we think this but this will do you more harm as you won’t be in peak performance shape.

Tapering allows the body to regain glycogen stores, repair any small damage that has been done to muscle and connective tissue. Enzymes, antioxidants, and various hormones depleted during training  are given the time needed to return to optimal ranges. Your immune system vastly improves too. Lastly, some studies have shown an improvement in performance of up to 3%. Tapering before your event sets you up to perform as best as you can. It sets you up so you are going into your event day feeling as best as you can too. Performance stress is not only on the physical level but also the mental level. You want to be sharp, confident, and feeling well, not foggy, shaky and feeling mentally fatigued.

Less can be more.

How

Tapering can be anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks before your event. During this period you will want to cut your training down to 20% – 30% less than what you would normally do on a high volume week. If your workouts are 5x a week, you would then drop down to 3 to 4 workouts a week. Also, that should be the same for intensity when it comes to resistance training. If for your event you are relying on your legs to help you get through it, I guess that’s pretty much anything thinking about it, you want your legs to be fresh. Cut down on any training that impacts the legs. Any leg work should be done solely for the purpose of dynamic stretching, cardio and mobility reasons. You can keep training upper body but be sure to drop the intensity level as you would not want to go into your event with any sore muscles.

Let’s look at tapering and nutrition. Even though I’m not a fan of supplementing it may be wise to err on the side of caution and ensure you are getting adequate protein levels to aid in the repair of soft tissue for that last week before your event. That’s it. That’s it if you are following a whole foods plant based diet. No need to worry about carb loading as you would already be consuming the high level of carbs you need.

Be sure to consume enough water. Peeing more than normal is better than being dehydrated for your event. Cut back on diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine.

Do these things and you might even notice that you have added a couple pounds to your body.

Summary

  • 1 – 3 weeks before
  • Do 20% – 30% less
  • Eat more
  • Sleep more
  • Drink more water
  • Keep moving, mobility is important
  • No killing yourself in workouts

Finally

It seems counterintuitive to taper but embrace it. Your body has already made it’s adaptations weeks before and is ready to go. Maybe an experience of mine will illustrate that this works. Years ago when I was in the Navy I would travel back to my old home to visit my family twice a year. Previous to one  of those trips I got heavily into body building, working out 6 days a week, 2 hours a day on a 3 day split program. I was a hard core gym rat. My trip home was just over 2 weeks long where I caught up with family and friends which meant a lot of relaxing, eating and no working out. When I returned back to the Navy my friends there couldn’t believe how much bigger I had gotten. That 2 week period was my taper even though I didn’t know it. My body had the time it needed to repair muscle tissue and add the muscle it needed to. When I was back and started to work out my performance levels also increased.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this. Implement a taper and use that extra time to relax, mentally prepare and I think you will be so much better going into your event than you would have otherwise.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Staying home to watch the rain

And you are young and life is long

It’s usually the mental aspect of it that gets us. It’s what ends up being our downfall be it that day or worse, our life. Everyone of us is capable of great things but for a lot of different reasons we don’t execute on those great things and end up living a mediocre life. That might be alright for some but for most it means a lost of adventure, a loss of things that ‘could have been’.

I used to struggle with explaining what this meant, what pushing yourself brings to us as individuals. I couldn’t convey it into words. Then I looked into it more trying to understand all things that are rewarded unto us when we work hard, when we push ourselves. I would look back on my own experiences of success and failures and it started to make sense to me. When we push ourselves and work hard towards a goal the end result is the reward. It is what makes us feel alive, feel that we have a purpose and adds a lot of positives to our reflection of what we are as an individual. Self doubt starts to diminish and our confidence starts to grow.

Also, doors may start to open and sometimes those things happen organically. If you are someone who pushes themselves in a group type of environment, maybe you are a competing triathlete, think of all the people you have met along your journey. Coaches, experts in your field, fellow competitors, and so on. You don’t get this exposure sitting on the couch every night and weekend. And then think of the people you meet if you are doing things considered on an elite level. You will be surrounded by people who generally are more positive, outgoing, other people who push themselves hard all the time. We tend to become the people we associate with. Hang out with negative, unmotivated people and you will tend to become the same because those people don’t want to be involved with someone who isn’t: it makes them feel like failures and they will never meld with you if you aren’t also complaining and being pessimistic about things. Surround yourself with positive people and you will tend to rise to that level.

But I digress. This post really is about what can we do to help ourselves do things that are lengthy in duration and can be really mentally overwhelming. What can we do to trick the brain and keep pushing through a long tough event. Here some ideas:

  • Compartmentalize: Depending on what it is you are doing, never, NEVER look at the event as a whole. This will crush you even before you get out the gate. Let’s take a triathlon. 3 major events: swim, bike ride and a run. Depending on the type of triathlon this can take maybe 8 hours. If you think of this at the beginning as an 8 hour event you have already lost, you have planted the seed in your mind that this is going to kill you and you will never get through it. To start, break this down into the 3 events it already is: swim, bike, run. Then, break it down further if you need to: break the swim into half. Break the bike ride into quarters, or fifths, or more. Same with the run. If it’s a marathon length run, break it into quarters and after each quarter mentally check it off – Done, 3 more quarters to go.
  • Distraction: Believe it or not you do not always have to think about what you are doing. Have you ever arrived somewhere and you cannot recall how you got there? You’ve driven the same roads, the same route to work for years and it’s all muscle memory. You arrive at work and you can’t recall how you got there. Same thing here. Let the brain wonder off onto some journey, maybe to Alaska to see the northern lights, or maybe thinking about the last book you read. This happens sometimes to me when I’m running on the treadmill. Your mind comes back and nothing changed, you are still running. The muscle memory took over and you probably were running better because of this. You were probably more relaxed since you weren’t tuned in to every muscle twitch, to every foot step. Give this a try and you will find it tends to make a long event fly by.
  • Hero: Do you have a hero, someone you look up to? Who inspires you, who do you want to be in a sense? Try to be that person mentally. When I run on the treadmill and things start to get tough I think of a person who has inspired me: John Joseph. This guy is the hard ass endurance athlete I would like to be. No excuses get it done kind of guy. John’s first triathlon was done with a fracture in his foot after playing a concert the night before in the band he’s in. Yeah, played a concert (high output as his band is a punk band), fractured his foot, long drive home, little sleep and then completed the triathlon in the August heat of New York. If that’s not inspiring I don’t know what is.
  • Readiness: If you fail to prepare you have prepared to fail. This is so true. Be ready for your event. Of course long term preparedness means getting in the training. Short term are things like testing any fuel you plan to use. There are many stories of people who on the day of their endurance event change their fuel, they try something new like a new brand of glucose gel. These people typically end up in the porta potty due to GI issues. Always, ALWAYS try what you are going to consume at least a few times weeks before so you know it agrees with you be it gels, sports drinks. This goes for quantities too. Don’t just sip the drink you are going to use to replace your electrolytes. Use it in your training so you know how your body is going to react to it when under stress. Clothing, make sure it comfortable and suits the needs of the event and of you. Rest, rest, rest.
  • Mind set: Before your event I want you to tell yourself how amazing you are, tell yourself that you are the rock star you want to be. Because if you are doing this that is what you are! A lot of self doubt exists in us for reasons that don’t hold up to scrutiny. Put there by others, put there by false perceptions of what society thinks we should be. And it’s easy to self doubt. It is so hard to pay ourselves a compliment or two. Try this. The next time you doubt yourself, ask yourself if you would say the same thing to someone else and when you answer no, think about that. Think about why you wouldn’t say this to someone else and then ask yourself why then is it OK to think this of yourself.

Finally

That’s all I have for today. For now. We all have the ability to do great things, if we let ourselves.

Yours in health,

Darryl