Do this and thank me later

It gives you that look of confidence, the look of strength, and makes everyday physical tasks easier. But typically we train them incorrectly paying too much attention to one and neglecting the others.

And inevitably injury happens. And then you are out for weeks. Think of putting all your money into upgrading the appearance of your house: new kitchen with marble countertops, upgraded bathroom with a jacuzzi tub, expensive flooring but because you spent all your money on the things you see, there’s no money left to address the weak, crumbling foundation. No one sees the foundation so you don’t make it a priority. But this is what holds up the house that has the new kitchen, bathroom, floors. Then one day the foundation fails and your floors now have big cracks because of the shifting understructure. The countertop also cracked because the cabinets shifted due to the floor shifting. A lot of money wasted due to not addressing a weakening base.

What

fitness
Who doesn’t want strong shoulders!

In my opinion, most of us have this issue when it comes to our shoulders. We don’t know, or we don’t take the time. We want large shoulders, who doesn’t, but we don’t take the time to strengthen the supporting structure and then we end up overworking the front of our shoulders, neglect the rear of our shoulders and most importantly we neglect our rotator cuff. This generally leads to injury the most common injury being tendon injuries.

The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that hold the shoulder joint in place. It’s what allows you the vast amount of freedom in the movement of the shoulders. Our shoulders have an enormous amount of range of motion. And when we encur a shoulder injury it can have a great impact because we use our shoulders all the time: picking things up, putting things away, driving, lifting, etc.

The rotator cuff is comprised of 4 muscles along with the tendons that join them:

      • Supraspinatus. This holds your humerus in place and keeps your upper arm stable. And helps lift your arm.
      • Infraspinatus. This is the main muscle that lets you rotate and extend your shoulder.
      • Teres Minor. This is the smallest rotator cuff muscle. Its main job is to assist with rotation of the arm away from the body.
      • Subscapularis. This holds your upper arm bone to your shoulder blade and helps you rotate your arm, hold it straight out and lower it.

How

Let’s look at exercises that we can do to strengthen our rotator cuff:

      • Resisted External Rotation: Holding a resistance band of the appropriate resistance, have your arms tucked tight to your sides bent at the elbows at 90 degree angle having hands out in front of you holding the band in both hands. Now, holding the band in both hands move your hands outwardly like a swinging door, then bring back to the start. To reiterate, you start with hands straight in front of you, bent at the elbows, holding the band in both hands and then keeping elbows tight to your sides, rotate hands/lower arms outwardly away from your body.
      • Side lying external rotation: Lie on your right side (left if you are left-handed) keeping your body stabilized and your upper arm bent at the elbow at 90 degrees (your hand should almost be on the floor). Holding a light weighted dumbbell slowly lift the hand up towards the ceiling keeping your elbow tight to your body. This is the same motion as the above exercise.
      • External rotation at 90 degrees: Stay with me on this one. Put your arms straight out in front of you like you are a zombie. Now, bring your elbows back without dropping your arms so you have a 90 degree bend in your arms but your hands are still out in front. Great, that’s it. Now that you know the starting position you can do this exercise with a dumbbell or band. The goal here is to then rotate at the shoulder bringing your hands up, but still keeping your upper arm parallel with the floor. So you should look like a robber told you to stick them up, but your upper arms are parallel with the floor, and lower arm is vertical. That’s the rotation, from this position back to the starting position.

Have you done these before? Probably not. It falls into the same category as stretching, no one does it. But do them to help prevent injury and without injury you can train using exercises that will give you bigger shoulders.

Too many of these?

And if you are doing a lot of pushups, or bench presses I hope you are doing exercises for the rear delts. Those rear delts get neglected so bad and they are screaming out for attention. So do it and along with working out the rear delts be sure to stretch the front delts because for sure they are super tight (all those push ups)

Lastly, when doing any shoulder exercise do your best to follow proper technique and also don’t overload with weight. Keep it to clean slow smooth motion. And if you feel any pain at all while exercising STOP! Never exercise a muscle when feeling pain.

Strengthen the rotator cuff, stretch the tight front deltoid and you will be better prepared to build strong, large shoulders that will give you more confidence.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world

It’s become easy to blur reality from fiction, to believe the false narratives that are often pushed onto us. We live in a world where to find and understand the truth of something requires us to do our own work and through that work come to our logical, not emotional, truths. Blogs, social media, traditional media have become tools used by industries to push their agenda which is higher profits, not health.

What

I want to use a recent example to highlight my point. This should show how we as people react emotionally instead of logically when someone challenges, even subtlely, our long-held beliefs.

If you watched the Oscars and stayed up late enough to catch the acceptance speech for best actor in a movie you would have seen Joaquin Pheonix lay out some truths. In my opinion, he very eloquently explained how we as a species are exploiting other species, and each other, because we have become disconnected from the natural world and tend to live in an egocentric world. We believe we are the centre of the universe and we have the right to plunder the natural world for its resources. We fear the idea of personal change because we think we may need to sacrifice something.

Joaquin used those words along with words explaining how we do this with cows because we think we need their milk. It wasn’t a speech where he condemned people who use dairy, harshly condemns the farmers who work in the industry, no, he very passionately explained that we do these things not because we have to but because we continue to unnecessarily put ourselves first, no matter what the cost. It was very much a speech highlighting our innate attitude that we have this belief that we have the right to dominate others, use and control another with impunity. We do this with people but people have the ability to talk back and challenge us. The animals we exploit don’t have a voice, don’t have a way to stand up for themselves. They are helpless to act against these things we do to them.

His words were delivered very calmly, well-articulated and without ego. Yet the responses were quick and filled with vitriol, hate, malice. Ad hominem attacks from farmers instead of providing evidence contrary to what was said. Facts were presented such as cows are artificially inseminated so we can drink their milk, calves are separated from their moms so we can drink their milk. Mom cows cry in pain and anguish when this happens yet none of the farmers denied this or provided evidence stating otherwise. Because they couldn’t so they resorted to attacking the person who gave the message. An Op Ed piece in the New York Post branded him a disgrace. Here’s what one rancher, The Meat Lady, had to say:  “I think Joaquin Phoenix is a pompous, entitled, first-world, out of touch, value signaling troll, and rewearing a suit and throwing shade at cows shouldn’t make him an environmental expert.” And this from Bryn Davies, who shared a video of himself drinking a glass of milk, captioning it: “Let’s raise our glass to the biggest flog on twitter [flog is Australian slang for a contemptible, often arrogant person].”

Again, no rebuttal using facts but instead attacking someone’s character.

If you really take in what was said, it is social commentary more so than an attack on farming. I’ve taken part of the speech that is being criticized to show this:

I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. 

I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric world view, and we believe that we’re the centre of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.

I believe if you are honest with yourself and look at what it is we do as a society today, and historically, you cannot help but agree with this. We do this in many ways animal agriculture is one of them. It is said someone’s character can be measured on how they treat those who can’t speak up for themselves, those who don’t have a voice and of course those they believe to be below themselves.

And the sad thing is there is no need to continue to do these things. Many, many, many studies show that we can thrive healthily without consuming animal products. Many people are doing this too. Joaquin himself has been doing this since age 3.

If we are compassionate people, if we care about those around us no matter what species, then we need to show this through our actions. No one is asking people to drastically change their lives, but to make changes that have an impact and are manageable. In fact, here is the definition of veganism from the Vegan Society:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

As far as possible and practicable. It’s important to understand that. It doesn’t mean that you have to turn your world upside down to have an impact. Want to make a change? Instead of reaching out and grabbing the box of cows milk, move your hand 8 feet in the other direction and grab the Almond, Soy, Oat milk. Trust me, you won’t notice a difference, really.

If we are not able to treat the most vulnerable with compassion, how can we do that with others?

Lastly, if you have doubts about what are the practices in the dairy industry, watch this. WARNING: it’s very upsetting.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

 

Stronger faster better

Do I have you inticed? Do you want to be stronger, faster, better? Of course you do!

A simple, safe, inexpensive way of improving your endurance performance and your health at the same time. A win win.

Beetroot

beetroots are awesome!

Beetroot or beetroot juice has been shown to increase athletic performance especially when it comes to endurance type of activities. I don’t advocate supplementation (I only recommend Vitamin D and B12) as I believe you should follow a whole foods plant based diet to fulfill your nutrition needs. There are many benefits to eating healthy foods instead of supplementing. As an example, while training for my plant based nutition certificate one study I read concluded that the vitamin C level of participants on the study increased higher than the source of Vitamin C. The study had participants consume an orange and although the oranges had an average of 70mg of Vitamin C their blood measured much higher than the 70mg increase that should have been seen. It was determined that the process of saliva and enzymes excreted during eating actually caused an increase of Vitamin C. Also there are other benefits such as the fiber you get by eating an orange instead of drinking it. Also, the main compound in beets that provide the benefits can have adverse side effects when taken as a supplement but not when consumed in the form of vegetables.

Why

Nitric oxide. Beetroot juice increases levels of nitric oxide (NO), which serves multiple functions related to increased blood flow, blood vessels to widen, stimulates the release of certain hormones, such as insulin and human growth hormone (professional athletes illegally dope with this stuff), mitochondrial biogenesis and efficiency, and strengthening of muscle contraction. Wow. All this from beets. Why haven’t we heard about this? In my opinion, there’s more money in selling supplements than there is in people eating whole foods. I think too it has to do with how our brain works.

Beetroot salad

I’ll make a bet with you. I bet more people will pay $20 a month for a pill that would do the above than eat beets. It’s kind of like how placebos work, you are taking a pill believing it’s the pill that will cure what ills you. Opening the bottle that’s labeled with big words we don’t understand, cautioning language that taking too much might be bad. It’s psychology. But put some beetroot on a salad and tell someone that if they eat this it will improve performance they will reach for the bottle instead.

But I digress. Why does beetroot help us perform? Basically it reduces the amount of oxygen needed to do the same work. Our heart rate increases when exercising to provide oxygen to our cells and it does this by increasing the blood flow in our body. If you are very healthy and fit you will have a large stroke volume, the volume of blood pumped with one beat, and you will have a better VO2Max, the efficiency of how your body uses oxygen. A lot of oxygen is needed when running, or performing high cardio output exercising and it can be hard to get. So where you are now with respect to these things is where you are. Think then of consuming beetroot juice or beetroots before an event and then having your oxygen needs reduced. Kind of like training to with 400lb squats to then having to squat 350lbs in an event. You’ll find it easier. Many athletes have found they achieve, no, more than achieve their personal best when competing and taking beetroot juice beforehand.

What

Interested? Maybe? Even if you aren’t here are other benefits of eating beetroot: a great source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. Beetroots and beetroot juice have been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved blood flow, lower blood pressure and of course, athletic performance.

But if you are interested, incorporate beetroot into your daily diet a few weeks before an event and then the day of the event consume beetroot juice about 90 minutes before the start of the event. Studies show that the peak value of the compound that provides the benefit happens about 2-3 hours after consumption.

Caution: Always try anything new in training first, not the day of the event to avoid gastric issues. NEVER try something new just before an event.

Oh, another reason why I prefer eating the things that make us better instead of supplementing? Price. You can get a 2lb bag of beetroot for under $2.

Finally,

Try it out. Why not? Makes for great salads, burgers and there are so many health benefits. And your next work out might be that workout where you walked away feeling like a million bucks.

Now go get yourself some beets.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review

Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance