Neither parallel nor perpendicular

Staying with the theme of working out muscles we tend to neglect or ignore, I bring you the obliques. Your core will never be as strong as it should if you fail to work out these muscles.

What

Obliques for a solid core

The obliques, there are two of them the internal and external obliques cross diagonally from the bottom of your rib cage to your pelvis. They help us to stay stable while in an upright position. As the 0bliques play a key role in the function of rotating the trunk, you’ll want these to bring strong especially if you are a martial artist.

How

If you understand how you work out a muscle, then you know you do this with a concentric contraction, eccentric contraction, or an isometric contraction. The first two work when a muscle crosses a joint such as the bicep which we work out by doing bicep curls that incorporate the elbow joint. Also, you are working the muscle along its length, which runs parallel with our arm. So how do you work a muscle that crosses our body in the midsection from one side to our centre? With some movement and isometric (without movement) contractions. Since the obliques don’t cross a joint we are somewhat limited to the number of exercises for this. Let’s get to it.

        • Ab Bikes: If you have ever participated in one of my workouts then you are familiar with this exercise. Think of your body position when on a bicycle. Now, lay on your back and resume that position. Make fists with your hands and keep your hands at your ears, elbows in parallel with your upper body. Keeping a 90 degree bend in your legs, extend one leg while bringing the knee of the other in. As you bring the knee in, bring the opposite elbow to that knee. Think of the motion you are trying to achieve is bringing your lower ribs on the opposite side to the knee that is coming in. You can hold at the top of the exercise for 3 seconds and actively contract the obliques. Also to add intensity slow down the exercise keeping your core tight. Finally, do not grab your head. This is why you make fists with your hands and keep them at your ears. Don’t let your hands come away from your ears just to reach your elbow to your knee. The purpose is to do the rotation using your core and that motion gets your elbow there. Try to do 3 sets to fatigue.
        • Russian Twist (With and without medicine ball): Alright, lying on your back, sit up and make a V shape with your body, the lower part of the V being your hips. Your upper body is one side of the V and your upper legs are the other side of the V. The closer you bring your feet in the easier it is. If you need to, keep your feet on the ground to take some strain off of your lower back. Keep your core tight. Without a medicine ball, have your hands at your waist and reach to your left side with both hands and touch the ground. This gives you the rotation you need. Now do it to the right side. Keep going back and forth. With a medicine ball do the same while holding the medicine ball and try to touch the floor with the ball. To add intensity, you can also do this while lowering your shoulders back and extending the feet and then coming back up, think of this as a smooth in and out motion. If you have a hard time with this because your core is not developed enough then stop. As always if you experience any pain stop immediately! Exercise should never be a painful thing. Try to do 3 sets to fatigue.
        • Cable Woodchop: You’ll need a band for this, particularly a band that you can attach to something. For this exercise you’ll start on your right knee and on your left foo, a half-kneeling position. Think of your hands together raised up by your left shoulder like you are clasping a sword, ready to slice your opponent across their midsection and ending the movement to the right of your right hip. Don’t extend your arms, keep the elbows bent, and do this motion while rotating your upper body. Remember that to work obliques you need to bring your ribs to your hips. When placing the band for this exercise you will need to have it to one side and in front of your body a bit, about a foot. Same type of motion we are doing here as we did with the previous exercises. Do 10 – 12 reps then do the other side, know on your left knee and up on your right foot. Do for 10 – 12 reps and 3 – 4 sets total.

Finally

I hope this makes sense to everyone. Focus on proper technique instead of trying to achieve a higher number. Sacrificing technique to achieve another rep or two will not benefit you. And lastly, invest in yourself and book a few sessions with a certified personal trainer. Your trainer can correct your technique, ensure you are executing correctly, make adjustment recommendations based on your body and answer those questions you have while you are working out.

Yours in health,

Darryl

This may help you run again

You love running but you had to stop. The pain down the front of your shins was too much. If you suffer or have suffered from shin splints then you might want to try this and see if it helps enough to get back to running.

What

Tibialis anterior. Another one of those neglected muscles. This muscle runs along the bottom part of your leg next to the shin bone. The tibialis anterior plays an important role in not just running but also walking, sprinting.

How

        • Seated Toe Raises: This one is easy as most of us spend a fair amount of time sitting.  While sitting, keep your feet flat on the floor comfortably. Now keeping your heels on the floor raise up your toes. Hold and contract for 5 seconds. To add difficulty try balancing a small dumbbell on your foot. Do this 10 – 12 times for 3 sets for each foot.
        • Isometric Toe Press: Sitting, or lying down, put the heel of one foot on the front of the other foot. Now press upwards into the heal and hold for about 10 – 20 seconds. Switch it around and do the other side. Do this 10 – 12 times for 3 sets for each foot. Don’t let your foot you are working go below your heel.
        • Sitting Toe Push: While sitting on the floor with legs straight out in front, grab a band with proper resistance and place under the upper part of your foot. The work in on the downward motion so while holding the band, bring your foot as close as you can towards you while keeping your legs straight. Now, push down on the band with your upper foot. Do this 10 – 12 times, for 3 sets on both feet.

Finally

The movements are all the same really, just different tools, or body positioning. The key is to understand that keeping the heal stationary and the lifting of the upper foot with resistance, or the pushing down of the upper foot with resistance is what works this muscle. Another key point is to not let the upper foot go below the heel. This will then activate your other calf muscles, the ones that may be strong enough already.

Work the neglected Tibialis anterior and enjoy the pain free running.

Yours in health,

Darryl

are you up for a challenge?

How are you doing? How are you handling the world we live in today? It’s pretty much impossible to go out and do the things we used to do, and this can impact your fitness. But let’s not let that happen.

Continuing with my theme of working out the muscles we tend to neglect, here is a post on working those muscles in our butt that typically are neglected. Remember, neglected, weaker muscles can end up in muscle imbalances that can lead to injury.

What

Squats build strong legs and glutes

Our butt, the gluteus maximus. It gets all the attention these days but cannot reach its full potential without the two muscles that stabilize the pelvis: the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Looking at both words helps us understand a bit more about these muscles. Medius is the middle, the muscle between two others. Minimus is minimum, or small, the smaller of the 3 muscles. These two glute muscles are vital for athletic performance and crucial for walking and climbing stairs. And another benefit albeit a visual benefit is when strong they lift up the glutes.

How

Let’s get to it. Here are exercises to do to work the medius and minimus:

      • Sideways Squat Step: You’ll need a resistance band to do this. Using the correct resistance so it’s hard but not too easy, step inside of the band and position it around your ankles. Now, positioning yourself into a squat position, step sideways in one direction for about 8 – 10 steps, then go back in the other direction. That’s one set. When doing this keep the resistance high and do your best to not let your knees turn in. Do 2 – 3 sets.
      • Side Bridge Leg Raise: While in a side bridge position, lift the upper leg straight up, then bring back down not letting the leg touch the other leg. That would be a break and we don’t want that. Again, slowly lift the leg up as high as it can go then lower slowly, not letting it rest. Do 12 – 15 then do the other side. That’s one set. Do 2 – 3 sets.
      • Squat Walk: Try not to laugh when you do this one. Like the first exercise, Sideways Squat Step, put one band around your ankles. Now add another band just above the knees. Staying in a squat position you are going to ‘walk’ forward, then backward. Keep toes pointing forward and knees out. The band around the ankles keeps tension when walking and the band above the knees keeps pressure on the glute muscles we are working. Do 10 steps forward and 10 back. That’s one set. Do 2 – 3 sets.

And of course, don’t forget to stretch:

      • Figure 4 stretch: Lying on your back, bring your left knee towards your chest then grab that foot and bring that foot across your body so your lower leg is running straight across your body, knee on the left side, foot on the right, Know, bring your right knee back towards your body and have your left foot/ankle on your right knee. That’s the figure 4. you can gently push your left knee down a little bit so it doesn’t move as you bring your right knee towards your chest. You should absolutely feel this in your glutes.
      • Half Lord of the Fishes: Sitting on the floor both legs straight out in front, bring your right knee to your chest like you are hugging it and place your right foot on the outside of your left upper leg. Now bend your left leg and bring your left foot under your right glute. For a deeper stretch rotate your torso to the right.

When stretching there will initially be resistance by the muscles you are stretching. This lasts for up to 30 seconds. You should then feel the muscles to start to relax and that’s when you take the stretch a bit further. Now, hold for at least 60 seconds but if you can try to hold for 2 minutes. As the muscles relax a bit more take the stretch a bit further.

      • NOTE: Stretching should never hurt. You should be aware of the tension but it should never be painful.

Finally

The reps and the sets in the above exercises are general recommendations. Feel free to adjust based on your athleticism.

I hope you enjoy these exercises and if you do, keep with them. Your life might just be a bit better.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

It’s no use going back to yesterday

It’s a strange world we live in today. Our lives have been uprooted by a virus that has impacted us in so many ways that it’s unprecedented. I’ve read that the closest event that compares to the impact on people is 9/11, for us. Of course though this is a worldwide event impacting millions of people.

It is millions, isn’t it. Borders closed for who knows how long. Social interactions such as going out for dinner, the pub, a sit down coffee, and even work are gone and for who knows how long.

It’s taken me to this morning to be able to focus on this post. I’ve been fortunate in the sense that I’ve been very busy with my full time job and it’s helped to keep my mind occupied. But then you leave work and stop to pick up some groceries and you see the impact. Simple things are no longer simple.

A recent post I wrote talked about how to exercise in a small area and be just as effective as going to a gym. Little did I know who relevant that post would be today due to social distancing. That post was focused on the physical side of fitness. Today I’ll focus on the mental side of fitness and health.

Health

outside
empty the mind

Without mental health we most likely won’t have physical health. Our brain is responsible for the things we do, the choices we make. Our brain chooses that today we stay in bed and do nothing absorbed by the negative events happening around us or half way across the world sometimes. Or, our brain chooses to get out of bed and do what’s needed to be done to keep us healthy. That’s very important.

There are a ton of books, videos, podcasts that focus on having a positive attitude. I have actually purchased a book on this topic, The PMA Effect by John Joseph. Read it if you haven’t. To me, it’s a clear story of how through choices his life could have ended up totally different than where he is today.

I train and teach martial arts. I have heard and use motivational quotes all the time: You fight how you train, each day is a new day, 90% inspiration and 10% perspiration, etc. But there is one that over the years I think is very important, maybe the most important:

“Don’t worry about the things you cannot change”

It’s easy to be consumed by various things that impact our lives directly or indirectly and that can be a bad thing. Today we live in a world that we know when something devastating happens thousands of miles away. Or it can be only 50 miles away. I see people commit time, invest their mental health over a murder that might have happened in their city. They get concerned, worried, spend a lot of time engaged in this event. But they fail to distant their engagement by not fully realizing that the murdered and the murderer knew each other. The vast majority of murders are perpetrated by people who know their victim. If you are concerned about violent crime than maybe you should be training 3 times a week on how to defend yourself and now you’ve turned a negative into a positive.

I’m not being crass here. Don’t confuse this as lacking empathy. We should care about each other, our family, our friends but investing your mental health in something you cannot change only hurts you. Stress is a good thing but negative stress or too much stress no longer motivates us to act but becomes a heavy blanket preventing us from moving forward positively.

Today

It’s a new world today. I know this because I can see it. I was downtown in the city I live in yesterday, Saturday just before noon and it was barren. Parking spots abundant on the usually full streets. How long will this last? No one knows for sure. Some say it maybe months.

But we need to be strong and not worry about what we can’t change. I can’t change the fact that I can’t go out and sit down and enjoy a pour over coffee. I can’t change the fact that some businesses will lay off workers, or close.

But I can make decisions that can help. I can patron local businesses more often and tip more than usual. I can reach out to friends and family and see that they are ok. I can do things that help me stay in a more positive mindset and not get dragged down.

zen
Zen Garden

Ever wanted to try meditation? Now might be the time! Do you have a body part that needs attention? Now might be the time! Instead of exercising the same muscles switch it up. Focus on the muscles you neglect, the inside of the legs, lower back, calves, etc. Not happy with the rear muscles of your shoulders now is the time to do something about it. Then when things do get back to ‘normal’ maybe your muscle imbalance will be the muscles that used to be predominantly stronger.

But be safe about it, especially if you are working out intensely. Have you ever wondered why elite athletes get colds more often? Because when you train intensely you compromise your immunity system. Research shows that more than 90 minutes of high-intensity endurance exercise can make athletes susceptible to illness for up to 72 hours after the exercise session. Moderate exercise, on the other hand, enables immune cells to circulate through the body quicker and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses. Generally, after exercise ends our immune system returns to normal within a few hours.

Finally

Be smart. Be safe. Take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Don’t focus on things you cannot change.

Focus on the things you can change. You owe it to yourself.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

To fall downward and rust

It’s hard.

It really sucks.

The alternative is what I’ll do.

I’ll do some of it but not all of it.

This is what usually goes through our mind when it starts to get tough, when it becomes a struggle.

What

be sure to lower the weights all the way

The full extent of what your body can do can be excruciating when exercising. It’s so much easier to forgo dropping right into the squat when landing after the jump of a burpee. It’s so much easier to only kick back my legs only 70% instead of 100% when completing that burpee.

Why would I do a pushup all the way down until my nose almost touches the ground when I can do more if I only lower myself 80% of the way.

Why would I bring my knees up to my waist when doing high knees when I can do the same by only bringing them up 3/4 of the way.

Why would you? I’m going to let you know why. Because it’s harder. And because it’s harder it benefits you even if you do less (you’ll do less in the same amount of time because it requires more work).

You would think that doing more is better because that is how we think. Doing more must be better. But by compromising the principle of the exercise by not executing full range of motion you are not developing strength throughout the full range of the motion. You are strengthening only the part of the muscle used during the load you are applying. You are not developing strength in your muscles that would support you when you are in those positions you are avoiding.

And sometimes this is when injuries happen. When you lower that knee to pick something up and you go to get up, when you have to move quickly from an awkward position and you push forward. You wish the injury didn’t happen. You wish at that point that you were stronger.

How

Developing strength throughout the whole range of motion is as simple as exercising throughout the whole range of motion. That’s it. It’s harder and it can suck but it’s worth it. You’ll be strong no matter what position your body is in. Prevent injury, be strong no matter when, no matter what the situation.

Finally

When your brain is telling you to give it only 80%, tell it to go away.

You are worth more, you are worth going all the way, 100%.  Don’t give any less.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

New car, caviar, four star daydream

The fitness world has evolved along with everything else in our modern age. It’s no longer ‘do you work out?’ but has become where, or how do you work out. Your Instagram post is much more impressive and gets more likes when you’ve posted your sweaty self after your Peloton bike workout.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Work hard!

The fitness industry has exploded to a $100 billion dollar industry. Identity and branding have become integral. We are hearing more buzzwords such as wellness, training, and self-care replacing terms like health and exercising. And it makes perfect sense. If there is an opportunity to get into a growing multi-billion dollar industry corporatization will find a way.

The Peloton bike as an example in Canada will cost you just over $3,000 without the monthly subscription which will then set you back $50 / month!

Gyms have become more spas than work out centres. Workout clothing has become expensive. And ancient eastern forms of meditation have been exploited too. Yoga has evolved into a more physical, posture based exercise and has lost it’s meditative and spiritual core. How many people understand some of the tenents of yoga such as sacrificing the ego, simplicity, self-discipline. Hard to do that when you are spending hundreds of dollars on the clothing you will be wearing when doing yoga.

But…

But I’m ok with that. I’m ok with that as long as you are ok with that. Want to spend thousands of dollars to get into shape? Need that $50 dollar membership to stay motivated? That’s fine as long as it works for you. What else are the rich going to spend their money on anyway?

As long as there are options for everyone. As long as people can still afford to go to a gym, buy a decent bike, participate in group physical activity and do what they feel they need to do to get into or stay in shape. Sometimes these things can get out of hand and affordable options diminish. Kind of like the gentrifications of neighbourhoods that have been happening.

But also keep in mind that you don’t need a lot to keep yourself in shape. Keeping in shape can be pretty cheap if you keep it simple. As an example here’s a simple workout that will keep you in shape and requires you to only have a small amount of space not much larger than yourself:

          • Warm up for 5 minutes doing light jumping jacks
          • Alternate the following  for a 20 minute period:
            • High knees – 2 minutes
            • Push ups – 1 minute
            • Ab bikes – 1 minute
            • Air squats – 1 minute
          • Do these for 4 x and that’s your 20 minutes
          • Cool down and stretch

That’s it. Basic? Yes but it got the job done. And once you’ve done this for a while you can change it up by replacing high knees with burpees, change ab bikes to crunches, etc.

Stay true to yourself. Do what works for you. Try not to fall into those consumer traps, companies trying to get you to believe that these things will make you whole will make you better. They really just want your money. I guess that’s why Peloton is worth an estimated $4 billion.

Work hard, be true to yourself, and love yourself. You are worth it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

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

 

Keeping versed and on my feet

Although it’s called a vitamin it’s actually a hormone. It helps the body absorb calcium, helps prevent illness, mood disorders, muscles need it to move, and can help prevent heart disease and obesity.

Vitamin D.

outdoor
The outdoors!

Our bodies make vitamin D when we are exposed to the sun as long as we have skin exposed that isn’t covered in sunscreen. Sitting inside and being exposed to the sun’s rays through your window will not have the same effect. Cloudy skies, dark skin, being further away from the sun during the winter months will drastically reduce your body’s absorption of the sun rays for your body to make Vitamin D. Therefore most of us need to supplement to get the amount of Vitamin D we need.

As you can see your basic health needs require you to have adequate levels of Vitamin D. But there are also other benefits that come with proper levels

Fitness

 

fitness
Maximize your fitness

Some studies are showing that supplementing with Vitamin D even if your Vitamin D levels are sufficient aide in recovery following intense physical exercise, even if you are an active athlete. Vitamin D also regulates neuromuscular functioning and impacts protein synthesis which can impact your performance and recovery.

Another benefit of having sufficient levels of Vitamin D is it has been shown to reduce inflammation, another side effect of working out.

So how does Vitamin D help us with fitness?

          • Reduces muscle soreness and aids in faster recovery
          • Reduces inflammation also aiding in a faster recovery
          • Helps in building a strong immune system allowing us to work out more frequently
          • Helps in mood disorders such as depression

Supplementing

Get your blood work done and see where your Vitamin D level is. I really recommend it. With studies showing that more than 25% of people are deficient you need to know if you are one of them. North Americans are recommended to have 600 IU’s a day as the recommended daily allowance.

There are foods that naturally have Vitamin D and foods that have been fortified but according to certified clinical and integrative nutritionist Sunny Brigham, whose job is to help people transition to a plant-based lifestyle, it’s not possible to get enough vitamin D on a plant-based diet. Mushrooms grown in the sun, fortified Tofu and non-dairy milks will help but if you are a very physically active person you may need to supplement. If you are vegan I recommend getting your Vitamin D that is sourced from lichen instead of sheep’s wool.

I’m not a fan of supplementation but if you are not getting enough Vitamin D due to:

          • living in colder climates
          • the foods you consume
          • lacking sun exposure because of covering up with clothing and sunscreen
          • genetic issues such as a mutation that blunts your vitamin D receptor
          • living a very active life and requiring a higher level than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA’s are the recommended amount for the average person)

you should be supplementing. When asked about supplementing I recommend Vitamin D and Vitamin B12, 2 Vitamins most people are deficient in. See the following image for a quick reference:

 

Are you athletic and do you need more Vitamin D? Source https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5790847/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another reason to have your blood work done is Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. Just like a lot of things, too much of a good thing can be bad. Also, you should have a good understanding of not just your Vitamin D level but also other important health indicators such as B12, calcium, magnesium, cholesterol, etc. If you are lucky in that you live in a country with great healthcare getting your blood work done will not cost a lot of money. You may have to push your doctor for it but don’t be afraid to do that. Don’t feel bad about advocating for yourself. Most doctors won’t push for these tests until you start to show symptoms and by then who knows what damage has been done. And most doctors wont link things such as excessive muscle soreness, mood disorders to possibly being caused by a lack of Vitamin D. Doctors are trained to prescribe medication, drugs. Complain about inflamation and they will prescribe ibuprofen or naproxen, complain about depression and they will prescribe SSRI’s or SNRIs.

But what if, what if these things were due to lack of Vitamin D, or B12? You wouldn’t know, would you? And now you are dealing with terrible side effects due to being on these drugs.

You are in charge of your health, not your doctor. Don’t be afraid to take charge!

Finally

Keep exercising, keep eating well and healthy but have your blood work done and more than likely you will find out that you need to supplement your Vitamin D. And if you are eating well you probably only need to take Vitamin D and B12.

One more thing, check out the infographic below from FoundMyFitness’ Dr. Rhonda Patrick.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Vitamin D infographic with permission from FoundMyFitness