We’re gonna vent our frustration

You want to make the time but you can’t. If you have read my posts you may have read one that talks about prioritizing the things that are important to you in your life and to make the time to do those things. It looks great on paper but not easily done.

I’d like to think I have all the answers.

 

You want to make the time but you can’t. If you have read my posts you may have read one that talks about prioritizing the things that are important to you in your life and to make the time to do those things. It looks great on paper but not easily done. It can take some time to change your habits and have the new things you do become your habits. But lets not get too deep into that and instead here is a post on how to maximize the time you do have so you aren’t taking a hit physically.

 

The workout

Let’s start by warming up. PRO TIP: Never start exercising without warming up the body. Not warming up can lead to immediate injury or incurring an injury later. To warm up you can do things like jumping jacks, mountain climbers (at a bit of a slower pace), rotating your arms backwards/forwards, leg swings, etc. The goal is to keep everything moving and to also get your heart rate up to about 120 bpm’s (beats per minute). Here is a simple warm up to do that.

*WARNING* The following is a high intense workout. Consult with your doctor before starting any physical program and also before changing your workout to something more intense.

The warm up

Exercise: Jumping Jacks. Duration: 30 seconds. If you don’t know how to do Jumping Jacks then google it. Doesn’t everyone know how to do these?

Exercise: Arm Crosses. Duration: 60 seconds. Cross your arms like you are giving someone a hug then swing back to open up your arms. Alternate each time which arm is the upper arm. Gradually let your arms open up a bit more each time, dynamically stretching the front of your shoulders.

Exercise: Leg Swing. Duration 60 seconds. Starting with the left leg, bring it as far back behind you then swing forward trying to touch your outstretched right hand. Then do the other side. The goal is to increase gently the backwards and forwards motion of your leg swings. Keep switching from one leg to the other.

Exercise: High Knees: Duration: 60 seconds. Using your core and leg muscles, raise a knee up as high as it will go keeping that foot under the knee, not behind close to your bum. Then do the other leg. The objective here is to do this in a controlled fashion, using the muscles to raise the knee, and not bending forward crunching up. Change back and forth from one leg to the other at a pace that isn’t too quick as again we want to maintain control and also keep our heart rate at 120 bpm as we are warming up.

Exercise: Arm Rotations: Duration 60 seconds. You can do this using both arms at the same time or alternate back and forth. Swing arms up and behind you like you are making big circles. Don’t go too fast as you don’t want centrifugal force to take over possibly causing an injury. You can change direction to a forward rotation half way through.

Exercise: Mountain Climbers. Duration: 30 seconds. Position yourself like you are in the starting blocks for a 100 meter dash, weight on your hands, one foot forward, one back. Now alternate quickly which foot is forward and which one is back. Keep this alternating, back and forth motion going like you are running nowhere. Think of your knees driving forward and backwards. Keep the pace at a rate that keeps your heart rate around 120 bpm.

Summary

Here’s what the warm up looks like:

Jumping Jacks:  30 seconds

Arm Crosses: 60 seconds

Leg Swings: 60 seconds

*Mountain Climbers: 30 seconds

Arm Rotations: 60 seconds

High Knees: 60 seconds

* You can substitute Jumping Jacks for Mountain climbers if you find the load too much on your wrists or shoulders.

Workout

Now that our body is warm let’s get into it.

*WARNING* The following is a high intense workout. Consult with your doctor before starting any physical program and also before changing your workout to something more intense.

The following workout is a high intensity interval training workout. Specifically because this is meant to be done with little time this is a Tabata workout. As with any workout, it is very important to follow the spirit of the workout, of Tabata. 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for a period of 4 minutes. The 20 seconds is 100% effort while the 10 seconds is 0% effort. Basically the 10 second rest period should be spent trying to get your heart rate back down quickly by focusing on deep breathing and quieting the mind.

One more time. Tabata: 20 seconds 100% effort, followed by 10 seconds 0% effort intervals for a duration of 4 minutes. There are plenty of free Tabata apps for smartphones. I would recommend using one of these.

You will know if you truly adhered to what a Tabata workout is if when you were done you were a big pile of goop. Really. Although a short period to exercise (4 minutes) you should be exhausted because during the work phase of Tabata you really did give it 100% effort. Read here to find out the benefits of this type of exercising.

Exercises

Burpees. That’s it. You really need only one exercise for a good Tabata workout. And the great thing is you can do burpees pretty much anywhere. No special equipment, no large space needed. I like to use burpees for this because it’s an exercise that increases our heart rate to max as quickly as possible and also keeping in mind constraints like space, equipment. Be sure to always use full range of motion, lowering yourself down into the squat all the way before kicking your feet out behind you, to almost the same position as a plank.

Can you do other things? Sure. You can sprint for 20 seconds. You can do alternating lunges with a really quick foot change. It has to be quick. If you do your lunges without the quickness your heart rate is taking longer to get to max. And again, you have only 20 seconds. High Knees at a fast pace? Maybe, if you really push it. I’m not a fan of this because high knees end up being middle knees then lower knees. It’s too easy for the intensity to slip. It’s hard to do that with burpees if you keep moving. You are forced to move your whole body. It’s excruciating. That’s why everyone hates burpees.

Done

Now that you have completed your Tabata and you are dead, don’t just stand there. Jog lightly or just shuffle the feet so you are still moving and focus on breathing. Stay loose, let the arms move. Deep breaths (and I mean deep) in through the nose and then force the air out via your mouth. This has to be active breathing, not passive. Forcefully breathing in and out using the full capacity of your lungs will get rid of the residual air in your lungs and replace it with fresh oxygen full air thus bringing your heart rate down to a lower level quicker. Also by moving your body around you prevent blood from pooling. Keep this up for whatever time it takes you to get your heart rate back to about 120 bpms. You can then let your heart rate come down to about resting rate as you spend 5 minutes for stretching. Don’t want to stretch? Read this and maybe you’ll change your mind.

Stretching

I’ve done many posts on stretching and hopefully you have read them and are an avid stretcher. Because of this I’m not going to spend much time on this. Try to spend at least 5 minutes stretching. The payoff will be huge with benefits such as injury prevention, better quality of life due to increase in mobility. One thing I will say is don’t stretch the muscles that don’t need it. Spend time on your weak areas. Not sure what those are? Hire a personal trainer.

Lastly

That’s it. 5 minutes to warm up, 4 minutes of work, 2 minutes to cool down, and 5 minutes to stretch. 16 minutes of your day, ahh, let’s round up to 20 minutes. And this isn’t some crappy thrown together work out that you won’t see results from. THIS GETS YOU RESULTS.

It’s intense and demands a lot of you. Because of that be sure to get your rest. And because of the intensity you cannot do this every day. How often you can do Tabata is based on things such as your current level of fitness, age, injuries, health issues, etc. If you are not sure hire a personal trainer. But be sure to understand these things to help prevent injury or health issues.  And again:

*WARNING* This is a high intense workout. Consult with your doctor before starting any physical program and also before changing your workout to something more intense.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

wanting it easier than this

I often forget, but lately I’ve been reminded.

To me it’s pretty high up there, almost right up there with water. Lately at least it has. We can neglect this for many reasons, some being self inflicted the remaining due to circumstances of our life. And you don’t always realize the level of severity until your sane sense of mind returns.

Sleep

It’s been a really long week for me, physically and mentally. It’s been a sad time as my best friend, and teacher, dad passed away. With all that comes along with that I’ve been teaching all classes. And also due to a relatively new warehouse management system implemented earlier this year where I work it’s been really early mornings for me having to deal with unplanned warehouse outages. Also to add onto that my nagging shoulder and,I don’t know why, a really tight/sore mid upper back has not made for the best sleep when I’ve been able to get it.

We can feel the tiredness and sometimes even the toll this has on our mental faculties as we struggle to get through the day and mentally have to process things. And we don’t always realize it until that sleep comes upon us, enough of it and we then realize how it impacted us. How we weren’t the person we normally are. How we couldn’t quite process things in a manner that may have made sense. It reminds me of watching a video on youtube at a quality of 144p then seeing it again in HD. Things then become sharper. Of course I realize the impact lack of sleep has on our processing part of the brain. Tests have been done to show this. We lose some of the ability to do math, our reading becomes slower and reflexes too. But I don’t believe I’ve seen studies on the impact lack of sleep can have on us emotionally. I’ll have to look for that.

Also, if part of your life includes goals that involve physical performance lack of sleep will negatively impact that. Sleeping allows our body to go through the process of healing itself from the damage done by exercising (micro tears of muscle fiber) allowing the process of muscles repairing and getting stronger/bigger. When you sleep your body produces infection fighting substances like cytokines. If you don’t get enough sleep you are impacting your body from fending of invaders and also it may take you longer to get better when you do get sick.

Lack of sleep can also impact balance putting you at risk for an immediate injury or lead to improper technique when exercising causing unnecessary stress on joints and connective tissue.

Why

I do realize I’ve recently written a post on importance of sleep. But I thought, no more like felt the need to write this one. If you have one of those days, or even weeks where you know you didn’t get the sleep you needed try to keep things to a lesser demanding schedule if you can. Keep things subdued and try not to do anything that calls on you to be at your best.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

same time, different year

I think each of us deal with two primary voices we hear from our brain. One voice, the voice that tells us to stay in bed, the voice that tells us that there will always be tomorrow to get up and go running, the voice that tells us to indulge more than we should.

Will it be different?

 

Clocks have been set back an hour, darkness upon us earlier into the night. Getting colder and colder as the weeks go on.

This time of year along with the deep winter months can be tough to keep yourself motivated. The darkness can effect us in a bad way, and during the day when it’s not sunny out, that can keep us in the dumps some times, or most times. What can be done about it?

The voice

I think each of us deal with two primary voices we hear from our brain. One voice, the voice that tells us to stay in bed, the voice that tells us that there will always be tomorrow to get up and go running, the voice that tells us to indulge more than we should. We have another voice, the voice that tells us how better we will feel after the work out, the voice that tells us we will be closer to our goal if we work out, the voice that in a sense lets us know what the right thing to do is. But, the first voice is very strong. It’s strong on it’s own but can be strengthened by events from our life, things that have shaped us. And it can be hard to ignore. The first voice is the voice that we should ignore and not pay attention to. Some times the messages from that voice can be really hurtful, the messages like we’re not worth it, we don’t deserve it, it’s too scary, what if I fail, and it doesn’t matter anyway.

That voice is 100% negative, not benefiting us in anyway. It’s hard to ignore, I know, but we have to. We have to not listen to it as it does us no benefit to listen to it. It will never be the voice that gets us to where we need to be to cross the finish line in our next race, to complete our next triathlon, the voice that gets us the job we want. It’s the voice that will stop you from doing all of those things, if you listen to it.

How

How do I know? Because I honestly believe that all of us can do those things. All of us have the parts, the tools, the capabilities to do anything we want if we work at it and do what is needed to accomplish great things. 30 years ago running a marathon was a HUGE deal. You were an elite athlete if you completed a marathon. Today? It’s not uncommon to know people who have done that. Now, people are running ultra marathons, multiple day endurance races. People are completing 5 ironman triathons in 5 days! But of course these must be gifted people, people who genetically are superior. Nah, I don’t think so. These people are no different that you or I. They have struggled like you and I. They still struggle, everyone does. They decided though to not listen to that first voice but listen to the voice that is the positive voice, the voice that says if you want this then do it. Get up in the morning and do it. Tomorrow is there but what are you doing today? The voice that says you can do it, why not?

Why Not

And why not? What is holding you back? Really, what is it? Fear, intimidation, lack of time, self doubt? Whatever it is you will never get started and do these things if you don’t address them. Fear of failure? I’d rather fail at something than not try at all. You learn about yourself when you fail, you learn the good things about yourself. Failure should be something we accept especially if we tried our best. And if anyone criticizes you because of it then maybe you don’t need to hang around those people any longer. It is so easy to sit back on the side lines and criticize people for falling, for failing. But if you fail than so what? You TRIED to do it. And there’s next time. Look honestly as to why you failed and make changes. And what was the failure anyway? Did you fail to complete the marathon but completed half of it? Wow, you just completed a half marathon! Pretty awesome!

Be honest with yourself be it a success or failure. Analyze and determine what things could have been done differently for a better outcome. And move forward. You only harm yourself dwelling on failures.

Lack of time can be remedied by reducing time spent doing things that do not get you to your goal. We all love spending time on the internet but if that is preventing you from reaching your goal than it’s not helping you. Sometimes we do these things because we can zone out, relax. Try meditation to relax. There are many more benefits to this than passively watching vids.

Self doubt is a real killer. I think most of us, or maybe all of us have that in us. Sometimes self doubt is used to stop us from starting something new, or making a change in our lives. We’d rather go through life dealing with the same shit every day, knowing how much we detest it instead of making a change. It’s familiar, comfortable even though it’s harmful. I had an opportunity to become a ship’s diver, a 6 week course with a 60% failure rate. As it got closer to the course I was scared shitless! I heard so many stories of so many failures that I almost pulled out. To this day I’m glad I didn’t. I became a member of an elite team and also had the opportunity to become  a full time commercial diver. I finished first in my class. Now, if I did pull out I would never have had the opportunity to learn these things about myself.

The other voice

Listen to the voice that tells you what you need to do to achieve your goals. Listen to that voice that says to get out of bed even though it’s cold and miserable outside. Surround yourself with positive people who encourage you to do these things that make you grow as a person. You will become a passive influencer. Become that roll model for younger people. We need more of those. Too many people of lesser quality are influencing our younger generations. No longer is the message to push yourself hard, to do great things with your life, to strive to achieve that huge goal. Instead they are learning that money is everything no matter what the cost. Shallowness rules the social media networks.

Become someone you want to be and let that rub off onto others. It’s awesome to do that and give back what you got. Be that person you need, or needed in your life for someone else.

Lastly

I didn’t think this post was going to be this long. I only meant it to be a post about helping you with this time of year but if it helps you get that kick in the ass you need than it was worth it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Savin’ the world from Solomon Grundy

I’m probably guilty of it just as much as anyone else. I try to incorporate exercises that work parts of our body that we neglect but I too sometimes forget about the lower back. I’d think it’s a safe bet to say most of us don’t exercise our lower back. When was the last time you did supermans? That long ago eh.

To carry on, …, and keep goin’

 

I’m probably guilty of it just as much as anyone else. I try to incorporate exercises that work parts of our body that we neglect but I too sometimes forget about the lower back. I’d think it’s a safe bet to say most of us don’t exercise our lower back. When was the last time you did supermans? That long ago eh.

And I’m also going to say if you did them you probably did them incorrectly. Some of us when we exercise want to go full in, are not happy with small subtle movements. That’s primarily the problem when people do supermans, they want to put too much into it that they end up not even building the muscles they are trying to build. Let me explain.

What

Supermans is an exercise that everyone should be doing. Supermans targets the erector spinae, a group of muscles that extend from the base of the skull to the sacrum. Sitting a lot? Having back issues once in a while? Posture not that great? Been neglecting the lower back? Then supermans is what you need. A strong core is not only the abs, but also the back.

How

I think we know the exercise supermans. It’s done how it sounds. Lay on the floor and project your body just like superman flying about, arms, legs out like you are flying ready to save the world! Right? Not really. It’s more sublime than that unless you have been doing them for a long time and have mastered not letting your body engage your glutes because that’s what the body wants to do. That’s the hard part, easing into it so the glutes don’t end up taking over.

Easy

But who doesn’t want to look cool, arms out in front, legs up off of the ground. The problem is when you put your core into a situation where there is a large load, muscles kick in to help you support that load. Muscles such as the glutes, and abdominals. But we want to work the lower back, not these muscles. And being honest with you, the way I want you to do them actually looks quite silly. But, it’s a great way to learn how to engage your lower back and not the glutes.

Here we go. Laying on your stomach, I want you to put your hands under your chin. Now, staying really relaxed, concentrating on your lower back, with your hands under you chin, touching your chin, raise your head up from the floor about 2 to 4 inches. Do it slowly constantly thinking of your lower back doing the work, not your glutes. Hold for about 30 seconds to a minute. Relax for about a minute then repeat, relax again and repeat again. Did it work? Did your lower back do the work and told your glutes to eff off? No? Then try again. Actively think of the lower back engaging and actively think of the glutes staying relaxed. It takes time so keep trying and don’t give up. You will get there.

That’s it! It’s that simple!

Ok, not really. It’s hard to get your lower back to do the work and stop your stupid glutes from wanting to take over. But doing it this way keeps the load light and makes it easier to do the exercise properly. Once you get really good at this you can then actually do the exercise while looking like a proper superman, or superwoman, superman’s cousin.

Finally

You’ll hate doing it this way, looking all silly and stuff. I know, believe me. Whenever I have my class do this exercise I have to tell them over and over to keep their feet on the ground, and the looks I get, man lasers burning holes in me. Everyone wants to jut their arms out in front, get their feet up off of the ground but you can’t do it this way. When I see this I know everyone just engaged their glutes and their lower backs aren’t doing anything.

So don’t do that. You’re not benefiting by doing the exercise incorrectly.

Be a real superman, or superwoman and build that lower back properly!

Yours in health,

Darryl

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill


who disappeared into those shadows

We all have voices. Some tend to be very vocal quite often and some of us tend to not use our voice. Of course we all speak but I’m referring to the voice that advocates for ourselves.

It’s  a tough thing to do. Often we don’t advocate for ourselves for a number of reasons. We may have been brought up where you were never aloud to be heard. Often told to shush, be quiet. We can be raised to always respect and not question authority which extends to the people we deal with in health care. Your personality might be that of a quiet person, someone who is more introverted than extroverted. On the extreme side of things a traumatic event could have happened that makes it very difficult to speak up for yourself. And if you won’t speak up for yourself, who will?

I think also many times we don’t speak up for ourselves in fear of the consequences. But the consequences of not speaking up can directly affect you but in the short term and long term.

Why does it matter?

What does this have to do with a health and fitness blog? A lot. All of us have been injured at some point, or if not a physical injury we may have something going on with our body such as nagging pains, or generally not feeling well. What do we do? We usually visit our doctor. Hopefully it’s a successful visit and whatever was ailing you is resolved. But that’s not always the case.

Does he have your best intentions in mind and is he highly competent?

How many of us go to our doctor and then leave feeling that it was a waste of time? How may of us visit our doctor and end up still dealing with the same issue months later? 

Who cares more than you do

I’ve been there. And I’m sure a lot of you have too. I know I feel guilty if I start to question my doctor. And honestly how many of us know what the next step is if we don’t agree with our doctor? It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine is sitting in the doctor’s office while the nurse gets the doctor. She happens to glance at her medical file the nurse left behind and sees a note left by a doctor that she’s difficult. The doctor walks in catching Elaine reading her file. He’s not pleased that the ‘confidentiality’ of the medical file on her has been broken. She is quickly dismissed without him even looking at her issue she came in for. She then sees another doctor hoping to leave all that stuff behind. Elaine is surprised to see he has her file in his hand and after looking at her file quickly dismisses her too having read the entry from her last doctor.

It shouldn’t be that way. We shouldn’t feel that there are negative repercussions speaking up for ourselves when we see any health care professional. People in the medical profession are just like anyone else in any other profession. Lousy mechanics, lousy lawyers, lousy customer service representatives, etc. We tend to hold these people in high esteem but really they are no different then us. Just like any profession, there are competent people and there are the other ones.


You

Take charge of you health and wellness. If after a visit with a health care professional you feel that the issue hasn’t been taken care of, go back and explain this. I always believe in giving that person a chance to hear you out. Then, if you make no progress, ask to see another professional. We have all seen stories of people, or know people who have been misdiagnosed and have suffered for months, or years, or in the worse case, have died. When I broke my foot and went to the hospital the nurse told me I was lucky that an orthopedic surgeon happened to look at my x-ray because the first doctor who saw it did not see the break. It’s not always an issue of competency either. The health care system is overtaxed and health care professionals have less time to spend with their patients. People can make mistakes when they are rushed.

If you don’t speak up for yourself, who will?

Be your own ombudsman. Advocate for yourself. And keep advocating for yourself until you feel better, are better. Ask if there is a specialist you can see regarding the issue. Don’t be that person who a year later is still dealing with the same issue. That’s not fair to you!

Be persistent and never give up. Never forget you are worth it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Remembering games and daisy chains

You raise the blade, you make the change

 

I apologize now if this post reads negatively. You may construe it as being negative but it isn’t. Sometimes when we read or hear something that dispels common beliefs or your own beliefs we tend to call the messenger negative. Someone who believes they are realistic are commonly referred to as negative. Hopefully in the end though this article won’t be viewed as negative. I hope to provide enough data that this will be the case.

What

Steps. Getting your steps in. I work in an office environment and I sit on the perimeter of  a large amount of cubicles. I often have people walking by where I sit because they got to get their steps in. Recently there has been a new recruit in the pursuit of getting steps in. This person is much younger than the others, not that that really matters other than showing the demographic of step getters has expanded from people in late adulthood to people in their early adulthood years. I was intrigued by this new stepper and decided to ask her some questions. Basically the idea is to reach your goal of daily steps to keep fit and stay active.

The issue

Unfortunately some people, or maybe most people look at fitness trackers, or more specifically ‘getting my steps in’ as a substitute for real exercise. If you are someone who for medical reasons cannot participate in a form of exercise that increases your heart rate to at least 80%, or cannot participate in any resistance training then I’m ok if getting your steps in is all you do.

But if you do not fall into the above then getting in steps should be something in addition to your workout. If you are desk bound at your job then great, a reminder to get up and walk around. Everyone should get out of their chair frequently regardless of being at work or home. But many times this becomes the substitute to the workout. People actually think they are doing their part to keep themselves healthy. And this gives a false sense of security.

Why is that? Because getting in 10,000 steps doesn’t take into consideration the intensity. And what about duration? If it took me 8 hours to get in 10,000 steps there really isn’t much of a benefit other than being mobile, or somewhat mobile. My heart rate isn’t increasing that much if at all so I’m not realizing the benefits from a high intense workout. And why 10,000? If I am really active in my life, I run 3x a week, or I swim, does getting in 10,000 steps a day benefit me? Maybe I should be getting in 30,000 steps?

This process of getting in 10,000 steps also give people a false sense of achievement. They no longer feel guilty about eating that second piece of cake, or having an additional doughnut. It becomes a justification to indulge: “hey, pass me another piece of pie, I got room, I got my 10,000 steps in today!”. Not to be crass but this happens. Let’s just say of all the ‘stepper’s’ there are where I work, none of them would appear to be healthy. Not by a slim margin but a large margin. I’d even go as far to say they would fall under the obese category for body weight.

As a personal trainer I like to find out why people are getting in their steps and what they feel the benefit is. I have to take a somewhat detached approach because if I don’t my personal trainer side, and also my side of me that wants to help people will come out. My tendencies to let them know that this should be in addition to a regular intense workout that includes resistance training doesn’t go over well. And I have to work with these people too so I don’t need to make any enemies.

I don’t want to say it’s a cult but some of these steppers are hardcore about the benefits and it is almost like a badge of honor, like they just completed a triathlon. Stepping with pride. And these fitness trackers aren’t cheap either so telling someone that their fitness tracker is not the panacea for achieving a healthy life style can be a really downer.

Is it that we live in an age where the goal is feeling good about ourselves regardless of the cost, both monetarily and health wise? Is it the marketing? Is it wanting to belong to a group that drives us to do this?

I don’t know. Maybe some of these or all of them.

Or I might know what it is. People have their minds made up and don’t want to change. If they change it means they were wrong. And that’s hard to accept. I see it once in a while You interact with someone over a number of months and they aren’t making any fitness gains. So you talk to them and express what they should be doing. Either they change or they don’t. Mostly they don’t. They don’t change what they are doing and they don’t change physically because they DON’T change what they are doing. For sure, it could be me, the messenger. But I think it’s fair to say most times it’s the person. Stubbornness, pride, fearing the unknown. Some people don’t want to change because they may feel there are consequences to being a different person. As an example becoming vegan for some people is tough because of the social impact. You can no longer eat grandma’s turkey at thanksgiving, or going to a friends BBQ may mean bringing your own food and having to deal with the questions around that. Some people just don’t want to deal with that. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But I do believe psychology plays a huge role in fitness and health.

But I digress.

If you get yourself a fitness tracker use it to it’s fullest. Use it for the heart rate monitor so you know you are hitting that 90% bpm when training intensely. Use it to monitor your sleep so you know you are resting well. Use it for steps to get yourself out of the chair at the office but only for that reason, not as a substitute for a good workout.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

Tired, tired with nothing, tired with everything

“I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.”

Are you feeling this way? You are, and don’t know why? Eating well, you know, eating clean (I hate the saying ‘eating clean’ by the way because by people’s definition of eating clean doesn’t remove foods that cause illness and disease)? Getting adequate rest on most nights, working out so you are physically working your body? Yes? But you are still tired.

What about weakness? Not making strength gains and generally feel weak or weaker? Do you find it cold most of the times where as others around you are comfortable? Maybe mentally you aren’t feeling the best either, struggling at times with depression.

I don’t want to sound like a commercial for a drug but if this sounds like you, you might be experiencing thyroid issues, specifically hypothyroidism.

What

Hypothyroidism is an under active thyroid gland. Basically your thyroid isn’t producing enough of certain important hormones.

And this can take time. You may be having thyroid issues for quite a while but it isn’t until now or lately that the symptoms have manifested enough that they have become obvious. Let’s look at the symptoms that come along with hypothyroidism:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory

Do you have any of these? Do you have a lot of these? Have you been dealing with these things over a long period of time? If you have please see your doctor as soon as you can as left untreated hypothyroidism over time will cause the thyroid gland to enlarge and can become life threatening.

If you are dealing with some of these things it’s always a good idea to bring them up with your doctor. You could be dealing with some of these things and not have hypothyroidism. But you don’t know for sure until you see your doctor and have tests run. Hopefully you are someone who is in tune with your body, you are honest with yourself with respect to knowing what you eat, how you are sleeping and your workout ethic. Also being aware of when things change. If your life has remained more or less constant over a long period of time and you start sensing changes such as the above symptoms then for sure see your doctor. I’m fortunate that I live in Canada and going to my doctor is as easy and is as cheap as picking up my phone and making an appointment. We get used to this luxury and then get caught up in the difficulty of having to take time off of work to do this, and having to get to our doctor. But, the alternative is worse. If you happen to have hypothyroidism and leave it untreated it can get devastatingly worse. Take yourself a sick day so you are able to take care of yourself and not end up having to take a lot of sick days because of the consequences of something being left untreated.

Impact

Let’s look at what can happen over time if hypothyroidism is left untreated:

  • Heart problems: Your LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) level may rise possibly leading to an enlarged heart and heart failure
  •  Mental health: depression may occur and may even become severe. Hypothyroidism may also cause slowed mental functioning
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Pain, numbness in areas possibly in your legs and arms. Muscle weakness or loss of muscle control
  • Goiter: If the thyroid gland becomes enlarged you may develop a goiter which can interfere with breathing and swallowing

 

Part II

Hyperthyroidism

Unlike an under active thyroid gland, hyperthyroidism is the result of an over active thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your body’s metabolism significantly, causing sudden weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating, and nervousness or irritability.

What

Are you experiencing any of the following:

  • Sudden weight loss, even when your appetite and the amount and type of food you eat remain the same or even increase
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — commonly more than 100 beats a minute — irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or pounding of your heart (palpitations)
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
  • Sweating
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
  • Fatigue, muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin thinning
  • Fine, brittle hair

 

Lastly

Does this sound like you? Are you having to deal with some, or a lot of these symptoms? See your doctor.

Try to always be in tune with your body, with your health. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes it sucks to do that, to be honest with yourself but if you do it it only benefits you. It helps you to get to what the issue is. No one wants to be that hypochondriac. If you are honest with yourself and you are dealing with the above symptoms and you are pretty certain that its not due to other things such as a poor diet, lack of exercise, dealing with traumatic emotional issues then see your doctor.

Take care of yourself. Use those resources that are there for you to do this.

Don’t ever feel guilty about doing that.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

washing away that which doesn’t matter

We don’t always hear what is good for us. Most times it’s because money can’t be made trying to market and sell. Whenever someone finds out I’m vegan usually I’m asked where I get my protein. My news feed on my phone constantly has articles on protein: what kind of protein should you be taking, are you getting enough protein, what protein should you eat based on your goal, is plant based protein adequate. Stuff like that. But I have yet to see an article on the dangers to our health when we consume too much protein. But that doesn’t sell and make money. Let’s take fiber as an example. How do you make it look appealing to sell? It doesn’t sizzle, it doesn’t make your mouth water, it doesn’t have deep dark attractive colours.

 

What

I’ve never been asked and I’ve never heard anyone be asked where do you get your fiber? I’ve never heard people ask when someone discusses the new diet they are on, ‘are you getting enough fiber?’. Have never seen any articles come to my news feed, have never heard anyone talk about it when discussing what they are doing to eat well. Always protein, fats, and carbs but usually it’s the demonization of carbs.

All fiber comes from plants. All. It is what gives plants their structure. It creates the shape of the plant, and it makes up the bulk of the seeds. Our body cannot digest fiber but it benefits our body in so many ways and plays an essential role in good health.

There are two types of fiber,soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber will dissolve in water where as insoluble will not. Soluble fiber slows down digestion, giving us the satiated feeling after eating and insoluble is what promotes regular bowel movements. Pretty important things. We usually associate a high protein or fat meal to give us the feeling of fullness, or that satiated feeling. But fiber can do that too and it benefits our health greatly to get that feeling from fiber instead of protein or fat. The second benefit of fiber, the pooping more one will be touch on throughout this article.

Why

Why is fiber good for us? I’ve explained one benefit already, the satiated feeling. If we feel full after eating we are less to eat more thus consuming less calories and keeping our weight in check. But let’s talk about what other benefits there are.

Have you ever juice fasted or know someone who has? Did you end up having acne breakouts? It’s common for people who juice fast, or increase their intake of juice and thus eat less food and less fiber to experience acne break out. And it has nothing to do with the skin detoxing chemicals. It’s a sign of hormone imbalance. All toxins are expelled from our body via urine and feces, not the skin through sweat. All this is done through the liver. Toxins, extra hormones are sent to the liver and then picked up by the small intestine via fiber. If there isn’t enough fiber because we are not eating enough then the toxins, and hormones stay in our system, waiting for that fiber train to come by. When someone is juice fasting there isn’t enough fiber in their body to wash away the excess hormones and thus end up having a hormone imbalance which ends up in an acne breakout.

Fiber is also used by the liver to detoxify a bunch of other things: alcohol, medications, food additives, sweeteners, chemicals, etc. Again, without enough fiber these toxins stay in your body. Yikes!

So if you think about what fiber does for us in removing toxins, wouldn’t you want to remove those toxins as soon as possible? If you aren’t eating enough fiber those toxins remain in your body, sometimes for days depending on the person. That could be why not eating enough fiber is linked to an increase in diseases such as coronary disease, can lead to cancer, diabetes, and skin health issues.

How

According to the Institute of Medicine, the average female needs 25 grams of fiber a day, and the average male needs 38 grams per day. If you fall into the 97% of americans not getting enough fiber than your intake is probably no higher than 15 grams.

The easiest way to consume more fiber is to follow a whole foods plant based diet. As mentioned earlier, all fiber comes from plants. There is zero fiber in animal products. You wont have to spend time trying to understand if you are consuming enough fiber by measuring and counting grams, and you wont have to worry about all the bad things you would be consuming if eating animal products. If you think about it, fiber helps to get rid of extra hormones. Consuming animal products, especially dairy products introduces extra hormones into the body (cow milk is a product whose purpose is to provide the nutrients, and hormones to a new born calf to get that new born calf to about 500lbs in a year) and now your body has to remove those extra hormones. If you aren’t eating enough fiber to get rid of those hormones you could be experiencing some of these issues mentioned previously.

Whole grain foods, potatoes with the skin on, raw berries (try not to pulverize them in the smoothy machine), nuts, seeds, and anything else that is plant based. The more variety the better.

Cut down on processed foods. This is why I don’t say to follow a vegan diet. Veganism is more than what you eat, it’s main focus on not harming animals. So you could eat nothing but potato chips and be vegan. Whole foods plant based diet is the best way to go.

WARNING: If you are someone who has not been getting enough fiber, maybe none to 10, 15 or so grams and you make this switch I warn you now you will probably experience some bloating. Why? Because your gut does not have the proper bacteria because of not eating the proper foods. When you introduce this increase of fiber the gut bacteria you do have starts to ferment it and that fermentation produces a large amount of gas thus the bloating. Give it time, this will stop as new, healthier bacteria form. Think of it as a good thing. Your body is shifting away from harmful bacteria to protective bacteria. Ease into it. Increase the amount of fiber slowly if you feel you need to. Think of it as never running to all of a sudden having to run 5 miles.

And…

Take ownership of your health. What issues are you dealing with? Can those problems be addressed by a change to your diet, a change for the better? It would be like continuing to put low grade gas into my car and then taking the car to the mechanic to address the engine damage that has been done. Change the fuel and no more engine issues. Food is fuel and the higher quality fuel you eat the better your body runs.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Give me things that don’t get lost

Run around the same old town

 

Generalities, not specifics. There are guidelines when it comes to training and there are also rules. Just like a lot of things in life, guidelines are recommendations where as rules pertain to everyone. In the context of working out a rule would be not to lean forward when doing barbell squats and a guideline would be to rest a muscle group you just worked out for 48 or more hours. Make sense?

To a point, everyone is different. We are very similar but there are things that make us different and we need to be in tune with our body to understand how you as an individual is different. Sometimes we hear things or read things and think I’m going to do that, even though we don’t have all the important information. You’ll hear about successful people who only sleep maybe 5 hours a day. This is presented in such that you believe this is why they are successful. So what do you do? You start by feeling guilty that you are sleeping your life away instead of being productive and thus successful. And if you didn’t know that people who tend to do this without feeling like crap are able to because they don’t require more sleep then you are making a misinformed decision. They are able to do this without compromising their health. It’s a very small percentage of people who can do this and if you are not one of them you are setting yourself up for some serious health issues.

So let’s look at the 48 hour rule. A lot of thing influence how much rest you need between working muscle groups:

  • Are you getting enough sleep? If you are burning the candle at both ends then you may actually need more than 48 hours to recover from that workout. How do you feel when you wake up? Groggy, miserable, disinterested in things? Are you hanging on by a thread throughout the day? Sometimes we can’t avoid not getting enough sleep but if you can change your routine to get the sleep you need then do it. A good way to know how much you need is to go to bed when you are tired, wake up without an alarm and see how long that period was. Our body is smart and can manage how much sleep we need. Normally when you naturally wake up without an aid like an alarm clock or an external disturbance you have had enough sleep. Then, use that as your guideline. If you have had a more than normal intense day be it due to a work out, or emotional stress then you may need more. Try to adjust for that.
  • How intense was your workout? If your output is 100% and duration is more than an hour then you may need more than 48 hours to recover. If it’s a lighter then normal workout then you many only need 36 hours to recover. I can’t really tell you if you are working out intensely, you need to be the judge of that and for that I would recommend a personal trainer to monitor your workouts. Most people think they are working hard when really they aren’t. What some people perceive as intense usually is more in the moderate area.
  • What is your goal? If your goal is to lose fat or to be healthier and you aren’t a competing athlete then it may not be  a big deal if you don’t get the full recovery period once in a while. In the grand scheme of things if this happens once in a while, maybe once a month or two then don’t get worked up over it. If it happens too often then you may be increasing the risk of injury. We have to be flexible in our lives. I think it’s better to workout when this happens once in a while instead of missing that workout. If you are a competitor it may make more sense to forego working out that body part and try to work something else out knowing your schedule.
  • Are you eating healthy? A lot of my posts touch on eating as it has a lot to do with our fitness and of course health. It’s probably the largest influence on our health. What we eat has about an 80% influence on our body weight and make up. If you are beating up your body day in and day out it needs the proper foods to recover and repair the body. We tend to forget that. If you have a pet you probably know or see that when they are fed foods that are of low quality containing junk or filler. If your body needs to repair itself and it has nothing to do it with because your eating choices are poor then you are increasing the length of time for full recovery. If you are eating foods that cause inflammation, causing disease, and not providing the nutrients you need but instead providing the opposite your recovery times will be much longer. Here’s what a former NFL lineman had to say:
    • “It was hard for me to do bench press, it was hard for me to do push-ups,” Carter says. “Even lifting my body out of the bathtub, it felt like someone was taking a knife to my elbows and twisting that knife around and it was excruciating pain.” You can read more here about what he did to address this.
    • Check this out too on why professional athletes are changing their definitions of healthy eating, or ‘clean’ eating. Clean eating may not be what you think it is.

You

It’s really based on how you know your body. Feedback. What is your body telling you? Figure it out and listen to it. Educate yourself too. Too many people invest time in things that do nothing for their health but then seem to have the time for when they become injured or sick. Be proactive instead of reactive. You’ll feel better, get positive results quicker and in the long term be a healthier person.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Take all that you need

I’m locked away to defy and die

Welcome to today’s blog post. There are many reasons why we can be tired, but today I would like to focus on one specifically: iron. Iron doesn’t get as much publicity as lets say protein but it is really important and can affect our performance and also our well being. Without iron, your body can’t make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells and a lack of red blood cells we become anemic.

How

How do we get iron? We get iron either by eating foods containing iron, or by supplementation. You might have grown up being told to eat liver because it’s high in iron. People eat red meat to get iron. But green vegetables such as iron and broccoli also contain iron. I think you may know where I’m going with this.

Sources

If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet you may have been asked ‘what are you doing to get your iron’ or you have been told that ‘you will be iron deficient unless you eat red meat’. That’s a common myth out there and it needs to be busted. If you eat a whole food plant based diet (I purposely left out the word vegan since vegan goes beyond just what you eat) you are getting lots of iron, vitamin C, A, magnesium and something really important, fiber (post coming up on the importance of fiber).

But, the really important difference is you are not getting heme iron. Heme iron is the iron that we get when we consume meat. There are studies showing that consuming iron from meat increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Why? Because iron can oxidize cholesterol with free radicals causing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The risk has been quantified as a 27% increase per every 1 mg of heme iron consumed daily. Another study concluded that the intake of heme iron, not plant iron, was associated with the increase of stroke and diabetes. The conclusion states: ‘Higher heme iron intake and increased body iron stores were significantly associated with a great risk of type 2 diabetes. Dietary total iron, non-heme iron, or supplemental iron intakes were not significantly associated with type 2 diabetes.’ There are also studies that show an increase in cancer rates due to heme iron intake. Want to know more? Check this link out.

Why

So why is it that we always hear that we need to eat meat, specifically to get iron? I’ve written about this before and I think it’s relative here too. There’s a lot of money to be made to continue having people consume animal products. How do you make billions of dollars by marketing ‘your’ kidney beans, or your spinach, or your walnuts. Good luck, it’s not going to happen. But, run the commercial of your sizzling juicy stake on the bbq, party going on and everyone having a good time and you are on your way! There are cultural norms around consuming animal products, especially red meat. Don’t eat red meat, you aren’t a real man. Don’t eat grandma’s casserole you just offended the whole family.

We have been marketed to to death, from pre-school all the way through adult hood.

But it’s up to you to decide what you eat and that decision can have good or bad consequences when it comes to your health.

And don’t take my word for it. Just look at history. How is it, as an example, Okinawan’s were the longest living people? Pre 1950 their diet consisted of an average of 85% carbs, with very, very little red meat.

How is it there are many life time vegans, vegetarians who never consumed red meat yet they are healthy and they aren’t anemic?

Finally

Let me ask you this. Do you know any people who eat a whole foods plant based diet, and have been for a number of years? Do you know any people who eat red meat constantly, and other animal products? Who is dying from diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc.?

Do yourself a favor and take the red pill. There is so much information out there that will lead you to a healthy and long life. You just need to cut through the bro science and the bullshit. Bro science and bullshit is what sells products. That’s the world we live in, like it or not. But you have a choice. Make the right choice.

Yours in health,

Darryl