Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Motivation: GET RESULTS

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Beet Juice for The Brain

I'm on a brain kick lately.  What kind of nutrition can we take to help our brains?  I came across this article about Beet juice in Science Daily.  Essentially, giving an older adult 16oz of beet juice allowed more oxygen to get to the white matter of the frontal lobe.  This area is associated with degeneration leading to dementia.

The mechanism is thought that beets contain a high quantity of nitrates.  Bacteria in your mouth converts the nitrate to nitrite.  Nitrites help open up the blood vessels and allow oxygen to get into areas of the body that normally don't get as much oxygen.

This is why it had been studied and shown some performance benefit for endurance athletes.  Why products such as Nitric Oxide pop up.  Why Viagra is sometimes taken by athletes, but not for that type  of performance enhancement.

It was a small study done on cyclists, but the results were promising.  I can't get a hold of the original study, but the participants showed some improvement with beet juice, via the same concept of increasing NO.

Ben Greenfield from Ben Greenfield fitness, states that probably the best way to use it for performance is to take 5oz for several days up to your big bike race.  He also stated that a study done on elite XC skiers showed no improvement from beet juice.

Beet Juice probably won't be the "secret sauce" people are always searching for, but it shows a lot of promise for generally just increasing your health.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Do You Train Thoracic Mobility?

I'm a big believer in the concept of improving thoracic mobility to improve all your other movements.  If your t-spine is moving, your lumber will be more stable.  It will promote shoulder stability/mobility.  It will improve cervical function and will also influence breathing patterns.

Yet, how many of us really strive to drive thoracic mobility?  If one sits for a living (desk jockey) bikes a lot, is in the car for any amount of time, or tries to do some computer work, chances are you do these activities for some significant time.

Now, lets add in some specific strength training.  We all like to deadlift, squat, farmers walk and do single leg work.  All of these are tremendous exercises and all are done with stiff thoracic spine.  (and rightfully so).

So we have frequency from life, volume and intensity from our lifting, all trying to inhibit are ability to move well in the thoracic spine.  Thanks Evan Osar for getting me to think about how I lift in relation to actually hindering my thoracic mobility.

Enter crawling exercises.  Having a one year old that is crawling all over the house has let me see first hand how crawling forces thoracic mobility.  Crawling for time or distance can have an immediate impact on the t-spine.  It's a closed chain activity which the brain loves.  I really like some of Mike Fitch's "Animal Flow" exercises.  Paul Chek has some crawling variations on YouTube that are worth pursuing.

So, if your want to do one thing to add into your programs or daily activities to have a good bang for you buck, crawl around.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Define Your Goals: Health or Performance

The vision for what you want has to be very clear for you and for whoever is helping you.  I often get patients that want performance even though when you probe deeper, they truly only want health.  You can have health without performance, but can't have performance without health.

If your goal is to run a 5k without your knee hurting, that to me is health.  If your goal is to shave 5 min off your 5k, that's performance.  Go to the gym and do some pull ups without your elbows hurting, health, compete at the Crossfit open without your elbows hurting, performance.

Often times health is simply removing some of the stupidity, misinformation that is out there.  How many times have I simply stopped someone with a flexion intolerant back from doing hundreds of sit ups each day.  "I was told my core is weak, sit ups strengthen the core."


"I want to lose weight, so I started running."  Do you enjoy running?  "No, but it's the only thing that will keep my weight off."


Weight is 90% of what we eat.  There is so much misinformation about food and eating though, I can understand the confusion.  Find the common ground and go from there.  Don't get paralysis by analysis, throw up your arms in frustration and hit McDonald's.  Cut out the sugar, don't eat anything in a package.  Do it for a month.  Go for a brisk walk each day.  See what happens. 

Health can sometimes be achieved with simple (not easy) tweaks in a daily routine.  A few minutes of tissue work with something like a foam roller, a few activation drills, something to get you stronger and some body awareness.  It may only take 5-10 minutes in your entire day.  Sit at a desk all day? Buy and egg timer, every 15 minutes it goes off, stand up and try to touch the ceiling.  Go back to work.  See if that nagging back pain starts to go away.  

Performance on the other hand is a commitment.  It is carving out the time in your day, every day.  Performance becomes a lifestyle.  Asking your body to do something it has never done before, whether it's distance, speed or volume,  requires you doing something you have never done before.  This can be time consuming.  Performance has a much higher cost.  

Be clear on your goals, it will dictate the course of action that is required.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cool Reads and Random Thoughts for February

Some cool reads, thoughts and the best random stuff I can think of.

An article entitled "Is sitting this Generations Smoking?"  A pretty interesting way of putting things.  One hour of sitting shuts off 90% of your enzymes that burn fat!  Wow.  Watching an hour of TV is predictive of an increase of 11% of dying according to a study done in Australia.  

Working on a patients forearms that were hard as rocks and causing elbow pain.  Hammered the forearms muscles.  No results.  Checked on some nerve entrapment's around the subscapularis in the arm pit.  Forearms got much more pliable.  Nerve compression causing tightness on the muscles below. Lesson learned on my part.  I'm still learning.  Humbling, but fun.
I tried the Bulletproof coffee.  Quality coffee beans, grass fed butter, MCT oil.  Mix it and drink it.  Didn't do much for me.  But, I believe here's why.  I already had been using a very high quality coffee bean for my morning espresso.  Locally roasted, Rowsters here in Grand Rapids.  I use grass fed organic whole cream.  That's it.  The MCT oil didn't do much for me.  I got the original "Diesel" (espresso with whole cream) from Kurt Harris from Archeovore or Paleo 2.0 fame.  The only thing I ingest on most days till about 230pm.  

This brings me to the concept of self experimentation or bio-hacking.  Choose something your interested in, whether diet or exercise or habit and do it.  Do it for at least 3 weeks.  Do it and pay attention.  Do you feel better?  Move better?  Blood work better?  Then keep it or get rid of it.  Which is why this article bugged me to no end.  Gluten-Free, Whether You Need it or Not.  It basically stated at the end that gluten diets may be overblown and not that big of an issue for everyone.  Lots of people report improved health and energy and less allergies when they go off it.  But you will never know if you don't try it for a a few weeks.  Back to being your own self experimenter.  It goes on to say to do it under a doctors supervision.  Seriously?  Why do I need a doctor to tell me it's OK to give up all types of bread/pasta/oat for three weeks to see if I feel better? 

Because of my experiment with Bulletproof coffee, my intake of grass fed organic butter went way up. My cravings for junk/sweet/salty has been driven way down.  Grass fed butter has something called butyrate in it.  This is super healthy for you.  Butter my friends is not bad for you.  Forget what you've been told. you've been lied to.  If you want to read about the benefits of butyrate, Whole Health Source has a great article.  Basically, it drives inflammation in your gut way down.  Most of your immune system is in your gut.  So you do the math.

Want to be more successful in what you do?  How much self assessment do you do?  NY Times article drums up some good ideas on just that subject.  Always keep analyzing.  

An article on BYU football team that drinks pickle juice to help with cramps.  I'm a big believer in high sodium intake from personal experience for cramps.  But what I found even more interesting was that it wasn't just sodium, it was receptors in the mouth.  According to the theory, the oral receptors picked up on the acetic acid in the juice which triggered the brain to release the cramp or to not get one.  The sodium levels in the double blind study never changed fast enough to create an impact on the cramp, even though they did.

Pretty cool stuff about oral receptors.  New field,  that I believe will become bigger in the next few years.

Still need some prompting to supplement with Vitamin D?  Come on, the research is crazy strong on why you should do it.  Here's another Study.  What I don't understand is people will go blindly to get a flu shot for themselves and their kids, but won't give their kids Vitamin D because they worry about the dangers of having "to high of levels."  This study actually even showed improvement in asthma.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Another Awesome TED Talk: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Shawn Achor gives an awesome talk about changing the lens in which we view happiness and success.  Well worth your time to listen.