Archive for the ‘Health and Wellness’ Category

It’s been a minute srelaxationince I’ve posted a blog up (been slacking as of late), so I have to say it feels good to get back on that horse.  A lot has happened within the past month and a half that I still can’t even fathom what just happened. You see I’m the type of person that when I attain a certain goal, I’ll quickly move on to the next.  I’m a nomad, if you will, because I can’t keep still. I’m always moving. “I‘M A DOER DAMMIT!” However, I will enjoy this moment for a brief stint —I am my own boss! I officially made the jump from working at a commercial gym as a trainer/coach to owning my own business. Okay back to work!!

painandgainWhile I am elated to see that more and more people veering towards living a healthier lifestyle—usually from a wake up call, or better yet a b**ch slap in the face from father time—it’s really disheartening to see the media continue to publish crap that makes us scratch our heads because it creates a lot of confusion. Needless to say, there’s just too much information out there and we all know if it’s on the internet, it must be true. Right?

1. WHEAT BREAD

breads

Contrary to popular belief, wheat bread is no different than white bread.  All breads for that matter should be avoided at all cost, if not minimally consumed to a lesser degree.  The reason for this is that all of them are made from the same ingredient…wheat! When you consume refined wheat you are basically assimilating empty calories (low in nutrients), in addition, to a rapid spike in your blood sugar.  Moreover, gluten, a non-digestible protein found mostly in wheat, has also been shown to put a damper in our immune system, diminishes brain function, and leads to gut issues.  Ezekial bread is a great alternative.


A GOOD RULE TO REMEMBER, IS THAT REAL FOOD DOESN’T NEED AN INGREDIENTS LIST, BECAUSE REAL FOOD IS THE INGREDIENT. — KRIS GUNNARS

2. SOY

For the better part of a decade, we have been fooled into thinking that soy is good for you. “BUT SOY IS GOOD FOR YOU!” Soy, much like wheat, is found in almost every processed food in the market.  The prolonged consumption of soy reduces thyroid function, people.  It basically turns off your metabolism.  Moreover, it inhibits the absorption of protein by reducing your body’s ability to break it down.  Whether your plan is to build quality muscle or lose fat, soy will disrupt that.

soy

3. LOW-FAT yogurt

Research has shown that fat isn’t the culprit of obesity.  Fat is essential not only for hormone production, but also it is the preferred source of energy for the body— which lends itself to the fact that buying low-fat dairy products is actually doing more harm than good.  Low-fat dairy products are not only incredibly low in fat, but they’re low in nutrients, and also extremely high in sugar and filled with artificial sweeteners to make up for taste.  This in turn, will further suppress your immune system.  You’re better off buying them whole and preferably organic, as opposed to low-fat.

Next time you go grocery shopping, don’t just look at the nutrition content. Delve into it a little bit more by looking at the ingredients.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked, “do you know any stretches for your lower back?” Walk into any gym and you’ll see people twisting and turning to stretch their lower backs.  It’s an inherent tendency for us to stretch when something feels “tight.”

stretching-498256_640Majority of the people that spend most of their time stretching do it in such an atrocious manner that all they’re doing is just increasing their tolerance for stretching.  I should know because even in my earlier days as an aspiring fitness professional, I followed the norm.  What I’m going to convey is why stretching isn’t always the answer for those tight nagging muscles. I feel obliged to break through the misconceptions of stretching, so here’s my take on it.  Now, by no means am I against stretching—while there are certain advantages that stretching provides, I just think that it’s overused and abused.

1. Stability! Stability! Stability!

I just want to point out that the picture below is not what I mean by stability.  Stop training for the circus!  Humor aside, working on your moball-squatbility is critical when it comes to performance, but on the other end of the spectrum is where most people kind of put on the back burner—stabilityKey point: Your muscles will create tension elsewhere when there is a lack of stability present.  That tightness you’re experiencing in your hamstrings or lower back, for example, is your nervous system creating a barrier to prevent itself from tearing apart, therefore; the reason they are tight is because they are holding on for dear life and what ends up happening is an endless cycle of the same mundane stretching routine and nothing ever changes, they remain tight.  To drive the point home, stretching really isn’t going to fix it. You’re just making matters worse.

That is where most people get confused between the aforementioned components—mobility and stability.  In order to improve your ability to move in different ranges of motion, a foundation (stability) must be set.  As the saying goes, “You can’t build a house without laying the foundation first.”

2. Positioning

Over the years, I have cultivated a keen eye for subtle postural imbalances that people suffer from (an acquired hobby, if you will) and it has manifested into such an invaluable asset in my toolbox as a trainer and coach.

Pelvic positioning is of utmost importance when it comes to performing functional movements. If you strengthen in misalignment, you develop muscular imbalances.  If you stretch in misalignment, you create instability.  You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe.

Most people walk around with a duck like posture —protruding belly, hyper-extended back, and their butt sticking out. Sound familiar? It looks like this…

donald duck

 

 

APTAnterior pelvic tilt

Photo Credit: Ericcressey.com

 

 

This is the result of being stuck in one posture all day (being in front of a computer). The monotony of sitting at a desk for long hours on a daily basis destabilizes your deep abdominals and inhibits your glutes—NOT GOOD! Remember: Your muscles will create tension elsewhere when there is a lack of stability present.  This, in turn will start the faulty movement pattern that your nervous system creates in an attempt to center your body. The inhibition of your abdominals and glutes will cause your hip flexors and lower back to act as your primary muscles, making them work harder than they actually have to.

fig04_03a

Photo Credit: muscleimbalancesyndrome.com

 

Try this: Foam roll and stretch your hip flexors (this will release your lower back tension automatically). Afterwards, activate your glutes and abdominals by doing basic glute bridges, planks, and deadbugs.  Doing this will allow your glutes and abdominals to function properly, which will prevent you from ever having a tight lower back.

3. hydration

It still boggles my mind how most people still have a tough time drinking water.  The importance of hydration in relation to muscle length and flexibility could not be more evident.  Your muscles are, after all, made up of 70% water.  Put simply, if you are dehydrated your muscles will constrict and tighten up.  What else is there to say? You have to stay hydrated. It’s essential that you drink half your body weight in ounces of water a day to not only flush out the garbage in your body, but to nourish and revitalize your muscles.

The bottom line…

Stretching is still a critical component to improving one’s functional capacity.  It’s an old school way of thinking, if you’re one to believe that it isn’t a necessity when it comes to fitness.  So, are you improving or are you making matters worse? Keep these three things in mind before you start your stretching routine again.

I’ll admit that I had a lot of supplements and different vitamin isolates on my kitchen counter.  I was young, naive, and misinformed, if you will, thinking that it would make up for my lack of nutrition. Man I sure do miss Jack in the Box and Taco Bell!  These days my approach to “healthy living” is eating whole foods for that is the best way to get the nutrients in, so I’m not too fond of taking a plethora of supplements. Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, or even run a 10k, you have to be on board with your nutrition first, prior to taking any supplements because that is what they are—they SUPPLEMENT your diet.  However, no matter how good you eat some supplements are actually worth taking and they’re there to help fill in those gaps.

and-a-diet-coke-meme

1. Fish oil

 

This is an absolute must in my book!  We should already know by now that fish oil has tremendous health benefits, but the one that stands out is its effect inside the body with regard to anti-inflammation.  To steal a phrase from holistic nutritionist and health coach Yuri Elkaim, “we have an overly inflamed lifestyle.”  I think that stands true because aside from poor dietary choices, our lifestyle in general wreaks havoc in our body and it produces a pro-inflammatory response.  This in turn will lay the foundation for degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and dementia; just to name a few. When you factor in poor dietary choices, a stressful day at work, and lack of sleep, the mileage will add up.  If someone wanted to build muscle or lose weight, that individual is going to have a difficult time because inflammation is going to impede his/her recovery.

capsule-15570_640So what exactly causes inflammation? The consumption of foods high in omega-6 fatty acids is the root cause of systemic inflammation. In other words, you’re straight up eating garbage. Genetically modified oils such as vegetable oil and canola oil are predominately omega-6 fatty acid based—the cause of inflammation.  On the other end of the spectrum is fish oil and it is one of the best sources for omega-3 fatty acid, which is highly anti-inflammatory. Seeing the bigger picture here now, right? My personal preference is Norwegian Cod Liver Oil by Carlson.

2. Probiotics

 

I’ve spoken about the benefits of probiotics on several occasions, for good reason. Muscles won’t work if your digestive system is whack.  If it’s not functioning properly then building muscle or getting lean is going to be the last thing your body wants to do. Moreover, an unhealthy gut results in a weakened immune system. Remember: your digestive system has to be able to digest, metabolize, and eliminate the foods that you eat. The live and active cultures (good bacteria) in a probiotic supplement aids in the maintenance of a healthy gut, so you actually absorb most of the nutrients in the foods you eat.

3. Whey Protein

 

You guys saw this one coming.  This was a given. Protein helps build the muscle and more importantly, helps repair the tissue breakdown that occurs during physical activity such as lifting heavy weights. The biggest thing for me about the consumption of protein shakes is its convenience.  I start the day training clients at 5am and eating a proper meal for breakfast is time consuming.  Despite the obscure views that women may have about sipping on protein shakes, they can actually benefit from it  because I’ve found that most women don’t get nearly enough protein as much they should.  The only caveat about protein powders is the quality.  It’s important to take into consideration the quality of what you’re consuming because most protein powders just have too many ingredients for my liking. Actually there is another caveat…PROTEIN FARTS!

protein4. Multivitamin

If you’re eating enough nutrient-dense foods, then you don’t have to worry about this one.

vegetable-621782_640Remember that you can’t out-supplement your way out of a poor diet.  If becoming a better you is what you really want, then put in the work and stop wishing for it.