Fitness in 100 Words

FITNESS IN 100 WORDS…

Eat meat & vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.

Keep intake to levels that will support exercise, but not body fat.

Practice and train the major lifts:

Deadlift, Clean, Squat, Presses, Clean and Jerk and Snatch.

Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics:

Pullups, Dips, Rope Climb, Push Ups, Presses to Handstand, Pirouettes, Flips, Splits and Holds.

Bike, Run, Swim, Row, etc… Hard and Fast.

5 or 6 days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow.

Routine is the enemy.

Keep workouts short and intense.

Regularly learn and play new sports.

-Greg Glassman

High Cholesterol, Nice to Meat You

I want to discuss a topic that is vital to your health and longevity. Something that has been given a bad wrap. Something that, if not flowing through our bodies all the time, we would die. That something is cholesterol.

5 Benefits of Cholesterol

  • Cholesterol functions as a powerful antioxidant in the body and protects us from free radical damage to our tissues.

  • Cholesterol is vital for proper functioning of the brain and is used by serotonin receptors. Serotonin is the body’s natural “feel good” chemical.  Low cholesterol levels have been associated with aggressive and violent tendencies, depression and suicide.

  • Human breast milk is rich in cholesterol and contains an enzyme lipase enabling babies to utilize it. Babies and children require cholesterol for proper growth and development of the brain, nervous system, and immune system.

  • Cholesterol is necessary for proper functioning of the intestines and maintaining the integrity of the intestinal wall. Low cholesterol diets can lead to leaky gut syndrome and other digestive problems.

  • Cholesterol is critical to the repair of damaged cells. This is why cholesterol levels naturally rise as we age.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol performs these main functions:

  • It helps make the outer coating of cells.

  • It makes up the bile acids that work to digest food in the intestine.

  • It (7-dehydrocholesterol) makes Vitamin D3 through an interaction with sun UV B rays and the skin.

  • It allows the body to make sex hormones (estrogen in women and testosterone in men). 

Cholesterol flows through your body via your bloodstream. Since cholesterol is an oil-based lipid (fat) and your blood is mostly water, they don’t mix.

However, in order to be transported through the blood, cholesterol requires a protein referred to as an apolipoprotein. Apolipoproteins are responsible for transporting cholesterol to the correct destination, and when assembled together in the liver, are collectively referred to as lipoproteins.

Cholesterol and the Liver

Cholesterol is so vitally important, your body makes it for you. If there were no animals to eat (cholesterol only exists in animal products i.e flesh, eggs, milk), your liver would make the approximately 1,000 mg it needs to function properly. Because of this, your body has the ability to regulate the amount of cholesterol in the blood, by producing more when your diet doesn’t provide adequate amounts. Further, excess cholesterol is eliminated from the body via the liver, which secretes cholesterol in bile or converts it to bile salts. The liver removes LDL and other lipoproteins from the circulation by receptor-mediated endocytosis.

Once made by the liver, cholesterol is ready to move into the bloodstream and go to the various organs and tissues in the body.

HDL

Cholesterol is too fatty to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream. High density lipoprotein (HDL), are the heaviest lipoproteins and are primarily responsible for carrying cholesterol from various organs and tissues back to the liver for recycling or degradation. This is also referred to as the "good" cholesterol and is associated with heart health because they help to clear excess cholesterol from the blood.

LDL

Low density lipoproteins (LDL), are commonly referred to as "bad" cholesterol, are lighter than HDL and are primarily responsible for carrying cholesterol from the liver to organs and tissues of the body. These lipoproteins are less stable because they contain less protein and more lipids, making them more likely to break apart. Since LDL is not responsible for bringing cholesterol back to the liver, it tends to hang around in the blood, often attaching to inflamed vessels. This condition is referred to as atherosclerosis.

VLDL

Very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) are also referred to as the "very bad" cholesterol. They are even less dense than LDL and are mostly converted to LDL, but have equally detrimental effects on the circulatory system.

Cholesterol and our Brain

The brain is mostly fat and contains a large amount of cholesterol when compared to other organs in the body. About 25% of your body’s total cholesterol level is found in the brain. The brain is unique as it cannot absorb cholesterol from the blood, and must produce its own. According to the Harvard Medical School website, the cholesterol in the brain is generally found in the myelin sheaths that surround the nerve cells, protecting the cells and helping to facilitate the transmission of the electrical impulses that govern thought, movement, and sensation.

Without cholesterol, none of these functions would take place, and without these functions, human beings would not be able to survive.

If you found this interesting, feel free to share it with your friends and family.

-David

3 Ingredient Smoothie

Smoothies need to be easy. Don’t over complicate the process with too many ingredients. Sugar content will determine the ingredients.

Here is the 3 ingredient super tasty higher sugar content version I make for my kids: 1 ripe banana (banana has some brown spots), 1 cup of frozen blueberries, whole milk to consistency. “To consistency” means you add as much milk as it takes for the contents to blend. You add more to make it thinner.

To cut down on the sugar content and make it dairy free, cut out the milk and replace it with water. This will thin it out and change the flavor a bit but it will be less inflammatory. To up the micro nutrient profile you can add some raw mixed greens. I will get a bag of “power greens” (usually baby chard, kale and spinach) from either Costco or Trader Joes.

Here is the revised recipe to include greens: 1-2 ripe bananas (the extra banana will add more sweetness) 1 cup of frozen blueberries, 1 bag or 3 handfuls of the power greens, water to consistency.

Optional additives are cinnamon, turmeric, stevia, parsley, celery, cucumber, cilantro, broccoli sprouts.

Deadlifting with L4 and L5 Bulging Discs.

I have bulging discs in my L4 L5 lumbar spine. Will I ever be able to deadlift again?

Yes you will. With time and the right frame of mind your back will be back to near normaI. I have bulging discs in my lower back and I’m deadlifting.

Here is my story: I damaged my back playing outfield in a game of softball. The year was 2010 and I was playing center field. In the bottom of the fifth inning, with a man on first, the batter hit a line drive right at me. It was well hit but I’ve seen a hit like this before. I knew if I timed it just right I could scoop it off the ground and make the play at second. As I was bending over to scoop up the ball I felt an unfamiliar sensation in my lower back. It wasn't pain but something I’ve never felt before. The feeling wasn’t debilitating so I decided to finish the game.

The next morning, I was temporarily paralyzed. My wife Joanna made me canes out of a pair of golf clubs so I can get around the house.

That morning began my journey to recovery. I saw many “experts”. The advice ranged from, taking 800 mg of ibuprofen a day for 30 days to surgery. The former was less scary than the later so I never opted for surgery. But the ibuprofen never worked either.

Over the years, my back would re-spasm and my spine would take the shape of a sideways question mark. Hiking one side of my pelvis up and causing severe pain and a limp. One day at home by myself, I suffered one of the most painful experiences to date. A lighting rod of nerve pain shooting down my right leg. The pain was so intense I drove myself to urgent care. I remember weeping in the waiting room as I waited for them to give me pain killers. The protocol is to not administer pain killers without designated driver. I now have peripheral neuropathy in that same leg.

It took seven years after my initial spinal injury, but my lower back finally healed. I now can go a full day very comfortably. Every now and then I get occasional tightness but nothing that keeps me from being active.

If you take anything away from this story, it is that it took about 7 years to recover from my injury. Your body wants to heal itself. Even if it takes 7 years. As long as you feed your body the correct building materials, keep moving and stretching, you will deadlift again.  

-David

P.S.

Regarding surgical intervention. A friend of mine did opt for surgery, but the surgery never fixed his back. Surgery requires many months of physical therapy but the physical therapy is often never carried out.

I have heard that back surgery is a 50/50 chance. If you are considering surgery, or it is being suggested to you, look for other alternatives. Often the piece of you the surgeon is going in to cut out is important and in your body for a reason.

Pain and Its Benefits

When I’m coaching and someone tells me “this hurts, should I continue?” I usually need a clarification. Are you saying your muscles are burning? Is it hard for you to breath? Did you drop a weight on your foot?

Pain is our friend. It tells us what is wrong with our bodies. Listening to our bodies is the most important thing you can do in the gym. When your body communicates with you, pay attention.

Whether to work through pain or not has more to do with experience. Good common sense would tell you to stop at the first sign of pain. But who said good sense was common. There as been more than one time I have pushed through pain in order to finish a workout. But I relied on experience to gauge the severity of the issue and come to a conclusion whether to continue or not.

On occasion my hands and writs hurt when I play the piano. This is probably because my hands and wrists are too tight. When this happens I try and relax as much as possible and push through the pain. As I improve on the piano i’m sure the pain will decrease. The decision to push through the pain is made so I can advance my learning and possibly decrease future incidents of pain.

Like most things, there is no clear cut answer to this question. Here are the takeaways:

  • Listen to your body. Pain is a communication tool.

  • Stop if the pain is new or you don’t know what is causing the pain.

  • As you gain experience. You can make better decisions whether to work through the pain or not.

  • Using pain relievers hinder the conversation your body wants to have with you. Try and stay away from Tylenol, ibuprofens, and the like.

How To Squat Better. w/ Video

Do these everyday for a month and you will see a dramatic improvement in your squat.

Here is an outline of the movements. Do the movements in this order:

  1. Walking ankle stretch - 2 minutes

  2. Figure 4 march - 2 minutes

  3. Side to side squat - 1 minute

  4. Static ankle stretch - 4 minutes (1 minute per side x 4)

  5. Static pigeon pose - 4 minutes (1 minute per side x 4)

Watch this video. It demonstrates the stretches outlined above.

A Sample Week of Workouts

So the other day I was picturing a fictional week of working out. Normally my workouts consists of Crossfit and more Crossfit. But this one was different. Its focus was on lengthening the tissue.

Here is what I came up with:

Day 1: Hot yoga session.

Starting the week with hot yoga will get the muscles, ligaments and tendons lengthened and loose. Plus yoga offers a mindful practice I’ve been focused on. By mindful I am referring to the practice of being in the present moment. Yoga teaches this.

Day 2: Stretching with weights.

Joints, connective tissue and muscles were stretched to the max yesterday. Now we are bringing tension back to the muscles by adding weights. Keep the weights light. We are still going into deep ranges of motion. These are the days to work on movements like overhead squat, snatch and other flexible demanding movements.

Day 3: Light weight or no weight cardio session.

We should be feeling good and lose. Now it’s time to do some steady state cardio for at least 30 minutes. We want to circulate as much oxygen rich blood through the body as possible. So a lot of good breathing while not getting the heart rate up too high.

Day 4: Heavy lifting.

Squatting and hinging movements like back squats and deadlifts today. For sure some pull-ups. Going heavy will remind the body what it’s like to lift heavy. We will be adding even more tension in the tissue. But after all the stretching in the previous workouts, we will see a boost in performance because we will have more movement in the joints.

Day 5: Crossfit WOD

Friday night lights. My week of workouts wouldn’t be complete without a good o’ Crossfit WOD. Every workout up till now was massaging the muscles. Now it’s time to hit it hard.

It’s now Friday and you have 2 days off until you hit hot yoga again. If you feel like doing something in between you have a couple of options.

Option 1: Skill work.

Option 2: Lifting session.

This was fun to think up. As you grow older and mature, your style of workouts change. Maybe this week of workouts will be in my future.

-David

5 Tips to Shed Fat and Shred the Rest

It’s fat loss we want, not weight loss. Weight is too important to lose. Weight is everything from bones to muscle to connective tissue. Fat we can spare.

But before we give fat the boot. Let’s give fat some props. From www.livescience.com:

It’s common knowledge that too much cholesterol and other fats can lead to disease, and that a healthy diet involves watching how much fatty food we eat. However, our bodies need a certain amount of fat to function—and we can’t make it from scratch.

Triglycerides, cholesterol and other essential fatty acids—the scientific term for fats the body can’t make on its own—store energy, insulate us and protect our vital organs. They act as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs. They also start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism. Fat and inflammation is what we are after to lose. Inflammation is the bodies response to injury and it tends to hold onto water. Resulting in a swollen bloated look.

So what is the best way to lose fat?

5 tips to shed the fat and shred the rest

  1. Reduce your carb intake. This is listed first because I know it works. I remember my first taste of reducing carbs when I cut out bread from my diet for a month. I ended up losing 20 pounds and that dumb spare tire in only 30 days.

  2. Lift weights. Lifting weights takes a toll on your body. In a good way. As your body recovers from the lifting session, it relies on stored fat as fuel source.

  3. Drink more water. Think of water as a supplement. You might not feel thirsty, but drink water anyway. A hydrated body is an efficient body. Helping the engine run better and move waste out of the body.

  4. Sleep more. Sleep stimulates growth hormone (gh) your fat burning hormone.

  5. Laugh more. Besides the ab workout from a good laugh, laughter reduces stress. Reduced stress lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol has been shown to stimulate fat storage.

Maintaining healthy fat levels is a life long event. Its not a 6 week challenge. Make this a lifestyle choice. Something you can keep up your whole life.

-David