Friday, November 27, 2009

Did you plan for Thanksgiving?

If you ate to your heart's delight on Thanksgiving like I did, I'm hoping you had a plan.  I incorporated a pre-Thanksgiving fast coupled with a hard high-intensity-full-body workout,  a Thanksgiving sprint workout, and a post-Thanksgiving fast.

I'll also get in a quick, high-intesity workout today during my post-Thanksgiving fast.  And this is no small feat as I'm preparing a post-Thanksgiving turkey gumbo...but I'll wait to eat my serving tomorrow.

For me, it's not a huge deal because I'm currently eating in a small surplus to gain a little more muscle.  But Thanksgiving will put you in a HUGE caloric surplus if you don't adjust on the front-end or back-end; I've chosen to do both.

If you are not familiar with intermittent fasting, I suggest getting a copy of Eat Stop Eat.  There are countless benefits and it's a simple, easy way to manage your calories and still enjoy a normal life.

So enjoy all the goodies and dishes that you look forward to all year, but have a plan.  You'll feel better and thank yourself later.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reduce Inflammation and Live Longer

I ran across a great article on the benefits of intermittent fasting.   Just more proof that IF is a legitimate way to lose weight, manage hormones, reduce inflammation and, yes, live longer.

I don't refer to IF as a diet (as the article does), but the benefits are well documented in this article.


Until next time...

Friday, November 13, 2009

To Marathon or Sprint

I recently ran (no pun intended) across a great article on marathons and 10 reasons NOT to run in marathons.  There are so many reasons not to run long distances...ever!  We were not made to run long distances.  Our bodies combat running long distances in a variety of ways and will do anything to protect us from doing so.   Signals from our mind and bodies tell us to halt immediately.

Top Ten Reasons Not to Run Marathons, by Arthur De Vany

In light of the three deaths last week in Detroit and the two deaths the week before in marathons or half marathons, I am reposting this old post of mine on the dangers of marathoning. The readers of my private blog have known not to engage in this dangerous activity for some time. I put this post up with some sadness and take no pleasure whatsoever in these tragic and needless deaths. It is a measure of how poor the prevailing fitness advice is that so many needless deaths occur in the quest for health.

I was speaking with some of the participants in the St. George Marathon before the Senior Games. Most of them had chronic or recent injuries from their last event or from their training. There was a sense of pride among them as though they had done something to prove something about themselves. Perhaps, but there are other goals one could have that are more heathful and fulfilling. Not one of them looked really fit or healthy. Most said they had formerly been sedentary and wanted to get up and show they still had it. A few had been doing it for many years; they really looked bad, wrinkled and skinny with no muscle and poor posture. Only a few natural runners looked OK.

I told them of the risks versus benefits of marathoning and all were astonished and in total denial. I sent them to this site and told them to look for a reprise of this old post. So, here it is. Let the complaints begin.

With my apologies to David Letterman, here are the top ten reasons not to run marathons.

10. Marathon running damages the liver and gall bladder and alters biochemical markers adversely. HDL is lowered, LDL is increased, Red blood cell counts and white blood cell counts fall. The liver is damaged and gall bladder function is decreased. Testosterone decreases.

From Wu, Worl J Gastroenterol. 2004 Sep 15: 10 (18): 2711-4, “RESULTS: Total bilirubin (BIL-T), direct bilirubin (BIL-D), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) increased statistically significantly (P<0.05) the race. Significant declines (P<0.05) in red blood cell (RBC), hemoglobin (Hb) and hematocrit (Hct) were detected two days and nine days d after the race. 2 d after the race, total protein (TP), concentration of albumin and globulin decreased significantly. While BIL, BIL-D and ALP recovered to their original levels. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) remained unchanged immediately after the race, but it was significantly decreased on the second and ninth days after the race. CONCLUSION: Ultra-marathon running is associated with a wide range of significant changes in hematological parameters, several of which are injury related. To provide appropriate health care and intervention, the man who receives athletes on high frequent training program high intensity training programs must monitor their liver and gallbladder function.”

9. Marathon running causes acute and severe muscle damage. Repetitive injury causes infiltration of collagen (connective tissue) into muscle fibers.

From Warhol et al Am J Pathol. 1985 Feb: 118 (2): 331-9, “Muscle from runners showed post-race ultrastructural changes of focal fiber injury and repair: intra- and extracellular edema with endothelial injury; myofibrillar lysis, dilation and disruption of the T-tubule system, and focal mitochondrial degeneration without inflammatory infiltrate (1-3 days). The mitochondrial and myofibrillar damage showed progressive repair by 3-4 weeks. Late biopsies showed central nuclei and satellite cells characteristic of the regenerative response (8-12 weeks). Muscle from veteran runners showed intercellular collagen deposition suggestive of a fibrotic response to repetitive injury. Control tissue from nonrunners showed none of these findings.”
8. Marathon running induces kidney disfunction (renal abnormalities).

From Neyiackas and Bauer, South Med J. 1981 Dec; 74 (12): 1457-60, “All postrace urinalyses were grossly abnormal…We conclude that renal function abnormalities occur in marathon runners and that the severity of the abnormality is temperature-dependent.”

7. Marathon running causes acute microthrombosis in the vascular system.

From Fagerhol et al Scan J Clin Invest. 2005; 65 (3): 211-20, “During the marathon, half-marathon, the 30-km run, the ranger-training course and the VO2max exercise, calprotectin levels increased 96.3-fold, 13.3-fold, 20.1-fold, 7.5-fold and 3.4-fold, respectively. These changes may reflect damage to the tissues or vascular endothelium, causing microthrombi with subsequent activation of neutrophils.”
6. Marathon running elevates markers of cancer. S100beta is one of these markers. Tumor necrosis factor, TNF-alpha, is another.

From Deichmann et al in Melanoma Res. 2001 June; 11 (3): 291-6. “In metastatic melanoma S100beta as well as melanoma inhibitory activity (MIA) are elevated in the serum in the majority of patients. Elevation has been found to correlate with shorter survival, and changes in these parameters in the serum during therapy were recently reported to predict therapeutic outcome in advanced disease.”

From Santos et al Life Sci. 2004 September: 75 (16): 1917:24, “After the test (a 30km run), athletes from the control group presented an increase in plasma CK (4.4-fold), LDH (43%), PGE2 6.6-fold) and TNF-alpha (2.34-fold) concentrations, indicating a high level of cell injury and inflammation.”

5. Marathon running damages your brain. The damage resembles acute brain trauma. Marathon runners have elevated S100beta, a marker of brain damage and blood brain barrier disfunction. There is S100beta again, a marker of cancer and of brain damage.
From Marchi, et al Restor Neurol Neurosci, 2003; 21 (3-4): 109-21, “S100beta in serum is an early marker of BBB openings that may precede neuronal damage and may influence therapeutic strategies. Secondary, massive elevations in S100beta are indicators of prior brain damage and bear clinical significance as predictors of poor outcome or diagnostic means to differentiate extensive damage from minor, transient impairment.”  Other studies indicate confusion in post-event marathon runners.
4. Marathons damage your heart.

From Whyte, et al Med Sci Sports Ecerc, 2001 May, 33 (5) 850-1, “Echocardiographic studies report cardiac dysfunction following ultra-endurance exercise in trained individuals. Ironman and half-Ironman competition resulted in reversible abnormalities in resting left ventricular diastolic and systolic function. Results suggest that myocardial damage may be, in part, responsible for cardiac dysfunction, although the mechanisms responsible for this cardiac damage remain to be fully elucidated.”
3. Endurance athletes have more spine degeneration.

From Schmitt et al Int J Sports Med. 2005 Jul; 26 (6): 457-63, “The aim of this study was to assess bone mineral density (BMD) and degenerative changes in the lumbar spine in male former elite athletes participating in different track and field disciplines and to determine the influence of body composition and degenerative changes on BMD. One hundred and fifty-nine former male elite athletes (40 throwers, 97 jumpers, 22 endurance athletes) were studied. …Throwers had a higher body mass index than jumpers and endurance athletes. Throwers and jumpers had higher BMD (T-LWS) than endurance athletes. Bivariate analysis revealed a negative correlation of BMD (T-score) with age and a positive correlation with BMD and Kellgren score (p < 0.05). Even after multiple adjustment for confounders lumbar spine BMD is significantly higher in throwers, pole vaulters, and long- and triple jumpers than in marathon athletes.”

The number two reason not to run marathons.

2. At least four particiants of the Boston Marathon have died of brain cancer in the past 10 years. Purely anecdotal, but consistent with the elevated S100beta counts and TKN-alpha measures. Perhaps also connected to the microthrombi of the endothelium found in marathoners. [Sterling Advice note: 15,000 cases per year in U.S. general population and 10,000 deaths (.0200%) .  4 deaths in Boston Marathoners per 20,000 participants (.0033%).]

And now ladies and gentlemen the number one reason not to run marathons,

1. The first marathon runner, Phidippides, collapsed and died at the finish of his race. [ Jaworski, Curr Sports Med Rep. 1005 June; 4 (3), 137-43.]

Now there is a recommendation for a healthy activity. The original participant died in the event. But, this is not quite so unusual; many of the running and nutritional gurus of the past decade or two died rather young. Pritikin, Sheehy, Fixx, and Atkins, among many other originators of “healthy” practices died at comparatively young ages. Jack LaLanne, the only well-known guru to advocate body building, will outlive us all.

This got me thinking...

Compare a marathoner to a sprinter.  What would you rather look like?  Would you rather look and be healthy and strong OR unhealthy and weak?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Take A Break

I've mentioned it before.  You've got to take breaks.  Breaks from work, breaks from school, breaks from kids, breaks from parents, breaks from life and yes, breaks from fitness. 

Taking a break can do a world of good for physical, mental, and emotional well-being.  It allows your body to rest, heal, grow, recover and rejunvenate itself.  In our world of health and fitness, sometimes it can become overwhelming. 

Eat this, eat that, don't eat this, don't eat that, push to failure, stop short of failure, use light weight, use heavy weight, weights only, bodyweight exercises, sprint, run long distance, low fat, low carb, grains, no grains, all about calories, all about get the gist.

So I took a break.  A full 7 day break from all things health and fitness.  I didn't exercise.  I didn't take in my daily health and fitness reading.  I didn't worry about calories. I took a break.  And I feel rejuvenated.  I had a tough, but great workout yesterday.  I was well rested.  Just like IF allows your body a break from food, taking an exercise break allows your body a rest from work.  This provides a prime opportunity for your muscles to heal and grow.  Overworking your muscles by pounding them day after day does not make them grow, it breaks them down.  Only during times of rest will your muscles grow.  This is why sleep is so important to a healthy and fit body.

If you decide to take a break keep these 5 things in mind:
  1. Don't scrap your nutrition.  Breaks are often accompanied by bad nutrition.  There's something in us that makes it easier to eat crap when we are not exercising; it should be the opposite, if at all.  Maintain your healthy nutrition during a break; it will help in the recovery process.
  2. Limit your break to 2 weeks or less.  Don't take too long of a break.  If you go beyond 2 weeks' rest from your 'normal' routine, at least throw in some bodyweight circuits.
  3. Enjoy it.  You are not going to halt your progress with a break.  You'll actually make progress.  Don't stress about it.  Enjoy the rest and let your body enjoy it.  If you want to go for a leisurely walk or bike ride, don't stop yourself from going just because you're taking a 'rest'.  We are talking about resting from your 'normal', high-intesity workouts.
  4. Evaluate.  This is a great time to evaluate your goals and adjust them as necessary.  Do you want to gain muscle or lose fat?  More HIIT or move lifting of heavy things? More sprints or more leisurely walks?  Take the time to assess where you are and where you want to be.
  5. Read a good book.  Although I didn't read much health and fitness material, I did review one of my favorite books,The Primal Blueprint. This can help you during your evaluation period or just provide some reinforcement to how or why you're maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
So take a break and enjoy it!

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

20 minute workout: Back & Biceps

Here's a quick and effective workout for your back and biceps.  Ideally, finish this workout in 20 minutes.

It's a very simple workout utilizing only chin-ups (palms facing you) and standard curls.  Perform 1 pull-up and then 1 curl, 2 pulls-ups and then 2 curls, and so on until you reach 10 repetitions for each exercise.  If you do all reps, you'll have completed 55 pull-up and 55 curls.  A pretty simple, short, and effective workout.

I used a 25 lb weighted vest and 40 lb dumbbells.  I completed 46 pull-ups and 45 curls.  The last set was extremely difficult and it should be for you.  If it's not, go with a heavier weight.

Pull-Ups     Curls
1                 1
2                 2
3                 3
4                 4
5                 5
6                 6
7                 7
8                 8
9                 9
10               10
55               55

Until next time...

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Ain't Quitin' You

Are you satisfied with where you are when it comes to your health and fitness goals?

A friend once told me 'If you don't like where you are, then you better keep going'.  What a great statement!  In this world of instant gratification and quick fixes it's hard to maintain consistency and not get discouraged.  Maybe it's just getting the motivation to start exercising.  Maybe it's the constant, unhealthy battle with food.  Maybe it's progressing from 2 to 4 pull-ups.  Maybe it's losing those first 10 pounds.  Maybe it's losing those last 10 pounds in your quest for extreme ripped-ness and low body fat.

We all stuggle.  It's relative to where you are.  But if you don't like where you are, then you better keep going.  I struggle with how easily I gain lower-belly body fat and how freaking hard it is to get rid of.  Others that I know don't have that problem and it pisses me off!  I work hard and eat great.  But that's just the way it is sometimes.  I'll tell you this; to steal a line from 'Night At The Museum': I Ain't Quitin' You!  That's what I have to tell myself sometimes.  Trust me -- even super fit individuals have their struggles.  BUT, they work through them and they do not quit.