Saturday, April 30, 2011

Study Adds Weight to Link Between Calcium Supplements and Heart Problems


Calcium supplements are often prescribed to older (postmenopausal) women to maintain bone health. Sometimes they are combined with vitamin D, but it's still unclear whether taking calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D, can affect the heart.

The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study -- a seven-year trial of over 36,000 women -- found no cardiovascular effect of taking combined calcium and vitamin D supplements, but the majority of participants were already taking personal calcium supplements, which may have obscured any adverse effects.

So a team of researchers, led by Professor Ian Reid at the University of Auckland, re-analysed the WHI results to provide the best current estimate of the effects of calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D, on the risk of cardiovascular events.

They analysed data from 16,718 women who were not taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial and found that those allocated to combined calcium and vitamin D supplements were at an increased risk of cardiovascular events, especially heart attack.

By contrast, in women who were taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial, combined calcium and vitamin D supplements did not alter their cardiovascular risk.

The authors suspect that the abrupt change in blood calcium levels after taking a supplement causes the adverse effect, rather than it being related to the total amount of calcium consumed. High blood calcium levels are linked to calcification (hardening) of the arteries, which may also help to explain these results.

Further analyses -- adding data from 13 other trials, involving 29,000 people altogether -- also found consistent increases in the risk of heart attack and stroke associated with taking calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D, leading the authors to conclude that these data justify a reassessment of the use of calcium supplements in older people.

But in an accompanying editorial, Professors Bo Abrahamsen and Opinder Sahota argue that there is insufficient evidence available to support or refute the association.

Because of study limitations, they say "it is not possible to provide reassurance that calcium supplements given with vitamin D do not cause adverse cardiovascular events or to link them with certainty to increased cardiovascular risk. Clearly further studies are needed and the debate remains ongoing.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Sleep Tip #1 - 95% of Americans use electronics within an hour before bed, including television, video games, computers and cell phones. Don't do it! Turn all that stuff off for an hour before bed. Turn the lights down low and read or write in a journal. You'll fall asleep much more easily.

Sleep Tip #2 - A late-night snack can help as long as it's finished 2 hours before bedtime. A high-protein snack like a soft-boiled egg or about 10 almonds can stabilize your blood sugar and prevent waking up during the night. Almonds contain magnesium too, which promotes relaxation and sleep. If you don't have blood sugar issues, either a banana or some cherries will increase the sleep hormone melatonin. Warm miso soup is comforting and can also boost melatonin levels.

Sleep Tip #3 - College students who took a 90-minute nap beforehand did better on learning exercises and improved their learning capacity

Thursday, April 28, 2011


by Nell Stephenson

Eating extra virgin olive oil & avocado, DownloadedFile
along with some coconut each day is a GOOD THING!

This has to be one of the most difficult concepts for people to get their heads around. We're in a culture that has been so brainwashed by all that awful low-fat hype of the early 1990's, that to this day, I get many inquiries from clients who are trying to lose weight, trying to be Paleo, but afraid of fat.

Scared to eat any part of a chicken other than boneless/skinless breast and not comfortable eating anything but the leanest sirloin tip steak if they're going on a red- meat route.

I recently gave a paleo nutrition lecture during which one of the audience members, a retired, uber-distinguished judge who looked quite slim and fit, approached me afterwards and asked, "Do you really mean I can have a steak? I haven't had steak in years!". When I asked why, his only reply was that he thought it was bad for him. He went straight to the butcher on the way home and had himself a filet!

Remember, eating healthy fat is NOT what makes people fat, in and of itself. Think about it. Do you really surmise that the country's obesity problem occurred because people are eating too much olive oil with their broccoli, or an abundance of avocado with their salmon?

It's a combination of eating rancid, oxidized fat, ultra processed carbohydrates, next to no fresh fruit or veg., not moving and an overall sloth-like lifestyle that is the path to obesity and the antithesis of health.

So- go paleo, eat your good fat, enjoy it and be lean!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Omega-3 Fats Shown to Decrease Risk of Dying from Inflammatory Diseases

By Dr. Mercola

Omega-3 fats can regulate inflammatory processes and responses. Researchers recently investigated omega-3’s and other fats (such as omega-6 fats and alpha linolenic acid) to see if their consumption was associated with a reduction in mortality due to inflammatory diseases.

More than 2500 participants were tracked over a period of 15 years. Their diet was assessed using a food-frequency questionnaire.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

“Women in the highest tertiles of total [omega-3] intake, compared with those in the lowest tertile of intake at baseline, had a 44 percent reduced risk of inflammatory disease mortality ... In both men and women, each ... increase in energy-adjusted intake of alpha-linolenic acid was [also] inversely associated with inflammatory mortality”.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wendy's Natural Cut Fries: Better Tasting, Yes. Natural, No

by Melanie Warner

When Wendy's (NYSE: WEN - News) created its Natural Cut Fries With Sea Salt, which it introduced last fall and is now promoting in new TV ads this week, the company's product development team found a way to leave the potato skins on, make the fries crispier and give them a much tastier flavor. What they didn't manage to do, however, is make the fries an actual all-natural product. That, says CMO Ken Calwell, would be too difficult given fast food customers' demands for items that are cheap and can be hoisted through a car window.

"People are saying they want high integrity ingredients, things their grandmother would have used, that don't look like they came out of a chemistry lab," Calwell explained in an interview with BNET. "But they're also saying I've got a family to feed and can only afford to spend about $4 on my lunch, and I've only got about a minute or two to eat it."

So instead of going the more expensive Five Guys route of making their fries fresh and in-house, Wendy's settled for "natural cut." What this means is that inside the processing plant, the potatoes skip the step of getting steamed at such a high temperature that the skins burst off. Wendy's spuds go straight to the high tech cutters where they're sliced.

And Then the Not-So-Natural Part

Then come the not-so-natural parts. The fries are sprayed with sodium acid pyrophosphate, a chemical that prevents them from turning brown from two baths in frying oil -- one at the factory and the other at the store. They're also dusted with dextrose, a sugar derived from corn, for similar purposes. For comparison, Five Guy's fries don't need sodium acid pyrophosphate or dextrose because they're only fried once and aren't frozen.

And just like every other large fast food chain, Wendy's frying oil is dosed with dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone-based chemical that helps keep the vegetable oil from getting foamy after countless rounds of frying. (Five Guys doesn't use dimethylpolysiloxane either because their peanut frying oil is more stable than the standard soybean and canola varieties.) Wendy's Natural Cut fries are also frozen like everybody else's, even though it's a big point of distinction for Wendy's that their hamburgers aren't.

Wendy's has also highlighted that it uses "100% Russet potatoes," but John Keeling of the National Potato Council says that this is not a selling point. "Virtually all processed French fries are Russets," he said in an email.

Taste and Compare

But the new fries do succeed in taste tests, even beating those at McDonald's, according to the company's research. Wendy's hired an outside firm to do a national taste test and the results showed that 56% of people taking the test chose Wendy's skin-on fries, whereas only 39% preferred McDonald's (4% had no preference). And Wendy's 6,600 stores, orders that include fries are up almost 10%.

Nutritionally, the skins on the fries add 1 extra gram of fiber per serving for a total of 6 grams in a medium. Although the sodium content went up by 43% to 500 milligrams for a medium, an increase that no doubt helps with the taste factor.

Calwell says that making Wendy's menu items more natural and more real is the company's "North Star."

"We're taking it product line by product line to make our food closer to this real ingredients story. Over time, you'll see our ingredient labels getting shorter and more of those high integrity ingredients. It just takes time," he said.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Twenty-six million Americans

NaturalNews) More Americans than ever now have type 2 diabetes, according to statistics recently released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Twenty-six million Americans now have the disease, which is ten percent more than in 2008. And a shocking 79 million others have pre-diabetes, a condition marked by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels that indicate pending insulin-production failure.

"These distressing numbers show how important it is to prevent type 2 diabetes and to help those who have diabetes," said Ann Albright, director of the diabetes translation division at CDC, in a statement. "We know that a structured lifestyle program that includes losing weight and increasing physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes."

What is perhaps even more concerning than the sharp rise in diabetes cases is the even larger increase in pre-diabetes cases. According to data, the pre-diabetes rate jumped by nearly 40 percent since 2008. So if the entire pre-diabetic population eventually becomes diabetic, nearly one third of the entire U.S. population will eventually have diabetes.

Currently, 8.3 percent of all Americans, and 11.3 percent of people over the age of 20, now have diabetes. Twenty-seven percent of those that have it, or roughly seven million people, are not even aware of their condition. Based on trends, diabetes rates are only expected to continue to rise in the years to come.

In addition to physical lifestyle changes, there are many medicinal superfoods like almonds, green leafy vegetables, and camu camu, that can help to prevent and treat diabetes when incorporated as part of a healthy diet. Avoiding processed foods like soda that are rich in highly-refined sweeteners will also help to keep blood sugar levels low and prevent the destruction of the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sodium Part 2

Some runners sweat so much they end up crusted with salt; they wonder if they need to eat extra salt to replace what lost in sweat. Other runners avoid salt like the plague; they see no need to add it to their food because the typical diet already contains way too much. And then there are marathoners and triathletes who read about hyponatremia (low blood sodium). They wonder if they should start eating salty foods as a part of their daily sports diet. Perhaps you, too, have wondered about the role of salt, or more correctly, sodium (the part of salt associated with high blood pressure) in your diet.

This article can help you figure out if you should shake it or leave it.
Salt: what it is and does

Salt is made up of two electrically charged particles, sodium and chloride, also called electrolytes. In your body, sodium helps keep the right amount of water inside your cells, outside your cells, and in your blood. During exercise, if excessive water intake dilutes the sodium outside the cells, too much water seeps into cells and they swell, including the cells in the brain. The symptoms progressively appear and the runner feels weak, groggy, nauseous, incoherent, and then may experience stumbling, seizures, coma, and death. Athletes at risk of developing hyponatremia include slow marathoners, triathletes and others who exercise for more than four hours and are highly vigilant about hydration, to the extent they drink more fluid than they lose in sweat. Over time, they accumulate a large enough intake of water to dilute the blood sodium. Consuming sodium-containing sports drinks helps, but does not protect against hyponatremia because a sports drink offers far more water than sodium. The typical sports drink may have only one fifth the concentration of normal blood serum. While dehydration is the far more common concern than overhydration, all runners can avoid either problem by knowing their sweat rates. To learn your sweat rate, weigh yourself naked before and after you exercise. A one pound drop equates to losing 16 ounces of sweat and means you should target drinking 16 ounces of fluid during similar exercise bouts. Having knowledge about your sweat rate takes the guesswork out of drinking during long runs, and reduces the risk of health problems associated with consuming too much or too little water.
Sodium in sweat

The average male's body contains about 75,000 milligrams of sodium, the equivalent of eleven tablespoons of salt. When you exercise, you lose some sodium via sweat. The amount you lose depends upon:

How much salt you sweat. Some runners have saltier sweat than other. Salty sweaters tend to end up with a crust of salt on their skin after a hard workout. Other runners, in comparison, have a low sodium content in their sweat - and no white salt stains on their skin or running clothes. The amount of sodium in sweat averages about 500 milligrams sodium per pound of sweat (and ranges from 220 to 1,100 milligrams). If you lose two pounds of sweat per hour for four hours of sweaty running, your sodium losses can become significant (4,000 milligrams of sodium). You should eat salty foods to replace the losses.

How much you exercise in the heat. If you are not used to exercising in heat, you may lose 1,100 milligrams of sodium per pound of sweat. But if you are acclimatized, you may lose only 300 milligrams. This means, if you are training in the winter for a marathon that happens on an exceptionally warm spring day, you might need extra sodium during the marathon.
Salt and blood pressure

The kidneys regulate sodium balance. That is, if you overconsume 200 milligrams sodium, your body will get rid of those 200 mgs via urine, unless you have salt-sensitive high blood pressure. In that case, the body retains too much salt. This results in retaining extra fluid in the blood, and blood pressure rises. As you age, your sensitivity to sodium increases, as does blood pressure and the associated risks of stroke, heart and kidney disease. An estimated 2-5% of people aged 25-34 years have high blood pressure, as do 31-36% of people aged 55-65 years. Of these, about 1/3 to 1/2 are salt-sensitive. To reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, you should not only eat a low sodium diet but also boost your intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium, three minerals that help counter the negative affects of sodium. Instead of simply subtracting salty foods, you should also: consume extra fruits, vegetables and lowfat dairy foods for potassium, magnesium and calcium; exercise (and lose weight if you have weight to lose); limit your intake of alcohol and fatty meats; moderate your salt intake by eating less processed food. Having parents with low blood pressure also helps...
How much salt does a runner actually need?

For non-athletes, the body only needs 500 milligrams sodium and the dietary guidelines recommend no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Most runners easily consume 3,000 to 5,000 milligrams of sodium daily, mostly via processed foods. Sodium enhances food's flavor and helps prevent food spoilage. Most runners consume adequate sodium, even without adding salt to their food. For example, you get sodium via bread (150 milligrams per slice), cheese (220 milligrams per ounce), eggs (60 milligrams per egg), and yogurt (125 milligrams per 8 ounces). Runners who are extreme sweaters likely need more sodium, but generally consume more, particularly if they eat fast foods. Just two slices of cheese pizza (1,200 milligrams) or a hamburger (1,400 milligrams) can easily replace sodium losses; no sweat!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Soduim and Runners

Some runners hate to run in the heat – others love to. I am on the side that likes to run in warm weather. My muscles feel stronger and more relaxed when I run in warm weather versus cold weather. I sweat a lot when running in hot weather, which is a good thing. Sweat is your body’s way of keeping you cool. The sweat evaporates and cools your core temperature.
While I like to run in warm weather, many of my friends and clients would rather run when the temperature is cooler. There is good reason for that. They tend to have problems with muscle cramps and dehydration when they run in a high heat environment. Why do some runner’s have problems when running in the heat while others don’t? How can some athletes complete a hot weather marathon with no problems when many others must drop out due to dehydration or muscle cramping? Part of the answer might be as simple as the taste of your sweat.
That’s right – how does your sweat taste? While this may not sound especially appetizing it is a good way to find out if you are a salty sweater. All runners do not lose sodium at the same rate. Some lose a little while others lose a lot. There have been several studies conducted to determine the rate of sodium loss in athletes. All of the studies have shown the sodium losses can vary greatly from athlete to athlete from around 2g per hour to over 10g per hour.
Is sodium loss really a big deal? Yes – It can be. Low sodium levels can cause muscle cramping, dehydration and hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is a potentially dangerous condition caused by low blood sodium.
When you take into account the fact that our average daily sodium intake is 8 to 12 grams it is easy to see how a salty sweater can get into trouble when running in hot weather. How do you know if you are a salty sweater? The easiest way is the taste test. Does your sweat taste salty or does it sting your eyes? If so you may be a salty sweater. Another way to tell is to look for salt stains on your workout clothing or salt residue on your skin. If the residue is there it is a sign you may be a salty sweater. Another sign of a salty sweater are frequent muscle cramps or problems with dehydration.
If you are a salty sweater there are a couple of strategies you can use to protect yourself.

* Always consume a sports drink when you are running in warm weather. The electrolytes and sodium in these drinks will help keep your sodium levels replenished. Drinking plain water will further dilute the sodium concentration in your blood that is already low due to your salty sweat.
* Increase your dietary consumption of salt. While this goes against most healthy diet recommendations, it will help top off your sodium levels. Try to consume healthy high salt foods such as pretzels, soups, canned vegetables, whole grain crackers and nuts. Avoid the unhealthy high salt foods like packaged meats, hot dogs and fast food.

There is new research that suggests salt loading before a hard training run or competition will improve performance in the heat and decrease the adverse effects of being a salty sweater. One recent study (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 39(1):123-130, January 2007) investigated the effects of sodium loading on eight distance runners. The study found that sodium loading increased the runner’s plasma volume and resulted in increased exercise capacity and a reduced feeling of perceived strain. This is a relative new area of study and more research needs to be done but the early investigations seem to show positive effects of sodium loading.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Are New 'Healthier' Potato Chips?

Dr. Mercola

Frito-Lay, as part of a push to use natural ingredients in its chips, is adding beet juice, purple cabbage and carrots to the recipe. These natural vegetable dyes will replace ingredients such as FD&C Red 40.

By the end of the year, Frito-Lay intends to make half its snacks sold in the U.S. with only natural ingredients.

However, according to the Wall Street Journal:

"Making snacks with natural ingredients doesn't necessarily make them healthy, nutritionists and industry critics caution, even if they are potentially less bad. That includes potato chips."

Friday, April 15, 2011

A high fat intake can actually lower body fat!

by DR Mercola

Two reasons: a) If low fat is consumed, your body retains body fat as a protective/survival mechanism, and b) a high fat intake upregulates key (lipase) enzymes, which not only break down dietary fat but also body fat.

Of course, a high fat and high carb diet will result in body fat accumulation so this only applies to a low carbohydrate intake.

The lipase enzyme is a naturally occurring enzyme found in the stomach and pancreatic juice, which is also found within fats in the foods you eat.

Lipase enzyme digests fats and lipids, helping to maintain correct gall bladder function. As such, these constitute any of the fat-splitting or lipolytic enzymes, all of which cleave a fatty acid residue from the glycerol residue in a neutral fat or a phospholipid. The lipase enzyme controls the amount of fat being synthesized and that which is burned in the body, reducing adipose tissue (fat stores).

The lipase enzyme belongs to the esterases family of proteins. The lipase enzyme is found widely distributed in the plant world (beans and legumes), as well as in molds, bacteria, milk and milk products, and in animal tissues, especially in the pancreas.

In sufficient quantities of lipase enzyme production, lipase can help use fat-stores to be burned as fuel. Indeed, lipase is a rate-determining enzyme, which not only activates the burning of stored body fats but also effectively inhibits fatty acid synthesis, or fat storage!

Hormone-Sensitive Triacyclglycerol Lipase, as it is also known, actually stimulates lipolysis in fat tissues, safely raising blood fatty acid levels, which ultimately activates the beta-oxidation pathway in other tissues, such as liver and muscle. In the liver, lipolysis leads to the production of ketone bodies that are secreted into the bloodstream for use as an alternative fuel to glucose by peripheral tissues.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How to Decrease High Blood Pressure

from BSP Training

* Approximately 1 in 3 US adults has high blood pressure, and 25% of them don’t even know it
* High blood pressure is directly responsible for over 56,000 US deaths each year
* The research generally shows that excess sodium in our diets contributes to high blood pressure for many
* While cutting back sodium can help, consuming more potassium can be just as effective for managing blood pressure
* In fact increasing potassium intake without decreasing sodium will still improve blood pressure
* Here is the list JB provides on potassium containing foods:

1. Swiss Chard – 961 mg per cup
2. Bananas – 422 mg in one medium banana
3. Spinach – 839 mg per cup
4. OJ – 496 mg per cup
5. Dried apricots – 550 mg per 1/4th cup (1 serving)
6. Sweet potatoes – 542 mg per medium sweet potato
7. Avocados – CA variety – 690 mg per, FL variety – 1067 mg per
8. Cantaloupe – 368 mg in 1/4 of a medium cantaloupe
9. Figs – 381 mg per half cup
10. Peaches – 322 mg in one large peach
11. Beans – 477-1224 mg per cup
12. Kale – 299 mg per cup

* Some other foods lower blood pressure by other mechanisms such as celery, garlic, beet juice, whey protein powder and vitamin D.

Now my two cents.

While the research has been a little inconclusive, on the whole POM wonderful pomegranate juice has been found to significantly lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. In fact daily consumption was able to lower systolic blood pressure by as much as 20%, along with increasing blood flow to the heart, reducing arterial plaque and more. For prevention purposes 2oz per day should be sufficient, if you have high blood pressure already 4-6oz might be warranted. It should also be pointed out that 8oz of POM juice contains 600 mg of potassium.

If you know a thing or two about potassium, you will notice one of the best food sources in the world missing from that above list. If you google best sources of potassium you still won’t find it very easily. It seems no one wants to give credit where credit is due, but the humble potato contains a whopping 926 mg of potassium in one medium potato! This much-maligned food deserves its place among the potassium heavy weights and it drives me nuts how it never gets mentioned.

While this last food is mentioned based more on potential than absolute fact, there is some data to back this up. I am talking about the delicious Rooibos tea. A recent study looked at green, black and rooibos tea on angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). Angiotensin-converting enzyme has two main functions: converting angiotensin I to angiotensin II and to degrade bradykinin. This is a problem because angiotensin II constricts blood vessels and bradykinin relaxes blood vessels.

As such ACE inhibition is a goal in the treatment of high blood pressure (among other things). However the drugs that accomplish this have TONS of side effects – hypotension, hyperkalemia, kidney impairment and more.

This study had patients drink 400ml (just over 13oz) of green, black or rooibos tea once daily. It then monitored ACE activity for up to 3 hours after consumption.

It was found that green tea and especially rooibos tea significantly inhibited ACE activity. While this does not definitely show that consumption of green and rooibos tea can be used to replace ACE inhibitors, it does show that they might help in the treatment of high blood pressure and can be used as part of a dietary intervention before putting someone on powerful ACE inhibitors.

More research is needed to see how much this ACE inhibition actually contributes long-term benefits, but the results are promising none the less.

Also failing to mention that minimizing processed food intake will drastically reduce your sodium intake would be a big miscue on my part. Focusing on consuming mostly real, whole, minimally processed foods will decrease sodium intake and increase potassium intake all by itself.

Lastly it is important to mention that exercise and weight loss are two of the best methods for decreasing blood pressure. This I can tell you from experience. At one point in time I maintained my body weight between 210 and almost 220. I am 5’10″, so to say I was thick is an understatement. I certainly wasn’t fat or even chubby, but I wasn’t ripped either. I felt that was my best playing weight for rugby, so I lifted a ton and ate my face off, with healthy food, just mountains of it.

My blood pressure was always on the high side, up around 130/65 (that is a pulse pressure of 65, which is not a good thing). It didn’t help that I was always worried that my blood pressure would be high, so I would get nervous when the doctor would measure me (like white-coat syndrome) and this would artificially inflate it a bit as well. Regardless, it was higher than it should have been.

Fast forward to more recent times where I maintain a bodyweight between 190-200, and my blood pressure is a spectacular 108/72 (pulse pressure a beautiful 36). Granted I think my diet has improved since my 215 days, but not to the point where it would make all of the difference. I also wasn’t exercising any more than I had been either, so that wasn’t the cause. It was mostly my weight loss, which just goes to show how powerful of a tool that can be.

I also had my central blood pressure measured by a SphygmoCor assessment, which was really neat. Normal blood pressure cuffs measure your brachial (or peripheral) blood pressure. SphygmoCor utilizes that data, and then measures your central (or aortic) pressure. Basically the blood pressure actually at your heart. Mine was 94/73, pretty much straight up awesome. This central blood pressure is a better predictor of cardiovascular events than traditional peripheral blood pressure, and SphygmoCor is being used by the prestigious Mayo Clinic, among many others.

So to wrap this all up, the best way to manage blood pressure is to exercise, maintain a healthy weight, eat a diet rich in real, whole, minimally processed foods containing plenty of high-potassium fruits and vegetables as well maybe drinking a little POM juice every day, consuming some celery, having a scoop of whey protein every day, optimizing your vitamin D status and drinking some green and rooibos tea. If you read this blog on a consistent basis, that shouldn’t be too daunting of a challenge!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

General Physical Preparedness (GPP):


“GPP is intended to provide balanced physical conditioning in endurance, strength, speed, flexibility and other basic factors in fitness. GPP may include participation in a variety of different physical activities which provide low intensity, all-round conditioning, with little emphasis on specific sporting skills.” Mel Siff, Supertraining.

We cannot generalize which exercises or activities are considered GPP for all sports, since all sports require different skills. GPP activities provide balance in fitness by filling in the gaps that are not trained through SPP or sport specific drills. So, swimming might be included as GPP for a weightlifter, while weightlifting may be included as GPP for a swimmer. In each case, the GPP exercise trains a physical capacity that is NOT required by the sport. It is the general consensus among the most highly respected strength and conditioning coaches that GPP is important, and that this base is best built in the lower levels of the competitive ranks (youth, junior high, high school). This is why many strength coaches recommend that athletes participate in a variety of sports at early ages.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Can It Get Any Worse......

By Liz Goodwin
Chicago school bans homemade lunches, the latest in national food fight

Students who attend Chicago's Little Village Academy public school get nothing but nutritional tough love during their lunch period each day. The students can either eat the cafeteria food--or go hungry. Only students with allergies are allowed to bring a homemade lunch to school, the Chicago Tribune reports.

"Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school," principal Elsa CarmonaƂ told the paper. "It's about ... the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It's milk versus a Coke."

But students said they would rather bring their own lunch to school in the time-honored tradition of the brown paper bag. "They're afraid that we'll all bring in greasy food instead of healthy food and it won't be as good as what they give us at school," student Yesenia Gutierrez told the paper. "It's really lame."

The story has attracted hundreds of comments so far. One commenter, who says her children attend a different Chicago public school, writes, "I can accept if they want to ban soda, but to tell me I can't send a lunch with my child. ARE YOU KIDDING ME????"

Monday, April 11, 2011


FROM Big70's

Training consistently is a learning process, an active process of introspection. Getting stronger isn’t easy. It requires a laboring, painful work that will only be expressed in the next bout of laboring, painful work. Yet with strength training, that process is just as important as the end. Choosing to do something hard — of your own volition — puts the mind in a vulnerable state. It forces you to decide whether or not you think you’re capable. Want to complete a set, but don’t think you can? You won’t. Staring down the bar, daring it to beat you and knowing that you will crush it; that is something entirely different, my friends.

It isn’t about merely attempting something that is Very. Fucking. Hard. But shifting the mindset into not just the possibility of completion, but the explosive dominance and subsequent victory you’ll have over that barrier. The mindset itself is the victory. The destruction of the set is the victory lap. The weening moments after when your heart is still racing and short of breath — that’s standing on the podium. Learning how to give everything you have mentally and physically to achieve your goals is what getting stronger is all about.

Happy PR

Sunday, April 10, 2011

There are some ways to avoid feeling a lot less sore in the morning:

From Crossfit Oneworld

1. Post workout cool down. Since my girlfrined is a swim coach, I’ve got to attend a few swim meets recently. No matter how hard the race just completed, all swimmers jump in the pool and hit a few laps at an easy pace or go for a brisk walk for a few laps around the pool. This helps break up the lactic acid built up from the race. Think about going for an easy jog around the building or pull a nice easy row after your workout.
2. Get a good stretch in after your workout. I personally get very lazy with this. (Which is the why I always feel like the old man with the walker....) Static stretch and rolling out (SMR techniques) will help prevent getting so sore the following morning.
3. Drink lots of water. Water helps in muscle recovery. You can’t drink too much when you leave the gym. The downside is you keep having to get up to take a piss in the middle of the night.
4. Drink a post workout recovery drink. I have had great success with the All Pro Science brand Recovery mix. Plus it tastes delicious!
5. Wear recovery tights to bed. When I really put the grind on the body, I wear my Body Science tights to bed. It makes a HUGE difference!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Carrot Facts

The Average person will eat 10,866 carrots in their lifetime.
Carrots were the first vegetable to be canned commercially
The Longest Carrot recorded in 1996 was 5.14 metres (16 feet 10 ½ inches)
Carrots produce more distilled spirit than potatoes
In early Celtic literature, the carrot is referred to as the "Honey Underground"!
Carrots are one of the rare vegetables which are more nutritious cooked than raw
Carrots were first grown as a medicine not a food
It's a myth that Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots - he simply did not like them.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What do you REALLY want?

by Liz Wolfe

Some information about food that can help in this process: Cravings are often symptoms of a seemingly unrelated nutritional deficiency. When you're craving something, it's not because you can't stick to a plan or because your willpower needs exercise. It's not because you didn't read that part of the e-book. It's because your innate body intelligence is alerting you to a need. Isn't that beautiful?

So what do you REALLY want?

If you Crave: Chocolate
You may need: Magnesium
Try: Nut & seeds like sesame & pumpkin; berries.

If you Crave: Bread
You may need: Nitrogen
Try: Protein! Fish, meat, poultry

If you Crave: Coffee (irrationally)
You may need: salt
Try: A pinch of sea salt

If you Crave: Burned or very well-done food
You may need: Carbon
Try: Fresh fruit

If you Crave: Soda or carbonated drinks
You may need: Calcium
Try: Leafy greens, broccoli, raw milk cheese

If you Crave: Anything PMS-related
You may need: Zinc
Try: Organ meats (hide some liver in a chili or meatballs), seafood, leafy greens, root veggies

If you Crave: Ice-Cold drinks
You may need: Manganese
Try: Almonds, pineapple, blueberries

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Is your Muscle's Heart Rate?


We always poll our athletes,” How can we prepare you better for the start of the season?” The most common response from our pro baseball players is, “have me stand for 8 hours a day.” Funny, but it’s true that in all land based sports, significant pain can build up from consecutive bouts of standing. One of the ways to reduce this pain, other than moving and not just standing, is to reduce your resting muscle tone.

Alfonse Masi, Professor at the Illinois College of Medicine describes “human resting muscle tone as the tension of skeletal muscle from its intrinsic molecular viscoelastic properties.” We do not need to go too deep into these scientific terms, but “viscoelastic properties” is a physics term to describe a low level resistance to stretch. This tissue property plays a large role in posture, ideally using the least amount of energy to keep the body stabilized at rest. Such efficiency is at the heart of human movement, whether it is jumping or sprinting, so why wouldn’t this optimal setting exist for standing as well?

One of the best ways we have found to keep this resting muscle tone low is to reduce trigger points (see Sparta Point 1/19/11). Putting oscillating pressure on those taut bands can reduce muscle stiffness. We use a variety of tools, mostly PVC pipes, lacrosse balls, and golf balls, to target specific areas depending on the muscle size and bone structure that allows access. Spending 10 passes over each trigger point area would be enough before moving onto the next muscle. Perhaps the tightest muscle from standing is the calf area, specifically the soleus muscle, which lies directly above the Achilles tendon but below the bigger calf muscle, the gastrocnemius.

So as I walked into the homes of pro baseball players during Spring Training, they each had 3 things by their door, a PVC pipe, lacrosse ball, and a golf ball. They taught me that better than rolling out each area for 10 passes once a day, would be to do it 3 x times a day for just 5-10 minutes. This option of frequency over duration keeps your resting muscle tone consistently lower.

So get after those trigger points to keep your tone lower, expending less energy even while you stand, and like everything, frequency trumps duration.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Top Six Recovery Methods for Athletes

By Joe Hashey


I’ll start off by putting it simply—you must train hard and recover hard! I work with a variety of athletes at Synergy Athletics. Keep in mind—these are mostly high school and college age athletes who are often at the mercy of their school schedules. Here are some healthy ways to recover your body and restore your muscles!

· Food: It’s simple. When you’re done working out, you have to eat a protein source to build muscles. Muscles are made of proteins, and without consuming any protein quickly (in the first 45 minutes after a workout—the earlier the better), muscles won’t grow. It’s like trying to build a log cabin without wood. It just doesn’t make any sense.

On top of that, eating quality meals with a protein source, carbohydrate, and additional vegetable will help your body feel better after training. Ever eat fast food after a hard lifting session? Your muscles will be feeling it the next day. I’ve done it with pizza. Not pleasant. You’ve already done the hard work in the gym, so don’t sabotage yourself in the kitchen!

Healthy meals go a long way toward recovery.

· Self-myofascial release and active release techniques (ART): This includes foam rolling, which I have posted about extensively, using a lax ball, Theracane, the Stick, or any other massage tool. When a muscle stretches near the point of injury, the Golgi tendon organ (GTO) tells the muscle spindles to relax. Foam rolling stimulates the muscle and works the GTO so the athlete can work in a more complete range of motion without the muscles shutting down. Also, ART techniques are helpful in fixing soft tissue adhesion and dissipating scar tissue build up. Foam rollers cost around $10–20, and a lax ball is around $1.

· Contrast showers and baths: For the first few times that you use contrast showers, it may be uncomfortable but still invigorating! I recall when John Frieser, a new trainer here at Synergy Athletics, was getting ready for the NFL combines. He had his full day scheduled including his time in the shower! There are different time sequences used, but I prefer one minute as cold as I can stand followed by two minutes as warm as possible. Also, you can isolate the contrasting to a body part such as the hands by using two buckets—one with hot water and one with icy cold water. Perform contrasting and you will feel great! Contrasting relaxes and excites the muscles, moves blood through, and shortens the restoration time.

· Warm up, stretch, and relax: Stretching has been a hot topic in the training world lately. Stretching post-workout and on rest days will help recovery. First, during a workout, muscles contract and shorten. Stretching them after the workout insures the muscles range of motion and length. Pre-workout you should be using (with a couple exceptions) a dynamic stretching routine. For recovery, I recommend increasing the body’s core temperature with some light exercises such as jogging or jumping jacks and then perform a static stretching routine.

· Hydrate: Drinking water is crucial, but I don’t use strict guidelines such as “drink 8 oz every 13 1/6 minutes.” I just tell the athletes to drink. They bring water with them when they train, and they keep a bottle of water with them during the day. There are many recovery drinks out there, but to keep my demographic in mind, water is the most practical. Drinking on your rest days will help push toxins out and keep the muscles loose.

· Relax (sleep): It’s not rocket science here! Recovery requires relaxing. I have some clients that want to stay up on their video games or Facebooking until 1:00 am, wake up at 6:30 am to go to school, and then come workout. That’s not how it works! You must relax and get your sleep. At their age, they should be getting around eight hours of sleep a night. More rest may be required after a strenuous competition or training. Nowadays, you can’t pay me to stay up after 11:00 pm. I wish I loved sleeping when I was younger as much as I do now!

Friday, April 1, 2011


by: Mike Bundrant

The number one health destroyer is all natural

(NaturalNews) It is linked to nearly every major disease and multiple non-lethal conditions that plague us. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, high blood pressure, peptic ulcers, headaches, chronic anxiety, depression and addictive disorders that foster unhealthy lifestyles are all scientifically linked to chronic stress. In fact, over 50 conditions have been correlated with high stress lifestyles. Even obesity and all the health issues that flow from it, is believed to be a direct result of chronic and excessive stress.

No organ system is immune to the effects of stress. Here is a brief and partial synopsis of the damage stress can do to the body:

Hair: Excessive hair loss and premature baldness are linked to excessive stress

Skin: Eczema, psoriasis, hives, excessive blushing and sweating are linked to stress

Digestion: Stress is know to cause gastritis, colitis, stomach and duodenal ulcers, IBS and other digestive disorders.

Heart: Cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high blood pressure are linked to cumulative stress.

Mouth: Ulcers and excessive dryness of the mouth can be stress related.

Muscles: Stress may cause tightness, soreness, spasm, aching, lower back pain, twitching and muscular tics.

Lungs: Shortness of breath, panic disorder and exacerbation of asthmatic conditions are linked to stress.

Brain: Stress causes psychological conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, irritability and even personality changes.

Chronic, overwhelming stress may be the number one plague of modern life. How does it work? Stress activates a chain of hormonal events that was originally designed to protect our ancestors from wild beasts. We've all heard of the fight-or-flight mechanism. Consistent mental and emotional stress fires up this response system and keeps it active in an ongoing way. The results are staggering. Here is what the Mayo Clinic has to say:

"The long-term activation of the stress-response system -- and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones -- can disrupt almost all your body's processes."

If you don't get a handle on your chronic stress in a personally noticeable way, such that you can feel the difference in your body each and every day, rest assured it is doing damage daily. Low stress people live longer. Highly stressed people live shorter lives.