Catching Z’s will Free Disease

sleep

Pretty catchy title right? I thought it was pretty clever, then again I still have the humor of a 12 year old. You always hear things like “don’t sleep your life away” and “you’ll sleep when you’re dead”. Well, the truth is, without sleep you will actually be less productive and, odds are, you will die sooner than those who get regular sleep. Seems a little harsh, but let me explain.

 

Killing Me Softly

 

Sleep deprivation has been linked to many diseases and dysfunctions in the body, more specifically, cardiometabolic disease, immune dysfunction and stress tolerance. Cardiometabolic disease refers collectively to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. How can you become obese from not sleeping you ask? One study showed that restricting sleep for 8 consecutive days increased daily caloric intake by 566 calories a DAY! That’s almost 4,000 extra calories a week from sleeping less! That’s nice if you’re trying to bulk up, but for the majority of the world, this isn’t the case. Cortisol levels tend to increase the less sleep that you get, which can also lead to weight gain as well as other chronic headaches, decreased immune function and decreased sex drive. I could go on and on about the negative effects of sleep deprivation, but I think you get the picture. Let’s look at a couple of ways to help you sleep better.

 

8 Hours for the Win!

 

8 hours of sleep seems to be the standard recommendation when it comes to length of sleep. I tend agree, although it does vary slightly from person to person. Any less the 7 hours consistently and you’re entering the no fly zone, and any more than 9 hours consistently and you’re just lazy (unless of course you’re a teenager, in which case 12 hours seems to be the norm…..I miss those days). Here are a couple of ideas to get you ready for bed:

 

1) Turn off the lights – Melatonin is a hormone that helps us go to sleep and stay asleep. Light reduces the production of melatonin, therefore making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Here’s another reason. A study at Johns Hopkins University injected 2 groups of mice with a cancer-causing agent. One group was exposed to 16 hours of artificial light and the other group was exposed to 16 hours of dark. The light group had a 90% cancer rate. The dark group? 0%.

 

2) Watch your nutrition – Some people with digestive issues don’t do well eating right before bed. If you’re one of these people, don’t eat before you go to bed. For the rest of you, foods high in monounsaturated fats, such as avocado, olives, olive oil and some nuts, seem to have a calming effect on the body. And don’t drink coffee!

 

3) EXERCISE! – Yes, exercise will even help you sleep better. Multiple studies show that people who exercise at least 60 minutes a day sleep better than those who exercise less than 60 minutes a day. Enough said.

 

So next time 9 o’clock rolls around and you’re tired, but you’re trying to decide if you want to stay up to watch another episode of Friends (tempting I know), shut it down. Also, don’t forget to close your blinds at night, you don’t want that sun to peep through and wake you up earlier than you need to.

Eat your vegetables

dirtydozen

How many times did you hear that as a child? After all spinach would make you strong like Popeye and carrots were good for your eyes–ever see any rabbits wearing glasses? All kidding aside, vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. In this article I will share why and which ones are best.

First of all, most people know that vegetables are high in water content and fiber. Many are low on the glycemic index scale meaning they don’t impact our blood sugar and insulin levels very much helping us control our weight. Vegetables also contain key phytonutrients. A phytonutrient is a compound that is associated with many health benefits. Carotinoids found in yellow, red and orange vegetables are an example of a phytonutrient. Carotinoids break down into Vitamin A which help to support our immune system. Vegetables are also high in antioxidants which help us fight free radicals. Free radicals are taken in from our environment from exposure to pollution and are formed in our bodies naturally from biological processes. These free radicals, if left unchecked, damage our cells and tissues possibly resulting in many types of cancer and other diseases.

One of the key roles that vegetables play is to neutralize the acid the typical diet today generates through the digestive process. Our bodies strive to maintain a stable blood pH since our cells operate best at a particular pH level. Chronic high blood acidity causes bone and muscle tissue loss. Vegetables act as a buffer since they are alkalizing to our bodies helping to counteract this acidic environment.

So which vegetables are best? All vegetables are good. The leafy green variety offer the best benefits. However the most important thing to remember is to eat a wide variety of colors and types. The whole vegetable is my first choice preferably organic-please refer to the “The Dirty Dozen” to save yourself some money. You can use vegetable juices but you will not get maximum benefit from them. Taking a multivitamin doesn’t cut it either.

So in conclusion, eat your vegetables. Choose a variety of colors and types. Shoot for 1 cup or more per meal and make your body happy!

Some Reading for the Week

Yoda-reading-small

Here are a couple of articles for you to look at during commercials today while you lie around watching TV.

 

First, in case you missed it, here’s a look at our posts from this past week:

 

http://scarlatostrength.com/blog/superfoods/

 

http://scarlatostrength.com/blog/the-morning-workout-warrior/

 

Here’s something that was shared earlier this week, but I think is worth sharing again. Read if you have kids who play sports, or if you are a middle school or high school athlete:

 

http://strengthcoachblog.com/2014/04/11/a-misinformed-road-to-success/

 

And finally something something from Tim Ferriss, one of the coolest people to follow:

 

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2014/02/19/anxiety-attacks/

 

Hope ya’ll enjoy and have a great week!

The Morning Workout Warrior

Finding time to fit in your workout when you’re trying to run your life can be cumbersome for some of us. Most of us have a lot going on, which means the workout gets put on the back burner. Things such as:

 

  • Work
  • School
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Taking care of the yard
  • Grocery shopping

The list could go on and on.  So fitting something in in the morning seems logical (although, I’ve been through 6AM workouts for football and pretty sure that has scarred me for life).

 

First things first, busting out crunches and situps first thing in the morning (I mean first thing…..like, immediately when you roll out of bed) is not very conducive to spinal health.  After sleeping for 6-8 spinehours (10-12 for teenagers……the good ol’ days), your spine decompresses and collects water, increasing annular tension within the discs themselves. So stay away from anything that involves bending, crunching, picking up, putting down for the first 30 minutes you’re out of bed.

 

Walking = Good

 

Deadlifting = Bad

 

Once you’ve say around and had your cup of coffee, something kick is going to suit you best. This is when supersets come in handy. Here’s a good circuit that you can get done in 30 minutes or less:

 

A1: Kettlebell Swing                     3 x 10

A2: Pushups                                         3 x AMRAP

 

B1: Goblet Stepback Lunge     3 x 10 each leg

B2: Kettlebell Rows                       3 x 10 each arm

 

C1: Core work

C2: Shower

 

Simple yet effective. Never underestimate simplicity. More is not always better after all.

 

TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT?

THAT IS THE QUESTION!

 

This is typically the ultimate question when talking about morning workouts. And the ultimate answer is……it depends. By now you’ve heard of intermittent fasting. If not, it’s fasting intermittently….you like how I did that? Males seem to show the greatest response to IF, coconutmilkso not eating before your morning workout is a choice for men. Women, on the other hand, don’t fair as well. Stick with something quick. My go to quick breakfast is 1 serving of coconut milk (the REAL stuff, not silk) and 1 heaping scoop of protein powder….your choice of flavor.

 

You can always find time to get your workout in, sometimes it just requires getting up earlier (which requires going to bed earlier, which requires less TV…….sad I know). Remember, you only get one time at bat, so make it good!

Superfoods

SuperFoods1If you have read any health magazine out today,  you have no doubt seen articles  about superfoods.  For those not familiar, a superfood is nutrient dense while being low in calories. They contain a high amount of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  Many in the field believe that by adding more of these foods into your diet you can help your body deal with chronic inflammation.  Long standing inflammation in the body is being linked to the development of many chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  People who eat more superfoods are healthier and thinner than those who don’t.

There are many different superfoods so I am going to share a few of my favorite ones, although I have many more,  that I feel have made a difference in my health and performance.

The first one is the egg.  This is coming from a girl who didn’t start eating eggs regularly until a couple of years ago.  I hated eggs for years and would only choke down a hard boiled egg as a protein source when I had to.  Now, I eat eggs nearly everyday.  Eggs are the definition of a superfood-low in calories and nutrient dense.  They are an excellent source of protein with a hefty dose of vitamins D and B12,  selenium and choline.  They contain amino acids that help to build muscle and support proper body function.  Research shows that those who eat eggs have a higher intake of almost all nutrients compared to non egg eaters.  For those of you worried about eggs raising your cholesterol, research shows that eating 1-2 per day has nearly no impact on that in most people.  For bonus benefit use Omega 3 eggs.

The next one is the avocado.  Now I know most people can’t get past the green color but this healthy fat has a very mild taste and great cardiovascular benefits.  They are an excellent source of potassium and high in  fiber.  They also may help to fight off diabetes and high cholesterol.  I like to use avocados in place of mayo when making egg or tuna salad.  They also can be added into any salad or placed on sandwiches.  Who doesn’t like guacamole but hold the chips for me please.

The third superfood is asparagus.  Asparagus comes in three colors white, purple and green. All three are equally nutritious.  Look for ones that are pencil thin.  They are high in Vitamin K needed to support bone health and blood clotting.  Asparagus are  also abundant in antioxidants to help battle free radicals and once again reduce your risk of chronic diseases.  They are  also known to be a natural diuretic.  I like to roast these with olive oil at 400 degrees for @ 20 minutes.

My last favorite is wild caught salmon.  This tasty fish is high in Omega 3’s  which our bodies cannot make on its own. Salmon helps to reduce inflammation, improve circulation and increase the ratio of good cholesterol to bad. It is also high in selenium which helps to reduce cell damage. You can bake or grill this fish with asparagus for a quick and nutritious dinner.

I hope now I have sparked your interest to start adding in more superfoods to your daily diet and start reaping their health benefits. If you want anymore ideas please don’t hesitate to ask.

My Story Part 2

For those of you who didn’t get to read Part 1 of this post (or forgot the particulars) you can catch up on the details HERE. Enjoy!

 

The second part of my story begins in the late summer of 2010.   I had maintained my 100 pound weight loss  for three years.  I was still  training twice a week with a trainer and my diet consisted of lean protein, limited carbohydrates and little to no fat.   Although I was very happy with my achievement, I was disappointed that I was stuck where I was—just skinny.  I was  becoming afraid to ever have a cheat meal for the weight would come right back.     I didn’t think I was ever going to get to that “filling back out stage” that I was promised.

photo

A group of our friends were planning vacation for the following summer.   We thought it would be a great idea to have a    “Biggest Loser” contest to get in shape over the fall and winter.   We all joined Body Dynamics Gym.   Now I knew that I wasn’t going to win a contest but this fell right into line with what my trainer had been encouraging me to do which was to add  cardio to my routine. He told me when I leaned down  more then I would get that look I so desired.   I dutifully got up every off day morning and was at the gym at 5am to do my cardio for 20 minutes.   Well guess what?   That got old real fast when I didn’t see any results after a couple of months. Plus this was more trouble than it was worth.   I was growing discouraged and really starting to doubt my program and trainer.   I knew this meant trouble for me.   Afraid I would fall off the wagon I approached Jerry and asked him to create a workout for me to do on my own.   Little did I know at the time, I had just met the second person who would change my life for the better.

After a brief discussion about my current plan and the goal I had in mind he spoke the words I had been waiting to hear for a long time. You need to put on muscle not lean down.   Aha-finally!    I started taking his functional training class.   It was more fun than working out alone and a great place for me to “pick his brain”.    I was able to ask questions of him where my other trainer was not very willing to share his knowledge.    Jerry willingly answered all my questions and explained exercises to me.     We talked about my nutrition.

TrevesAfter

Over time, one thing lead to another and I did something I never saw myself doing.   I switched programs and trainers.   I was taking a huge chance but haven’t looked back since.   The two programs are completely different.   Number one– I finally was encouraged to eat!  I have learned how  nutrition impacts your body and your  workouts.  I was never going to build muscle eating the way I was.   The old program was high reps/low weights high intensity for 20 minutes.  That usually meant feeling sick and weak by the end barely able to walk to a chair. Yes to the point of throwing up. Jerry’s program works on strength, flexibility and hypertrophy.  Although his workouts are difficult I don’t feel like Jerry  is trying to kill me. People have  told me I can’t believe you smile while you workout.     I thought I was pretty strong starting  his program until I had to do unilateral exercises.   Those clearly brought out my weaknesses rather quickly.   People tell me now that I look better today than I did two years ago when I started on his program.    What is most important is that I feel better and  I am in the best shape of my life right now.

Our bodies are wonderful creations and we are only given one. Some parts can be replaced at a high price but they never work as well as the originals.   Other parts cannot be replaced once damaged. If you find yourself in an unhealthy place  like I did  take the  steps necessary to make a change.   It’s never too late.   Find that someone who will share their knowledge, encourage you and progress you along in your journey to health and wellness.