Monday, January 24, 2011

I love to exercise. The rush of adrenaline and exhilaration of accomplishment that accompanies vigorous physical activity offers a thrill like no other. Even the feeling of exhaustion after a good workout is more than made up for by the sensation of rejuvenation that comes a few minutes later. Unfortunately, I often don't have time for a proper workout, and many other people are in the same boat. We realize we should exercise regularly--and we would if we had the time--but life's fervent pace has a way of forcing its way into the empty hours of our day planners.

The chief problem is time: exercise takes up far too much of it. Stretching for 10 minutes and then walking for 30 minutes on the treadmill requires a block of time that many of us simply can't spare. Worse, if we ever do 40 minutes to ourselves, we are inevitably interrupted by one of a dozen imminent distractions that require our immediate attention. Even if the day were 36 hours long, we'd probably have trouble finding the time: we'd be too busy taking care of everything else we'd need to get done. Luckily, there are several ways to inject our day with a sufficient amount of exercises that are easy to implement and effective.

Start the Day With Stretches

A big deterrent to working out during the day is the extra time we have to spend stretching in order not to hurt ourselves. However, you can avoid this pitfall by stretching when you wake up as part of your daily routine. If you don't have time to stretch in the morning, wake up a few minutes early. It only takes five or ten extra minutes to feel looser, more relaxed and be more active the rest of the day.

Be Brisk and Move About

A lot can be done toward improving your personal fitness simply by imbuing our everyday activities with a bit of extra vigor. When walking, you can move a bit faster with longer strides--your calves should burn a bit at first with the extra effort. If you have to sit down for an extended period, move about in your seat and stand up for a short stroll or some quick stretches several times an hour. Our bodies notice long lapses in activity and acclimate to behaviors quickly.

Short Bursts of Exercise are Just as Good

It's erroneous to think that we need to exercise for one, steady block of time each day for it to benefit us. Take three 10-minute periods each day to go for a power walk, run on the treadmill, lift weights or any number of other strenuous activities and you will receive the same benefit as a medium-paced, 30-minute workout.

Eat a Snack or Small Meal After Working Out

Recent research suggests that having a small low-carb snack after working out promotes the body's use of sugar in the bloodstream. So don't go hungry, a salad or piece of fruit after a workout can measurably improve your fitness progress.

Give Yourself a Bit More Work

We can easily increase the amount of exercise we get by actively making things a bit harder on ourselves. Simple things like parking at the far end of the lot, avoiding elevators and using a walking lawnmower instead of a riding lawnmower all add up at the end of the day.

Work Out When You Have the Chance

Most important to integrating physical fitness into our lives is taking opportunities to exercise when they're presented. It's easy to become lackadaisical toward exercise, especially when you don't often get the chance for a proper workout. Yet once you make exercise a habit, it becomes second nature.

I've often heard the expression "fitness is a way of life," and though it may sound trite, to an extent it remains true. Exercises is a way of life in that in the course of each day we need to find places where it will fit. If we can't make it to the gym for an hour, or even a half-hour, each day we need to make it up in bits whenever we have a moment.  Doing so is actually easier than it sounds, avoiding being sedentary can be as simple as acting energetically while doing menial tasks. This approach might seem like using baby steps to climb a mountain, but in time we'll look back and see the valley in which we started.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
My friends all ways tell me they want to get healthy and lose weight but diets are to extreme to stick to and they always end out gain the weight back again. Here is a ease-of-entry-plan for you, your friends or families transition. Its really not that hard and its something you can stick to as a lifestyle not a one off attempt. 

My own path: I've never really been overweight but I have always been on a quest to stay slim and healthy since giving up competitive swimming. After reading a low-carbing article in a magazine, and losing a little whack of fat whilst still consuming artificial sweeteners, thinking organic foods were for rich suckers, and only watching my carbs (no matter what the source). After finding Son of Grok and MDA, I started cutting out chemicals and streamlining my eating to meat, veg, eggs, some fruit, some nuts, and lots of oils. I've tried different ways of eating along the way, but ultimately I'm happy and pretty healthy now days. I admit I am skinny-fat, I do have those last few stubborn pounds to lose, but I'm not in a rush now that I know so much about metabolism and cellular health.

To create my 'How To' plan for others, I considered the ideas of Dr Kurt G Harris'sGet Started guide on PaNu, Mark Sisson's PB Basics and book, as well as other less-authoritative write-ups from various sources. My ideas don't exactly match any other guides that I've found, though I understand the ideas supporting the priorities and progression of the aforementioned lists. 

The Beginning: The first thing you need to do is work out your goals - do you need to lose weight? add muscle? improve your health? Your goals will change your focus and process slightly, although overall your choices will fit under the big paleo header: EAT REAL, WHOLE FOOD.

Don't worry - this will be easier than it looks, and maybe even fun!
Time To Begin The Transformation:

1a. Start your day with a grain-free, sugar-free, protein & fat breakfast. 

Fuelling yourself with fat and protein helps your body run smoothly for a multitude of reasons, including blood glucose stability, hunger management, fat-burning maximisation, and neural benefits. 

Try: eggs and bacon, grain-free sausages or burger patties, chicken and egg salad,frittata (can be made ahead of time for an on-the-go brekkie), grain-free granola (Nola), or maybe even coconut or almond pancakes! Dinner leftovers like roast meat are also perfect protein-rich breakfasts, though you may want to add some animal fat (butter! Yum!).

1b. Add more healthy fat to the rest of your day. Saturated and monounsaturated fats are your friends. Animal fat (lard!) is wonderful, coconut oil has many exciting health properties, pastured/fermented butter is nutritious and tasty, and olive oil is great to drizzle on salads (but avoid cooking with it). Snack on high-fat foods like boiled eggs, avocados and macadamia nuts to keep hunger at bay. You'll soon find you don't need to snack - you may even stay satiated from breakfast until dinnertime! Eat when you're hungry, and when you eat, eat fat.

Did you notice I said 'healthy fat' and then didn't talk about margarine?! Margarine, and other bogus vegetable oils (and most nut oils) are BAD. Refined, adulterated, abused, rancid, and heavy on omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. We need omega-6s, but we need to keep our intake of them balanced with our intake of omega-3s. Right now, many people in the developed world consume omega-6:omega-3 at a ratio of 20:1! The recommended level is closer to 3:1, if not 1:1. When your omega fatty acids are out of balance, inflammation is caused. Inflammation is bad news for your body, causing internal upsets that lead to heart problems, digestive issues, autoimmune problems, obesity... Avoid inflammation as much as possible. Here are two more foods which, when industrially processed, cause major inflammatory responses in the body:

2a. Completely eliminate wheat, and minimise other grains & legumes. Aim for a maximum of one grain-based meal per day, and then try for grain-free days. Rice and corn (including popcorn) are grains. 

2b. Completely eliminate all processed sugarThis one can be hard work since some of us are addicted to sweet tastes. For now, try to substitute natural sugars like maple syrup and honey for table sugar, and then start replacing your natural sugars with chopped up fresh or frozen (unsweetened) fruit. If you find yourself craving sweetness, you might want to use diet soft drinks for a while, or go completely cold turkey, cutting out all fruit. This can be particularly helpful if you are looking to lose weight. 

3. For fat-loss: you will probably see some weight loss once you have eliminated grains and sugars. Some of this is 'water weight', but some may also be fat. To keep this fat-burning process going, restrict starches such as potatoes and root vegetables, avoid fruit & nuts, and prioritise fatty cuts of meat as they are very nutritious and satiating.

If you are not needing to lose fat, you may wish to continue consuming fruit and nuts, but prioritise sweet potatoes and yams over white potatoes as many varieties of potato have minimal nutrition.

4. Once your hunger is under control and you've cut out the foods that interfere most with hormones and bodily functions, you should look to adjusting other lifestyle factors that may impact inflammation:

Chronic stress is inflammatory due to increased cortisol circulation. Find time to play and rest. I hiking, body weight exercises and kettlebell workouts. I love to hang out in my hammock, soaking up some sunshine. I also find time to get pampered with a massage, and hope to work more yoga and meditation into my life next year.

Sleep! Treat sleep like it's your job - make sure you're in bed snoozing for a set number of hours. Keep your bedroom very dark, and make your bed a sanctuary away from TV, computers, and other distractions. 

Get some sun. 'Vitamin' D is crucial for reducing inflammation. Depending on your skin colour and geography, get your blood serum D tested and see how long you need to spend in the sun to get your levels into the preferred range. If your lifestyle limits your outdoor hours, consider supplementation of D3. A bonus of getting outdoors and lapping up some sunlight is that you'll probably end up sleeping better due to chemical reaction and hormone circulation.

Exercise - excessive, long cardio sessions is a form of chronic stress, especially if you don't enjoy yourself. Try interval exercises like Tabata protocols, sprints (running, swimming, cycling, etc), and other activities that involve short bursts of intensity. Short and sharp - our bodies love acute stressors since they make us stronger, but chronic stressors wear us down.

You too can be beautiful!
And, if you can, be sure to get lots of sex.

5. Continue perfecting your food choices. 
If you're having digestive issues, try cutting out dairy products. Source farm-fresh foods - avoid conventional, grain-fed meat, and limit your exposure to pesticides by going organic. Be sure you are getting enough protein (1g per kg of body weight - use a food tracker like FitDay to check your intake). 

Eat until you are satisfied, then stop.

The Goal Food List for Health & Well-Being

Each category is followed by a list of the top choices in priority order.

Meat: 1) beef, lamb, bison etc, 2) free-range pork, 3) wild-caught fish, 4) free-range chicken, 5) other seafood...

Fats: 1) animal fat, 2) coconut oil, 3) butter/ghee, 4) olive oil...

Nutritious veggies: 1) leafy green veggies, 2) low-starch veggies, 3)sweet potatoes...

Fruit: 1) berries, 2) coconut, 3) other low-sugar fruits, 4) higher-sugar fruits as post-workout refuelling...

Nuts: 1) macadamia nuts, 2) everything else except peanuts & cashews (which are legumes).

Drink water whenever you are thirsty, and you might like to experiment with tea, coconut water, etc. Do not drink soft drinks or fruit juice - it's just sugar/sweeteners. Coffee is okay in moderation, as is straight alcohol (wine, some spirits). Beer has gluten in it, though you can find some gluten-free craft beers.  

Cook your food gently and properly - avoid burning at all costs. Cook your veggies when possible. You can also learn how to properly prepare nuts and dairy products through the Weston A. Price Foundation's website.

Eat real food, avoid the nasty stuff, live like a human animal (not a robot!), and prioritise your health since your life really does depend on it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010
There has been some controversial debate about acid and alkaline-forming characteristics of our foods and their supposed effects on the pH value of the blood and tissues. When entirely burned, foods leave an ash or residue that is either acidic or alkaline or neutral.

Breads, cereals, fish, meats, eggs and poultry usually leave an acid-ash residue due to the high amounts of chlorine, sulphur (in the case of meats and eggs) and phosphorus (in the case of meat and whole grains). Alkaline-ash foods are those in which the elements potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium predominate, including most vegetables and fruits- even fruits with a high acid component like citrus and tomatoes, because these acids can be completely metabolized in the body into carbon dioxide, water and energy. As for nuts, almonds chestnuts and coconuts are alkaline-ash foods, while brazil nuts, peanuts and walnuts yield an acid ash. Most legumes are alkaline ash foods except for lentils which yield an acid ash. Neutral ash foods are the pure fats like butter and lard, because they can be completely burned, and refined carbohydrates like white sugar and cornstarch,  because they contain no minerals. Milk products yield an alkaline ash due to high levels of calcium. Phytates in whole grains complicate the picture because they bind with alkaline ash minerals and carry them out of the body.

Under normal conditions, the blood, saliva, and extracellular fluids are slightly alkaline, while the urine is slightly acidic. The pH value of these fluids is maintained by a series of complex feedback mechanisms in the body and, in general, is not dependent on dietary excesses of either acid or alkaline foods. After a meal rich in proteins, the blood will become more alkaline for a short period, which is in effect a balancing reaction to the secretions of large amounts of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Following this the blood then undergoes a short-lived increase in acidity, which is again a balancing reaction to the heavy secretion of alkaline enzyme rich solutions from the pancreas. These reactions are completely normal and should in no way be interpreted as justification for avoiding high protein "acid-forming" foods.

Dr. Weston Price found that the Eskimo, living on a diet composed almost exclusively of "acid-forming" high protein foods, showed no signs of acidosis. When he analyzed the diets of healthy primitive people, free of tooth decay and disease, he found that they were high in both acid-ash and alkaline-ash foods, with acid-ash foods predominating.

An unbalanced diet consisting mainly of "alkaline forming" fruits and vegetables, while possibly useful in the short term as a fast, can lead to serious deficiencies in the long run- and for diabetics and hypoglycaemics a diet composed exclusively of fruits and vegetables can be dangerous even in the short term.
Friday, November 19, 2010
The Foundation of my approach to diet and exercise is evolutionary biology. This informs a logic known as natural selection, which in turn helps us understand what humans ought to eat and not eat, how much, how often, and even when not to eat at all (fasting).
In addition, we can also understand how to move around such as to properly condition our bodies for natural, animal-like physical health.
Here's a 5-point summary of what forms the essence of the approach:
  1. Eat real food (meat, fowl, fish, natural fats from animals, coconuts & olives; veggies, fruits, & nuts) that you shop for and prepare yourself most of the time. Add a little dairy if you like it and can tolerate it. Find the range of balance that works best for you in terms of fat, protein & carbohydrate ratios. I say 'range' because I think you ought to mix things up; seasonally, or whatever method works for you. Especially: cut out grains, sugar and vegetable oils. Consider supplementing with omega-3 fats.
  2. Allow yourself to go hungry every day, at least a little (first meal of the day is a good time -- don't eat until you're truly hungry). Every once in a while, go hungry for a whole day.
  3. Get plenty of sunlight; and, probably supplement vitamin D.
  4. Run very fast sometimes, play hard when you can, and push and lift heavy things around when you have the urge. Do it briefly and intensely; not too often and not too long. Once to twice per week for 20-30 minutes each is plenty. But always push yourself for that brief time. Always try to workout hungry, just like animals.
  5. Get lots of sleep.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Even the best of us don’t manage to pull off a workout every time we want to — something comes up, we have to put it off, we just can’t seem to get out there. It happens.
But one of the biggest problems isn’t just “falling off the wagon” mentally, as it were — it’s physical, too.

Why Exercise is Different

This isn’t like adopting some good dietary habits, keeping them up, and then occasionally having a really lazy week where you eat terribly, before starting to cook well once again.
It may sound obvious, but it really bears repeating — there is no friction when it comes to getting back into eating well. Besides adjusting a bit for tastes you’re “used to”, nothing with your body will suddenly start protesting in a way you can’t deal with. You could change your diet — for the better — tomorrow, drastically, and you’d probably be pretty damn fine.
But with exercise it’s just not like that.

The Path

A lot of us are on a path towards complete fitness. I suppose you could think of it kind of like a mountain, only it’s really one that never ends — the peak is always up there in the clouds, just out of reach, but damn, is it ever nice towards the top.
Each time you put off working out, though, you increase the chances that you’ll take a step backward down that mountain. In our article introducing this “procrastination” series we said that just missing a day or two — or even longer, or a big stretch — shouldn’t be an impediment to starting again, that you won’t suddenly lose all those good results just because you’ve missed a workout.

What You Will Lose

But here’s the problem — what you will lose is that peak level of fitness you were cultivating, the one that let you track your body, pay attention to how well you were doing the workouts, the feeling that you could push things further, run harder, train with more intensity.
Every day you put off working out and procrastinate, is another day that getting back to that ‘peak’ level, where you really know what your body is capable of, becomes a little bit harder. And just like the old proverb goes — a stitch in time saves nine — if you really procrastinate and stop working out for months at a time, then getting back to that level is going to be a bigger mental & physical challenge than it needs to be.

Keeping Up Something, Anything

That’s why so much fitness advice, implores you to just get active, even if you’re “off the wagon”, so to speak. If you still manage a short run or a brisk walk or some sports, even in the funk of your exercise procrastination, you’ll be that little bit closer to re-starting that long, wonderful, lifetime climb up the mountain.
Friday, November 5, 2010
There is a dead simple way to find out if your approach to exercise and diet is the right one for you. Ask yourself this one simple question: Does your body look dramatically better than it did 3 months ago?
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. If you spend any amount of time in the same gym day after day, week after week, as the months go by you start to get familiar with the people coming out of the spin class, and the rest of the crowd that frequents the weight room or the cardio theatre. What I noticed back then, is that even the people I would see at the gym everyday looked exactly the same month in month out. There was no change.
We know that it possible to make visible changes to your body in just 3 months. If you are consistent for a whole year, you can create an outstanding physique with massive improvements in your health and performance. So here is the kicker. If you have been exercising for years and you don’t have the body of your dreams, if you haven’t made dramatic changes, then what you are doing is not working. Maybe it’s time to take an honest look at how hard you are pushing during your workouts, what your diet looks like and how consistent your training is. If you have been spending 45 minutes a day on the elliptical trainer for the last 4 years and you look the same (or worse) than when you started you are long overdue for a change.
People in general don’t like change. They tend to resist it. It makes them uncomfortable. Easier to go to the gym for an hour and watch Dr.Phil on the TV while your legs move up and down at a leisurely pace on the stair master and your mind wanders in a numb semi vegetative state. As a general rule if you are watching TV or reading a magazine while working out, chances are you are not focused on putting your max effort into the training – and the end result will not get you closer to your goals. Remember it’s 3 months of killer effort to start seeing noticeable changes – 1 year of consistent training to completely transform yourself physically. There are no short cuts, but if you are putting in the time, why not reap the rewards and actually make those changes?
The kind of changes you can achieve are mind blowing. I’m not talking about dropping a dress size here – I’m talking about a complete body transformation which will have positive effects on every aspect of your life. Your self confidence will go through the roof, your energy will blaze through – it’s worth every drop of sweat to increase the quality of your life to such a high degree. That’s the goal and thats the journey. 
Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hi everyone,
Since nursing I have been alarmed at the advice still being given about fat’s relationship to heart disease and weight loss. It seems that “low-fat diets” are still widely accepted as healthy. And even more alarming is that many people are still being advised to choose margarine over butter.
Over the past 20 years, low fat diets are thought to not only help you lose weight, but also be a healthy sustainable way to eat.  After much reading and researching, I personally do not agree.
The message should purely be, “trans fats are bad, and all other fats can be enjoyed in moderation”. When I say moderation I don’t mean limited, I mean adjusted or modified to suit the rest of your dietary intake. Remember the rule, energy in verses energy out. And, never forget about the other main variable with regards to “energy in” – carbohydrates!
Carbs have their role with providing our brain with food, muscles with glycogen and supplying us with essential vitamins and minerals. By choosing low GI (slow releasing and high fibre) carbs such as fruits, vegetables and the occasional whole grain foods will make you feel fuller for longer.  This in turn limits the blood sugar “highs and lows” which would then result in the over consumption of carbs and therefore surplus energy from this macro-nutrient being stored as body fat.
Fat’s have many roles too and should not be thought of as just extra calories, they are too important for that. Fats are needed for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E, nerve conduction, cell membranes, hormone production and transport, mental health, memory and mood, and to fight inflammation to name a few! So why would you want to miss out on all that goodness.
By avoiding fat, your metabolism will actually become less efficient and it may actually make you fatter. Its all about balance and, portion control!
Consuming a wide variety of fats will ensure a healthy metabolism. Oily fish, nuts, virgin oils for salads (eg olive, flax) and virgin palm or coconut oil for cooking and spreading.
So what about saturated fats? Well they do pose a dilemma because your body will use them IF it has no other source of energy but it will store them if it does have other energy, such as excessive carbs (with one exception – medium chain fatty acids). Medium chain fatty acids are those found mainly in Coconut and Palm oil. These oils are saturated yes, but their chemical makeup means they cannot be stored as fat! That’s right, the liver will utilise this fat for a pure and very efficient energy source. These oils are used by athletes throughout the world to increase performance and they can actually boost your metabolism as they have been shown to tip the thyroid gland into a slightly hyperthyroid state. One warning here is, this type of fat can help you lose weight, but only if you moderate other sources of energy. Always think about what you need the energy for. It won’t be the coconut oil making you fat, it will be what you eat in addition to it.
I personally use coconut oil for my cooking, and I like to take a tablespoon full in the morning to boost my energy. I would highly recommend this oil to supplement your diet especially if you are training a lot or need extra energy. It has many other health benefits too such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing which can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid (breast milk is the only other natural source), capric acid and caprylic acid. 
So what about cholesterol? And rising death rates from heart disease? – I blame trans fats. From the Second World War there was a steady increase in their use and from this time to now there has also been a steady increase in obesity and heart disease. Yes there are other factors too, but remember that many processed foods contain the highest concentration of trans fats. Extensive food processing has been phenomenon of the last 20 years or so.
In conclusion I would reinforce the advice to reduce the consumption of processed foods. And I would even agree that you should limit fat intake if you are eating a lot of carbs and you want to lose weight. But I totally disagree that a low fat diet is going to be more healthy or necessarily help you lose weight in the long run. I would advocate that fat shouldn’t be feared as it is an essential part of a healthy diet and, is necessary for a healthy body, mind and HEART.
Let me know your thoughts on dietary and essential fats, and also your experience with coconut oil?
Until next time, bye for now

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Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand
Hi.. Im Katie. I am 20 years old. I am a student nurse. I love learning about healthy eating and living healthy lifestyles. There are so many lies and myths about the food we eat today and I am determined to spread the word. If you have any questions don't be shy to ask. Email me at P.S I am not a doctor, I do not diagnose conditions. I am just hear to educate myself and others. Any symptoms I address please see your doctor.
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