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Sweden Rejects “Low-Fat for Health” Dogma

22 Jul

Sweden Becomes First Western Nation to Reject Low-fat Diet Dogma in Favor of Low-carb High-fat Nutrition

Finally. It would be nice if the United States would follow Sweden’s lead. It would appear that a national case study of the US population for the past 40 years would suggest that the low-fat dogma has been an absolute failure. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, various cancers, etc. can be attributed to the high-carbohydrate, low-fat lifestyle.

Last month, Time Magazine published a great article explaining the low-carbohydrate research that has been available and it has also been apparently ignored for several decades.   There seems to be some momentum that maybe the “fat is bad” mantra is wrong (except for trans-fats) and it is healthy to eat healthy fat sources while minimizing/eliminating sugar, starch and processed white flour instead. But that would also require the FDA to admit that they were and have been wrong for so long, and there’s too much money in Washington DC to allow that to happen so easily. I still hope to see it happen.

Skratch is Here!

11 Feb

If you are an avid endurance athlete, hiker, recreational athlete, or you just feel the need for a sports drink to stay hydrated and help your athletic performance, then you may be interested in trying Skratch by Skratch Labs. We asked the developer of Skratch, Alan Lim, why do you call it Skratch? He said that it is because it is made from scratch. It is quite possibly the most all natural sports supplement on the market. Just mix it with water and it is already to go.

Check out more information about Skratch at their website, http://www.skratchlabs.com/.

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The Power of Rest

1 May

Here at FIT, we are always encouraging clients to set goals to work towards.  In the busy world that we all live in, however, these goals are unfortunately often undermined by “life events” and other time constraints that derail us.  It’s amazing though, that sometimes these life events are just what we need to help push us over the edge in our performances and other goals.

Be it fat loss, a faster 10k time, or bigger numbers in the gym, it is important to set realistic and attainable goals.  All of us are familiar with the S.M.A.R.T method goal setting: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.  We systematically help our clients work towards these goals with what we do in the gym, as well as guidance for the other 120+ hours per week outside of the gym (and sometimes even with homework).  Recently though, we had a client who took a three week vacation and still managed an incredible feat when she returned to her workouts: a 15% increase in her deadlift!

 

This client had just gotten back from a 3 week vacation overseas, with nothing more than the occasional run as her mode of exercise; along with lots of eating, drinking, and touring through western Europe.  What wasn’t astonishing was her admission that she her body weight hadn’t changed at all while gone – this is actually pretty common – but rather her performance that day.  She warned me that, “this is my first workout back, so be gentle on me.”  If any of you know me, you’ll know that I’m always looking for the best possible performance out of our clients (the best of what they’ve got that day).  We started slowly with the deadlift, but gradually she started to put more weight on the bar, and get closer to her prior 1 repetition max (1RM).  When all was said and done, she had surpassed her old 1RM of 100kg (210lb) and topped out at 120kg (242lb)!!  That’s an incredible improvement any day, but after being gone for three weeks?  That’s amazing.

 

This performance really got me thinking, and my response was, “That’s the power of rest.”  While that got a good chuckle out of the rest of the Crossfit class, it was very true.  While exercise enthusiasts often use exercise to “destress” from the daily bombardment of emails, errands, kids, etc., we coaches are keenly aware that exercise is itself a stressor.  Now, it can definitely be a beneficial form of stress, but as far as the body is concerned, stress is stress.  What this normally hardworking client didn’t totally recognize, was that by taking those 3 weeks off to relax, recharge, and divert her attention to other endeavors, she was lowering her total stress load.  What that meant was that upon returning to the gym, she was totally re-invigorated to workout, and her body was ready (and able) to take on the stimulus of a hard workout and make extraordinary progress.  In physiological terms, this is what is called super-compensation: resting after a period of intense training results in improvements beyond the previous trajectory from the training stimulus.  Translation: allowing one’s body to rest after continued bouts of hard training may result in even better results than expected.

This client definitely benefited from super-compensation, but there are other “feel good” reasons for her improvements: she was more enthusiastic to hit the ground running upon returning to the gym, and her body wasn’t stiff, sore, or tired from recent workouts.  It’s a common thread that I try to repeat to clients: you can’t just keep beating the body up and hoping for improvements.  Rest, recovery, relaxation; these are all important aspects to making gains (whether increases in weight lifted or decreases in pant size).  Our stress levels have a chance to return to normal, all our bodies’ aches and pains subside, and our enthusiasm to challenge ourselves increases.

 

So…next time you are sitting down with your coach to discuss your goals or upcoming plans, keep the power of rest in mind.  Good luck with your next challenge!

My experience as a Crossfit “athlete”

16 Sep

2 weeks ago, Jimmy, Danielle, Jenny Lewis, and myself competed in the 2012 edition of Moxie Madness, hosted by Crossfit Moxie in San Jose.  This was a 2-day even consisting of multiple timed workouts each day, similar to the format of the Crossfit Games, with each workout being scored separately.  The team with the fewest points across all of the workouts would be the winner.  The format was for 2 published workouts and a “floater” workout to be performed on Saturday, with an additional workout Sunday morning.  The top 10 teams from each division (Novice, Masters, Advanced) would compete in a final workout on Sunday to determine the winner…unfortunately Crossfit Los Altos didn’t get a chance to try this fifth workout.  But we DID get to try our hands at the following:

WORKOUT 1

For time (20 minute time cap)

12 Burpees 12 Front Squats (135lb/95lb)

12 Kettlebell Swings (32kg/24kg)

12 Box Jumps (30”/24”)

Suicide Sprints (~15/30/45′ each)

Team Crossfit Los Altos

Jenny and Danielle

WORKOUT 2

For Time:

25 yard prowler push for girl #1 @ 110lbs, guys run with them while holding 45lb plate

25 yards prowler push for girl #2, @ 110lbs, guy continue to run with them while holding 45lb plate

At the turn the guys will each put their 45lb plates on the prowler and take over.

25 yard prowler push for guy #1, @ 200lbs

25 yard prowler push for guy #2, @ 200lbs

Then…

300 double unders…. 2 guys, one guy working, switch as often as you want

75 Power Snatches @ 65lb ….2 girls, one girl working, switch as often as you want.

Cannot switch to next exercise until others are done! When guys have finished double unders and girls have finished power snatches they will switch exercises.

300 double unders…. 2 girls, one girl working, switch as often as you want

75 Power Snatches @ 95lb… 2 guys, one guy working, switch as often as you want

Then…

25 yard prowler push for guy #1 @ 200lbs

25 yards prowler push for guy #2, @ 200lbs

At the turn the guys will each remove their 45lb plates on the prowler and the girls will take over.

25 yard prowler push for girl #1, @ 110lbs, guy run with them while holding 45lb plate

25 yard prowler push for girl #2, @ 110lbs, guy run with them while holding 45lb plate

Danielle starting the prowler push

FLOATER WORKOUT

3000m team row

4 x 750m row, with a 5 yard sprint from the starting line to the rower.

SUNDAY WORKOUT (#4)

12min AMRAP for max reps

Hang Clean to Overhead anyway

x7 each RX @ 135lbs/85lbs

x5 each RX @ 165lbs/115lbs

MAX RX Alternating @ 205lbs/135lbs

To say that this was a lot of work to cover in 24 hours might be a bit of an understatement; even after the floater WOD – which we completed first – our legs and backs were a little tired and stiff.  Jimmy even felt a little twinge during the row, but powered through successfully for the rest of the weekend. The row did, though, act as a nice warm up for the other two workouts we would need to complete that day.  We were out on the field at Spartan Stadium – San Jose State’s football field – so it was incredibly hot and bright.  It’s quite a different experience working out in the middle of a turf field in the sun instead of indoors, with climate control, firm flooring, and no sun blaring down on you.  The nice thing about it was the crowd.  Having a couple hundred people cheering you on, music blaring, and a few dozen others competing all at the same time really gets the adrenaline going.  The weights seemed “heavy” during the warm ups, but once I heard “3-2-1 Go!” it was just time to start moving and race against the clock. We didn’t have the best scores, but that really wasn’t the point – we all worked hard and got out there to compete!  While Danielle is still actively competing in weightlifting, Jimmy plays basketball, and Jenny is an avid triathlete, this was my first time getting the competitive juices flowing in about 2 years (haven’t been able to get back into playing soccer).  It was great to feel the excitement and “in the zone” feeling of fighting for a win.  I don’t know about the rest of them, but it really instilled a desire to get back into competing – whether back at soccer, more Crossfit throwdowns, or possibly enter a weightlifting meet (as Rob keeps encouraging). We all workout for different reasons – lose body fat, increase muscle mass, stay “healthy”, relieve stress, and even to fulfill a sense of competition.  Whatever the reasons, it is a great feeling, as well as a wonderful exercise in motivation, to step out of one’s comfort zone and try something different (and maybe more difficult than you thought you were capable of).  What will your next physical challenge be?

USPLA North American Championship Meet Update

17 Jul

Before I (Greg L) walked on to the platform, I chalked my sweaty hands at the bowl. Normally, you don’t need to chalk your hands before a back squat. But this wasn’t just another rep. This was going to be the heaviest weight I’d ever been under.

467.5 pounds.

My adrenaline was racing. The music blaring. Spectators and fellow competitors alike watched closely as I stepped under the bar.

In some of the more surreal moments of my life, time seems to slow down. Everything goes silent. And for a brief moment, my vision funnels down to a singular point of focus.

This was one of those moments. I couldn’t hear my wife or coaches yelling. I didn’t see the spectators or even the head judge sitting only a few feet in front of me making sure my movement met his standards. I could only see the grey and black banner hanging from the ceiling across the room.

I squeezed every single muscle in my body. I fought hard against the enormous weight on my back that was trying to bring me down. And after what seemed like an eternity, I eeked my way through the sticking point to reach the top.

This is the nature of powerlifting. These are the kinds of moments you expect in a meet. And these are the kinds of experiences you have to embrace.

My meet last Saturday was a memorable one. I set a new PR in my squat. I set a new competition PR in the bench press at 308 pounds. Finally, at the end of what was an incredibly physically and emotionally draining day, I hit a new competition PR in the deadlift at 561 pounds.

I also set a PR for my total weight lifted in competition with 1336 pounds–the combination of my highest squat, bench press, and deadlifts.

But what I will relish in most is the sensation of overcoming the “weighty” adversity that day which came in the form of a barbell sitting on my back.

This is why I compete. It helps remind me that I’m strong, that I’m confident. But it also reminds me that I’m human. And being human, I have my limitations.

And there are times when you willingly rush up against those limitations, that you feel the most alive.

Less sedentary time crucial for children’s health

3 Apr

When you teach high schoolers, as I did for a number of years, there are very few things that they do that will really surprise you. But spend a day shadowing any student and you will be astounded at how much sedentary time they have: they sit on their way to and from school, they sit for hours on end in class after class, they sit down while they eat lunch with their friends, they go home to sit down and spend hours cranking out homework and updating their Facebook status.

Play time!

Perhaps the student gets a moment of rest from all this sitting to spend an hour or two at a team practice for a sport. Perhaps not. But with how much sedentary time children and students have, we have to wonder how this affects their health.

A recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) examined the association between vigorous physical activity and sedentary time amongst healthy children. Examining cardiometabolic measures–i.e. waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, fasting lipoprotein, and fasting insulin–across more than 20,000 children and adolescents, the study suggests that minimal sedentary time, or more movement through the day, is more important to health than brief bouts of formal, intense exercise in the gym, during a practice, or in a PE class. In other words, time spent in sedentary behavior all day can undo the benefits gained from formal exercise.

The point? Moving more throughout the day–even slow and unstructured movement–is more important to your child’s health than living mostly sedentary with occasional exercise.

It’s important to note that activity is not necessarily just another thing that we do–another box we check off from our to-do lists–but a way of living. Activity is an underlying characteristic to the things we do day to day. To live an active lifestyle does not necessarily mean joining all kinds of teams and clubs and gyms, thus making ourselves even busier than we already are. Living actively means enjoying movement throughout your day.

But what do we do with this? With the pace that we can run in life and the number of things on our plate, sometimes it feels like it is all we can do to get our children out of the chair for those few moments of activity during their PE classes or team practices.

So, take small steps. Here are some ideas. If your child enjoys video games and you own an Xbox Kinect or Nintendo Wii, encourage them to take a “brain break” every 30 minutes or so from their homework for a quick game of ping-pong or tennis. Create challenges for your children each month such as walking or riding their bike (if possible) to and from school. Encourage your children to read their school books while standing up for 10 minutes instead of hunched over the text. Or think up quick five minute games to do during the commercial breaks of your children’s favorite TV shows like playing paddy-cake with your feet instead of your hands (don’t laugh, it’s actually quite difficult).

Perhaps you have already taken steps to encourage more unstructured movement time in your children’s daily routines. If so, please post to the comments to share your ideas and keep the dialogue going. Slow and steady wins the race.

Is There Such a Thing as Type 3 Diabetes?

30 Mar

The short unconfirmed-by-the-scientific-community answer to the Title of this article is: YES.

According to a paper published this past January in the journal Drugs written by Dr. Suzanne M. de la Monte, Type 3 diabetes is otherwise known as Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia in North America. Growing evidence supports the concept that Alzheimer’s is fundamentally a metabolic disease that results in progressive impairment in the brain’s capacity to use blood sugar (i.e. glucose), because the brain cannot respond to insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) stimulation. Insulin is an important hormone that behaves as “the gatekeeper” to get glucose into our cells, including brain cells. Insulin in the brain not only modulates glucose uptake, but also promotes the health of brain cells — their growth, survival, remodeling, and normal functioning.

De la Monte presents a plethora of data that strongly support the notion that there is clearly a similarity between Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that could not be ignored. The biochemical, molecular, and cellular abnormalities that precede or accompany AD neurodegeneration, are characteristically common, yet they lack a clear origin. Reevaluation of the older literature revealed that impairments in brain metabolism occur early as the symptoms of AD develop. This led de la Monte’s team to develop the concept that impaired insulin signaling has an important role in the pathogenesis of AD. Because this is similar behavior of muscle cells prior the onset of Type 2 diabetes,  de la Monte proposed that AD represents “type 3 diabetes.”

Type 1 diabetes mellitus  is “juvenile” diabetes that is diagnosed early in life as the pancreas does not produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, is caused by insulin resistance in peripheral tissues, but not the brain necessarily. However, Type 2 diabetics have a 50% chance of developing AD.  Individuals with Type 2 have high blood sugar and high blood-insulin because the insulin and glucose are not properly absorbed into the targeted cells.

Therefore, Type 3 diabetes is suggested to have similar physiological symptoms as Type 2 diabetes, however it is only specific to the brain, not necessarily in the rest of the body. A diagnosis of Type 3 diabetes would suggest that the brain alone does not absorb insulin properly. De la Monte’s hypothesis gained more support this past week as another study showed that insulin resistance in the brain precedes and contributes to cognitive decline above and beyond other known causes of AD.

Because we know that lifestyle and dietary choices influence the development of Type 2 diabetes, perhaps the same should be suggested for Alzheimer’s disease. Diabetes is a disease defined as an inability to properly utilize insulin. This would suggest that we should monitor our dietary choices that keep insulin at a low-to-moderate level and participate in regular activities. Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of AD and/or diabetes and what you may be able to do in order to minimize developing either of these.

Coach Rick Advances to NorCal CrossFit Regionals

28 Mar

When we last left our heros, FIT coaches Rick D., Scott K., and Matt B. were taking on the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Open competition, a worldwide test of fitness, along with fellow CrossFitters Jenny Lewis and Dan “the man” Atler. As of our last post, heading into the final workout of the grueling five week competition, Rick stood just outside of the top 40 male athletes out of nearly 1500 in the Northern California region.

Coach Rick Answers the Question

And what was the final workout? A classic CrossFit couplet of two very challenging movements: the “thruster” with a barbell weighing 100 pounds and pull-up in which the athletes must bring their chest in contact to the pull-up bar for the repetition to count. With a seven minute time limit, Rick had to follow an ascending pattern: 3 thrusters, 3 pull-ups, 6 thrusters, 6 pull-ups, 9 thrusters, 9 pull-ups, and so on. The more reps he could complete in seven minutes, the higher the score. Here’s a clip of Rick’s first minute of the workout.

An incredibly strong performance of 137 reps catapulted Rick into the top 40 athletes. Considering each worldwide region only allows the top 60 athletes to move on to the Regional competition, Rick feels happy with his placing so far: “I’m definitely more confident about where I finished this year considering I just barely made it into the Regionals last year. I’m looking forward to two months of preparation to get mentally and physically ready to compete with the big boys in May.”

If you’ve never witnessed first hand a CrossFit competition, the NorCal Regional will be an awesome opportunity to watch your own FIT coach take on some of the best athletes in the world. The NorCal Regional competition is a three day event beginning on Friday May 18th through Sunday May 20th.

So mark your calendars, write a note in your iPhone. Believe me, you won’t want to miss this. You can find details for directions here and tickets here. See you there!

Coach Rick takes aim at the Fittest on Earth

20 Mar

Endurance has the Kona Ironman, cycling has the Tour de France, and weightlifting has the World Championships. These marquee competitions crown the best athletes in the world in their respective sports.

In the last 10 years, CrossFit, the new “sport of fitness,” has emerged and with it, its marquee competition: the CrossFit Games. What is CrossFit?  CrossFit is a fitness program that combines a wide variety of movements into a timed or scored workout. In competition, CrossFit workouts include pull-ups, squats, push-ups, weightlifting, gymnastics, running, rowing, and much more. The workouts are always changing, forcing athletes to be proficient in and prepared for anything.

In 2007, the minds behind CrossFit set out on the bold challenge to find and crown the fittest man and woman on earth in the sport of fitness. In brief, the history of the Games began in 2007 as a single event in Aromas, California with a mere 70 athletes competing in three workouts over one day.

Fast forward to 2012. The Games has blown up into a three-stage, worldwide competition open to any athlete in the world. The season begins with an Open competition with workouts are posted each week for five weeks and participants may perform the workouts at any one of the over 3,000 affiliates around the world or videotape it from home and submit it online to be validated. The top 60 male and 60 female athletes from the 17 worldwide regions advance to a Regional competition where they compete in six workouts over three days with only the top three advancing to the world championship, the CrossFit Games on July 15th in Carson, California where the fittest man and woman on earth will be crowned.

For the last four weeks, CrossFit Los Altos/FIT has hosted the Open workouts for our very own coaches and athletes: Rick Dyer, Scott Kolasinski, Matt Brockhaus, Jenny Lewis, and Dan Atler.

While all our athletes have enjoyed the competition and camaraderie, it’s studly coach Rick Dyer that’s been a standout once again in the Nor Cal region. Rick started the competition slow, placing 150th after the first workout in the region. Since then, Rick has been steadily moving up the ranks: 65th after week two, 55th after week three, and currently 42nd after week four.

With only one workout to go in the Open competition, competing against over 55,000 participants worldwide, Rick is poised to qualify to the Northern California Regionals in Santa Clara on May 18-20th for the second year in a row.

With more than 1500 competitors in what is considered one of the toughest regions in the world, Rick’s performance so far is a true exhibition of strength, athleticism, and sheer guts. Stay tuned for updates on Rick’s final performance of the Open.

Busting through those Late Winter Plateaus!

9 Mar

So you’ve made it to March on your New Years Resolution program of eating better, sleeping more, and getting some exercise, but now you’re running out of steam.  I get it: you put all your gusto into changing all of your habits at once, and you’re just a little bit fatigued at this point.  Yes! You HAVE seen some great results, but you want more!  What do you do when the program you have been so diligently following is getting stale and no longer giving you the results that you want?

This is the perfect time to change things up for the better, adjust your program to jump-start progress, and reinvigorate your enthusiasm for health and wellness.  With the weather warming up, why don’t you take your program outside?  There are plenty of ways to create challenging and fun workouts in the sunshine and away from all of the noise and clutter of the gym.  In addition, you’ll give yourself a needed dose of vitamin D after spending all those months cooped up indoors.

How about a complete change in program? After working hard for the last 3 months, nothing will get your exercise passion back like trying something different.  Personally, I like to completely revamp what I’m working on a few times each year.  This keeps me from feeling stale, as well as gives me new challenges to work toward.  For example, if you recently spent the last few months trying to really increase your strength in the gym with a progressive weight program, why not try a completely bodyweight program?  How do you add resistance you ask?  Well take that push up and invert it – handstand pushups are quite challenging, but work the same muscles that you would with a shoulder press or push press.

 

 

 

 

 

Why not finally master those pull ups you have been working on?  Nothing says I’m ready for the impending beach season like well sculpted arms and a nice strong back.  And I know that too many of you have avoided trying those pistol squats for fear of falling and making a fool of yourself.  Now is your chance to master all those 1-leg exercises that looked too intimidating.

And what about learning a new skill or sport?  I myself have endeavored to become proficient in the competition kettlebell lifts and the Turkish Get-up.  While training with kettlebells is en vogue these days, the competition lifts – and the training that goes along with them – is still something that I haven’t really experienced yet.  Even though I have been using kettlebells in my training for the last several years, I have no idea how many 1 arm snatches I can do in 10 minutes.  Think about something new that you’ve been dreaming about doing, and set your heart and mind to it.  Think of this as your New Year’s Resolution version 2.0!  Find yourself a qualified trainer or instructor in a new discipline and dive in.

Outdoor Workout

Sprint 50 yards

10 x Tree Stump Throws (can use a tire, sandbag, big rock)

10 x Tree Branch Pull Ups

10 x Log Lateral Hurdle Jumps

50 yard Bear Crawl

5 Rounds; 1 min. rest in-between

Bodyweight Workout

5 x Pistol Squats (each leg)

10 x Handstand Push Ups

15 x Inverted Rows on rings or bar

As many rounds in 15 minutes as possible

Kettlebell Workout

5 Sets

5 x Snatch/5 Windmill

10 x Swings

5 x 3 Turkish Get Ups (per side)

 

Let me know how you get through the next 3 months!