Thursday 27 February 2014

Drink Like a Fish

We aren't fishes - we don't live in the ocean - so are you tired yet, of hearing you should be drinking more water?  Well if you think of your body as being made of 60-70% of the stuff, do you think you've drank enough today?

So.... what does water do for us?  

It washes the toxins out of our vital organs.
It moves nutrients to where they need to be.
It regulates body temperature.
It helps us maintain a healthy weight.
It provides consistency for fluids such as blood and saliva.

An so forth....

If you think of running an engine with no oil - well that's about what happens to our bodies when we feel dehydrated.  The problem is, most of us wait until we are thirsty (aka dehydrated) before we start to put the water back in our system.

So... how much should we drink?

Experts recommend 30ml per 1 kg of body weight.  So a 83kg (183 lbs) male should drink about 2.5 litres per day.  A 65 kg female (145 lbs) should drink about 2 litres. 

If you need to jazz up the taste, add a little natural fruit juice.  There's nothing fishy about that!

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Boiling Down the Raw-Food Diet

Organic, raw-food diets have been a bit of a trend lately.  It might be tempting to dismiss this methodology of meal planning as a fad, but it warrants some consideration.

Cooking kills bacteria, however heat can also destroy nutrients and break up some of the enzymes that exist naturally in the food.  Vitamin B and C in particular, are potential victims.  From a nutritional standpoint, eating foods in their natural state can offer a better nutritional value.  A potential challenge is finding the right proteins, so you will need to balance your legumes out with the right kind of nuts, seeds and plant-based proteins if you decide to stay away from cooking meat altogether. 

Organic shopping and organic food preparation can require an extra investment in terms of time and money - but this really does have to be seen as an investment. There are potentially big rewards in terms of health and wellness if we are intentional about what we put into our bodies.

If nothing else, by choosing to eat more raw foods, you could save money on electricity :)

Saturday 15 February 2014

Be Yourself

All it takes is a walk down the magazine rack at the grocery store.  We throw food in the basket, wanting to make healthy choices, then we see the cover of a magazine - someone with a “perfect” body.

I think we’ve all felt the weight of comparing ourselves against someone else (someone with more money, better looking, thinner, more successful etc).  After listening to Andy Stanley this week, he pointed out that there is no “win” in comparison.  One of the things that can cause us run ourselves into the ground is trying to look good to the person next to us.  For some reason, we feel we need to be better, look better and achieve more so that we will experience a sense of wholeness and completion.

If we start down this path, we run the risk of holding our achievements against the milestones of others and therefore, judging them or ourselves. There is no end to this and no peace if we hold our fitness goals up to what we see other people doing. We have to run our own race, celebrating the success of others as we go.

Monday 10 February 2014

Get-Up! Stand Up!

We sit a whole lot more often than we stand.  In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’re probably reading this sitting down.  Maybe at work, or at a desk? 

Most jobs involve a lot of sitting and typing.  We have machines and technology running our errands, which makes life more convenient, but there are some health issues we need to consider.

As a whole, how are you feeling these days?  Tired?  Lethargic?  Stiff?  Older than your age?  If so, it’s probably because you are not using your body the way it was intended to be put to use.  We were made for movement!  So use it or lose it my friends.
This doesn’t mean it’s time to walk away from your desk and out of the office for good!  But let’s consider this - if we aren’t feeling 100% today - how are we going to feel 5 years from now?  10 years?

And this is how change happens.  One gesture… One moment at a time.”  - Libba Bray

What I suggest is – you add in some flavor to your day. Here are a couple suggestions:

  1. Buy a spa ball - use it as your chair.
  2. Go for a walk over lunch - listen to something fun and add a kick in your step!
  3. Stand up twice per hour.
  4. Get in 30 minutes of activity per day.
  5. Do 2-4 flights of stairs on your break.

 Ok, I’ve  spent too much time sitting down, writing this – I’ve got to go hit the trails or something!

Saturday 8 February 2014

Finding Our Weak Spots

The only thing worse than digging ourselves into a hole, is to keep digging ourselves deeper after we realize it.  If we have imbalances in our musculoskeletal structure, we can make these problems worse with poor posture, incorrect exercise technique or an improper choice of muscle groups we focus on in the gym.  

Here are some places we commonly get our muscles out of balance:

Hip Flexors

Our hip flexors can become too tight from spending too much time sitting down at the TV or the computer.  As the hip flexors shorten they become tighter, causing the pelvis to rotate and tilt downwards.  The glutes begin to lengthen in response and in doing so, they weaken.  Our hamstrings take over the work of the glutes, making themselves much more prone to injury.

Upper-Middle Back

Many of us are a little weak between the shoulder blades.  This has mainly to do with our sitting down/sedentary lifestyles, but ironically, can be made worse when we decide to visit the gym. Most people work heavily on their chest (pectorals and anterior deltoids) with push-ups and bench press, but spend very little time working on their backs (rhomboids and trapezius).  This causes, short, strong muscles in the front of the body which pulls our shoulders forward, causing the muscles in the back to become longer and weaker.  The result: back pain.


It’s Saturday night - time to put on those high heels!  The problem is by standing up on our toes all night, us ladies tend to develop a very tight gastrocnemius which, along with the other muscles of the calf, tends to rotate and flatten the position of our feet.  This can leave us prone to plantar fasciitis and ankle injuries.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but it’s safe to say that most of us experience at least one of these issues to some degree.  The point is that before we begin to exercise, we need to take stock of our posture to make sure that by improving our bodies in some areas, we aren’t making others worse.  Approaching our fitness with the entire person in mind will keep us from creating holes we need to dig ourselves out of later.

Saturday 1 February 2014

Stand-up Straight

What do human beings and bridges have in common?  Both require precise structural alignment to carry out optimal function.  If a key component fails, the results can be very bad.  Unfortunately, injuries happen very much the way bridges fail.  A misalignment over time, imperceptible to the eye, suddenly gives out, compromising the entire unit.

Think about stacking crates of wine glasses.  If we don’t place each crate directly on top of the one beneath it, the stack becomes wobbly and unstable.  To keep stacking boxes higher, we need to offset their position to counter-balance the swaying effect of the misalignment.  Our bodies work the same way – and they become unstable too!  

We weren’t designed for the work that most of us do.  If our bodies had been designed for the information age, our arms would be merely half of of their current length (T-Rex - Rawwrr!) to make it easier for us to work at desks and on our computers.  The good news, is that we can lengthen and strengthen these muscle groups that have become shortened and neglected. 

Ideal static posture makes a huge difference in stress reduction, injury prevention and the general efficiency of our bodies.  Training proper posture is a lot more involved (and more fun) than walking around with an encyclopedia on our heads. 

In the next entry, I will explain some of the ways to look for muscle imbalances and possible injury sites to our bodies caused by some common postural problems.