Oil Pulling

Day 1 of oil pulling begins.
Photo credit: Nancy Guberti

I am a very routine person. I do things in an exact order throughout my day. Yeah, I’m a type-A, first born, extreme tight-wad. Haha! After 14 years in the military, we live off of routine and tradition. That’s not without throwing a grenade into the mix now and then.

Here is my morning routine with the oil pulling added:
– my Sleep Cycle app wakes me within a 30 minute window from 4:45-5:15 AM as I naturally begin to stir. This way, I’m not waking from a deep sleep all groggy and cranky.
– I get up, put outdoor weather relevant clothes on (but not shoes)
– I open up the gates and release the hounds. They usually jump up on my legs and I pet them.
– I lay my phone by my chair and pick up the dog bowls (so I don’t make a 2nd trip when I get back)
– I turn on my one-cup coffee maker that I pre-set the night before (night routine coming soon)
{- Now, I take a teaspoon full of coconut oil in my mouth and swish it during the walk; I spit it out along the way}
– I go into the laundry room and harness the dogs for a barefoot walk (barefoot is necessary for grounding [earthing]; my negative ions are discharged)
– After a short walk, I grab my coffee and fill the dog bowls.
– I sit down and watch the real news and play a little with social media.
– I take Cassie dog up to the door and she pushes in to jump up on the bed where my wife is reading.
– I get dressed and go to work. Work starts at 6:30 AM.

My first go with the oil pulling was fantastic. I make sure I don’t swallow the coconut oil or it will break my fast. I don’t need breakfast yet. My teeth feel fantastic. And it made my black coffee even more creamy and delicious tasting. I’m a huge fan already! Ben Greenfield adds a bit of probiotic to his mixture in the morning. I may think about that for later.

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Intermittent Fasting/Keto Update

I did a good thing over the weekend. I bought a big bag of mozzarella string cheese, all individually wrapped. And some Summer Sausage. Today, I brought a little cooler to work with that stuff along with some celery and cream cheese. Except for the very few carbs in celery, it was a carbohydrate free day. So I’m nearly 100% keto. This was following a 15 hour fast.

If I can sum up my feelings, I’m fantabulous!! I’m full of energy with no hunger or insulin spikes.The bane of my existence right now is Ben Greenfield Fitness podcasts. Since I’m a science guy, I love his perspective on things. I’m not sure if I will be a full-fledged biohacker, but you never know. I ordered blue blocking tempered glass filters for my iPhone. When I get back next week, I’ll order blue blockers for my work computers and my iPad mini. And I’ll order blue blocking eyewear.

I’m also totally synching up my biorhythms with circadian cycles. Since its getting darker earlier, I think I’m going to start by going to bed a little earlier. Just 30 mins for now. So I’ll try to get in bed by 830pm. Haha, sounds like my elder family members!! I am also going to put red lights in my bedroom and will try to read myself to sleep instead of watching TV. My wife has wanted to do that anyway. I’ll read a book too, like a real book, not Kindle or other blue-light emitting device. We’ll see what happens. I usually sleep an average of 7 hours a night. But I also nap now and then when I get home. I’d rather cut out the naps if I can and get 8 hours of sleep. I’ll let you know how it goes. Then, by next Summer, I will go back to 7 hours again and stay awake during daylight.

Also, for my fasting, I will only eat during daytime hours. So this closes my window a little more narrowly. I usually eat dinner before 5 or 6 pm anyway, so it won’t be much of a change for me. But that temptation to grab a bite to eat and then fast longer the next morning won’t be there. I just need to not eat at night.

Another thing that Ben G. said this morning on my way to work was to make sure you get sunlight on your skin in the morning for at least 20 minutes. So at 9am, I went fishing; and I caught a nice bass!! I may try to run or do yoga in the sun on other days. Or, I may just go out and read a book for a bit. Or take a walk. This builds much needed vitamins in your body to prepare you for the day. Its never good to start in deficit.

I keep eyeballing one of the infrared saunas too. When the weather gets cooler, I think about it even more. If that doesn’t happen, then an infrared biomat may have to do. I’ll let you know!

Happy Monday!

Update: Intermittent Fasting

I got blood work done recently for a health check-up and my glucose and lipids are perfect! I’ve been doing intermittent fasting (IF) with a mostly ketogenic/Paleo base. I will fall off the wagon a bit on the weekends and enjoy myself. But I’m fairly strict during the work week.

I think this is working well. I am actually on a bit of a weight loss journey. Fasting has helped me a lot to maintain, but I’ve stopped losing. I even upped my metabolic conditioning (aka CrossFit) and steady state cardio (aka running, rowing, skiing). But I’m not losing anymore.

So what I’ve done is gone back on Fat Secret. Anytime I start tracking what I eat, regardless of the method (notebook or app), it makes me more conscious of everything I put in my mouth. Fat Secret also includes how much energy you use with your daily activities and sleep. So I think more about being active as well. Then it shows the net loss or gain with a calorie deficit.

My goal was to be to my ideal weight by a couple of weeks from now. I’m a little behind on that. But I think it will steadily increase as my aerobic capacity and fat burning metabolism is triggered on.

A Fools Journey

When I see things like this, it makes my blood boil just a bit. But people will fall for it, just like they fall for every goofy unscientific gimmick. So educate yourselves. Think about what’s going on here. If someone has kyphosis (hunch back), shoulders rounded, and head forward, this bracing system is quite the opposite of what you want to do. You can’t walk around the rest of your life with a brace on your body to fix a problem anyway. What you do with this brace is actually turn OFF the muscles you need to engage to improve the problem. If somebody I know buys something like this for kyphosis, I’d tell them to put it on backwards; in front of the chest. That’s what would help the problem. Then, the person would have to engage rhomboids, trapezius, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and maybe even latissimus dorsi to resist the hunchback.

But do you know what? People do this all the time. And doctors even prescribe such things. Worst case, think of a cast or sling. Yes, if you have a fracture or a pin in something to hold you together, please isolate and stabilize. But for nearly every other situation, you wouldn’t want a cast. The dysfunction that you have will only get worse from inactivity in that body part. Its why doctors try to get you out of a sling or cast as soon as possible. That’s how problems like frozen shoulder happen. Immobility is not a good thing.

But even simpler, think of orthotics. When you put a prosthetic lift in your shoe like arch support, what it does is discourages the arch from actively engaging. This is the opposite of what you want to do for a foot problem. Instead, do toe curls, towel scrunches with your toes, drawing pictures in the sand with your foot, walking on textures like cobblestones, and even heat. These will heal your problem. What you don’t want to do is splint it off and not use it. And by all means, if you want to slow the process of healing, use ice. I even know health professionals who still encourage the use of ice. Ice is definitely going to cause you problems. It slows down metabolic processes, it slows circulation, and prevents lymph and healing agents from doing their job.

What we need first is to educate. No more rolling IT bands. No more bracing or orthotics. No more RICE (especially the Ice part of it). Think for yourselves.

I overheard a conversation the other day that I had to bite my tongue on. The biggest critics of new (but really old) ways of dieting are registered dietitians. I think more freshly educated dietitians are getting better. But the old school FDA food pyramid based dietitians are so far off the mark. I don’t want to get all conspiracy theory on you, but the FDA is in direct cahoots with the USDA. The reality is, we have a lot of trade in grains (corn, soybeans, wheat), so what do they put as the basis of the pyramid? Yep, grains!! And these could be at the root of obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, cancers, and a host of auto-immune diseases. Yet what do they say?; "a bran muffin a day keeps the doctor away." So wrong!! I did bite my tongue since I didn’t want to offend. This person’s dietitian followed the low-fat, no meat, pro-grain ideas of old, which means they don’t have a clue about a host of current research literature. We just saw this report on eating meat. I think the bias that comes from the FDA and USDA is finally being overshadowed by lots of truth in science. Much of what we do is hearsay and traditional garbage. Its not based on science.

Think for yourselves. Always question what you read. Have a keen eye for real scientific literature, not what is regurgitated in popular health magazines. Most of those editors are not scientists and don’t have a clue how to interpret scientific literature.

And by all means, don’t fall for these hokey fix-it-quick devices. They are only preying on your gullibility to get your money.

Yoga for Beginners

Make sure your yoga teacher can be empathetic and perceptive to your abilities.

I injured a shoulder 2 weeks ago and was going to follow a beginner yoga class on YouTube. I don’t usually do online classes, but I thought I’d open my mind a bit.

Mind Open—-Quick, close it, close it!!!

The teacher was this beautiful blonde lady doing yoga on a beach. I thought, yeah, how relaxing! As we started along, maybe the 3rd pose turned out to be a hamstring tear waiting to happen. I wouldn’t do that pose until fully warmed up or in a hot yoga class. As we went along, there were other poses that clearly were not beginner friendly. Be careful with an uber flexible and monsterly strong yoga teacher. Sometimes they underestimate their abilities. Something simple for them can be very difficult for others.

When I was cutting my teeth on yoga teaching, I used to teach at a fitness center. They had this Silver Sneaker program that subsidizes senior citizens who want to do fitness. I really loved the people in my classes. To be honest, some yoga teachers condescend to seniors. But if you think about it, they’ve seen it all. Some of my yogis attend yoga retreats on cruise ships and at extravagant resorts abroad with notable yoga teachers. I can’t imagine what they’ve seen and the expertise they’ve been exposed to. So when I taught classes with them, they were gentler and more aware of our bodies. Something about getting older, we often tend to speak our minds. We don’t have to beat around the bush anymore. And that’s what happened. When I would teach a pose that was too difficult, you could hear people exasperated and disgusted. One lady even said [LOUDLY], "THIS ISN’T GENTLE YOGA!!!" Before class, one lady who I really grew to love would list poses she wasn’t going to do that day (meaning, the harder poses I sometimes throw in). I learned very quickly what was possible and not so possible.

Many years ago, I took a power yoga class at the studio where I currently teach. The teacher did the same thing. It was 2nd pose we did that was supremely difficult when not warmed up. I thought "somebody is definitely going to get injured today". You just can’t do that to a class.

Here are some tips for your practice when in a yoga class:
-Warm-up your body on your own before you begin. Do a few slow sun salutations on your own or whatever else your body needs. Do this especially if you are sore or injured.
-In a cooler room, start out wearing some clothing layers. Then shed as you warm up.
-Its your practice. You don’t have to do everything.
-Always modify for your own body. Use straps frequently.
-Never create pain in your body. You shouldn’t feel pain in yoga.
-If you have an injury or health problem, mention this privately to your teacher before class.
-If a teacher is adjusting a problem area for you, kindly remind them of your issue before being adjusted.
-I always say try. Try your best. But don’t hurt yourself.

In the end, you are responsible for your own body. You usually sign a waiver in a yoga studio that confirms this fact. If a teacher tells you to do something crazy, or something that is not good for cold muscles, then modify or ask for a modification from your teacher. Sometimes, we forget to give you a modification for a pose or we just assume everybody can do it. For the most part, I don’t enjoy when students just sit there and do nothing. We can always do "something" that looks like the pose. Part of yoga is not only physical things, but mental resiliency as well. Don’t give up and get frustrated. And by all means, don’t be angry with yourself or someone else. I see people cursing at themselves sometimes because they can’t do something. That’s not a very yogic attitude to have.

Yoga should be challenging, but not defeating.
Yoga should make you feel better, not worse.
Yoga should give you peace, not more chaos.

Timing Workouts Are Useful

For most things in my life, I don’t want to stress about time. I don’t want to know I only have an hour left to finish a proposal. I don’t want to think about getting stuck in traffic for an extra 45 minutes. In life, time is usually not our friend.

But there is something about doing a workout for time. Sometimes we do it for running. It drives us to work harder to get a new PR (personal record) for a 5K. But for your average gym person, you wonder "is timing workouts really for me?"

So this is where the anti-HIIT/anti-CrossFit crowd starts to scream bloody mercy! Go ahead, get it out of your system. And then sit down and have a rational conversation.

Let’s say you want to see how many burpees you can do in a minute. Maybe you start out with 20. Over time, you find yourself doing 40 or 50. Regardless of what you think about that, progress has been made. You find yourself with a greater work capacity. It is clear evidence of progress, just like a blood test would test cholesterol or glucose levels.

Now, you might say that you don’t go to a Box or Gym that is conducive to timed workouts. I think you should figure it out for yourself because you’d be surprised. And you don’t need a fancy timer, though a fancy one is nice. You can use a stopwatch. I use the 4Time app on my iphone, but there are many on the market. It can act like a regular timer, a countdown timer, or an interval timer. It even has a countdown time to your start. I set mine at 12 seconds, but you can set it for whatever length.

I workout on my own. I used to go to a CrossFit Box years ago, but I have all the equipment at home. So my investment is in that and not on a membership somewhere. Plus, I can play my own music, which is HUGE for me. And I can wear what I want, which is usually not much (haha!).

What is amazing is that I’m not competing with anyone but myself. If you are competitive and you workout alone, you can still be competitive. There are online groups that prescribe workouts, so you do the workout and compare it with the group. And for free, you can go on CrossFit.com and do the workout of the day (WOD) and then post your time. You can look at what others did as well.

But the crux of it all is getting a better workout. Yes, I may pace myself early in a WOD. But no matter what, I start picking up the pace toward the last round or the last minute. When I might normally take a breath or chalk up in between exercises, I just crank right through non-stop at the end.

When I was doing my Ph.D. research, my colleague once said something super profound to me. He said "you never know when one small batch of data elucidates all we know about something". That always stuck with me. What if one clairvoyant thought changes the whole scheme of something? That’s what I feel about workouts. The 9 sets you did before were the grunt work. But what counts most is that last set, that last lap, that last climb to the summit. That’s when the real champion comes out. Its what defines not only our physical ability, but our mental fortitude.

Timing your workouts can do miracles for you. And if you keep a good logbook, you can look back and see your progress. It keeps you in the game and makes you a winner.