Tag Archives: health

Makes Friends With Fat

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What are fats?
Fats fall into a group of macromolecules in the lipid family. They include fats, oils, and various other long chain carbon molecules.

Are people afraid of fat in their diet?
Why yes! This is because they don’t understand fat metabolism. They see people who are obese and celebrities talk about dangers of fat. The truth is that fat isn’t converted into fat when digested. Most of the fat we can’t use passes through our system. Fat bellies associated with obesity is caused from eating sugar. Excess sugars are stored as fat in our bodies. Eat a pound of sugar a day and you’ll definitely get fat. Eat a pound of fat and you’ll sit on the potty more.

What do fats do for us?
Look up charts for membranes. Membranes are phospholipid layers that make up our skin, nails, hair, and every cell and organ of our bodies. You need fat to make skin healthy, and I’m not just talking about rubbing it on your bodies. Fat also makes needed sterols, like testosterone, progesterone, growth hormones, and other important functional molecules. These sterols play a huge role in immunity.

What kind of fats do we need?
We would like to focus on Omega-3 fats that come from fish, tree nuts, and other useful sources. However, there are essential Omega-6 fats that are important too. What we’d like to reduce are the Omega-6’s from corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, and canola oil. Nearly every processed food has these sources in it when you read the labels. And guess what, margarine is the worst form of fat that was ever man-created. Pigs won’t even eat it. What we do want to increase in our diets are coconut oil, nut seed oils, and fish oil. Overall, I wouldn’t fear oils. And if you still think fat is evil, pick the lesser of two evils. Pick sugars to get rid of from your life. They are the main culprit that leads to type-2 diabetes, glycemic maladies, obesity, fatty liver disease, and a whole host of other problems. And yes, starches (pastries, potatoes, pasta,…) break down into sugars.

What is ketosis?
When your body doesn’t have enough glucose in the blood, it shifts to burning fats instead. Unless you are a competitive bodybuilder or endurance athlete with less than 8% bodyfat, believe me, you always have enough fat to live off of for many days. Every time you eat sugar, your insulin spikes and makes you feel like you need more. This leads to the feeling of hunger. Conversely, when you eat fat, it stimulates glucagon providing glucose to the bloodstream by burning fat in adipose tissue. It also triggers satiety hormones that give the feeling of satiation, or fullness. For most healthy people, or even obese people, ketosis can be used in positive ways to burn fat for energy.

How do I make fat a daily reality for me?
When you wake up, your insulin is at its lowest. The last thing you want to do is eat sugars or starches that kick it into gear again. That includes cereal, milk, bagels, donuts, pastries, Pop Tarts, and all that other fun stuff to eat. What I do is grab a cup of coffee or two for a little boost of energy. Since fats and oils are nutrient dense, you don’t need a lot. So I put a teaspoon of coconut oil in my coffee. This provides long-term energy, satisfies hunger hormones, and allows you to be productive (make my lips moist too, hehe!). Any time you need a little energy, eat a little fat. If you can afford walnuts, pecans, or other tree nuts, it provides very healthy fats. Eat some cashews or peanuts in a bind (these aren’t Paleo and have some issues). Non-sugared, natural peanut butter or nut butter works too. Since I’m cheap and I acknowledge a risk/benefit reward, I often eat peanuts. Beware of flaxseed oil since it doesn’t have a long shelf life and goes rancid quickly. If it isn’t fresh off the plant, it may already be useless to you. Eat plenty of fat with meals. I use bacon fat to season most of my cooking. It makes everything taste wonderful. And eat a good helping of fish every week provided you are mindful of biological magnification from heavy metals and such. A late night treat like peanut butter on apples is amazing! Apples rank high on the satiation index so it curbs hunger. The fat in the peanut butter will keep you happy all night long!

Caution: The conspiracy theorist in me says to be wary of government agencies like the FDA and USDA. Our government subsidizes grain production and imposes tariffs for imports. For good reason, it wants our grain production to have favor. So it also influences food & drug recommendations, like “have a bran muffin a day”. Many of our dieticians follow FDA guidelines for everything. Remember, there is an ulterior motive in this goal. It is all inter-connected.

Can I use fats & oils for non-dietary purposes?
Absolutely. My massage therapists use a coconut oil blend with essential oils that is amazing! I can’t say enough for essential oils. That is a whole other topic you need to study. Oils of cinnamon, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, … have so many health benefits. We have a diffuser running in our house whenever we are home. It is great for alternative, holistic medicine that gets you away from drug use. Its a natural drug!! You know oil and water don’t mix. But guess what? Oils and oils do pretty well together. Rubbing oils onto lipid membranes of skin, hair, nails, etc… can give marvelous results.

Want to have glowing skin, a strong immune system, and to become less fat! Eat FAT!

Cha-cha-cha-Changes!

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Changes come slowly.

In the past week, I have had 3 people who told me that I looked more trim. They couldn’t put their finger on what it was, but there was something different. And it was good.

To be honest, I ate really badly a couple weeks ago so I haven’t stepped on the scale in a while. I’ve been working out harder than normal, mostly adding CrossFit back into my life to a greater extent. When I was measuring, both my body weight and my body fat were stable. But I felt very different. I felt really good. And I’ve been sore a lot, so I know I’ve been doing the work.

Sometimes there are intangibles about how we look. Sure, maybe we have restructured our physiques. But people can also see confidence, a glow to your skin, joy in your face, and walking with pride. Since my rhomboids and lats are always sore from pull-ups and Olympic weightlifting, I open my chest more and my arms spread wide. I can’t help it. But I’m sure that plays a role too.

Don’t worry if body weight or fat doesn’t change analytically. Its more about how you feel. And if you feel good, you are definitely going to look good. Do the work and be patient. The work never lies.

Yoga for Healing

I am working with a private yoga client to deal with issues he is having.

Disclaimer: I am not a yoga therapist or other certified healer per requirements of registry with Yoga Alliance.

However, yoga has many healing properties. And, as old as I am, I have experience with pain and injury within myself and others with whom I’ve interacted. I am also a scientist and have had training in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and many biology/chemistry courses through graduate level studies. So there’s that 🙂

This client, having a life of dealing with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) ahead of him, has a vested interest in finding ways to manage this disease. He provided me with literature, both anecdotal and research oriented, that relates to PD. Working with clients sometimes goes beyond the time constraints of class.

While I’m not in the business of diagnosis and treatment, I know aspects of body movement. PD is an autoimmune disorder that affects how the nerve impulses are sent throughout the body. The further from the brain, the greater the effect. So, I think a lot about feet, hands, and limbs. The spine is also a major emphasis, so I focus on keeping it supple and strong.

Specific effects of PD that I am helping with are:

  1. Posture – PD results in drooping of shoulders and head forward resulting in increased kyphosis of the spine. Besides general posture associated with all physical poses in yoga, I am working on strength in the entire back especially upper back and shoulders. Locust pose is an ideal solution. Both upward and downward facing dog is also crucial. Anything we can do to keep the posture upright is warranted.
  2. Feet shuffling – the most problematic effect of PD is a shortened stride length. This leads to falling forward and tripping with steps. The main aspect we are working is keeping length in the legs and strength. So we’ve started with long lunges (anjaneyasana) stepping forward across a room and back. This also has a balance effect. We hold at the first few steps to keep length in hamstrings and glutes.
  3. Balance – since the neurons and synapses between them are not functioning well, signals to the brain to help with balance are lost. So we are working on keeping all those stabilizing impulses firing. Tree pose is the go to for balance, which we do with a light assist at the wall. But, even Tadasana is used where we may lightly close or close eyes completely. This requires a lot of balance for most people. Warrior poses, triangles, and other standing poses are critical as well for balance.
  4. Pranayama/Meditation – our last area of emphasis is in meditation. Dopamine receptors are greatly affected with PD. Re-programming our brains to find calmness assists greatly in reducing the chaos of our minds. Also, in daily life, when hands begins to tremor and feet begin to shuffle, it creates anxiety and the feeling of helplessness in the mind. Any time we are stressed, we inhale, hold our breath, and breathe at a high, shallow register. So we are re-training our breathing to make us aware of what we do. When we feel anxious, we consciously need to breathe deeply and evenly to calm our minds. This is never more obvious than in meditation. We work with the breath and visualization to help program our bodies to find peace. This may be the aspect of yoga that contributes the most.

You would be amazed at the number of ways yoga can help with our lives. As a yoga teacher, it is amazing to experience what others go through in addition to our own experiences with life. Learn, adapt, teach, and learn some more!

Of Wallballs and the sort…

wallballs

(pictured: me at CrossFit Champaign-Urbana. Photo cred: sweet pea photography)

Truth be told, I hate wallballs. Is hate too strong of a word? How about despise?

In CrossFit, there is this workout called Karen. It is simple. Do 150 wallballs as fast as you can for time. For Men, you toss a 20 pound medicine ball above a 10 foot line. Sounds simple eh? Not so simple.

That crazy wallball has a mind of its own. You have to position your feet perfectly to catch the bounce off the wall. And those leather concocted balls stitched in a geodescic design are not that evenly weighted. They hit funny and ricochet in weird directions. You squat down so hips are parallel to knees and, for short guys like me, you almost jump off your feet to get it high enough. It bounces off the wall and hopefully catches perfectly between your hands. The ball is pretty wide. So you end up squeezing it between your hands and against your chin. I’ve hit my chin pretty hard at times. My chest and shoulders are often sore after because of all the squeezing. But your legs and butt get the brunt of the work.

So, to recreate this misery, I went to an outdoor basketball court at the University. The backboard is perfect since the rim sits at 10 feet high. It takes some accuracy to get it to the side of the backboard every time. Yep, the pain was just as I remembered. I had a good rhythm to 20 reps and then my wheels came off. That didn’t take long at all! I was doing a 40-30-20-10, not even a full Karen. I planned to rest in between and do everything fast. Ha! Not fast at all. I rested in a lot of places besides the 1 min rests. And I really thought I was getting into good CrossFit shape.

I’ll only do 50 (25 + 25) as part of an upcoming competition. This has me thinking twice about how ready I am. I almost barfed 3 times driving to the grocery store afterward. It was 35 degrees Fahrenheit outside when I did this so I had trouble regulating my temperature in the car. Those hot flashes led to that bitter taste in the back of my throat. Ummm, not good.

If you’ve never tried these wallball things, maybe you’d like to experiment? Or maybe run the other way. I’d advise the latter.