Workout of the Week (WOW)

One of the things you will keep hearing me talk about is not having to go and torture yourself multiple days of the week at the gym doing chronic cardio.  Over the last three years I’ve done a complete 180 from running most days to now walking and doing other resistance workouts, HIIT, etc.  The link below is a great archive article from Mark’s Daily Apple.  There are links to many other articles that will show you how to incorporate new and different movements into your routine.

I know that many of you are thinking that if you don’t go crank out 30-45 minutes at a high heart rate at the gym, you won’t see results, you have to trust me on this one.  I have seen more results by slowing down and focusing more on resistance workouts over the last three years, than I did previously doing my chronic cardio.

Good Luck!!

Link To Article: Mark’s Daily Apple – Workout of the Week

The Benefits of Adding Sprints To Your Workout Routine

In a previous post I talked about the Primal Essential Movements; Push-up, Pull-up, Squat, and Plank.  In addition to these movements, it is recommended to have a session of sprints every 7-10 days.  Don’t let the idea of sprinting turn you off if you haven’t done them since the 40 yard dash back in grade school!

Sprinting is an occasional short burst of maximum effort.  Just like with diet, sprinting will look different for each of you.  Sprinting triggers a cascade of positive neuroendocrine, hormonal, and gene expression events that promote muscle development, fat loss, increased energy and alertness, and delayed aging.  Some other key benefits include:

  • Enhanced insulin sensitivity
  • Improves lipid profiles
  • Boost levels of adaptive hormones, such as testosterone and human growth hormones (HGH)
  • Promotes mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondric size
  • Improves cognition and elevates mood by decreasing inflammation in, and improving oxygen delivery to the brain

Modern research confirms that the health and fitness benefits of sprinting in many ways surpass the benefits of cardiovascular workouts that last several times as long.  Sprinting helps increase the fat-burning potential of muscle, enhances oxygen utilization and maximal oxygen uptake in the lungs, improves the ability to store and preserve glycogen, improves muscle buffering capacity, and extends the “time to fatigue” marker at all levels of intensity.

Developing your sprinting fitness allows you to perform better at both high-intensity and in longer duration, lower intensity exercise.  High-intensity sprinting is the most effective form of physical exercise to promote fat reduction.  Sprinting also enhances protein synthesis by as much as 230%, helping males build or maintain lean muscle mass, and helping females to achieve lean, toned physiques.  Sprinting doesn’t just have to be running, it can be done on a stationary bike, elliptical, rowing machine, or a swimming pool.  An added benefit to these movements is they are lower to no impact on your body.

Sprint sessions should last between 8-30 seconds.  All types of sprinting will stimulate your fat-burning system and promote lean muscle development and beneficial hormone flow, particularly the release of human growth hormone (HGH).  Sprinting intervals should be long enough to where you catch your breath and are ready to take on another burst.  Work on increasing the speed of your sprints and not the number of reps.  High-intensity workouts should never be done if your body and mind are fatigued and not up for the challenge.

Performing intense exercise in a fasted state and continuing to fast for as long as comfortable after exercise increases the amount of fat burning potential.  Due to the stimulus of the intense workout, your stored energy can be burned at an accelerated rate after exercise, speeding body fat reduction goals.

When you are ready to refuel after the intense workout, adhering to conventional wisdom to refuel with carbs and amino acids immediately after exercise will indeed replenish your glycogen stores.  This kind of refueling prompts the release of insulin, which quickly removes the adaptive hormones and fatty acids from the bloodstream and shuts off ketone burning.  Those with excess body fat may experience difficulty losing fat with this habitual refueling practice, because they are never creating a demand to access stored body fat for use as energy.

Gradually acclimate yourself to conducting intense workouts while fasted.  A low-insulin producing eating pattern must be adhered to for at least 3 weeks or longer, to ensure that fat burning genes are down-regulated.  After an intense fasted workout, you can wait as long as possible before experiencing true hunger sensations, at which time, you can enjoy a nutritious meal.

My Sprinting Workout:

  • 20 minute warm-up on treadmill, usually walking (4-4.2mph), but I will sometimes do a light jog (5.2mph)
  • I begin my sprints at the 20 minute mark
  • 1 Sprint Rep:
    • 30 seconds of sprint at 8mph (tip: I hold the siderails when slowing down after the sprint to reduce the amount of compression on my knees)
    • 90 seconds to catch my breath at 4mph
  • Repeat 5-7 times

This is just an example of what I do.  If you don’t have a treadmill, you can do them at the free fitness center out your front door!  Your speed, time, and reps will be different.  The key is to work in some form of sprinting in your routine.

Here’s to good health and an active lifestyle!!

Gut Health & Stubborn Belly Fat

I just started my second book by Dr. David Perlmutter, Brain Maker.  The information I am learning about the gut microbiome is very interesting.  I found this article from Mark’s Daily Apple that touches on a lot of what I am learning early on in the book.

Enjoy!

Link To Article

What is your Morning Ritual??

Reading as many books as I do and listening to the wide variety of podcasts, there is one common thing I hear from many different successful people.  They all have morning rituals.  It’s long been said that if you win the morning, you win the day. I am a believer in this and I think you can be to if you’re not already doing it.

It wasn’t long after I bought the first Apple iWatch that I got rid of the alarm clock I had by my bedside for many years.  I then started to use my watch, still by my bedside, as my alarm clock.  I don’t think I am alone in saying most mornings I would hit the snooze button 2-3 times.

One day I was reading Resisting Happiness by Mathew Kelly where he talked about hitting snooze on your alarm clock.  He said this, “The alarm clock goes off. It’s time to get out of bed. This is your first decision of the day. You press the snooze button and roll over. What just happened? Resistance just kicked your butt.”  I found this to be an interesting way of looking at whether or not to hit the snooze button.  This is the first decision you have for the day and you are putting it off another 9 minutes!  I heard something else shortly thereafter on a podcast about moving your alarm clock to a place in the bedroom where you cannot reach it from your bed.  For me, it meant moving my iWatch to the other side of the room.  Now when it goes off, I have to get out of bed to turn it off.  This may be one of the best pieces of advice I can give you if you struggle to get out of bed.

What is great about morning rituals is there is no right or wrong way to do it.  Each of us can customize it to what works best for us.  For me, I have different rituals for different days of the week.

  • My alarm is set for 6am 7 days per week.  Yes, even on Saturday and Sundays.  Some of my best time is when the house is quiet on a weekend morning and the rest of the family doesn’t wake until later.
  • I have 2 big glasses of water as I am getting the kids lunches (listen to podcasts) for school even before I think about making coffee.  Drinking a glass of water in the morning after going hours without a sip is a good way to hydrate your body. You may even consider adding lemon to a warm glass of water, as it helps remove toxins from your digestive tract that may have built up overnight, provides a good source of vitamin C, freshens your breath, supports weight loss, and stimulates metabolism and digestion.
  • Depending on the day of the week, I either go for a 1.5 (25-26 minutes) mile walk around the neighborhood to get the juices flowing before work, or I will attend 7am Mass.  (listening to podcasts while I am walking and while I am driving to/from church)
  • This brings me to around 7:30-40, at which time I will read a book, read the daily readings for the Catholic Church, write a blog post, catch up on a few personal emails, check social media, etc.  This is also the time I will enjoy my first cup of coffee, which will bring me to about 8am, at which time I head into my home office to start my “work” day.

I can assure you this is an action packed two hours!  This morning ritual makes me feel like I am starting my day out with a bang, as opposed to hitting snooze 2-3 times.  People often ask me, “how do you find the time to read so much, or listen to podcasts as much as I do?”  As you see from above, I take advantage of time to do two things at once.  It’s not that hard to do, it just takes some planning on your part.

Another thing I hear from successful people about their morning rituals is meditation.  This is something I do not know much about.  I have heard some podcasts where people have talked about what they do, but I’m still not there yet.  I plan on learning more about how to best go about this.  I know that you can start with as little as a few minutes each day and build from there.  I hope to provide feedback on this topic as I learn more.  I welcome any and all feedback if you are already practicing meditation.

Remember, the beauty of the morning ritual is they are 100% your own.  Figure out how best to start your day.  Play around with different things.  Try to wake up a little earlier each day if that’s been something on your mind to do.  Do it in small 15 minute increments.  Train yourself slowly and over time you will do it.

At the very least, your morning ritual could be like what Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, did for many years of his life.  He would get up, make his bed, shower, and then look himself in the mirror.  He’d look himself in the eyes and ask, “If today was the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I’m about to do today?”  If that’s not a powerful way to start the day, I don’t know what is!!

Good Luck!!

10 Ways to Make Movement Part of Your Daily Routine

I read this article in my current issue of PALEO Magazine.  The article speaks directly to what I did for so many years, which was to run on the treadmill once per day for 30-45 minutes and then not worry about the rest of the day.  I have changed my routine drastically over the last few years as a result of what I’ve learned.

In a study looking at minimal-intensity physical activity, researchers concluded that “one hour of daily physical exercise cannot compensate for the negative effects of inactivity on insulin level and plasma lipids if the rest of the day is spent sitting. Reducing inactivity by increasing the time spent walking/standing is more effective than one hour of physical exercise, when energy expenditure is kept constant.”

Don’t over complicate how you incorporate movement into your day.  Read the short article and learn how you can start making subtle changes today that will absolutely make a difference!!

PALEO Magazine: LINK TO ARTICLE

Exercise is optional. Movement is mandatory!

I listen to many hours of podcasts throughout the week.  This is the first of what I hope will be many more I share with you over time.  If you are not a podcast listener today, I highly recommend starting to do so.  No matter what your interests are, there is definitely a podcast for you.  I like to listen to them when I am in the car, exercising outside, on planes, etc.  I probably consume 10-15 hours of content each week.  It helps that I am now conditioned to listen at 1.5X speed!

These are the current health/lifestyle podcasts I subscribe to:

  • Primal Blueprint Podcast
  • The Paleo Solution Podcast
  • The Doctor’s Farmacy
  • Lifestyle Locker Radio with Dr. Josh Handt
  • Paleo Magazine Radio
  • Recipes for Life with Pete Evans

In addition to these, I like to listen to podcasts on real estate investing.

The podcast I am sharing is hosted by Elle Russ.  She has Logan Schwartz as the guest in this episode.  Logan has dedicated his life to helping individuals achieve a state of optimal health and vitality through a principle-based approach. He has positioned himself to learn from and work alongside the best coaches, personal trainers, physical therapists, and athletic trainers in the field of prevention, performance, and health.  Recently, Logan was the Assistant Basketball Strength Coach for The University of Texas at Austin and is a consultant for Train 4 The Game, Inc., which is one of the elite performance facilities in the nation. Currently Logan owns Austin Vitality Coach and is the Director of Programming for Your Trainer, Inc. in Austin, Texas. He also presents Internationally for the Gray Institute and Power Plate.

The line that stuck with me the most was, “Exercise is optional.  Movement is mandatory”, hence my title for this blog.  This ties in nicely with the Primal lifestyle.

Enjoy!

Link to Primal Blueprint Podcast with Logan Schwartz

Is The Primal Lifestyle For You??

The stretch from Thanksgiving through New Year’s is one filled with family, friends and indulging on food and libations.  So what exactly is a New Year’s Resolution.  It is a tradition in the Western Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.

I make reference to the New Year’s Resolution because with it being the middle of January, fitness centers around America are slowly becoming less and less crowded as we inch our way to February.  In a 2014 report, 35% of participants who failed their New Year’s Resolutions admitted they had unrealistic goals, 33% of participants didn’t keep track of their progress, and 23% forgot about them; about one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.

Always at the top of the list for resolutions is to lose weight and exercise more.  People start the year off with great intentions.  They’re doing their best to workout every day, eat more veggies, cut out sweets, and on and on.  As mentioned in the stat above, people tend to go back to their normal ways because they truly did make unrealistic goals and tried to bite off more than they could chew.  It’s not easy to go from your normal lifestyle that you’ve been working on for many years and then all of sudden come January 1st you are going to do a 180 and adopt it 100% and feel great.  Once people get sick of their new “diet” or the chronic cardio sessions on the treadmill, they slowly revert back to their old ways.

I have been working on living a Primal Lifestyle now for almost three years.  I have embraced this because of the simplicity of it once you understand the basic principles.  Finding your way here is a much more gradual process than the 180 degree change on January 1st!  There are three main principles to grasp:

  1. Eat Primal “Whole” Foods
  2. Ditch Toxic Modern Foods
  3. Exercise Primally

Eating Primal foods means you can eat meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  All of these foods are nutritious, highly satisfying, and promote stabilized energy levels and efficient burning of stored body fat for energy.  You will learn to become a fat burning machine versus being carbohydrate dependent.  No more “Carb Crashes”!

The excessive intake of processed carbohydrates and chemically altered fats in the Standard American Diet (SAD) may be the most health destructive element in modern life.  Excess insulin production from a high carb diet leads to fatigue, burnout, disease, life-long weight gain, and a continued dependency on additional health-compromising carbs!  You should seriously consider eliminating the following foods from your diet:

  • Sugars and Sweetened Beverages
  • Grains
  • Vegetable Oils
  • Processed and Packaged Foods

Exercising Primally doesn’t have to mean you beat yourself up each day at the gym and run like a crazy person on the treadmill, which is what I did for many years thinking I was doing the right thing.  What is great about Primal exercise is that it is much easier to fit into a busier lifestyle.  These are the core elements you try to follow:

  • Increase daily low-intensity aerobic workouts like walking, hiking, easy cycling, jogging, etc.
  • Shoot for 2 strength sessions each week lasting no more than 30 minutes.  You don’t even need to go to the gym, you can focus on the four Primal Essential Movements:
    • Pull-Ups
    • Push-Ups
    • Plank
    • Squats
  • Once every 7-10 days, push yourself to do sprints lasting 8-30 seconds for 20-30 minutes.  You can do this on a treadmill, or go outside and do them.

hiking

If you can adopt this simple exercise routine, it will help to optimize fat metabolism, delay the aging process, build and maintain lean muscle mass, and develop lifelong functional fitness.  This approach to fitness can deliver maximum results taking up less time and less suffering!