Overcome Fitness Hurdles, Like “no pain no gain”

This week I’m talking about your fitness and how to overcome the things that stop you from starting, and the other things you should start in order to stop stopping!

The mantra No Pain, No Gain is for athletes going for peak performance — or Marc Walberg and Dwayne Johnson looking all jacked in an action flick. And, and, and these are typically people who are being overseen by trainers and physical therapy staff. But that’s them, not us.

For normal people living a normal life, if it’s hurting, you should really talk to someone to make sure you’re not doing it wrong or too long. Don’t “gut it out” without talking it out, because light aerobic exercise is best for your heart muscle anyway. It may be fine, or just sore muscles getting toned, but how would you know if you don’t ask?

Now. If you’re a trained athlete, or have had training and know what you’re doing, are well in touch with the limits of your physiology, feel free to blow me right off. Otherwise, talk to someone who can help you figure out whether your aches are normal, or a warning sign.

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Overcome Fitness Hurdles, Like Starting At The End

This week I’m talking about your fitness and how to overcome the things that stop you from starting, and the other things you should start in order to stop stopping!

I had a friend who used to run. Then life happened and he didn’t for years while he raised a family and grew his career. When he was ready to start running again, he remembered exactly what to do, how hard to train, and on and on.

Long story short, he went out the first day as if ~10 years had not passed and promptly tore his Achilles tendon from his heel. BAM. Now he was out for 6 months of recovery in a cast. So much for his plans of qualifying for Boston by the end of the week.

And this is really the take-home message: you cannot start at the end. Start with an honest assessment of your current fitness level. Whatever you do, do not rush it.

Keep in mind that it took some time for you to achieve THIS level of non-fitness, LOL, so you should expect for it to take just as long to get fit again. Better to take an extra couple of weeks to ramp up so you don’t have to take an extra couple of months to recover.

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Overcome Fitness Hurdles, Like What’s In Your Head

This week I’m talking about your fitness and how to overcome the things that are stopping you from starting. The things you should start in order to stop stopping!

First of all, look at those people running their tri-athalon iron flipping whatevers up mountains and swimming the English Channel only to bike around the Earth six times. That’s just ridiculous, A, and B there is no way to get to that level of fitness!

With your schedule? Your commitments? It’s not happening.

Here’s the good news. The difference between you and them is actually very small. The biggest impact of movement is NOT when you’re leaping tall building in a single bound, it’s during the first 30 minutes of activity.

As you go from 30 minutes to an hour, there is additional improvement but it’s much less. Likewise as you go from 60 to 90 minutes, the improvement is even less. Get the picture? Moving a little is great, moving a lot is only a LITTLE bit better.

So if you want to run marathons because you love it, do that. But you SURE don’t have to to get to a fitness level that is good for your heart, your weight, and your brain.

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Heart Health Hangs A Left. Is Butter Back?

All week, we’re going off-road to explore heart health along paths you knew were there, but are definitely the road less traveled by conventional sources.

Science is all over the map on this one, but on average things seem to be much better for butter lately. The chart to your left compares the per capita butter consumption of 17 countries to the heart disease rates in those same countries.

Basically, as butter consumption increases, heart disease rates do not.

  • This article from Harvard is long, nuanced, and refuses to say that butter’s still bad for you.
  • This article says that there’s basically no effect of butter on cardiovascular disease.
  • And this article says that when you have full fat dairy on board (as confirmed by three blood markers), you have a 46% reduced risk for heart disease.
  • And even if you give butter the benefit of the doubt and say that it is no longer the dietary Darth Vader we were told, it is also true that replacing it with something like olive oil is certainly healthier.

 

Groups that favor low fat approaches, such as the American Heart Association, are sticking to their 1980’s guns, and telling you to stay away from butter completely.

This makes it a complete mess for us, because it could honestly take them decades to sort all this out.

While you’re waiting on them to come to some consensus (good luck), healthy cultures like France can provide a bit of guidance. They do consume butter, but they also definitely control portions. It is added for flavor, and not eaten in large quantities at all.

 

Heart Health Hangs A Left: Bout Dat Beef

Related imageAll week, we’re going off-road to explore heart health along paths you knew were there, but are definitely the road less traveled by conventional sources.

We’re not supposed to eat red meat because it’s fats are said to be bad for your heart.

But, it’s a little more complicated than that. Just like wild caught salmon is much better for you than farm raised, the same is true — and for the very same reasons! — for grass fed vs grain fed cattle.

If you have WAY too much time on your hands, you can read a nice summary paper here.

Just exactly like wild caught salmon, grass-fed beef has less total fat, more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, more conjugated linoleic acid (which is thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risk), and it also has more antioxidant vitamin E.

And remember the Trans Fats we are supposed to avoid like the plague? Grain fed beef increases their levels in the meat you eat, a completely unreadable summary is here.

The bottom line comes back to common sense. If you’re going to eat conventionally produced corn fed beef, just know that it’s not AS good for your heart as grass fed beef. This means, like salmon, that you should limit its consumption more than you would if you had the grass fed variety.

One more little wrinkle. In healthy cultures, they don’t eat a lot of beef. It’s not like they have a beef with beef, they just lean on fish and chicken.

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Heart Health Hangs A Left. Eggcellent Eggs.

All week, we’re going off-road to explore heart health along paths you knew were there, but are definitely the road less traveled by conventional sources.

Remember when eggs were bad for your heart? Remember when you were supposed to eat egg-white omelets and buy those cartons of “egg beaters”? Eww.

It turns out that all that was wrong. Shocking, right?

According to Harvard’s massive Nurses Health Study, you can have up to one egg (yes, with the yolk and all) every single day of your long life, and this will not increase risk for any cardiovascular event. So much for that whole cholesterol thing.

By the way, the countries with the least heart disease are — in this order — Taiwan, China, Japan.  These countries with the highest per capita egg consumption are — in this order — Taiwan, China, Japan, weighing in at ~360 eggs, per person, per year.

Do the math. That works out to about 1 egg per day, which is what the Nurses Health Study pointed out as well.

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Heart Health Hangs A Left: About That Salt

All week, we’re going off-road to explore heart health along paths you knew were there, but are definitely the road less traveled by conventional sources.

Okay, so. The whole salt thing. It’s true that too much sodium is bad … but butting in with a huge BUT is the fact that sodium cannot act alone. It needs Potassium.

AND, in order to increase your blood pressure, you need to have a high Sodium:Potassium ratio. So if you eat more sodium, without having more potassium, the ratio increases and therefore so does your blood pressure.

How do you do that? ~85% of all the sodium consumed comes from fast food, and processed food products. If you just ate clean, you would lose all that sodium, which lowers the Sodium:Potassium ratio. Even better, real foods have lots of potassium right on board, increasing the potassium consumed and therefore LOWERING the sodium:potassium ratio even more!

So don’t freak out about the salt in your shaker or needing to season your foods. Just eat clean and the foods we are given on this earth to eat will take care of it for you. Foods especially high in potassium: White beans, avocados, dark leafy greens, potatoes, and bananas.

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Fish in Cilantro Sauce

Fish as a regular part of the diet provides a fabulous balance for healthy heart health.

You’ll Need:

  • 2 pounds red snapper or similar fish
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup toasted almonds, ground
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt (and a pinch more for sprinkling on the fish)
  • 1 dash pepper
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Thaw the fish fillets if frozen. When thawed cut into 8 fillets
  • Cook onion and garlic in oil on low-medium heat until tender but not brown.
  • Add the almonds, lime juice, the ½ teaspoon of salt, and pepper.
  • Heat through.
  • In a well greased 13 X 9 X 2-inch baking dish, arrange the fish fillets and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  • Top with the onion mixture.
  • Sprinkle evenly with the cilantro.
  • Bake, covered, for about 35 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.