Saturday, February 23, 2008

To Caffeinate or Not to Caffeinate? That is the Question.

The majority of health experts are quite divided on most issues, but one in particular that stirs up the tension is, whether or not caffeine from any source is a safe or healthy substance. I have to admit that until recently I was somewhat uncertain of my stance on this as well. Now the position I am taking is that caffeine in small doses is acceptable and in fact even beneficial in some cases provided that the user is extremely vigilant with their nutritional protocol thus providing the nutrients their body needs to nourish and support the adrenal pathways and to replenish the nutrients lost from caffeine consumption and the corresponding elevated metabolic rate.

My first point is that anytime you are consuming caffeine or any other stimulant you are actually taking a loan out on the energy your body produces. Think of your body like a bank. It only has the capability to produce so much energy each day. So to consume stimulants it is actually borrowing from your body's reserves for tomorrow thus leaving you in an 'overdraft' like state. So the key is to consume a diet rich in a variety of nutrients to help replenish the body's natural energy production each day.

Key nutrients include Vitamin B in all it's forms, all major electrolytes including but not limited to; calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium(this is because an increased metabolism not only requires more electrolytes to function but caffeine in particular causes leaching of minerals and electrolytes from your body's bones and tissues also leaving you in a deficit.), Amino acids particularly LTyrosine and DL Phenylalanine, plenty of water (probably 500ml for every 250mg of caffeine or other stimulants consumed) this will not only combat the diuretic effects but when your body's metabolism is elevated it is using more water than normal to carry out it's metabolic functions, so you are burning through water like crazy. Also a diet high in fruits and vegetables is key to provide all the minerals and vitamins necessary to aid energy production and combat oxidative stress, both from the alkaline balance created by fruits and veggies but also by the ORAC units contained in fruits and veggies. (Once again elevated metabolism= higher rate of cellular metabolism=more oxidative stress=more free radical damage.) You need the alkalinity because increased cellular metabolism produces a higher acid load on the body as well as most beverages consumed by people that contain caffeine or stimulants are highly acidic themselves. Finally it's good to consume a few herbs that are proven to relax and calm and help restore your adrenal function and CNS. These include passion flower and rhodiola.

While coffee will probably be the death of western civilization, especially for those who can't make it through the day without joining the mile long line at Tim Horton's, there is increasing evidence that coffee does contain high levels of antioxidants. As famed coach Charles Poliquin puts it, "Coffee is likely the only bitter herb most people will ever consume with any regularity therefore if it means they will get the antioxidant benefit from it , that makes it somewhat worthwhile." This is because bitter herbs are higher in antioxidants than sweet herbs. Coffee has also been noted to boost exercise performance thus boosting fat loss and it increases insulin sensitivity.

So if you are going to caffeinate or stimulate here are my recommendations:

1) Limit yourself to less than 3 cups of coffee or tea per day. Any more than this and you already have a significant addiction to stimulants and your adrenal system is likely already burned out.

2) Use herbal forms of caffeine as much as possible because they are gentler on your body and have less potential for upregulation (constantly increasing doses). For example most people understand tea is better than coffee. Also try things like yerba mate, ma huang, brazilian cocoa, guarana, etc. One of the best natural stimulants you can purchase is Xooma Worldwide's AM Formula (www.xoomaworldwide.com/dynamite).

3) Consume plenty of mineral and antioxidant rich fruits and veggies.

4) Consume alkaline and electrolyte rich beverages such as Xooma Worldwide's Xtreme X2O.

5) Consume high ORAC containing foods or when in doubt a few shots of MonaVie Active (www.drinkitfree.com)

6) Avoid taking Red Bull or any other popular beverages like it. The fact that you are not supposed to consume more that 2 cans a day tells you right a way that is is destroying your body. Furthermore it is loaded with sugar and acid. Products like this are a sure recipe for adrenal burnout .

7) Also consume micronutrients known for boosting natural energy production. Such as blue green algae, chlorella, and spirulina. Available in HTN's Adult Superfood (www.gohtn.com/solutions).

8)Consume plenty of water again, 500ml for every 250mg of caffeine consumed. This is above and beyond your normal water consumption. Also see point #4.

9) If you are well rested and eating healthy all day, every day you shouldn't need much of a boost or at least not as frequently as most North Americans consume coffee.

10) Oh, and if you think you are doing yourself a favour by consuming decaffeinated teas or coffees think again. Not only is the decaffeination process extremely carcinogenic, it also destroys the few beneficial quality's of these foods. Either drink coffee strictly for the stimulatory benefits or not at all but don't make it a pleasure treat. In addition, if coffee is your primary source of stimilant then try to use only organic coffee as coffee ranks as one of the 5 highest crops for being sprayed with pesticides leaving you with a toxic brew.

So inconclusion, if you must have a cup of coffee hear or there it won't hurt; but make sure you are protecting yourself.

What's your motivation? Part 3

If the first 2 motivational tactics don't fare well for you here are 2 more that I find extremely effective.

The first is to remove any consequence from the goal, thus taking away the fear of failure which will sometimes cause you to self sabotage. It's like you are treating your goal as a science experiment to see if you can prove or disprove your hypothesis. For example you may ask yourself 'I wonder what would happen to my physique if I ate cleanly for the next 6 weeks?' Or it may be " I wonder what would happen if I saved 10% of my paycheck for the next calendar year? Would that give me enough to travel for a month?" Again looking at your goals this way removes any negative connotations a particular goal may carry.

The next technique I have found to be very useful. You see the most common way a person may motivate themselves to reach a particular goal is to give themselves a reward both at the completion of that goal and for different milestones along the way. This is good except that many people will rationalize their failures away until they feel justified rewarding themselves whether or not they've actually achieved their goals. Secondly, if you don't want that goal bad enough or you don't want that reward bad enough it won't be a powerful enough tool to pull you through the tough times. You will likely quit and say " Oh, I didn't need or want _______ that much anyway." Thirdly, our society is so weak that many of us haven't even achieved significant goals in our lives to begin with therefore we can't relate to that feeling of absolute extasy that comes with actually reaching a worthwhile goal.

So what is your alternative you are asking. Create a negative consequence for not achieving your goal. You see all humans are motivated by 2 powerful factors; to gain pleasure and to avoid pain. Sometimes it's just one and sometimes it's both. So if pleasure isn't enough to keep you going maybe the absolute fear or disgust of a particular negative consequence will shock you into completing your goal.

A consequence might be if I don't drop 20lbs by May 20th I am going to allow my friends to post the most humiliating pictures and videos of me that they can find on the internet and publicly embarrass me. Or if I don't sell 50 cases of product by March I will eat this can of dog food. Use whatever frightens you the most. And if you are extra masochistic you may even include a punishment for each individual screw up along the way to your goal something like doing 500 Hindu squats should you have an unplanned cheat meal, or give part of your commissions cheque away if you aren't 50% to your sales goal by the middle of the month. It it especially important to tell friends and family if you are using this method so you have extra accountability.

I'm Healthy But...

There seems to be a common answer when I ask people if they consider themselves to be healthy or not. The common reply is ; 'I 'm healthy but..' and then they begin to list one or more chronic conditions. I am healthy but I have arthritis in my knees. I am healthy but I have frequent migraine headaches. I am healthy but I have digestion problems. Well folks, if you have to use the word 'but' to justify your health then you ain't healthy! According to Dr. Michael Triglia health is the 100% function of all the body's tissue, organs, and cells, all the time. So if you are exhibiting a chronic condition big or small can you really consider yourself healthy at all. Guess what, your body is one big interconnected machine. If one part breaks down even temporarily it puts more stress and strain on the rest of the body making it weaker and more susceptable to other conditions.

Once you achieve this level of of health where you truly don't have any conditions on it, it is a beautifl thing. You feel free and powerful; you feel like you can do anything!

Be Like Nike!

We all remember the popular catch phrase 'Just Do It!" used as an advertising slogan for Nike Athletic Wear. While it is such a basic phrase by first appearances, should we actually head what is says I think we would all find our lives to be dramatically improved. That's right stop thinking about things and just do them! I can promise you, you will learn infinitely more about whatever subject area you are studying by actually doing, than by just reading and discussing. Just think how many thousands of hours you have wasted throughout your life by trying to find out as much as you can about a particular subject area, but never actually putting that knowledge into practice.

Let's take the spiritual discipline of prayer for example. While it may be necessary to expand past a juvenille understanding of prayer that we have in sunday school, it was never meant to become a thesis topic for seminary students. We should not be concerned about the how, just begin to express yourself openly and honestly before the Creator of the Universe. Popular speaker Sundar Krishnan and Dr. James McDonald both acknowledge that while their personal libraries are absolutely full of books on prayer they have learned infinitely more on prayer by the consistent daily practice of it rather than studying it.

Now I am not sying that it is not good to have an educated opinion on topics of interest to you but the problem comes in where we know all the theory but have never used any of it. Any teacher will tell you that unless you are able to perform a certain task you don't know what you think you know. You may have read 20 books on nutrition this year but unless you have single digit body fat you don't actually know any of what you just read. If you are still getting sick those books aren't doing you any good. While it may be thought carelessto rush into certain endeavours at least you are making some progress and learning some lessons by trying. No matter how badly you screw up at least you have some solid experience to build upon.

Take all the nutrition and exercise info you've studied and actually apply it. Create a daily regiment for both. Then after a few weeks change some things and evaluate the results. Did what you just do help you, or hinder you? Then once you've adopted the positive changes and tossed the bad, change another factor, and after several weeks evaluate its influence in your life. The idea is to turn yourself into a walking experiment 24/7 so you can actually tell for yourself if what you read is true of not. This is how I live. This is why I have come to most of the conclusions I have by trying new things. Guess what some of the ideas that I thought couldn't possibly work have now formed the foundation of my daily health practices. I am not saying all things will work for all people but I will say most things will work for most people. I don't care if I fail. I don't care if I'm wrong. I would rather try a rediculous theory out for some percieved benefit, whether ot not its true, than to never know if what I just read works.

So instead of playing the sceptic all the time, instead of naysing or arguing that such and such a theory won't work just shut up and try it. You may be surprised. Next time you come across a product in a magazine that sounds to good to be true, order it and try it. What have you got to lose? At least you'll know for sure where you stand.

Years ago I read about a bodyweight conditioning program in a magazine. Not only had I never heard about the author before the claims he was making were quite unbelievable. But it was only $30 and it had a 30 day guarantee so I know I couldn't lose. After following his protocal for 30 days I felt like a new man so I know this was the real deal. Had I passed his ad off as pure nonsense I would have missed out on all that wonderful progress. Since then I have bought many more of this man's products because I know whatever he puts out is quality stuff.

Alternatively I have been burned many times by bogus products, but at least I can say first hand-it doesn't work intead of making up some BS excuse as to why it probably wouldn't work for me.

So go ahead and begin to question what you used to follow without question for a few weeks and see if that rule that you thought was so righteous actually serves a purpose. If you keep all experiments to a few weeks you will be able to see the results but if you were wrong at least you would not have done any significant harm to your body. Is it actually bad to eat a dozen whole eggs everyday? What would happen if everytime you had a piece of fruit you ate all the seeds too? Would it actually hurt me to drink over a gallon of water each day? What if I squated with my knees past my toes? What if I ate a red meat dialy in large quantities? what if I ate raw meat, or raw eggs?

Our culture seems so obsessed with knowing the 'why's' and the 'how's' of everything that most people are missing out on the true power of learning and experince. It was once said 'Do the thing and you will have th power.' Just do and the 'why' and 'how' will be answered for you as you go along. In many other cultures it is an insult to question your teachers. You are simply expected to imitate without question for several years before you can start to form your own opinions on things.

Just Do It!!! DO,DO,DO!!! And the next time I see a pudgy housewife question the opinions of a seasoned nutrition guru or a beer-bellied welfare earner questioning a seasoned multi-millionaire invester I am going to stick a fork in my eye!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What's your motivation!?! Part 2

Here is a second little tid bit I find helpful for myself and others when working towards any goal but specifically a physique goal. Find a picture of a celebrity, athlete, or fitness model that you feel most closely resembles you ideal body. Cut out several pics of this person if possible. Then post it in a prominate place such as your fridge, bathroom mirror, or car steering wheel. Look at it often. Analyze each and every detail of that person's body. Imagine yourself looking like that. Imagine the energy and vitality you will have. Imagine the compliments and admiring gazes of others. Sure enough week after week, month after month you will find yourself looking more like that person.

Here's where it becomes a great tool. When you find yourself tempted to give up think of what that person would do. Would _______ skip his/her workout? Would______ eat this donut, etc.? you'll find it keeps you motivated when you know very well that the person possessing your ideal physique didn't just quite when they wanted to.

You'll find works good for other areas of your life, spiritual, financial/ career,etc. If you are really lucky you will find an exceptional person who matches your goals in all areas. While it is cliche by now, Stephen Covey couldn't have been more right when he said- 'Begin with the end in mind.'

What's your motivation!?!

Show me anyone who hasn't achieved any of their goals and I'll show you someone who either didn't have the proper motivation or enough motivation. The first factor in goal achievement is 'do you want it bad enough?' You should be sacrificing some very key things to get what you want. Are you hungry for your goal? How badly crushed or disappointed in yourself will you be if you don't achieve it? what kind of punishment have you laid out for yourself? What kind of reward? Do you have a burning desire? Does it consume your thoughts and actions?

Now here's the second key; What is your motivation? What is your reason for doing what you are doing? Is it a reason someone else imposed on you? 'Cause if it is I can tell you it probably won't be enough to keep you going.

The doctors telling you to lose weight won't be enough.
The spouse nagging you won't be enough.
The clothes that don't fit won't be enough.
The fat jokes from friends and family won't be enough.
Looking good in a swimsuit or dress won't be enough.

These are just some of the surface level reasons people use to motivate their efforts to get healthy and fit. they may sound good but they do not stir the core of your being. That's right you need to find a reason that is so emotionally stirring that you are either moved to tears, burning with rage, or makes you feel sick to your stomach. When you have an emotional reaon that produces one of those 3 physical responses then you will have the motivation to realize whatever goal you may have physical or not.

I am often bothered by people who say that they can't do this or that yet when given the proper motivation, say a life or death situation, they do that very thing without hesitation. Say a mother says 'I could never pick up that 100lb weight' or 'I could never walk 5 miles' Yet If her child who just happen to weigh 100lbs was deathly ill and the hospital was 5 miles away she would do both in record time just to save her child. All this because her love for her child and her fear of losing that child created enough motivation to do what she previously thought was impossible.

So now I ask you to find your motivation. Make sure it becomes part of you. Grips you. Then work, without stopping, until the dream is a reality.

Food for Thought #2

"Ah, we're all gonna die anyway!!! Why should I bother with all that health crap!"

This is the often used statement by the lazy college student, the middle aged professional who suddenly realizes their best years have passed them by, and the rapidly aging senior who has long since given up on life. And every other negative, small minded person you may run into. Heck, you may remember yourself saying this to help cover up any guilt from failed attempts at living healthier.

So why should we bother to live healthier? Good question. While I cannot speak for every other health professional out there I will give you some of my strongest reasons that keep me motivated to live cleanly.

1) Because no one can guarantee the length of their life I figure it is best to pack in as much experience and adventure as one can into the shortest time possible. And this takes energy, LOTS of energy! I don't want to be draggin' my butt around day in day out, missing half of all there is to do and see out there because I'm too tired, lazt or sick to try.It's about being fully awake and alert to enjoy every waking second. Everything is better when your mind and body are in peak performance mode.

2) Let's say I actually do end up living a full life or past a full life time. Let's say i break the record's for human longevity in this millenium and hit 150yrs or more. (This is something I often thought I may be capable of achieving Lord willing.) But even at the national average of 75, I would like to know I have given life my best. You only have one body and do not want to spend the first half of my life abusing it only to live with the consequences of my actions for the next half of it. I would like to be one of those seniors who is still sharp as a tack, can run, lift, and jump at the drop of a hat and much more.

3) Lastly, in accordance with the Christian principle of stewardship God gave us our bodies to take care of, so we best make good on that. Living cleanly, allows you to give your best to and for God day in and day out. Knowing that I want to give my best to God is a very strong motivator for me to be in peak condition 24/7/365.

Remember it's not just quantity of life... quality means so much more. 30 amzing years would mena so much more than 100 slothful ones. You choose for yourself but I prefer quality!