Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yes, yes you do.

Coming from a once avid consumer and supporter of all the cosmetics and over-the counter lotions, cleansers and ointments, I will tell you that they do absolutely nothing compared to simply changing the type of food you are putting into your body. The solution may be right in front of our face...and right on top of our plates.

If it were as simple as understanding that what I was putting in my body was initially the source of the problem, then I would have buckled down and made a change IMMEDIATELY. But, that is where I was lacking and that is where our nation is lacking. It's a constant trend of misinformation. People still follow the food pyramid for God's sake and eat a 60%+ carbohydrate diet! That crap is more out of date than my joveralls (jean shorts + overalls = joveralls) and fortunately for me they're not affecting my overall health and well-being. But, that's aside the point. The fact of the matter is people are too reliant upon prescriptive medicines and these "supposed" cure-all drugs, expecting them to somehow magically resolve their issues at hand. Regardless of the problem, whether it be an illness, an injury, sickness or disease too many people rely on their doctors advice when the root of the problem could be, and most likely is, simply what they're eating.

I personally suffered with this same problem. I tried doctor after doctor after dermatologist and so on and still ended up right where I began. No where. No one could give me a straight answer and all I was looking for was some sort of guidance. I completely relied upon their knowledge and experience and the end result was still the same: either expensive creams and anti-biotics or the notoriously dangerous Accutane. I was so desperate. I even booked an appointment 2 months in advance to see a renown skin specialist (yes, that's a 2 month waiting list). I prepped questions and even wrote down everything I had eaten the past few weeks hoping something would come up that would help her help me. But, to my complete surprise, she had nothing. Not one thing. All I can really remember is her answering each and every one of my questions with "I don't know, everyone is different" or "Yes, it could be that" to every one of my 203842 foods I had written down. I try to block it out. It just frustrates me to recollect. All I wanted to do was throw that woman out the window. It was complete bullsh&t. I waited around for 2 months for this woman to tell me that she didn't know what was causing my acne? Really? I mean, aren't these people supposed to be specialized in skin treatment? Who knows...

Whatever, I was fed up and I knew I had to figure this out by myself...

So I did what I think anyone else would do in that situation and took it upon myself to search for a solution. I began with eliminating things from my diet as well as cutting back and being very cautious with the contact of my face on sheets, dirty hands, etc. Usually factors that would somewhat be overlooked by most people. Fortunately for me it didn't take long before I began to notice a difference. I started with what I was putting in my mouth and began with the common "myth" of dairy products being linked to skin irritation. So, I cut out all dairy and dairy products from my diet. This was incredibly difficult since I was basically consuming a couple quarts of milk a day in addition to my post-workout shakes that usually consisted of a few heaping scoops of whey protein powder. Not smart. Within a few weeks I really began to notice improvement. The inflammation along my beard and neck line began to digress and the redness started to die down. After seeing this kind of immediate progress, I began to improve my all-around nutrition, including watching my sugar intake as well as making sure I kept my omega-6 consumption to a minimum. Needless to say my progress continued to progress.

I did some research and found that apparently my acne woes were all tied into the notorious insulin spiking/elevated blood-sugar cycle. A viscous pattern that is the culprit to almost every health problem seen today. Dairy products boost hormones like testosterone and androgen in males and increases insulin levels exactly how foods like sugar and starchy carbohydrates quickly raise blood sugar levels and spike insulin. These hormones, especially androgen, and elevated insulin are the stimulants that irritate your skin to produce acne. Milk promotes rapid growth within the body. It is a potent anabolic product that's filled with numerous amounts of growth promoting hormones. We really don't want to F with these hormones. When we do and they become imbalanced and out-of-whack, acne ensues and sometimes much worse.

"Drinking a glass of milk can spike insulin levels 300 percent. Not only does that cause pimples, but it also may contribute to pre-diabetes. This is true despite studies funded by the dairy council showing that milk helps with weight loss. The question is compared to WHAT diet--a diet of bagels and Coke, or a healthy phytonutrient, antioxidant-rich, plant-based diet with lean animal protein? ("

Think about keeping your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio as close to 1:1 as possible. Filling our diets with pro-inflammatory foods such as sugars, starchy carbs, grains, legumes and all forms of dairy can worsen, as well as promote acne and other forms of inflammation within the body. Inflammation has been linked to acne and as you know our standard "American" diet is high in pro-inflammatory foods. Keep those omega-6's under control and you're acne will do the same.

Be cautious about the foods you're eating and get educated on what they're actually doing to your bodies. Every food we decide to eat is either making us more or less healthy. Be conscious of your decisions. If you're suffering from an issue, regardless of what it is, try cutting specific foods out of your diet to find which one is really causing the problem. I guarantee you'll find some interesting feedback. Whats the worst thing that can happen? You cut a food out of your diet for a short period of time? Best thing that can happen? You finally find the root of your problem. I made the sacrifice and reaped the benefits, let's see if you can do the same.

Live smart people because you are what you eat...

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

If the shoe fits, THINK before wearing it...(Pt. I Converse All-Stars)

Lately I've found myself speaking with a lot of you guys on shoe preference in relation to weight training, olympic lifting and crossfit in general. I've even gotten many of you to convert to a more performance-based type of shoe. Those same people have seen immediate improvements in their lifts, their workouts and even to go as far as their joints, ligaments and lower body musculature by simply changing the type of shoe they're wearing during workouts.

I'm not an expert on which or what shoe to wear or when to wear it. I don't know the specifics on sole thickness, sole density, heel thickness or angle, and flexibility of the shoe, but what I can give you is a personal opinion on why I think certain shoes suck and why others are awesome as well as my experience with a few of the ones that you may see laced up at a box nearest you.

With style and fashion aside, let me remind you that these posts are based predominantly on performance and comfort in shoe selection. Once we find a shoe that helps us perform comfortably at our best...we can then consult with style, model, lace color as well as matching outfits and attire (you're welcome lulu lemon).

So, first and foremost, take your tennis shoes and just donate them to a retirement home or give them to your mother, your father or even your grandparents. They're better orthopedic supports than they are athletic shoes at best. They do not belong in a crossfit gym. I've worn them one time and felt like I was overhead squatting on two memory foam pillows. The soles in the shoes are extremely padded and do not benefit you in a workout that consists of anything more than simply running and/or standing. Most crossfit-style workouts consist of more body weight movements, weight lifting and Olympic lifting than they do running, so the detriments of choosing tennis shoes in this situation greatly outweigh the benefits. Over time, the build up of repeated movements and pounding on an unevenly cushioned surface (sole of tennis shoe) can lead to aches, pains, inflammation and sometimes injury, not to mention insufficient workouts , failed lifts and even the restriction of one's own potential. This is no bueno for your lower half. Through crossfit workouts, we want to prolong the strength and well-being of your legs not the opposite. So, if it is as easy as switching shoes to better protect the health of your stems, then let's make that conscious effort to do so.

Now let's jump into a couple of the most popular brands that can be seen around your local box.

Converse All-Stars or the infamous "Chuck Taylors".

I personally am a huge fan of the "chucks". I was converted early and have since then purchased
several pairs and have yet to look back. The flat sole allows stability through my lifts and movements as well as provides me with a stable base when jumping, landing and repeating. It's the closest thing that comes to barefoot for me. People may feel differently about the All-Stars, but if you are skeptical or on the edge about switching sneakers, I recommend you start with the Converse All-Stars. Why? Because they're cheap (40$), effective and so far everyone I know that has made the switch has yet to regret their decision. In most crossfit workouts, you're spending most time in a confined area where you will be performing a variety of different exercises that don't necessarily involve too much actual "running" or moving long distances. Barbell and kettlebell work, burpees, double unders, wall-balls, rowing, gymnastic movements, etc. can all be performed effectively and efficiently while wearing a pair of Converse.

To put this into perspective, imagine wearing a thick soled, heel-strike absorbing pair of Nike's Free's while performing an exercise like the deadlift. In a movement like the deadlift, we must maintain extreme core stability and elevate a loaded bar by forcefully driving through our heels and into the ground. During this lift, the sole of the Nike Free is going to perform just like it was created to do. The sole will compress as tension is being applied to it and must completely compress before any force is actually applied to the bar. This is what we call "deadlifting on a mattress" because that is basically the equivalent. Sound stupid? Well it is. Now imagine repeating this action on a moderately heavy load for repetitions? Not fun and not productive whatsoever. With any sort of power movement, you want a thin, flat, hard-soled shoe that will allow us to apply the greatest amount of force directly through the heel. Now that is fun. That is smart. And that is moving large, heavy loads efficiently.

Overall, chucks are awesome for strength movements yet well-rounded enough for indoor/stationary workouts and surprisingly with proper form and technique (POSE Method), they aren't bad running shoes either. Buttttt that's another blog post for another time...

Up next Pt. II the hideously versatile Inov-8's, stay tuned...