10 Fitness/Health/Life Tips I wish I knew 10 years ago

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I wish that I knew what I know now.

I’m sure most people can agree, that if you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, you’d have a few tips to throw their way. Simple ideas and actions that would make the world of difference. Throughout my health and fitness journey I have made a million mistakes and shortcomings. I have fallen victim of countless miracle diets and workout routines. Been lead astray by your friendly neighborhood GNC salesman, pitching the new “Extremely Hardcore Ultra Intense Fat Burner”. I even believed what the government said about nutrition was gospel, because they wouldn’t lie to us. Plus they had scientist, right? So they must be telling the truth. Yeah right.

Anyway, my point being that we all make mistakes. What makes the difference between people is who learns from them and who simply moves on. I have chosen to embrace my woes and use them to my betterment. So here I have listed 10 tips I have learned that involve Fitness, Health, and Life. If doc Brown pulled up in his DeLorean, scooped me up, and threw me back in 2003, I’d give myself this advise.

1. The Law of Diminishing Returns

The essence of the Law of Diminishing Returns can be summed up the in common saying “More is not always better”. This is true to most everything in life, especially to that in which pertains to the human body. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Take aspirin for example, you take 1-2 and your fever goes down and it reduces your inflammation. This is a good thing. However, if you were to take 50 aspirin, you’d die. This also holds true to exercise, which is a stress. (I’ll deal with stresses later) The shape of the cure is very plain to see. In the beginning, the more exercise you perform, the better return you’ll receive. Then when you reach the top and start eking down the other side. You’ll quickly start noticing that the more exercise you do, the more unhealthy you’re becoming. In short, you must learn moderation.

2. Fitness and Nutrition is more than just Body Composition

In my beginnings with fitness and nutrition, I of course only perceived health in the terms of body aesthetics. I know this is vanity at its highest, but I would argue that this is the main reason 85% of people start any exercise program and or diet protocol. They see these athletes, models, actors on TV and think “Man, they look freaking great. I want to look just like (insert hot chick of dude Here)” What you fail to realize is that fitness and nutrition goes way beyond appearance. Skinny women and jacked guys can be just as unhealthy as anyone. What makes the difference is what you are doing to make yourself a overall healthier person. Here is an awesome tip, If you eat so that you are healthy and you structure your workouts so that you progress to some physical goal (be it 20 Chin-ups or 3 times your body weight in the deadlift) your body will look awesome, inside and out. In other words, eat for performance and health and the looks will always follow.

3. Sleep

I can hardly put a higher ranking of importance on any tip than that of getting the proper sleep. So much lays in the balance. If you do not get the correct kind and amount of sleep, you can kiss fat loss, muscle building, short and long term memory, sharp cognitive function, happiness, proper digestion, correct cortisol levels, and proper hormonal levels goodbye. (list goes on and on.) Sleep is absolutely vital. You must sleep in a completely darkened room and always get at least the bare minimal for your specific body’s needs. (Typically 8-10 hours).  No excuses, just make it happen.

4. Supplements

I might surprise you here, but I believe supplements can have their place in a lifestyle change. Now I’m not talking about supplements like Vitamin D or Fish Oil, which are certainly a good and wise choice to take. I am speaking more about your GNC stuff here. Now, do they work like they say they will on the label and burn fat or build muscle, probably not. However, where they typically fall short on those accounts, they make up for with the placebo effect. The placebo effect is a scientifically proven phenomenon. If you truly believe that this supplement is going to help you lose weight or build muscle, then you are statistically much more likely to continue taking this supplement while still dieting and working out. Which will of course lead to better results. Now whether these are good for your health or not is another discussion. All I am saying is that I can see some small merit in taking them.

5. Embracing Your Physical Self

Alright, so here is where I might crush some dreams. People are different, plain and simple. Some people have the proper gene expression to be massive viking warriors while other have the genes to look like a hobbit. This sucks, I know. This doesn’t mean that you cannot do remarkable things to your appearance, it just means that there are limits. For instance, no matter how hard I try, I will never look like Arnold (not even with lots of pharmaceutical aide). However, there is good news in all of this. Once you accept who you are, you can then train accordingly and become the most badA version of yourself as possible. In other words, everyone is different and responds differently to exercise. Find that which work for you. This will take some trial and error.

6. Constant Pursuit of Education

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” – Confucius

In my personal opinion, the main problem with people today is that they chose ignorance. People absolutely refuse to help themselves. They simply wish to be coddled and lead around like sheep. Do yourself a service and never stop learning. Do not take everything people say as truth, do your own research, come up with your own ideas. This is how you step out of the crowd and become someone of interest.

7. Do rather than Dream

You must take action in your life. Right NOW. Dreams of grandeur are great, but they will lead you nowhere if you do not pursue them. If there is something that you want in life, then immediately execute plans in which you achieve this goal. Do not waste the time that is given to you.

8. Stresses (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)

The word stress gets a bad rap. It can actually be a good thing to have in your life as well. We call these hormetic stresses. Exercise for instance is a very stressful event. You are placing a great deal of oxidative stress on your heart and lungs, not to mention the tearing of muscle tissue that is going on. However, the body benefits from these stress due to acclimation. The stress that is a killer, is the chronic stress that is so prevalent in today’s society. The mental stresses of work and your finances. The physical stress of poor diet and gut health. In order to become a happier and healthier human being, you must seek to control your stress. Easier said than done, I know, but the consequences can be grim if you fail to do so.  So take days off, take vacations, do things that make you happy. Eat a Paleo/Primal diet that will give you a low to no inflammatory response.  Your health depends on it.

9. The Great Outdoors

Dude, outside is awesome, go there. Why in the world would you choose to be cooped up inside all day is beyond me. Science has proven a long time ago that people are much happier when they go outside for at least an hour a day. Your body craves the sunlight and Vitamin D. It longs for the fresh air. We as humans were  not made to be sitting around inside all day. You must get out and move.

10. A Joie de Vivre: Walking

A can barely begin to count all the benefits I contrive from walking each day. Mental, physical, and spiritual. This is a time for me to think. I used to believe walking was only for old people. I couldn’t have been more incorrect and naive. In all honesty, I firmly believe that I have learned more on my walks, listening to podcasts, audio books, and lectures, then I have in my whole college career. Walking also aides in muscle recovery and burns extra calories, plus your dogs will love it. I believe everyone should walk at least 6 miles a week to maintain their health.

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7 Reasons to choose Grass-Fed Beef

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7 Reasons to choose Grass-Fed Beef

  1. CLA
  2. Carotenoids and trace nutrients.
  3. Omega 3’s
  4. More Humane
  5. Less E. coli bacteria
  6. Vitamin A and E
  7. Cancer fighting antioxidants such as glutathione (GT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD)

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1. Conjugated linoleic acid, CLA for short, can have a powerful effect on our health. In separate studies, scientists have shown that CLA can lower an individual’s risk for cancer and arteriosclerosis (clogged arteries). It also is known to reduce body fat and delay the onset of diabetes. Due to the green plants that are rich in the linoleic acid necessary to produce to CLA, grass-fed animals generally produce two to four times as much CLA as their grain-fed counterparts.

2. Carotenoids are a group of more than 700 fat soluble nutrients that produce the colors in foods. They are responsible for the coloring in carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and other deep green, yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables. Grass-fed meat has higher levels of carotenoids, making the fat appear more yellow. Typically, the more carotenoids there are in a substance, the more nutrients it will contain. Therefore, yellow fat (like grass-fed butter) is a sign of high nutrient density.

3. It’s sad to say, but fats often get a bad reputation. The truth is however, there are good fats and bad fats. Omega-3s are really good fats. These essential fatty acids, which are imperative for human growth and development, occur in abundance in grass-fed beef. These meats are a rich source of these healthy fats due to the animals spending their lives eating the green forage plants that are naturally rich in omega-3s themselves. Simply eating their natural diet, these cattle absorb these valuable fats and then pass the nutrition on to you, the consumer. This results in beef with nearly 60% more omega-3s than beef from cows that have been raised on a grain diet.

4. From a humanitarian perspective, there is yet another advantage to grass-fed beef. It should be common knowledge that the cruelties of modern factory farming are severe. Livestock cooped up in cages barely larger than their own bodies, packed together like sardines for months on end. These animals stand knee-deep in their own manure.

5. E. Coli is a very serious health threat. In fact, you are 1,000 times more likely to die of E. Coli than mad cow disease. Since Grass-fed animals have far fewer E. Coli than grain fed animals (20,000 cells/g. vs. 6,300,000 cells/g.), you are far less likely to become infected with the bacteria if you eat grass-fed beef. Also, the few bacteria they do have are not likely to survive the natural acidity of the human digestive tract. This is due to the fact that they haven’t become acid-resistant, like the E. coli found in grain-fed beef. When you feed grain to cattle, even a small amount, it makes their digestive tracts abnormally acidic. This allows the E. coli in their system to become acclimated to this environment and therefore unaffected by our body’s natural defense system.

The problem with E. coli contamination occurs in the slaughterhouse when manure from an animal comes in contact with meat. In general, the less manure on an animal when it enters the slaughter house, the less likely the meat will become contaminated. Considering cattle who live in a feedlot stand in dirt and manure all day every day, it is difficult to remove all the fecal contamination from them. Grass-Fed animals were much easier to clean because they typically come from small herds raised in clean pastures.

6. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient. It is key to healthy vision and bone growth as well as an essential antioxidant. Since grass-fed cattle consume significantly larger amounts of beta-carotene than grain-fed cattle, their meat is a rich source of vitamin A.

Studies have shown that meats from the pastured cattle are four times higher in vitamin E than the meat from the feedlot cattle. The reason for the very high vitamin E content in the meat of grass-fed cattle is again due to the grass contain very high amounts of vitamin E. In humans, vitamin E has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and even cancer.

7. Glutathione, being called the superman of antioxidants, is the most powerful antioxidant in the body. It works around the clock to fend off offending substances. Glutathione is a triple threat to toxins. It neutralizes free radicals, enhances the immune system and detoxifies the liver.

Studies have shown that superoxide dismutase (SOD) acts as both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in the body. It neutralizes the free radicals that can lead to wrinkles and precancerous cell changes.

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These are just a few of the benefits that come with choosing grass-fed beef. Of course there are the obvious things that are left out of Grass-fed beef that also are benefits. Such as being hormone and antibiotic free.

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What exactly happens when cows eat corn?

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What exactly happens when cows eat corn?

Nowadays it nearly impossible to escape the new health food labels, Organic, GMO-Free, Gluten-Free, Antibiotic-Free, Natural, and now Grass-Fed. These are all important in terms of finding healthy foods at your local grocery store, but what are their meanings? For instance, why is Grass-Fed important? Grass-Fed beef in particular. In order to know why feeding cows grass is important, you need to know what the alternative is. The most common feeds given to commercial cows are grain and corn based. For the main topic of discussion, we will see what happens when cows are fed corn and why you should care.

Cows are classified as a ruminant and ruminants are not accustomed to eating high-starch foods like corn, which upsets their digestive system. Cattle create a lot of gas, which they usually expel, but when their diet is high in starch and low in roughage, it forms a layer of foamy slime in their stomach called the rumen.

This slime can trap the gas, causing the rumen to balloons out and press against the animal’s lungs. Unless you act quickly and relieve the pressure (usually by ramming a hose down the animal’s throat), the cattle will suffocate.

A corn diet can also generate acidosis. Unlike the highly acidic stomachs of humans, cattle’s stomachs are normally a neutral PH. Due to is acidic nature, corn turns their stomach unnaturally acidic. Acidotic animals tend to have diarrhea, ulcers, bloat, liver disease and a general weakening of the immune system.

Another terrible fact is that cattle cannot stay in a feed lot for more than six months, because a sustained maize diet will lead to fatal liver failure. As the acids corrode their stomach lining, bacteria enters the bloodstream and collects in the liver. Here is where the use of antibiotics comes into play. Antibiotics are given to reduce gas and prevent liver infection. However, the overuse of antibiotics in the feed lots means bacteria become resistant to them. This can be a real problem, leading to new, disease-resistant strains called super-bugs.

Crazy, right? Not only do these cows have a miserable life, but their meat is incredibly unhealthy for people to eat when they’re fed a corn-based diet.

*In my next post I’ll explain how Grass-fed meat, on the other hand, contains much more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and healthy saturated fats that protect from cancer, aide in fat loss, and improve brain & nervous system function. Grass-fed cows are also able to move around their pens for exercise and fresh air. They don’t have to stand around in their own excrement too. In my honest opinion, It’s worth the extra money and effort to track down local grass-fed meat. Not only is it better for your health and the cow’s, it tastes a million times better too!

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Why Paleo during Pregancy is Important

Annie Murphy Paul: What we learn before we’re born

“Our health and well being throughout our lives is crucially effected by the nine months we spend in the womb.

We all know that if there is any time in a women’s life that proper nutrition is considered the most important, it is the time she spends carrying a child. This is common knowledge. We have evidence of this in our millions of books and classes regarding nutrition while pregnant. Down to the everyday prenatal multivitamin recommended by most physicians. Given the obvious importance of what you eat during pregnancy and how it can effect your child for life, it behooves you to get it right. You only get one shot. However,we now know that there is more to it than that. What you experience in life while pregnant is also translated onto your child. This can majorly effect your child’s life and his or her predispositions. The fetus is forming it’s knowledge of the outside world and it’s only means of information is that which is passed down from the mother. Fetuses take cues from the intrauterine environment and tailor their physiology accordingly. This can effect everything from the speed of the baby’s metabolism to emotional and cognitive performance. In other words, you are not only what you eat, but also what your mother eats as well.

Dallas and Mellisa Hartwig from The Whole9 had a great interview with Chris Kresser on the subject of eating Paleo while pregnant. Chris is the author of The Healthy Baby Code that I highly recommend to all women who wish to optimize their eating for the health of the child. The link is at the bottom of this page.

Links:

Over 4,000 Free Paleo Resources

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Whether you are new to Paleo or a senior member in the “Paleosphere” , International Paleo Movement Group (IPMG) should be a staple in your resource repertoire. With more than 4,000 members and growing by the minute, this collection of knowledge embodies every aspect of health, fitness, and nutrition. IPMG is steadily becoming a mecca for Paleo bloggers, fitness experts, chefs, authors, producers, etc. It’s a Paleo Net-workers’ dream. I highly recommend you visit this group and broaden your scope regarding nutrition and the human body. With the ability to search for past topics/discussion feeds and an extensive uploaded files database ranging from he role of diet in treating autism spectrum disorders to the recipe to Paleo butternut squash soup, you will most certainly find your desired subject matter. Apart from the intellectual faction, there is also a very warm and supporting fellowship between the group members whose sole intent is to help each other down their road to better health and happiness.

International Paleo Movement Group was founded by Karen Pendergrass (Paleo Honey Badger). A formidable force in the ancestral health crusade against the Standard American Diet (SAD). Karen is also the champion of such Paleo all-stars as Paleo Friendly, Paleo Approved, and The Paleo Foundation.

Links:

International Paleo Movement Group

Paleo Friendly

Paleo Approved

The Paleo Foundation

Beware Fake Kobe

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So you head down to your local grocery store. Today is the day that you bite the bullet. You have seen the huge, delicious Kobe steaks, looking majestic beside their stepchild Prime USDA ribeyes for years. You told yourself that someday you would buy one of those bad boys.  But the truth is, that’s not real Kobe beef. What you bought was an expensive fake advertisement. In fact, if you happen to have bought this steak before August 27, 2012, there was no possible way it was real Kobe beef because before then, it was illegal to import Kobe into the U.S. How in the world could they market these steaks as Kobe then? Well as it is true that the Kobe name is trademarked and protected by law in Japan, these laws are not recognized by the U.S.  As long as the U.S. administrative agencies are concerned, if the beef part still comes from cows, it’s good to go. Just like the recent surge in the use of the unregulated label term “natural,” it is an adjective used mainly to confuse consumers and profit from that confusion. Furthermore, when the U.S. changed their importation laws last August, the small amount that is being imported today is going almost exclusively to high-end steakhouses; who will charge dearly for it. So for future reference, unless you are dining at a  exclusive steakhouse, like the Old Homestead in New York and your paying $350 or more for your real Kobe steak, it’s certainly just another knock-off.