Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Low Calorie High Energy, and Other Oxymorons

As an paleorunner and amateur biohacker I notice things.  Recent example, energy is defined by Websters as:

Definition of ENERGY

a : dynamic quality <narrative energy>
b : the capacity of acting or being active <intellectualenergy>
c : a usually positive spiritual force <the energy flowing through all people>
: vigorous exertion of power : effort <investing time andenergy>
: a fundamental entity of nature that is transferred between parts of a system in the production of physical change within the system and usually regarded as the capacity for doing work
: usable power (as heat or electricity); also : the resources for producing such power

Most importantly, energy is quantitative, it's measurable.  When it is measured the units are Joules, calories, BTUs, etc depending on the application (like distance is measured in inches, miles, mm, parsecs, depending on the application).  

So the question is how can something be low calorie (the unit of measure of energy) and high energy at the same time?  It is an easy answer, it can't.  Food energy is heat given off through the digestion/respiration of food.  Food is referred to as food energy.  We eat for energy, flavor and fun ;).  

Fats and ethanol have the greatest amount of food energy per mass, 9 and 7 calories/gram, respectively. Proteins and most carbohydrates have about 4 calories/gram (I am using dietary calories here, which are a kilocal). Carbohydrates that are not easily absorbed, such as fiber or lactose in lactose-intolerant individuals, contribute less food energy. Polyols (including sugar alcohols) and organic acids have less than 4 calories/gram.

So you have to eat 2 grams of sugar to get the same amount of energy as 1 gram of fats.  In (overly) simple terms, you need to eat 2 lbs of sugary foods just to make it through the day, but you'd only need to eat 1 lb of fats for the same energy output.  High fat diet means less food.  

Life advice: You need to solve the macronutrient (aka, carbs, proteins, fats) needs before you ever consider micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

For more on the differences in calories, read:

Monday, May 6, 2013

10 Dangerous Kettlebell Mistakes - be smart!

10 Dangerous Kettlebell Mistakes

Before you grab a kettlebell, make sure you’re not risking serious injury.

Mike Stehle, CPT
Whether you’re a new entry to kettlebell training or are an old hand, injuries can still strike at any time if you’re practicing the moves incorrectly. We asked Mike Stehle, owner of Training Room Onlinewhat common mistakes he sees athletes of all experience levels making.

1. Not following proper movement progression

Too many people attempt exercises they and their bodies are not prepared to properly execute.

Area of risk:

The most common area at risk is usually the back. For example: The kettlebell swing shouldn’t be performed until the deadlift is mastered.

How to avoid:

Be patient with your training and progress slowly. Take up sessions with a coach or trainer to develop a solid, progressive plan.

2. Not maintaining a neutral spine

A neutral spine establishes the correct alignment of the athlete. This must be kept in mind when performing swings, high pulls, clean or snatch.

Area of risk:

The entire spine and surrounding musculature.

How to avoid:

Keep a straight line from your hips to your head. You should be able to lay a broomstick along the entire spine.

3. Taking too wide a stance

All stances are not created equal. Overly extended stances during swings leave several areas vulnerable to injury.

Area of risk:

Hips, knees and lower back.

How to avoid:

Take an athletic stance. An athletic stance can be defined as a stance out of which you would jump.

4. Muscling the bell with the upper body

Overemphasis of upper body muscles during ballistic movements deteriorates exercise flow and can place strain on vulnerable areas.

Area of risk:

Neck, shoulders, lower back.

How to avoid:

Relax the upper body, use a hip snap and lock the knees out with each rep.

5. Training to muscle failure

Training to failure with kettlebells is asking for trouble.

Area of risk:

Whatever area you push to failure is at risk. Form will suffer and lead to injury.

How to avoid:

Stop several reps short of failure.

6. Attempting to rescue a bad repetition

If something doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance it’s not. Stop and put the bell down before paying the price.

Area of risk:

Primarily the lower back.

How to avoid:

Don’t try to force reps. Be conscious of your form and the quality of the reps.

7. Trying to get too fancy

Attempting to invent new movements outside of the basics don’t provide a reward worth the risk.

Area of risk:

Mostly spine, but many things can go wrong when you do wacky things with a kettlebell

How to avoid:

Stick to the basics. They work the best.

8. Using too tight a grip

Death gripping bells are pointless and dangerous with kettlebell ballistic movements.

Area of risk:

Hands and elbows.

How to avoid:

Relax your grip and hold the bell in the hook of the fingers rather than the meat of the hand.

9. Smashing the forearms

Kettlebell cleans and snatches change the bell’s position during a movement—stay in control of the motion so the bell doesn’t fall down and smash into your forearms.

Area of risk:

Lower and upper arms.

How to avoid:

Punch the kettlebell upwards instead of swinging it while relaxing the grip and allowing the bell to gently catch against your forearm.

10. Wearing Improper footwear

Running shoes are for running, not for kettlebells.

Area of risk:

Running shoes raise the heel and can push the knee forward during squats or swing which could possibly contribute to knee injury.

How to avoid:

Train in flat soled shoes or even go barefoot—you’ll be more stable.

Five Reasons to Sign up for a Race

Five Reasons to Sign up for a Race

Through various social channels we asked people what were there best reasons for signing up for a race, in no particular order here are some of the responses:
1. Goals
2. Running for fun
3. Self-accomplishment, to say that you did that
4.Bling and free stuff
5. Incentive/Motivation to run
What is your best reason to sign up for a race?

Read more:
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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Member #2 of the Gaited Community

Devoted mother, yogi, and athlete, Sima Tamaddon practices the importance of a balanced lifestyle for the mind and body. For more information, visit her blog: RX'd Yoga... as Prescribed for a Healthy Life.

After a devastating car accident, yoga helps Sima Tamaddon run again.
By Sima Tamaddon
There are a few moments in my life that truly define who I am: A car accident, the birth of my child, divorce, and running a 50k ultra-marathon—thanks to yoga, that is.
On May 4, 1999, I woke up and went for my standard quick 8-mile run through Charlottesville, Virginia, and then hopped in my car to drive to DC for a job interview, but I never made it. Instead the next thing I knew I was having my jeans cut off by the paramedics and taken to a hospital where I stayed for a week. I had gotten into a car accident and broke every bone in my right leg except for my femur and hip. I had an external fixator put in, and it was pretty nasty to look at. That summer I had three surgeries, read a ton of books, watched a lot of movies, and slept most of the days away.
For years I held on to the thought that I was broken. To this day, my doctor tells me it was the worst talus fracture he has ever seen. Afraid to cause more damage, I left my passion for running behind. I tried physical therapy to get me back in shape but it wasn't enough. Heeding my doctor's advice, I decided to try yoga.
Admittedly, I was apprehensive. Coming from a running background, I sought competitive exercise that made me sweat and burn. What would yoga do for me?
In my first yoga class, I looked around the room and realized how little I knew. I thought I would never be able to create the shapes of those around me. Like when running, I was stuck comparing and competing. However, it was the continuous flow of my vinyasa practice that began to quiet my mind. My comparisons lessened, and I became a little more comfortable with where I was at the moment. I was healing. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually.
My practice developed over the past 13 years. Beginning with a scattered yoga schedule, I soon advanced to practicing two to four times per week. I now practice almost everyday, sometimes merely doing Sun Salutations, other times venturing through a full practice.
During this time I got married, had a baby, and got divorced. Yoga was my one constant. I practiced mostly vinyasa, with some Ashtanga, Anusara, and restorative thrown in the mix. But I still craved my first passion: running. Although I was healing through yoga, I was afraid to run. I didn't want to be broken again.
Through continued yoga practice I began to find a steadiness and assertion in myself—a sense of trust in my body and mind. Soon my yoga practice blossomed from a sometimes-yogi to a devoted student and then to a teacher. The asanas were there to ground and greet me, but it was the self-discovery, the uncovering of layers, that were potent. I was shape shifting physically and mentally.
Through yoga, I gained the realization that no body is "perfect" and in some ways we all have our breaks and cracks. With this understanding, I knew it was time to return to running. In 2009, I began again. I started running two times a week with my goal set on completing a 50k ulta-marathon. In 2012, I reached the starting line and began a run that would challenge me physically and mentally.
At mile 20, fears spun in my head: "You haven't prepared enough," "You're too weak," "You can't do this." But as one foot continued to reach in front of the next, I realized how far I had come not just on this run, but also in life. Like a mantra moving me forward, I began to repeat: "You can do this. You can do this." With this steady and meditative encouragement—step by step, breath by breath—I made it to the finish line.
I will always deal with the long-term effects from my accident. I have osteoarthritis and my right ankle will always be bigger than my left. But the truth is, I am grateful for the impact the accident had on my life. I realized that whether it be suffering from a broken leg or a broken heart, in some ways we are all broken. I am not the most flexible or the strongest, or the most dedicated yogi. I am still learning from my students, my teachers, and myself. Running—like yoga—is meditative and brings me to a clearer state. I thought I had room for only one in my life, but together they ground me.