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0 comments on “Making Kids into Champions”

Making Kids into Champions

In previous posts, I have talked about getting kids out into nature and ways to help our kids become primal, remove screen time and develop into awesome humans. You can read that here, Helping kids behave better, concentrate harder and become Primal, and helping children develop a love of sport, movement and fitness. Today’s post continues the Primal Kids theme exploring the developmental benefits of physically active kids.

Children, even newborns, should be given every opportunity to move without physical restriction. Training to become an athlete starts in infancy and continues throughout life as children become involved with a variety of activities. Unfortunately this process of development most of the time does not go how nature intended. With the prevalence of screens, Ipads, phones, computer games, and on demand TV we are intentionally, or maybe unintentionally, discouraging children from becoming great athletes. This is especially detrimental when paired with the abundance of junk food available, not just the takeaway variety, but also any processed food containing sugar, grains or vegetable oils.

Instead we should be making room for play and roaming, letting children crawl, run, climb and jump to their heart’s content. (Making sure that it’s safe, of course!) According to Dr Phil Maffetone, a highly respected doctor, coach of endurance athletes and primal guru, a wide variety of physical movements are vital to the neuromuscular progress and necessities for the brain, with early physical activity ultimately making the child better at math, science, music, coordination and having better social skills.

While great health and fitness during childhood may lead to great athletic performance later in life, a key reason for a child’s fitness being so important, according to Maffetone in his 2015 book, the Endurance Handbook, is because “fitness is widely regarded as a powerful marker of current and future cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and mental health”.  What this means is, the more fitness and all round play a child engages in early in their life, the better their health, muscle and bone development, and social skills will be.

There is obviously a difference between how adults train and how children train. Children need a wide range of activities and movements. As they grow through the first decade of their life, natural development and interest will lead to participation in a variety of sports and activities. I think this is healthy for their development in fitness and as athletes. Having children try a wide variety of activities such as swimming, riding bikes, gymnastics, coordinated ball sports, running, climbing and playing on the various apparatus at playgrounds will help develop a great, functional athlete. There is always time for a child to learn and take up specific sports once they have a good grasp of co-ordination, movement through various planes and balance. All sports need these fundamentals and getting kids to stick to a specific sport or sports may be making them too one dimensional.

According to Dr. Maffetone there are two important factors when it comes to children transitioning into good adolescent athletes. These are:

  • Cross Training: From birth until about 20 years of age the body undergoes dramatic changes. Physical activity plays a huge part in this development. The more variety of movement the better the development. This he attributes to muscle and bone growth, hormone balance, immune function and brain maturation. At certain ages selected sports activities may be of more interest, such as riding bikes, swimming, running, soccer. But variety and cross training continues to be important.
  • Active Fun:  This one is pretty simple – the process of having fun whilst being active. Encouraging play, climbing, and movement. This may be the most important guideline for kids!

While I think team sports have their place for children, I don’t think we as parents need to be pushing them so hard to be great athletes at an early age. With natural love of movement, coordination and balance, kids will inevitably gravitate to sports they like. Some children develop at faster rates than others so we really can’t predict who will ultimately be a great athlete from how they are at 4, 6, 8, 10 maybe even 12 years of age. Pushing kids into training and sports may seem helpful but if the child is not on board this could be more of a hindrance and they may develop a dislike of activity.

Like Dr Maffetone says, having active fun may be the most important guideline for the development of the athletic child!

0 comments on “Eating Really is Cheating”

Eating Really is Cheating

person holding corona bottle

When it comes to drinking alcohol, the old saying “eating is cheating” you used to throw around when you were young and out on the town is not so far from the truth.

Today, I wanted to talk about alcohol, drinking habits and how it relates to health, particularly weight gain and how eating could really be cheating when it comes to alcohol consumption. I have discussed alcohol briefly before in my 5 tips for avoiding weight gain over the holidays and does Christmas really make you fat but today I’m going to go a little bit deeper.

When we look at the literature and studies of alcohol consumption, we can see that in populations that have a no alcohol or a moderate one to two drink per day intake, there isn’t a huge correlation to gaining weight or obesity.  On the flip-side, populations with heavy drinking or binge drinking habits have been pretty closely linked with gaining weight and obesity. This also tends to lead to inflammatory adiposity, meaning you are not only gaining weight through subcutaneous fat (under the skin) of the arms and legs, you are creating more inflammatory fat around the midline – the well known beer belly.

Let’s consider what happens when you consume alcohol.  Your body sees the alcohol as a toxin and makes that the primary metabolic source of fuel over and above anything else that you consume at the time. The body seeks to convert the toxin to energy and burn it up as a way to remove it from the body. It prefers alcohol energy over all others as it is aiming to remove the danger from the body.

This simultaneously inhibits fat oxidation.  It spares the burning of fat as fuel, therefore, leading to fat storage and long term weight gain. However, this only occurs when other fuel is being consumed by the body. So if you are eating whilst consuming alcohol, the body preferences getting rid of the toxin and stores the rest of the energy (carbohydrate, fat and protein) in the muscles and liver and then as adipose tissue in fat.

According to Ben Greenfield “If you were at a caloric deficit and alcohol is being consumed as a primary source of your calories, you should be more concerned about the liver, the inflammation, and the amount of acetaldehyde, the toxic byproduct of alcohol metabolism more than you should be concerned about weight gain.” So although eating with drinking causes you to store body fat, drinking on its own causes oxidative stress and inflammation all over the body, especially the liver as it deals with the toxin.

All of this means that timing your drinking is important. Allowing your body time to first process the alcohol and not have to process the energy from the food is a good idea. Having a pre dinner drink, rather than a drink with your dinner, would be a better option and only having one or two in total. So, for those who have prescribed to the eating is cheating philosophy in their younger years – it may not a complete farse. You may have used it when you were young to sound cool and tough, but ironically, it may actually work again in middle age to try and help avoid the dad bod or beer belly!

We also know that alcohol influences many different hormones and, what appears to occur, is that alcohol can increase appetite and influence hunger by acting on the serotonin pathways in the brain, sending hunger signals.  It can inhibit the response of leptin, the hormone responsible for telling you that you are full, or have eaten enough, resulting in overeating! Therefore, heavier alcohol consumption will suppress your appetite-regulating hormones and increase some of the hormones responsible for appetite.  So alcohol consumption is leading to weight gain by default, by messing with your hormones!

The other weight gaining factor for alcohol is the high fructose, sugar and calorie content. Four to five  standard drinks could add another 2000 plus calories to your daily intake. This is easily similar to, if not  larger than the amount of calories in a meal. It is like you are adding another meal or two to your daily intake! It also may lower your inhibitions, resulting in poor food choices in regards to the meal you are eating, like that late night kebab as you stumble home!

So, how do I avoid weight gain… light to moderate levels of drinking seems to have some longevity benefits especially if you’re drinking a nutrient-dense form of alcohol, such as red wine.  In addition, drinking on an empty stomach when the liver’s glycogen stores are empty, is probably going to help you out with the potential weight gain from alcohol.  Analysing your genetics to see if you should be taking certain supplement stacks or certain antioxidants like glutathione is something else you good do to negate the bad effects of alcohol.

So if you plan on drinking, consider these tips:

  • Do it in a fasted state on an empty stomach – eatin’ is cheatin’!
  • Take extra antioxidants to counteract the inflammatory and oxidation response, something like glutathione.
  • Don’t eat whilst drinking, that adds to the calorie count and to the storage of fat. (But remember to monitor your standard drinks and drink responsibly).
  • Consider a nutrient dense form of alcohol, like red wine.
  • And for longevity, don’t have more than one or two drinks at a time.

0 comments on “Motivation”

Motivation

achievement activity adolescent arms
I am here to help you get your mojo back.
I have recently written about being fit, ready and active for anything life throws at you.
Being ready to perform feats of strength, endurance and fitness without really training specifically for it. But what to do if you have lost total motivation
I understand that after big breaks from fitness, whether its due to injury, illness, holiday or completing the race you had trained months and months to do, it is super hard to get back to it, especially if there are no goals or races you are working towards. Hopefully you can get your motivation back and hit the race courses soon.
 
I have compiled a little list of things that help me get motivated to run or workout:
1. Buy some new gear- go shopping, get some new workout gear, shoes or even a new watch with all the gadgets!
2. Lose the gear- probably contradicts the first one on the list but sometimes is great just to workout or run without the numbers, without worrying about your pace or total kilometres or calories burnt. Just get out there and exercise with no tech!
3. Chose a different activity- try swimming if you never swim or mountain biking or Stand up paddle boarding- just the act of variety might keep things interesting and you may even fall in love with a new sport or activity.
4. Watch a documentary or read a exercise based book- my favourites docs recently have been the Barkely Marathons, the Fittest on Earth-its about Crossfit but still good (they are on Netflix I think), Rise of the Sufferfests (about OCR), Books like Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karanazes are also great. 
5. Read a few blog posts for ideas- www.breakingmuscle.com/fitness/4-tips-for-getting-your-mojo-back-running-mojo-that-is was a good one I found after a quick search.
6. Do Nothing- thats right, sometimes taking a step back and doing nothing for a little while will make you realise you do love exercising and you do like working out. You will come back around in your own time!
7. Get outside- go for a walk, get outside with your dog and family, do some hiking, make exercise less structured and more lets have some fun moving outdoors!
Hope that helps you get back out there…
In the coming weeks I will write about the Bravehearts 777 Marathon and you will see how that ties into being ready for anything and my personal experience with being ready to perform!

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

0 comments on “3 More Things a Primal Athlete Does to be “Fit for Life””

3 More Things a Primal Athlete Does to be “Fit for Life”

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During our period of no defined race goals and just getting back into exercising I thought I would touch on the next three important areas we should focus on to make you a good all-round athlete that can perform any given activity at any given time when called upon That might be an intense Crossfit session, a long run or even a swim. Last week I discussed the first three key concepts to focus on. These where Get Strong, Exercise Long and Run easy. The next big three are Sprint, mobility and rest. If you look at the Primal Blueprint, the 10 must do Laws developed by Mark Sisson to become “Primal” you will notice my to do list is very similar. From an evolutionary stand point it makes sense that we follow, as close as we can in this modern life, the things that helps us evolve into the people we are today. It makes sense to get stronger, to eat good, healthy unprocessed foods like meats, vegetables and fruit and it makes sense to perform long slow endurance activities. It also makes sense to sprint once in a while, to be agile and mobile to avoid predators. It also makes sense that we get adequate rest and recovery so we are able to perform these tasks again and again.

#4 Sprint

Once every week, try and perform a high intensity sprint workout. This could be as simple as 5-10 all out sprints over 50-100 metres. It could be up a hill, on sand dunes, at the beach or around a 400m track. Even repeated, intense intervals on a bike. These short bursts of intense activity increase the level of human growth hormone and testosterone. These adaptive hormones are released to improve the body so that if this kind of intensity is needed again in the future the body is better adapted and ready to perform.

#5 Mobility

This isn’t so much a Primal Blueprint law, but it would be on my list of must do’s for a modern athlete. Being able to perform when called upon relies on the fact that you are fit and able to do the activity required of you. If you are injured, imbalanced or inflexible you might not be able to perform to the best of your ability, you might be in pain or may even injury yourself due to being muscularly imbalanced. This is the reason why I believe it is imperative to perform corrective exercises, foam rolling and strengthening exercises 2-3 times per week.

#6 Rest and Recover

The body needs time to rest, recover and adapt from the hard workout or exercise in able to perform better the next time it is called upon to perform that task. Exercise in itself is a stress on the body. It creates (good) inflammation and oxidative stress that the body must then heal itself to become better. The problem is if we keep piling up hard, intense workout after hard intense workout the body becomes too stressed and overwhelmed by the oxidation that exercise becomes detrimental. That is why I like to prescribe no more than 4 workouts per week (in periods of no defined race goals or the “off season”) so it gives your body a day or two to recover. Performing exercises like Stand Up Paddle Boarding or long hikes are a good way to “actively recover” by doing something that is less intense but still gets the body moving at much lower heart rate intensity. Recovery doesn’t mean doing nothing. In fact that is much worse. Keep active, move around but just keep that intensity down!