Motivation

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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

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

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What happens when you train hard for months with a race goal in mind, you get there perform well and then… what do you do after the event? Keep training hard, no worries? Or are you like most folks… do you lose motivation, stop training, have a few weeks off and then really struggle to get back into it.
This led me to think what is your motivation in the off season or with no race goal in mind.
Without having a race or specific goal in mind I keep motivated by the idea that if friends rang up and said lets go for a hike, a mountain bike ride, for a swim, a surf, to the gym to lift weights or a run I would be able to keep up, would I have enough fitness to finish the activity and not be too sore the next day!
This also made me think about what makes a good all round athlete. I have discussed it before about being a good “life all rounder” and what things we need to do to be able to be a good all round fit human that could do any activity at the drop of a hat. Sometimes with no specific goal or race to work towards, trying to get back the fitness you had is hard. It is hard to find the motivation to get out there and exercise. What are the things we should do to be a fit, healthy all round everyday athlete?
So three things I try and do are…

#1 Get stronger

This one is a no-brainer: stronger athletes are faster, less likely to get injured, and bounce back from hard runs or exercise quicker than those who don’t do any strength exercises. One of the Primal Blueprint Laws outlined by Mark Sisson is to be more like our primal hunter gatherer ancestors and to Lift Heavy Things.

This is great in theory, but how exactly do you get stronger? What exercises are best? When should you do them?

The three strength routines I do each serve a purpose and each one is athlete-specific and should make you stronger and faster.

The MSP (maximum sustained power) is a power/stamina workout for endurance athletes. It is designed to avoid muscle fatigue on the back end of long exercise. It builds strength in all the areas that athletes need, like the hips, glutes, abs, and lower back.

The Runner Specific Workout is a more challenging strength workout that focuses on hip and glute strength. These muscles are critical for injury prevention and speed, power and endurance during your runs (or any activity).

The Upper Body Strength Workout is specifically designed to increase the strength that you will need during your Spartan Races like grip strength, upper body strength, and the ability to carry odd loads. It helps functional fitness and strength and has a cross over into life in general. It should make you more mobile, injury free, more resilient and be able to carry out daily task with seemingly less effort. Exercises include the bench press, the deadlift, squats, presses and carries.

#2 Exercise Long-Endurance 

Most athletes need more endurance. If you take that simple concept to heart, you WILL run faster.

See, too many runners think they have to run faster to race faster. But most of the problem is not being able to maintain a fast pace – and that’s a problem of endurance.

And the long run is one of the best ways to develop that endurance. On your long runs aim to run 5-7 kilometres longer than your next longest runs of the week.

Even if you’re not training for a race, it helps to run one long run per week that’s about 20-30% of your weekly mileage. Keep working at it and focus on very gradual increases in distance every 1-2 weeks. This concept can be used for developed endurance for life in general and being able to run, swim, bike, hike etc when called upon and can be used for any endurance exercise.

#3 Run EASY!

As you are aware my training philosophy is in alignment with the Primal Endurance principle of making your easy days really easy, and your hard days harder.

Polarizing your training this way helps you gain more fitness on hard days while boosting recovery on easy days.

Not sure what “easy” really means? Just follow the “3 C’s” of easy running. Easy runs should be:

  • Comfortable
  • Controlled
  • Conversational

Prioritizing recovery and mobility on easy days will help you run even faster during more challenging workouts – and ultimately, your races.

These three strategies can help you cut your injury risk, gain more endurance, run a lot faster and be ready for any type of exercise when its needed.

I could add #4 Sprint, #5 Work on Your Mobility and #6 Rest and Recover to the things good all round athletes do but we might talk about those next week…
An example of a non specific race training week for me might look like this
1x Long Endurance Run of an hour plus.
1x Strength (Running specific, MSP or Resistance workout)
1x Easy Run or Sprint- less than 45 minutes
1x Body Weight Workout- 5 Rounds for time of…
  • Wide Push Ups (chest) 8

    Mountain climbers (abs) 20 each leg

    Side lunges (Legs) 6 each side

    Plank (abs) 30 sec

    Burpees (Full body) 8

    Air squats (Legs) 

    Bench Dips (arms) 15

    Rest 2 min

Live Primal and Minimalism

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Living primally and minimalism fit well together. Once you have begun to live a more primal lifestyle you will understand that is simplifies your life, gives you focus and “declutters” your health, nutrition, exercise, movement and lifestyle.

Live Primal is about making things easier; simplifying your eating, exercise, and lifestyle to reflect the ancestral patterns of our hunter gatherer past. You can’t get much more minimalist than that.

Primal living is a simple approach to eating, training, moving and living. It is minimalism for life. It helps to cut away the excess, the unwanted and the unneeded to make things easier and add more value to your life. By reducing grains, sugars and industrial oils you are making it is an easier way to eat and adds value to your life by increasing your health, decreasing inflammation and making you feel better. Simplified eating is eating real, unprocessed, whole foods and ultimately eating nothing that comes wrapped in plastic. This in itself helps declutter with no packaging!

It is a simplified, minimalist way for exercising. There are three pillars of exercising to the Live Primal ethos:

  1. Sprint once in a while– do a hard 5-7 all out sprints workout every 7-10 days. This replicates being chased by a predator and helps shaped our evolution as it made us quick and most of all lean. Nothing cuts you up like sprinting.
  2. Lift Heavy Things- Lifting heavy things increases strength and muscle mass. Our ancestors would have moved rocks and logs around daily for shelter and protector.
  3. Perform long slow endurance- if our ancestors weren’t being chased by lions or lifting log around to build shelter they would’ve been performing long, slow endurance to hunt, catch food and to move locations during different seasons.

Getting out in nature, getting out in sunlight, enjoying play, going barefoot are all primal lifestyle approaches that are mnimalist and add value to your life.

PLAY:

Aim to get out and just “play”, no structured workouts, gadgets and unwind from your daily grind. What ever this may be, enjoy yourself, live in the moment and have fun. It may be spontaneous decision to go kayaking or paddle boarding or a trip to the beach.  For us adults the idea of play has been forgotten, we are told you are too old for that, or you need to buckle down and focus on work. However, in this day and age unwinding from the stress of the day is vital to our health.

Play necessitates mental modeling, critical thinking, and creative innovation. It helps decrease stress and contribute to overall physical and mental health.

Rediscover Nature: spend time in nature and you will find our involuntary awareness takes over, senses are highlighted, sounds quieter, eyesight is more expansive and sense of smell more acute. Being in nature reverses the effect of “Direct Attention Fatigue (DAF)” or always being on the go! Attention Restorative Theory is the counter to DAF and it is believed that regular frequent exposure to tranquil, natural settings help to increase the amount of Natural Killer Cells or NK cells. These are lymphocytes that fight off infection.

Negative Ions, tiny highly reactive molecules that energize the body, are found in nature where the water, wind and sun split molecules in the air. These molecules are vital for reducing pollution and helping to reduce inflammation in the body. Nature, especially where there is water, have copious amounts of negative ions, where as our homes, cities and workplaces have large numbers of positive ions and almost no negative ions.

So get out in nature, hike, kayak, go play to get the enormous benefits of stress relief, decreased inflammation and increase in feel good hormones.

Earthing: is the belief that the Schumann Resonance or the earth’s natural vibration holds many health benefits. Earthing entails making direct contact with the earth, not pavement but natural earth like grass, dirt, soil and sand. It is believed that the natural vibrations help with moderating the circadian rhythm (so a better nights sleep) and moderating the stress hormone cortisol. So this week try going barefoot as much as possible and get out into nature with direct skin contact with the earth! See next weeks post about the earthing qualities of “Glacial Water”.

These easy simple overarching ways to exercise are simple, you don’t need a gym or any fancy equipment and they add value to your health, adds years to your life and you can enjoy it more as you feel better, move well without injury and are more resilient.

Living primal is a simple approach to nutrition, exercise and movement that declutters the excess and adds value to your life-the definition of minimalism.

 

The Ketogenic Diet

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Welcome to my three part series on one of the most talked about diets in fitness, nutrition and healthy living; the Ketogenic Diet…

One of the biggest “trends” in nutrition at the moment is the ketogenic diet or as you may have heard to referred, Keto. I say trends in inverted commas because this is one diet that I believe should be here to stay.

The term ketogenic comes from the term ketones, which are the molecules that fuel your body when you are in ketosis, or when you are eating following a low carb high fat protocol. Ketones are a by-product of when your body burns fat and they are what your cells use for energy.

There are numerous peer reviewed research papers that suggest the ketogenic diet fixes a number of metabolic syndrome conditions like poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes as well as weight issues and there is even evidence it helps autism, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and a host of other neurodegenerative disorders

The reason why I like it is for weight loss, lifestyle and long term control of weight.

There is currently a ketogenic diet revolution underway and its only going to gain strength. I believe it should be the way of the future for helping the obesity epidemic currently facing the world.

 For decades we have been told that the healthy diet is smaller portions, fewer calories, lower our fat intake, eat whole grains and limit meat consumption. There is a disturbing lack of evidence that this is true, in fact it could be the opposite.

But what is the Ketogenic diet?

At the most basic level the keto diet is one that relies on fat as the main source of energy. That may not sound like a big deal but most people are burning glucose or sugar for fuel and consuming large amounts of carbohydrates, sometimes as often as 300-500g per day, to meet those needs.

Burning fat as a fuel source is a much healthier and more efficient metabolic tool for improving health. Dr Steve Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek, experts in the field of exercise and low carb high fat (LCHF) eating, note that sugar burners have approximately 2000 calories of available in their body whereas fat burners have about 40,000 calories worth of fuel.

To get your body to prefer fat as its fuel source it requires you to restrict carbohydrates (to somewhere below 50 grams per day), eat moderate amounts of protein and eat as much fat as it takes to feel satiated or full. It take a few weeks to become fat adapted, possibly up to about two months according to Jimmy Moore, podcaster for livin’ the vida low carb and author of several excellent books on keto and keto cooking. To me it makes sense that if you want to burn fat, you need to feed your body fat and become fat adapted. Calorie counting and exercise do not work for long term weight loss. The keto diet, where you are changing you bodies fuel pathway sources to prefer fat over carbohydrates, means you will burn fat as your primary energy source and therefore, lose weight and keep it off.

Part 2 in the series looks at how the ketogenic will heal your body…

Why Grains Are Bad

Grains

There several reasons grains are bad…

Reason 1: It perpetuates a reliance on Carbohydrate for Energy.

 All forms of ingested carbohydrates convert to glucose and spike insulin production.

 Insulin is a mater hormone and released from the pancreas. It facilitates metabolic and hormone functions by transporting nutrients through the blood to cells and organs.

 Grains are a cheap, quick and easy source of glucose but the constant consumption of grains and carbohydrates cause what I like to call a “carb cycle”. Grains, once ingested are quickly converted to glucose. Those carbs not used for immediate energy are stored in the liver or the muscles as glycogen. Once glucose stores in the liver and muscles are full the excess is sent to fat storage. This, in turn increase cortisol (the hormone responsible for the fight or flight response), which taxes the adrenal and immune systems, pancreas and promotes systemic inflammation.

 In a short space of time, the body has ingested energy in the form of carbohydrates, used what it needed for immediate energy, stored the excess in the liver, muscles and fat and now believes it has no energy again. This sends a signal to the brain via a hormone called ghrelin to say we are hungry again. So we eat more carbs and the cycle continues every few hours.

 The human body has used fat as its primary source of energy for thousands, maybe millions of years of evolution. If we can train our body to rely on fat as a fuel source again, we will never be hungry, due to the millions of calories of energy stored in fat on our body. If we can eliminate grains as a source of immediate energy and shift our body to prefer fat as our energy source, we will have less inflammation, better immune function and less gastrointestinal issues.

The amount of insulin you produce influences if you store or burn fat, if we can reduce the spike of insulin, we can control our hunger and fat storage.

An increase in insulin results in accelerated cell division, which is said to increase ageing and the deregulation of healthy cell division, which is linked to an increase in cancer risk and perpetuates the “carb cycle”.

Reason 2: Anti-Nutrients!

 Anti-nutrients are agents present in grains that compromise health.

Lectins: are a natural phytochemical toxin that plants manufacture to defend against UV radiation, predators and microorganisms and are found in higher concentrations in the seeds of plants.

They have a toxic effect when ingested, decrease immune function and gut barriers (causing leaky gut syndrome) and increase inflammation.

They also bind with insulin receptors and deregulate both fat storage and appetite meaning they spike insulin and increase fat storage.

Lectins contain prolamin and agglutinins, which clump red blood cells together. This damages the microvilli or the brush borders of your small intestine, causing undigested particles of food (effectively poop) to leak through the lining of the SI out into your body causing irritability and inflammation.

 

Gluten: is a prolamin form of lectin. It triggers a mild to severe inflammation in the body. It compromises digestion and immune function.

Oats, (avenin) Rice (orzenin) and corn (zein), all contain lectins that contribute to leaky gut.

 

Phytates: are undigestable compounds found in whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. They bind to important minerals and make it difficult for those minerals to be absorbed. They do contain some anti oxidants and can be helpful in small amounts.

Saponins: are anti nutrients found in legumes. They are a chemical defense for plants. They permeate the gut cell membrane, causing leaky gut. Soy is especially high in these type of lectins which also contain phyto estrogens which disrupt sex hormones in males and females.

Overall, there is no real reason for us to consume grains. They contribute to elevated levels of insulin and blood glucose, two factors which have been heavily linked to issues with our immune system, metabolic syndromes such as diabetes, inflammation, ageing and increased free radicals. They also contain anti nutrients and plant phytochemicals which are responsible for damaging the tight junctions in our stomach and small intestine lining.