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Flipping the 24s

A colleague of mine asked why I’ve been doing kettlebell flips so much lately. There are a number of things that set this exercise protocol apart from traditional resistance training. In addition to the pure strength, conditioning and hypertrophic adaptations, kettlebell juggling and flipping:

1. Challenges hand-eye coordination
2. Satisfies the mind’s desire for skill-acquisition
3. Involves aspects of fun and play, which are lacking in many exercise protocols

4-Ingredient Green Juice

Quick and easy…

1. Kale
2. Apple
3. Parsley
4. Cucumber

Do it!!!

HOW TO: Kettlebell Backward Flip and Catch

Kettlebell training improves your grip, builds muscle, develops explosive strength, and tones your body.  Flipping a kettlebell develops hand-eye coordination, mental focus, and is lots of fun.

Here’s how:

1. Master the kettlebell swing.

2. Master the high pull.

3. Err on the side of releasing high, as this will give you more time to catch the bell during its freefall.

4. Center your grip on the handle, not near the horn as in a regular grip.

5. Your eyes must remain on the kettlebell at all times during the flip. Distraction is the main reason for drops.

6. If possible, practice outdoors on grass or dirt, cuz you’re gonna drop it.  Don’t do this at your gym.

7. Don’t even think about this if you’re an uncoordinated, non-athletic noob.

Bright Idea…Turn Off The Lights

Artificial light is totally harshing your health, bro.

We’ve been jolted into unnatural periods of alertness since the invention of electric light in the late 1800’s. Today, indoor lighting, televisions, smart phones, tablets and computer screens unrelentingly bombard the photoreceptors in our eyes, long after the night sky has gone black. This stimulation is pretty annoying to our natural circadian rhythm, as it funks with melatonin production. If you think your sweet satin eye-mask is gonna save you, think again. Even dim, ambient light manages to creepily haunt your dreams.

The bad news is that this doesn’t just leave you feeling tired. It leaves you at a higher risk of LOADS of conditions including cancers, type 2 diabeetus, and obesity. Adjusting our sleep habits to more closely follow the rhythm of the day/night cycle is as important as avoiding Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

7 things to help you sleep naturally:

1. Turn down the lights at sunset. (I use a dimmer in almost every room, so I can haz twilight.)

2. Use blackout curtains to keep your bedroom pitch dark, and turn off all lights, no matter how small and dim. (Yes, even the tiniest LED can negatively affect your sleep.)

3. Turn off the TV, computer monitor, and all mobile devices one hour before you go to bed.

4. Download this app for your computer: http://stereopsis.com/flux/

5. Dim or set your ipad or e-reader to nighttime mode before reading at night.

6. Wake at the same time every day.  (I use 2 bright spotlights plugged into a timer, to simulate the rising sun. I’m not joking.)

7. Try Blue-Blockers!

Light bulbs and computers are obviously awesome, and I, for one, don’t want to revert to campfires and torches. However, amidst the difficult, primal conditions of the Stone Age, we can find precious ancient experience and virtuous principles. Some of these features must come back into fashion if we want to experience harmonious health and balance within our lives.

Sweet dreams!

Shoe Review: Vivobarefoot Neo Trail Men’s

Vivobarefoot Neo Trail Men's

The type of shoe I choose to wear depends, largely, on the specific activity in which I am to engage, and the features of the particular surface, underfoot. Lately, I’ve been testing several models of, so-called, minimal shoes. The idea behind minimal or, “barefoot,” shoes is simple. In fact, “simplicity,” is the main concept underlying minimal shoe design and function.

Human architecture and biomechanics are the result of more than just a few years of evolution. Since the day our shaggy forebears peeked their heads up over the tops of tall grasses, our bones, muscles, and connective tissues have been evolving to equip us with a seamless, efficient relationship with the most jagged, slippery or uneven landscape. The job of a good shoe is to keep the foot performing safely on a particular terrain, while neither interfering with perception of the ground nor affecting proper coordinated movement. After a week of testing this shoe, I’m not a bit reluctant to say that it’s one of the best I’ve ever owned.

The Vivobarefoot Neo Trail is designed for just what its name suggests; trail running. I spend a lot of time off-road, but I mostly keep my running, jumping, lunging, and squatting to flat, synthetic surfaces, roads, and some grass. It’s not that I don’t enjoy trail running. I just happen to live in New York City, where the terrain is, regrettably…city.

The shoe has an extremely rugged outsole, rigged with multidirectional lugs which are designed to grip terrain. These cleat-like lugs (attatched to Vivobarefoot’s ultra-thin, puncture-resistant sole) feel like they’re giving my foot an advantage in sturdiness, even on pavement and gym flooring. Everything from sprinting to deadlifting feels awesomely natural and well-grounded.

The zigzag, lace-lock structure of the upper shoe looks like something Batman would wear to soccer practice. It’s damn badass and tough-looking for a zero-drop shoe. As secure as my foot feels, the first thing I noticed when I tested the shoe, was the ample roominess in the toe box. In retrospect, it was this unrestricted opportunity for my toes to splay and my foot to flex, which instantly sold me on this shoe. Since I picked up the Vivobarefoot Neo Trail Men’s shoe a week ago, I’ve been nothing less than elated to look great and move naturally as I rip through workouts, pedal my bike, and zip past poorly-hoofed pedestrians on the sidewalk.

Gluten Glutton

Bad GrainsBagels, pizza, pasta, cookies, cakes, and beer. I love each of these blessed morsels. Alas, new science is showing that these non-ancestral “foods,” are brutally unhealthy and quite literally, addictive. Omitting wheat-containing foods from my diet has set into motion a revolution in my physical fitness and provided me with an abundance of balance and clarity in my emotional well-being and cognition. It’s my desire and duty to share the science behind how and why this can make your life better. Hopefully, I will convince you to join me and enjoy the benefits of a diet which mimics that of our primitive ancestors.

I believe we must rediscover the natural reservoir of health, enjoyed by the robust and vigorous members of our ancient family.

Modern wheat has been hybridized and manipulated over several millennia and now bears only a vague likeness to its ancestor, Einkorn. More recently, scientists have taken wheat engineering off the farm and into the test tube, creating a variety of hardy, energy-dense, “Frankengrains.” An unfortunate result of this experimentation is the increased content of metabolic toxins and anti-nutrients which play a major role in the proliferation of, “diseases of affluence.” The most notorious molecular offender is gluten. Gluten, which has been linked to a condition known as, “Leaky-Gut Syndrome,” (permeability of the gut wall) is a protein composite which helps make bread spongy and keep a round shape as it rises. One insidious effect of Leaky-Gut is that it allows for the passage of large food molecules and bacteria into the bloodstream. As a result, antibodies seek out these presumably pathogenic invaders and mount a wicked immune assault. This abnormal and chronic immune response can cause fatigue, mental fog, headaches, bloating and even depressive/anxiety symptoms. Not surprisingly, Einkorn, wheat’s grand-daddy, has only a small amount of gluten.

Have you ever wondered why bread is sometimes called a, “comfort food?”  It’s AN ADDICTIVE DRUG!  The digestion of wheat results in the release of opiate-like exorphins. When these molecules reach the brain, they bind to opiate receptors, resulting in drug-like interactions, similar to the effects of opiate drugs such as heroin and morphine. As with most addictive agents, there may be withdrawal upon cessation of use, leading to cravings, binging and in the long run, weight gain. Indeed, there is increasing data to suggest that wheat is smack.

I could go on about my personal experience, having lost 30 lbs, my increased energy levels, and my major mood improvement, but I’m just one example. Do your own quick Google research. You’ll find stories of people whose health, wellness, and success have gone 180 degrees, in response to quitting wheat.

For some people, quitting wheat can be as hard as quitting cigarettes. The health benefit is at least as substantial, in terms of owning a healed body and harnessing a wellspring of life-energy, from within.

My challenge to you is simple… Try quitting ALL GRAINS (not just wheat) for 30 days. You may undergo physical and mental turmoil while attempting to quit, but if you don’t feel awesome after 30 days, I’ll eat my gluten-free hat. Leave a comment below, as your commitment to wellness begins. I’ll be here to encourage you and answer questions.

Keep Ya Chin Up, Ya Slouch!

When I was still an unruly whippersnapper, I was pestered to, “sit up straight,” and, “stand up tall.”  My dad, a football coach and biology/anatomy instructor, probably had more than my outward appearance in mind, when he gave me these posture-boosting cues.  Clearly, he didn’t appreciate my mimicry of the decidedly careless, drowsy poses conveyed by my Alt-Rock idols.

There are 2 fundamental causes of postural dysfunction. Broadly speaking, these stem from either a physical or psychological origin. Whether you feel overwhelmed and stressed, or you simply have bad habits, it can be tough to, “keep your chin up.”

Your neck and back have a lot of work to do…all day, every day. Keeping your hefty braincase from toppling around like a bobble-head is burdensome and takes constant coordination, strength and endurance from the muscles of your back and neck.  Once these muscles begin to lose wind, they drop your head and shoulders forward, like a marionette with its string cut. Other, less efficient muscles step in to help, but theirs is a losing battle.

Sitting for hours at a desk is particularly troublesome for your physique.  This is just one example of how the sedentary lifestyle ultimately violates human health.   It’s a good idea to take frequent movement/stretch breaks.  Better yet, quit your horrible, life-sucking job and get outdoors.  Keep in mind that even during walking, running and sleeping, postural habits like slouching take lots of practice to break.

Strengthening the muscles that keep your shoulder blades stable is a necessary step to improve your posture.

scapularretractionThe most basic form of scapular retraction requires no equipment.  Perform this exercise frequently throughout your day for sets of 15 reps.

Correct anatomical posture involves keeping the ears, shoulders and hips in line.  You don’t need to look like the Queen’s personal security guard, so keep it a bit relaxed.  The human spine is designed to have a soft, “S,” shape.

6 cues for good posture:

1. Keep your weight on the balls of the feet, not on the heels. Don’t lock your knees.

2. Keep your feet about shoulder width apart.

3. Let your arms hang at your sides.

4. Tuck your chin slightly and keep your head level. (Be sure your head is balanced over your neck and spine.)

5. Stand tall, with your shoulders slightly back and down.

6. Stand against a wall with your head, shoulders and buttocks touching wall. (Keep this in mind as you use your mobile electronics.)

Obviously, if you stand and walk like a chimp on a Nyquil bender, people will make assumptions about your cognitive capacity, emotional stability, and maybe even your bodily hygiene.  While avoiding social repudiation is typically wise, so is staying out of musculoskeletal pain.  Your muscles and joints are well designed and robust, but they can support your wilted carriage only briefly before they bail on you, leaving you in discomfort.

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