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40 minutes | 6 days ago
Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training for Brain Optimization PH171
“When we think about exercise in general as sort of a hermetic stressor, it just makes sense to think about, if you’re going to do it at a higher intensity and have these repeated hormetic stressors, you’re going to get an overall greater response. It’s a lot of the same mechanisms that we see for exercise causing a lot of great brain health and cognitive benefits, but we’re just seeing it to a greater degree.”- Julie Foucher-Urcuyo, MD In this special edition of Pursuing Health Pearls, I'm joining Dr. Matt Dawson and Dr. Mike Mallin at the Wild Health Brain Optimization Summit for an interview-style discussion focused on how high intensity interval training (HIIT) can optimize brain health.The Brain Optimization Summit featured doctors, scientists, biohackers, and nootropics professionals discussing lifestyle habits and methods to improve mental performance, memory formation, concentration, and professional creativity.This was a really fun conference, and they’re planning to hold another similar conference on athletic optimization which I plan to participate in, so stay tuned. I’m also excited to share more with you about Matt and Mike when I interview them in next week's episode so stay tuned for that as well!In this episode we discuss:The definition of high intensity interval training (HIIT)How HIIT relates to brain health and why it's advocated to improve brain healthHow HIIT can reduce risk of stroke and improve stroke recovery ratesThe amount of HIIT required to receive health benefitsThe mechanism behind getting brain health benefits from HIITHigh intensity exercise versus moderate intensity exerciseThe impact of HIIT on dementia, depression, Parkinson's, and ADHDHow to minimize the risks of HIITHow to safely introduce it to a sedentary individualHow much HIIT is too much?The target heart rate for a sedentary ramp upHow to cycle HIIT into your weekly routineQuick workout recommendationsSupplements to help with joint healthThoughts on fasted HIITA Burpee Challenge! 5 rounds of:1 minute of burpees, 1 minute of restYou can follow Wild Health on their website, podcast, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.Links:The feasibility of an acute high-intensity exercise bout to promote locomotor learning after strokeMultimodal Therapy Involving High-Intensity Interval Training Improves the Physical Fitness, Motor Skills, Social Behavior, and Quality of Life of Boys With ADHD: A Randomized Controlled StudyRelated episodes:Ep 78 - Lifestyle and Brain Health with Dr. David PerlmutterEp 159 - Pursuing Health Pearls: Exercise and Why It's So Good For Us If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on November 23, 2020.
48 minutes | 13 days ago
Brooke Wells on What it Takes to be a Top CrossFit Athlete PH170
Six-time CrossFit Games athlete Brooke Wells was just 19 when she qualified for her first CrossFit Games in 2015, and she's competed at every CrossFit Games since, always placing inside the top 20. This year, at the 2020 CrossFit Games, Brooke earned her best finish yet, placing 5th amongst an elite field of competitors.When Brooke started CrossFit, she had a natural gift for strength and lifting heavy weights. Combine that with a background in track and gymnastics, plus several years of hard work to improve on her weaknesses, and Brooke has become an incredibly well-rounded athlete who is a consistent podium threat. In Stage 1 of the 2020 CrossFit Games, she finished in the top 10 on every event, proving there are very few holes in her game.Looking ahead to the 2021 season, she's excited to start improving upon her strength numbers again and to inch her way up the leaderboard even further.She's also excited to be surrounding herself with a training community to help her achieve that goal. Brooke recently relocated from Tulsa to Nashville and has teamed up with several other high level athletes including Will Morad, Alec Smith and Streat Horner to form an environment where she can be challenged to give her best with each session.In Brooke's second appearance on the podcast, we caught up just a week after Stage 2 of the 2020 CrossFit Games to talk about her experience at the 2020 Games, her plans for the 2021 season, and the legacy she hopes to leave on CrossFit.In this episode we discuss:Areas where Brooke feels she has grown the most over the past 6 yearsHer 2020 training seasonHow Brooke decided to move to NashvilleBrooke’s approach to preparing for Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the 2020 CrossFit GamesHer typical daily routineBrooke's experience at Stage 2 of the CrossFit GamesHer impressions on the changes in leadership within CrossFit HQHow Brooke is preparing for the 2021 training seasonHow she plans to spend her downtime during the off-seasonThe legacy Brooke hopes to leave on CrossFitThree things Brooke does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her healthOne thing she thinks could have a big impact on her health, but she has a hard time implementingWhat a healthy life looks like to BrookeYou can follow Brooke on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.Links:Brooke Wells is Ready to Make HistoryBrooke Wells - 2020 CrossFit Games PreviewCrossFit TriviumNew Morning MerciesRelated episodes:Ep 47 -Coffee Talk with Katrin, Jen, and Kelley at the Reebok Athlete SummitEp 64 -Haley Adams: A CrossFit Games Teen with TalentEp 74 - Brooke Wells & Jessica Griffith on Forging Friendships & Striking a BalanceEp 166 - Three-time Fittest American Woman Kari Pearce on Preparing for the 2020 CrossFit Games If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.
54 minutes | 20 days ago
Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis with Jasmine Joy PH169
“You have something like a major surgery, whether you have MS specifically or whether you have any other type of autoimmune disease or anything like that, but those don’t have to be death sentences. Even though that’s what they feel like when you first get diagnosed, and if the relapses are hitting harder and harder, or if the symptoms are getting worse. It’s easy to think it’s just going downhill. The biggest thing that CrossFit has done for me is to remind me or show me that I can take control of my health. I can take control of what my body does, I can take control of what I put into my body, and all of those things are going to benefit me.” - Jasmine Joy To look at Jasmine Joy, you would never know there are lesions on her brain and spinal cord, or guess that rods and screws are holding her spine in place. To the casual observer, 26-year old Jasmine is healthy, happy, and moving freely with full intensity in the gym.Yet, it is actually because of those three things that Jasmine is capable to live her life with little fear of what is to come. The choice of health, happiness, and movement are life-changing ones.When she was age 20, Jasmine was preparing for a spinal fusion to treat severe scoliosis. The surgery would help adjust and hold her spine by using two metal rods and at least a dozen screws and would be followed by a daunting recovery process. Jasmine would have to relearn how to stand, walk, move, and function on her own before returning to college.During the preparation process, the doctors asked a series of routine of questions including, "Do you ever feel numbness, tingling, or pins and needles?" Jasmine told the doctor yes, thinking "who doesn't?" However, the degree, frequency, and locations of pins and needles she was experiencing was not normal and thus, further testing began.An MRI revealed that Jasmine had lesions on her spinal cord and brain. During what was supposed to be the most fun and social time of her life, Jasmine learned that she likely had Multiple Sclerosis, and she was still preparing for a terrifying spinal fusion to boot.Jasmine’s fusion was a success, and after an arduous and painful recovery she returned to school, but her health challenges weren’t over. Follow up testing revealed that at just 20 years old, she had Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. Over the next several years her doctors worked to find the right medications to help her as she struggled with pain, allergic reactions and extreme side-effects like depression.Jasmine also started to make some changes on her own. Driven by having own basic mobility taken from her after her spinal fusion, she was no longer taking movement for granted. She began running, paying attention to her nutrition, and frequenting the gym. Says Jasmine, “I not only realized what a gift movement was by having it taken away, but I also had this looming dread that one day my ability to move might still be taken away, and maybe for good. If there was any chance of that, I wanted to do everything I could now.”After trying all sorts of fitness, Jasmine ultimately joined a CrossFit affiliate and fell in love with it during her first class. She recognized that in the years to come she might lose some of her abilities, and she knew that when that time came, she would be able to continue by adapting her workouts or finding someone to help her, regardless of how her MS might eventually look.Now 26, Jasmine has been symptom-free since starting CrossFit, and her MS specialist encourages her to continue with high intensity exercise. CrossFit helps Jasmine forget she even has a terrifying disease with no cure and her doctor assures her that her beliefs as to how she is no longer experiencing symptoms is neither cheesy nor crazy- it’s possible and likely.The impact CrossFit has had on Jasmine’s life is remarkable. She says, “I know that because of CrossFit, I took control over who I was, who I wanted to be, and the role my conditions would play in my life. I no longer focus on what my body looks like, rather on what it can do. I celebrate new movements and strength, not pounds loss. I look at ingredient lists, and I keep track of macro-nutrients I am taking in, not which food to "cheat" with. I have a massive second FAMILY of people I get to talk to authentically, get to know on good days and bad, workout next to, coach, celebrate with, and just live this life everyday seeing…. I am fully aware that to most everyone, CrossFitters sound like they are this insane cult of people who only talk about CrossFit. However, when you find a community, methodology, and sport that does for you and for countless others what it has for me? How can you not be obsessed with it in some way? CrossFit shapes your life.”When Jasmine first shared her story with me, I was incredibly inspired by her courage and her desire to focus on the variables within her control as she manages her MS diagnosis. In this episode, we chat about the evolution of her journey, how CrossFit and her CrossFit community have played a huge role in managing her symptoms, and how she keeps a positive mindset in the face of such an unpredictable disease.In this episode we discuss:Jasmine’s childhood diagnosis of scoliosisHow her daily life was impacted by the conditionPreparing for major back surgery and how that led to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosisWhat her recovery process looked likeUsing nutrition to help manage her MS symptomsJasmine’s early treatment plan, which was primarily focused on medicationHow she got started with CrossFit and the evolution of her trainingHow the adaptability and scalability of CrossFit appeals to Jasmine as she approaches her MS long-termHow the rods in her back impact her movement in the gymHow CrossFit and her community have impacted her lifeThe importance of recognizing that a diagnosis does not have to be a death sentenceThree things Jasmine does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her healthOne thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her healthWhat a healthy life looks like to JasmineYou can connect with Jasmine via or Instagram or email, email@example.com.Links:CrossFit FargoRelated episodes:Ep 148 - Fighting Back Against Fibromyalgia: Olivia VollmarEp 78 - Lifestyle and Brain Health with Dr. David PerlmutterIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on November 9, 2020.
66 minutes | a month ago
Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng on Avoiding the ICU and Racism in Medicine PH 168
As you learn more, and more, and more about disease, prevention is the key. Why get sick in the first place? Don’t get sick! Why are we going to wait until you’re end-stage or sick as a dog before we try and provide you with help? No. Let’s be smarter with our minds, resources and approaches. It just doesn’t make sense when you think about it, really. A lot of times we’re just putting Band-Aids on [things]. Let’s get to the root cause and, really, stop you from entering the door.”- Dr. Kwadwo KyeremantengDr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng is a palliative care & intensive care doctor based in Ottawa, Canada. As a physician treating critically ill patients, he brings an enthusiasm and passion to the idea of keeping patients out of the hospital in the first place by using lifestyle to prevent disease.On his podcast, Solving Healthcare, Dr. Kyeremanteng features interviews and discussions on the topic of improving healthcare delivery. He is also the founder of the Resource Optimization Network, a multidisciplinary research group working to reduce health spending, make the ICU more efficient, and improve access to palliative care services.Dr. Kyeremanteng was one of only two Black students in his medical school class, and as one of the few Black doctors practicing in his hospital today, he is keenly aware of the demographic imbalance in medicine and the resulting challenges Black individuals must overcome to have the same opportunities as their peers. He’s recently launched a healthcare mentorship program to help Black students bridge this gap.Dr. Kyermanteng’s role in the ICU has put him at the forefront of caring for acutely ill COVID-19 patients, and his experience as a palliative doctor gives him a unique perspective on the challenges facing these patients and their families.I was excited to hear from Dr. Kyeremanteng on all of these hot topics, and more. We covered a lot of ground in the conversation, from how intensive care medicine and palliative care medicine go hand-in-hand, to the lessons he’s learned from spending time with patients near the end of their lives, to what actions we can start taking now to be anti-racist.*Photo courtesy of Michelle DickieIn this episode we discuss:His background and how he came to practice medicineWhy he chose to specialize in both intensive care and palliative medicineThe overlay between palliative medicine and ICU careThe difference between ICU care, palliative care, and hospice careLessons Dr. Kyeremanteng has learned from spending time with patients at the end of their livesHow he developed his passion for disease preventionObservations Dr. Kyeremantang has had caring for acute patients during COVIDPatterns he’s noticed in patients who thrive after leaving the ICUWays Dr. Kyeremanteng helps patients nurture a positive mindsetHis experiences with racism both as a child and in medicineDr. Kyeremanteng’s youth mentorship programLessons he hopes to instill in his three sonsThe advice he would give to people to live their life to their fullestDr. Kyeremanteng’s advice to people concerned about COVID-19Actions he would love to see his white colleagues take to fight racismThree things Dr. Kyeremanteng does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his healthOne thing he struggles to implement that could have a big impact on his healthWhat a healthy life looks like to Dr. KyeremantengYou can follow Dr. Kyeremanteng on his website, Solving Healthcare, his podcast, and on social media: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.Links:Palliative care: Earlier is betterSystemic Racism, How to Create Change and More with Dr. Chika OriuwaEasy Strength with Dan JohnThe 4-Hour Work Week, Tim FerrissThe 80/20 Principle, Richard KochRelated episodes:Ep 147 – Cancer, Racism, and Speaking Up with Deb Cordner CarsonEp 149 – The Science of Spontaneous Healing with Dr. Jeffrey RedigerEp 164 – Boosting Immunity and Reducing COVID Risk with Dr. Aseem MalhotraIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on November 3, 2020.
27 minutes | a month ago
Is CrossFit Dangerous? PH167
In this edition of Pursuing Health Pearls, we are going to dive into a question that certainly gets a lot of attention in the media, and that is, “Is CrossFit dangerous?”Some of the perception that CrossFit is dangerous may stem from how it has been portrayed in the media over the past 20 years. From the early days of CrossFit, it was presented as an extreme exercise program with “Pukie Clown” and “Uncle Rhabdo” as mascots. CrossFit was initially used widely in the training of elite athletes in other sports and for military and first responders, with a tagline of “Forging Elite Fitness.”In addition, watching athletes compete in the CrossFit Games can also make it difficult for the average person to understand that CrossFit can be for them, too. Seeing these athletes who train for hours each day with a sole focus on becoming the “Fittest on Earth” can make CrossFit seem inaccessible or “too intense” for the average person.However, over the years these harsh messages have been toned down, and the methodology underneath it all has proven over and over again to be effective at producing health and fitness in people from all walks of life. CrossFit is not just for extreme or elite athletes, it really can be for anyone. Here, we’ll review the available data on CrossFit and injury rates as well as our interpretation of some findings that may help to minimize risk while participating in CrossFit. Some QualifiersBefore we discuss the research, we have to acknowledge that we still have a relatively small amount of data available on CrossFit and injury rates, although we do have a lot more than we did 10 years ago.We also have to acknowledge that the studies we do have available have limitations. Many of these studies are retrospective, meaning participants were asked to fill out surveys about past injuries while doing CrossFit instead of tracking the injuries in real time as they happen. As with epidemiological nutrition research, this approach does not always provide the most reliable information.Finally, we have to acknowledge that there have been a lot of special interests in this research area that can influence how studies are reported, and which studies are published or not.The biggest example of this was a 2013 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, which is a journal published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).This study followed 43 participants doing a CrossFit program for 10 weeks and found that they improved aerobic fitness and body composition, but reported an injury rate that was later found to be fabricated. The study was corrected and then retracted completely from the journal. The study was the focus of multiple lawsuits against the lead investigator, Steven Devor as well as the Ohio State University and the NSCA. Steven Devor resigned from his position at the Ohio State University. CrossFit won $4 million in sanctions in a lawsuit stemming from the retracted paper. Judge Janis Sammartino ruled that the NSCA had “deceived and continues to deceive the public and consumers regarding the safety and effectiveness of CrossFit training.” She went on to say in her ruling: “Not only is it clear that the NSCA knowingly and repeatedly resisted producing documents that were irrefutably relevant to this litigation, but the forensic evaluation also uncovered evidence that the NSCA destroyed presumptively relevant documents and engaged in mass deletions across numerous devices during the pendency of this litigation.”We share this here to demonstrate that the NSCA had motives to deceive the public on the safety of CrossFit training which then influenced the research that was published as well as contributed to bad press perpetuating “CrossFit is dangerous” dogma.The ResearchNow, qualifiers aside, we will discuss what the research we have tells us about injury rates in CrossFit.An article published earlier this year reviewed all of the studies reporting injury incidence and incidence rates among CrossFit participants. The researchers came up with a total of 14 studies that met their inclusion criteria. Among these studies, the injury incidence ranged from 12.8-73.5% and reported injury rates ranged from 0.27-3.3/1000 training hours. They concluded that these findings would suggest CrossFit has a relatively low injury risk, and we know from this study and others that these injury rates are comparable to or lower than rates of injury in other similar activities such as Olympic weightlifting, distance running, track and field, rugby, or gymnastics.While most of the studies reviewed were retrospective studies relying on survey data, there was a prospective study done in 2017, where 177 participants were followed for 12 weeks while they did CrossFit and any injuries they experienced during that time were documented. In that study the overall injury incidence rate was 2.1/1000 training hours, which is consistent with the rates from the other studies discussed above.Overall, the data we have indicates that the risk of injury in CrossFit is relatively low, and not different from other similar sports.Other FindingsNow that we know injury rates in CrossFit are low and comparable to other similar sports, we’ll discuss other findings that were reported in the research that may be relevant to minimizing injury risk.The review study discussed above highlighted three important factors associated with injury incidence and incidence rates in CrossFit: 1) training frequency, 2) duration of CrossFit experience, and 3) individuals that compete in CrossFit competitions.The idea that individuals who compete in CrossFit competitions are at higher risk for injury makes intuitive sense, as they are likely pushing themselves harder and taking more risks in training and competition.As far as frequency, a study that surveyed over 3000 participants who did CrossFit from 2013-2017 found that the greatest rates of injury were in those who did CrossFit less than 3 days per week compared to those who did 3-5 days or more than 5 days per week. So, doing CrossFit less frequently seemed to be associated with higher risk of injury.Additionally, this study found that those with less experience had a higher injury rate. The highest rates of injury occurred in the first 6-12 months of doing CrossFit. In other words, the longer participants had been doing CrossFit, the less frequently they reported getting injured.To us, this highlights CrossFit’s charter of mechanics, consistency, intensity which recommends first learning the proper movement mechanics, then demonstrating those mechanics consistently (i.e. doing CrossFit at least 3 days per week, for many months and years in duration). Only after demonstrating proper mechanics and consistently practicing those mechanics should the intensity of the workouts be increased. The finding that the highest rates of injury occured in the first 6-12 months of doing CrossFit could indicate that participants are pushing the intensity too quickly before this charter has been implemented.Other studies have found that males and those with prior injuries are at higher risk of injury.Studies also find that working with a trainer to coach participants on movement mechanics and guide them through workouts decreases the rate of injury.As far as sites of injury, the studies we have seem to be pretty consistent in finding that shoulder injuries are most common. Following shoulder injuries are injuries to the lower back and knee. This information suggests that there may be some movements across the board that we could improve on as a CrossFit community to decrease shoulder injuries. One example of this would be the kipping pull-up. In the past CrossFit participants may have been encouraged to start practicing kipping pull-ups earlier in their journey, but now most trainers would recommend participants being able to perform at least one (or more) strict pull-ups before subjecting the shoulder joint to the high force of a kip. TakeawaysHere we’ll summarize some of our personal takeaways after reviewing the available research:The injury rates in CrossFit are relatively low, and no different from other similar forms of activityWe suspect that employing CrossFit’s charter of “mechanics, consistency, intensity” by emphasizing learning good mechanics in the early months of doing CrossFit and doing CrossFit consistently (at least 3 days per week) before adding intensity may be a way reduce risk of injuryWorking with a trainer to learn the movements and receive coaching through workout will likely reduce injury riskWe should be aware that shoulder injuries are most common and do what we can to protect the shoulder joint. Some ideas for this include: 1) requiring strict movements (pull ups, handstand push ups, muscle ups) prior to doing kipping, 2) encouraging proper warm up and prehab/rehab exercises, and 3) making sure the musculature around the shoulder is balanced.Males and those who compete in CrossFit are at higher risk of injury and should be especially cognizant of listening to their bodies when training to reduce this risk. Risks vs. BenefitsNow that we’ve discussed some factors that can potentially influence risk of injury, we will take a step back and look at the big picture of the risks and benefits of doing CrossFit.We acknowledge that there is going to be some risk of injury with doing CrossFit, just as there is with doing just about anything active. But what are the risks of not doing CrossFit?We talked about the risks of sedentarism back in Ep 159 of the podcast about exercise. We know that more time spent in sedentary behavior increases the risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer of the colon, endometrium, and lung. A large 2016 meta-analysis study which pooled 16 studies looking at over 1 million people demonstrated that increased daily sitting time and decreased moderate-vigorous physical activity was associated with increased all-cause mortality risk.So, if you don’t do CrossFit (or any other exercise), your risk of death and a number of chronic diseases goes up.The potential benefits of CrossFit have also been studied. The research we have tells us that those who do CrossFit have: increased in VO2 max (cardiorespiratory fitness), increased strength, musculature, and endurance, reduced cardiovascular risk factors including decreased blood pressure, and body fat % and increased insulin sensitivity, (1, 2) and higher levels of sense of community, satisfaction, and motivation.These benefits above have been documented in research studies, but the anecdotal benefits are also hard to argue with. If you know someone who has done CrossFit, you’ve no doubt heard about them. These are the benefits that are harder to put into words, but make you ask yourself, “Do I want to sit on my couch all day for fear of injury, knowing that my sedentary behavior increases my risk of chronic disease and death, or do I want to take the small risk of injury and improve my quality of life by doing CrossFit?” To Sum It Up...Although CrossFit has been portrayed in the media as dangerous, available research suggests that the risk of injury is no higher with CrossFit than any other similar activity. There are a few things we can do to potentially reduce the risk of injury, which include doing CrossFit under the guidance of a trainer, learning movement mechanics well first (an “On Ramp” or “Foundations” class is a great way to do this), and staying consistent with training by working up to at least 3 days per week.There are also a lot of benefits to doing CrossFit, including increased fitness, strength, and endurance, decreased cardiovascular disease risk, and increased sense of community and satisfaction. The risks of not doing CrossFit should also be taken into consideration as being sedentary is associated with an increased risk of death overall as well as increased risk of a number of chronic diseasesEvery person has to make a decision for themselves about what level of risk to take on with the activities they choose to do. But in our minds, reaping the benefits of CrossFit and avoiding the risks of sedentarism greatly outweigh a risk of injury that is comparable to doing other similar types of activity. Related episodes:Ep 132 - Healing Through Functional Movement with Dr. Amy WestEp 159 - Pursuing Health Pearls - Exercise + Why It's So Good For Us If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday. Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on October 27, 2020.
67 minutes | a month ago
Three-time Fittest American Woman Kari Pearce on Preparing for the 2020 CrossFit Games PH166
“I think that’s part of why I love competing, is being side-by-side with people, having the spectators cheer you on and scream you on, and just being in the environment- it’s just so much energy. You push yourself and you don’t think as much about the pain as when you’re doing a workout by yourself. But I’m thankful that there was… because CrossFit ended up sending judges, it was nice that we had a judge, and the gym that we were at had some of their members come and spectate, and my coach- it was really cool also having my coach right there next to me, which is different than any other sort of competition. So, it kind of felt like a competition but also didn’t. Like I said, just because of those factors, but I did my best to keep it the same as a competition setting because, I bet similar to you being an athlete and growing up in gymnastics, just that competition mentality- nothing is like it, and you just bring yourself a little bit higher up than in training.” - Kari PearceIn just 6 years, Kari Pearce has built one of the most impressive resumes in the sport of CrossFit. A 6-time CrossFit Games competitor, she has been a consistent performer, never finishing outside the top 10 since her rookie season in 2015. She has also earned the title of fittest American female three times and has represented Team USA at the CrossFit Invitational in 2016 in Canada and in 2017 in Australia.Kari is among the top 5 Fittest Women on Earth who are about to take on Stage 2 of the 2020 CrossFit Games.Kari has a background in gymnastics and competed for the University of Michigan where where her team won 4 Big Ten Championships. There she also earned her degree in Movement Science from the School of Kinesiology and was three time Academic All Big Ten.In addition to being a full time athlete, Kari has used her experience with gymnastics, CrossFit, and coaching to develop PowerAbs, which is a core program done by thousands of people around the world.In this episode we caught up just a couple weeks before Stage 2 of the 2020 CrossFit Games to talk about some of our shared experiences growing up doing gymnastics in Michigan, her collegiate gymnastics career, how she found CrossFit, some defining moments in her Games career thus far, and how she has approached all the twists and turns of this unprecedented season.In this episode we discuss:Kari’s background doing gymnastics in MichiganWhy she decided to pursue collegiate gymnastics instead of Olympic gymnasticsHer insights into how the culture of gymnastics can improve to protect young athletesLessons in nutrition and recovery that, in hindsight, Kari thinks would have benefitted her as a young gymnastHow Kari got into CrossFitHigh points and struggles within her career so farKari’s approach to dealing with injuries and finding the right mindset to allow them to healHer experience and approach to the 2020 training seasonMaking the move to Las VegasHer reflections on Stage 1 of the 2020 CrossFit GamesHer approach to training as she prepares for Stage 2Why Kari feels her coaches and training environment are important to her success as an athleteHer daily routineThe Power Abs programThree things Kari does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her healthOne thing she thinks could have a big impact on her health, but she has a hard time implementingWhat a healthy life looks like to KariYou can follow Kari on her website, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.Links:University of Michigan gymnasticsGedderts's TwistarsRyan ElrodRapid RebootRP StrengthRelated episodes:Ep 36a & 36b - Dominique Moceanu on Gymnastics, Healing and HealthEp 130 - Kristi O'Connell on Training for Joy and BalanceEp 145 - 2019 Third Fittest Woman Jamie (Greene) SimmondsIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on October 17, 2020.
53 minutes | 2 months ago
Thriving on the Unexpected: Cory Schmidgall PH165
“I have learned how to adapt to the unknown and unknowable. I have learned to focus on what I CAN do. This led me to my main mantra to date which is, “What’s the next step?” which is what I focus on in any type of adversity or workout.” - Cory SchmidgallCory Schmidgall tried just about every fitness program out there. Nothing seemed to light the fire he remembered from his football days, or satisfied the competitive drive that motivated him to try out for the NFL.It was while he was recovering from a major surgery, an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion of his spine, that he read about CrossFit. “I tried a few of the WODs at my local rec center. While everyone was looking at me as if I were crazy, I tried Elizabeth. 21 minutes later I was hooked.”A few years passed, and Cory found that he was struggling with hip mobility and recovery due to inflammation, despite putting extra work in to improve in those areas. A consult with his orthopedist confirmed that he had a genetic degenerative hip disease. At only 37, he suddenly felt twice his age, and began to spiral into a blackhole of self-pity. But his CrossFit community wouldn’t let him. “One day, when I was kicking rocks at our box, one of the other members simply said, ‘Dude, why don’t you just focus on what you CAN do.’ Simple but effective.” From that day forward, Cory took on a new mindset. He began to look at CrossFit as prehab to train for surgery.In the span of 10 weeks, Cory had surgery on both hips. The pain was brutal. But he remembered his friend’s words of encouragement. “I started slow and again focused on what I could do daily. I started over with all movements focusing on form and rehab. I used CrossFit methodology for rehab, on top of the hip movement rehab, and the CrossFit nutrition protocol to stay on top of inflammation and heal my gut from years of pain meds. I felt I was getting in the best shape of my life prior to surgery but even more so in the months that followed.”Life wasn’t done dealing to surprises to Cory. A year and a half after his hip surgeries, he was diagnosed with skin cancer, and went back under the knife to have it removed, adding a new scar to his thigh. Just a year later, this was followed by a second cervical discectomy and fusion, adding another level to his previous procedure.Just as he had before, Cory prepared for these new challenges by keeping his eyes on the horizon, using CrossFit, and by getting his nutrition on point.Says Cory, “5 years in now, I have learned how to adapt to the unknown and unknowable. I have learned to focus on what I CAN do. This led me to my main mantra to date which is, “What’s the next step?” which is what I focus on in any type of adversity or workout.”When I first read Cory's story, I was impressed not only by the remarkable mindset he's used to approach so many challenging surgeries, but also by how he's worked hard to develop skills to manage his own panic attacks and anxiety. I was excited to catch up with him to learn more about how identifying his why has been so critical to growing through these obstacles, and how he's using his experiences to help others.In this episode we discuss:How sports and injuries played a role in Cory’s life growing upPursuing his goal of playing in the NFLStruggling to find his identity as he retired from sportsThe relief of finding an explanation for neurological symptoms he had been experiencingCory’s first CrossFit workoutThe turning point for Cory’s mindset in approaching his injuriesHow Cory is using his experiences to help othersWhat’s allowed him to grow through these obstaclesStrategies that have been helpful for Cory to manage his anxietyCory’s morning routineThree things Cory does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his healthOne thing he knows would have a positive impact on his health, but he struggles to implementWhat a healthy life looks like to CoryYou can follow Cory on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, or you can listen to his podcast, Anxiety WOD.Links:Dr. Angie Cross, D.C.Welcome to the Jungle, Jim RomeLive Your Dreams, Les BrownAs Many Reps as Possible, Jason KhalipaBox breathingWim Hof breathingMotiversityWhy We Sleep, Matthew WalkerRelated episodes:Ep 102 - Jason Khalipa and the AMRAP MentalityEp 108 - Training Smarter, Not Harder: Prevention and Recovery from Injury with Pure PhysioIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on October 10, 2020.
57 minutes | 2 months ago
Boosting Immunity and Reducing COVID Risk with Dr. Aseem Malhotra PH164
“I think a lot of doctors kind of know this but don’t really… it’s never really been at the forefront of their minds until now. We know, for example, that people who have high blood glucose or type 2 diabetes have worse outcomes from any infection - specifically respiratory infections. So, when I started looking at the literature and also looking at how immune health links to excess body fat, obesity, and type 2 diabetes pre-COVID, the data was very clear that this was a big risk factor for a dysregulated immune system, an immune system that isn’t going to function properly. So, it wasn’t just about the associations that we were drawing from COVID-19 and worse outcomes.”- Aseem MalhotraDr. Aseem Malhotra is a cardiologist with the U.K.’s National Health Service and a world renowned expert in the prevention, diagnosis and management of heart disease.He is a visiting Professor of Evidence Based Medicine at the Bahiana School of Medicine and Public Health in Salvador, Brazil, an honorary council member to the Metabolic Psychiatry Clinic at Stanford University School of Medicine California, and is Cardiology MSc examiner at the University of Hertfordshire, U.K.Dr. Malhotra is a longtime health activist and a founding member and lead campaigner of Action on Sugar, an initiative which highlights the the harm caused by excess sugar consumption.Most recently, he has been a vocal advocate for improving metabolic health to reduce vulnerability to disease, including COVID-19, and has authored the book The 21-Day Immunity Plan: How to Rapidly Improve Your Metabolic Health and Resilience to Fight Infection.Dr. Aseem and I recently sat down to chat about the link between metabolic health and immune function, ways we can improve our own immunity, and why turning the tide in the fight against poor metabolic health will take more than just personal responsibility.*Dr. Malhotra’s bio was adapted from his website.In this episode we discuss:Dr. Malhotra’s background in cardiology and how he became involved in health activismWhy personal responsibility is only a very small factor in the epidemic of chronic diseaseHow obesity and metabolic health have affected the COVID pandemicThe markers of metabolic healthThe link between immunity and metabolic healthLifestyle factors that optimize the response to vaccinesA broad overview of things we can do to improve our immunity10 key points for policy makers to address metabolic syndrome on a grand scaleThree things Dr. Malhotra does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his healthOne thing he struggles to implement that could have a big impact on his healthWhat a healthy life looks like to Dr. MalhotraYou can follow Dr. Malhotra on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.Links:Interview With Dr. Robert Lustig and Dr. Aseem MalhotraAseem Malhotra: Lessons in Public Health AdvocacyWorks by Gary TaubesLifestyle Tips to Hedge Against Respiratory Illness, Sunday ExpressCovid 19 and the elephant in the room, European ScientistThe 21-day plan to support your immune system and help fight off infections, The TelegraphDoes Obesity Increase COVID-19 Risk, Good Morning BritainRelated episodes:Ep 144 - Pursuing Health Pearls: What COVID-19 is Teaching Us About Our HealthEp 146 - Pursuing Health Pearls: Understanding and Assessing Metabolic HealthEp 135 - Immune System Strength with Dr. Leonard CalabreseIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on October 2, 2020.
29 minutes | 2 months ago
Nutrition on a Budget PH163
After doing some deep dives on the basics of nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, and metabolic health, we’re excited to now be able to start exploring some of the nuances of these topics and others in upcoming editions of Pursuing Health Pearls.In this edition, we’re going to explore whether eating healthy really is more expensive, and share some resources for eating real food on a budget.If you haven’t yet seen Episode 150 where we share our general approach to nutrition, we’d highly recommend going to check that one out because it will provide more context for why eating real food is so important for our health. It's Complicated.Back in Episode 150 we talked about the importance of consuming real, whole food for our health, yet our current food environment often makes it very difficult to do so, especially for those with limited financial resources.We live in a world where ultra-processed foods are readily available and hard to escape. They are served in schools and hospitals, we have fast food restaurants on every corner, and the government subsidizes crops including corn, soy, wheat, and rice which make up the majority of ultra-processed foods allows them to be cheaper for the consumer.38 million people in the US are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps), which allows for the purchase of soda but not rotisserie chicken because it’s a prepared food. This is another example of the fact that it’s not easy to get access to real, whole food in our country. Is Eating Healthy Really More Expensive?We’ve all heard the argument that eating healthy is more expensive, and in general, research does back this up.A study published in Frontiers of Nutrition in 2019 compared 3 different healthy eating patterns against the existing eating patterns of minority groups based on NHANES 2013-2014 data.All diets were based on 2000kcal/day with national food prices adjusted for inflation. The foods in the “healthy eating patterns” groups included foods in their nutrient rich forms, were low in sodium, and had no added sugar. The researchers found that existing eating patterns of minority groups cost around $5-$6 per day. In comparison, the healthy eating patterns cost $8.27/day for the US-Style, $5.90/day for the vegetarian pattern, and $8.73/day for Mediterranean eating pattern. Basically, the cost of the vegetarian eating pattern was about the same as the existing eating patterns of minority groups, but the cost was $2-$3 more per day for the eating patterns that included meat and seafood, which does add up over time.It is important, however, to look at nutrition not only through the lens of cost and calories. While the healthy eating patterns in this study cost more than existing patterns for the same amount of calories, these healthy eating patterns were higher in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and lower in solid fats, sugars, and sodium, and were overall healthier.This highlights the fact that we have to look not just at the cost of food, but the total cost associated with eating a certain way over time. Eating ultra-processed foods which don’t contain much in the way of nutrients and are more likely to contribute to chronic disease later on may save $2-3/day now, but eating this way may be very costly down the road in the way of increased medical costs, medications, suffering, and poorer quality of life.Again, this is backed by research! A 2015 Review of fast food patterns and cardiometabolic disorders found that eating away from home and consuming fast food were associated with having a poorer quality diet (with higher calorie and fat intake and lower micronutrient density), being overweight particularly with abdominal fat gain, poorer metabolic health, increased inflammation, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.However, just knowing the importance of eating real foods is not enough, because there are so many social factors that influence our ability to implement healthy eating patterns. What is local available in our communities is a huge factor. Studies show that places with greater availability of fast food are associated with a higher mortality and hospital admission rates for heart disease, as well as a higher risk of obesity.1,2 A Disclaimer...We recognize that we do come from a privileged place, and that we ourselves do not have first-hand experience of having to navigate eating on an extremely limited budget. As discussed above, we also recognize that there are a lot of systemic factors that need to be addressed in order to truly remedy this problem.However, we also don’t think we should wait around for those systemic issues to be fixed because people are suffering as a result of these problems right now. So, in order to explore this issue further, we decided to undertake an experiment to determine the cost of fast food vs. whole food purchased at a grocery store. We also collected numerous resources that may be helpful when navigating eating real food on a limited budget. A Comparison of Fast Food vs. Grocery Store, Real Food Meal PlansIn this experiment we decided to compare one week of meals from fast food restaurants vs. shopping at a grocery store and preparing the meals at home. We realize that there are plenty of problems with this comparison, because we are not exactly comparing apples to apples here. The fast food meals are already prepared and convenience is part of what you are paying for. Fast food meals generally cost less than eating a healthy meal out at a restaurant. We do have to take into consideration the additional cost in the form of time, energy, knowledge, and access to a kitchen that are required in order to shop, prepare, and cook the food at home, but we would argue that this up-front investment is worthwhile to avoid disease, suffering, and medical costs in the long run.We also recognize that it is probably not realistic for someone to eat every single meal over the course of a week at a fast food restaurant. It’s probably more likely for someone to eat a few fast food meals intermixed with prepared or ultra-processed foods from a grocery store. We did think it would be informative to look at an entire week rather than just one meal though, so you can think about this as more of theoretical exercise.So, here’s how we structured the comparison:We created one week meal plans including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacksWe aimed for approximately ~ 2000kcal/day on both plansWe attempted to include realistic meals of what one might order or want to eatFor the fast food meal plan, we looked at the 5 largest fast food chains from across US which include McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Pizza HutFor the grocery store, real food meal plan we looked at sourcing ingredients from Kroger and Aldi. Both of these stores are available across most of the US with Kroger being the 2nd largest retailer after Walmart in 42 states with ~3500 locations, and Aldi on track to become the 3rd largest grocery store with over 2000 stores across 37 states. We have also been impressed with Aldi’s more recent efforts to make healthier food (including organic options) more affordable and accessible.Some examples of meals on the grocery store, real food meal plan include:Three ingredient pancakes with peanut butter and berriesOvernight oatsMediterranean pasta saladChicken saladZucchini noodles with marinaraSnacks of nuts and fruitYou can download a comparison of both meal plans, as well as our Budget-Friendly Real Food Meal Plan which includes shopping lists and recipes for free here.To summarize some takeaways from this experiment, we’ll first compare just one day of meals from each plan. Below we look at the meals for Tuesday, but you can access the entire week here. Fast Food Meal Plan:Breakfast: Egg McMuffin (McDonalds) with hashbrowns, and a large coffee= $4.94Lunch: 3 soft tacos (Taco Bell), chips and nacho cheese sauce, and a large drink = $6.36Dinner: Avocado chicken salad (full order with dressing from Wendy's) and a large drink = $8.28Total Calories: 1720Total Cost: $21.08Cost per Calorie: 1.2 cents Grocery Store, Real Food Meal Plan:Breakfast: Hard-boiled eggs with fruit and 1/2 avocado = $1.54Lunch: Chicken salad with cucumbers and a peach = $3.55Dinner: Zucchini noodles with marinara meat sauce = $1.65Snacks: 2 handfuls of nuts ($0.92) and a piece of fresh fruit ($1.17) = $2.09Total Calories: 1961Total Cost: $8.83Cost per Calorie: 0.45 cents As we look at this comparison, a few observations stand out. First, it costs over twice as much for the fast food pattern, even with about 200 fewer calories. The cost per calorie was about ⅓ on the grocery store, real food pattern than with the fast food pattern. The cost of the grocery store, real food pattern is also consistent with the US-Healthy and Mediterranean health eating patterns from the research study we discussed above at $8.83/day. Additionally, the fast food meal plan includes far fewer micronutrients. Finally, drinks provided large sources of empty calories, added sugar, and excess cost in the fast food meal plan: a large soda added an additional 290 calories and 77g of added sugar, and costs $1.49. Similarly, a small caramel mocha adds an additional 310 calories, 40g of added sugar, and costs $2.39.When we compared the entire week of meals, we found that the total cost of the fast food plan was $126.90, or $18.13/day average. The total cost of the grocery store, real food plan was $64.95, or $9.28/day average, about half as much as the fast food plan. Total calories per day averaged close to 2000 for both meal plans.Again, we recognize that this isn't exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. We could have compared an ultra-processed grocery store meal plan to one composed of real food, or fast food to eating out at a healthy restaurant, but we hope this will still provide some insight and make all of us think twice before choosing to eat out at a fast food restaurant.This exercise also highlights the importance of planning ahead to do grocery shopping and meal preparation. Having everything needed on hand to make a healthy meal decreases the chances of being influenced to stop by a fast food restaurant at the moment.Tips + Resources for Eating on a BudgetWe hope you’ll download and use our Budget-Friendly Real Food Meal Plan as inspiration, but there are also a plethora of tricks and resources available to make it easier to eat healthy on a budget. We’ve included some of our favorites below:Grow A Garden: This does require time, space, and attention, but it can save a lot of money over time while also providing access to much more nutrient-rich produce.Buy on Sale: Looking for sale or special items is a great way to save money at the grocery store.Buy in Season: Seasonal items are generally cheaper and more nutrient dense. SeasonalFoodGuide.org and the SNAP Seasonal Produce Guide are great resources for determining what is in season in your location.Use the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen: Using the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 guides can help to prioritize which foods are most important to purchase organic if you are interested in doing so. EatWellGuide.org is another great resources for finding local organic foods.Shop at Farmers’ Markets: LocalHarvest.org provides a list of all of the farmers markets in your area based on your city and zip code.Buy Produce with Blemishes: Purchasing produce has too many blemishes to be sold in grocery stores can save money and also helps to decrease food waste. Imperfect Foods delivers to most of the Midwest, Northeast and all along the West Coast, and Perfectly Imperfect Produce is another similar service we have used in the Cleveland, OH area.Produce Delivery: Farm Boxes deliver fruit and vegetables to your door which also saves another valuable resource, time.Buy in Bulk: Purchasing items in bulk from places such as Webstaurant Store, Vitacost, Nuts.com, or Thrive Market can reduce the cost per serving of grocery items.Use the Environmental Working Group’s Good Food on a Tight Budget: This is an extensive resource that lists the most nutritious, most economical, and least polluted fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy items. It also provides simple tips for eating well, quick lists of foods with the most nutrition for the lowest cost, tasty recipes, easy tools for tracking food prices and planning your weekly menu, and a blank shopping list to help you stay on budget.Calculate your Grocery Budget: Tools such as this calculator from Iowa State University can make it easy to plan ahead.Clip Coupons: Savings from grocery coupon sites such as Organic Food Coupons, Manbo Sprouts, Saving Naturally, Organic Deals, All Natural Savings, Health Savers, and Organic Deals and Steals can add up!Savings Apps: The use of smartphone savings apps such as Grocery Pal, Cartwheel, Coupon Sherpa, Apples2Oranges, and Key Ring can also reduce the cost of groceries.In summary, we hope this was a helpful way to start a discussion about eating for our health even while on a limited budget. This is a deeply seeded and systemic problem that needs to be addressed on many levels from farm subsidies, to food deserts, to the availability of healthy food in schools and hospitals, and more. We hope this edition of Pursuing Health Pearls provided some insight and resources to help you or your loved ones get started with or continue healthy eating in a more affordable way.As a reminder, you can download our Nutrition on a Budget Guide which includes:Our Fast Food vs. Grocery Store, Real Food Meal Plan comparisonA One Week Budget-Friendly Real Food Meal Plan complete with shopping lists and recipes as well as cost, calorie and macronutrient breakdowns for each mealResources for eating real food on a budget We have to give a HUGE shout out to Ariana Fiorita, functional and integrative registered dietitian who helped us with the research and resources included in this guide.Finally, as always, we welcome your feedback. Please feel free to share ideas, your own favorite resources for eating healthy on a budget, or future podcast guest recommendations on this topic here. Related episodes:Ep 150 - Pursuing Health Pearls - Our Approach to NutritionEp 95 - Optimizing Your Nutrition with EC Synkowki If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday. Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on September 28, 2020.
51 minutes | 2 months ago
Simple, Sustainable Nutrition with EC Synkowski PH162
“There's no diet plan, there's no 30 day challenge that's going to stick with you forever. You, ultimately at some point, are in the driver's seat.”- EC SynkowskiEC Synkowski is the founder of OptimizeMe Nutrition, a company dedicated to helping anyone improve their health and well being with simple, non-restrictive diet methods.EC started CrossFit in 2006 and over time her enthusiasm and hard work led to seminar staff and flowmaster positions for the Level 1 and CrossFit Weightlifting courses, a CF-L4 certification, and a career as a Program Manager with CrossFit, Inc. In 2017, EC stepped down from her position at CrossFit to focus on finishing her second master’s degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine.From there, she founded OptimizeMe Nutrition, where she focuses on helping individuals understand nutrition physiology and it’s day-to-day application.She is the creator of the #800gChallenge, a straightforward eating plan that encourages participants to maximize their fruit and vegetable intake and encourages the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods, and it’s slightly more advanced partner, Lazy Macros.I was excited to catch up with EC for her second appearance on the podcast. We talked about the 10 Principles of Nutrition, the importance of making sustainable changes to our diet, and the nutrition takeaways she’s gleaned from the COVID-19 pandemic.This conversation left me feeling inspired, and Dani and I have decided to run a four week challenge using EC's Lazy Macros approach starting on September 28, 2020 for all of our Pursuing Health subscribers!Our focus will be on eating 800 grams of fruits and vegetables and meeting protein goals each day, with a leaderboard to track people who demonstrate the most consistency with the 800g, protein, workouts, and sleep.This challenge will be open to all subscribers at no additional fee. We're hosting a live Q+A for our subscribers on the evening of September 24th to answer all your questions and then we'll get started together on the 28th, so if you're not a Pursuing Health subscriber yet, today would be a great time to join!In this episode we discuss:EC’s 10 Principles of NutritionHer thoughts on fastingWhy the #800gChallenge has such a positive ripple effect on our nutritionHer thoughts on the carnivore dietThe Lazy Macro approachThe impacts of under and overeating proteinWhy she started The Consistency Project, and why she keeps tracking so simpleEC’s new podcast, The Consistency ProjectThe nutrition takeaways that have been reinforced by the COVID pandemicYou can follow EC on Instagram and Facebook, or on The Consistency Project podcast.Links:Ted Talk: An Elegant DietThe Ames TestRelated episodes:Ep 95 - Optimizing Your Nutrition with EC SynkowskiEp 112 - Eating for Longevity with Dr. Valter LongoEp 150 - Pursuing Health Pearls: Our Approach to NutritionIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on September 19, 2020.
49 minutes | 2 months ago
An Unlikely Antidote to Anorexia with Becky Fox PH161
“My journey to finding myself and my will to live began with finding CrossFit.”- Becky FoxThe stress of everything was just too much. If she could just lose weight, Becky believed, she would be okay. She drastically cut her calories, restricted food intake and began exercising incessantly. A sophomore in high school, she succeeded only in losing athletic opportunities, a sudden drop in academic performance, and seclusion in her social life.As her eating disorder consumed her, Becky would constantly think about how many calories she had eaten and how many hours she would need to spend in the gym to work them off. Friends and family became alarmed by her obsession with food and her sudden outbursts, and Becky sought help from a therapist, but it wasn’t enough.Becky’s health continued to decline, and her bloodwork showed it. Her heart was not able to keep up with her physical state. Doctors stripped exercise from her, forbidding even recreational walks. Soon, depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harm replaced the physical activity Becky had once loved.Becky’s sister had been by her side throughout her ordeal, and she knew just how important athletics were to Becky. Her sister had heard there was a CrossFit affiliate in their hometown, and hoped it might be a place Becky could go to work out safely and rebuild her self-esteem. “It sounded crazy at the time, putting an anorexic girl who had an addiction to exercise into a gym setting again. Little did I know that a box is very different than the typical gym.”Becky came to an agreement with her family that if she met her calorie intake goal for the day, she would be permitted to attend a class. “I was hesitant. It was higher calories than I had in about a year, but I wanted fitness back in my life.”Her first class was terrifying. Becky had developed extreme social anxiety and felt uncomfortable anytime she was away from home. But soon, she found she had a new home. “I could be myself and not worry about what anyone thought. The coaches were patient, everyone was kind, and no one treated me differently even though they could see every vein in my body. It gave me a reason to be OK eating again, fueling my body so I could work out later.”As time passed, Becky developed close friendships with other members at her box, conquered her fear of food, and returned to a healthy weight. But her battle with eating disorders wasn’t over yet.“I was always told in recovery that another eating disorder could hit me at any time and it would be something I would have to fight my whole life. Being as stubborn and strong-willed as I am, I never thought that would be me.”2 years after she started CrossFit, Becky found the pendulum swinging the other way, this time towards binge eating. During the worst of her anorexia, Becky would have a small snack in the middle of the night to help calm her hunger pains and allow sleep. Although her body had returned to a healthy weight, her brain still turned to this old habit as a stress and anxiety reliever.Becky’s midnight snacks grew to out-of-control binges, sometimes exceeding 2,000 calories a night. She feared her weight gain would be noticeable so she started restricting during the day, which only fed the cycle. Her depression returned with a vengeance, she lacked the motivation to work out, and found it embarrassing to be around her friends from her box.Once again, Becky’s sister was at her side to help. They moved in together so that her sister could help her control the nighttime binges, even locking food up when it became necessary to break the habit. It was a long road back to a healthy weight as Becky sought to move at a slow pace that would be sustainable for the long term and not mirror her old anorexic ways. Once again, her commitment to fitness and her community helped her overcome her demons.These days, Becky remains very active with her box, and even married one of the owners! She recently graduated and is helping others as a school counselor. She is a firm advocate for the physical, mental, and social benefits of CrossFit.“I have had to learn so much about balance through this process and just how important it is in our lives. I have also learned a lot about how important finding self-worth is and not tying it to my body. My body, my weight, my looks do not determine how good of a friend I am or how academically smart I am or how good of an athlete I am. My body is not just to be seen but to be used. CrossFit gave me new goals, and PR's helped me to see my progress and make the journey to recovery worth it. I was getting better, getting stronger, and finding myself, my confidence, and my worth. I cannot thank CrossFit enough because it literally saved my life.”I first heard Becky's story some time ago, and I think it will resonate with so many women (and men!) who find a new respect and admiration for their bodies when they focus on what it can do, rather than what it looks like. I was excited to have a chance to catch up with her to learn more about how CrossFit helped her overcome her eating disorders, how we can support others who are struggling, and how she's using her experiences to help others in her new role as a counselor.In this episode we discuss:The factors that played into Becky developing an eating disorderHow she realized her relationship with food was unhealthyBecky’s advice on the best ways to approach a family or friend with an eating disorderHow she was able to safely reintroduce exercise into her routineThe importance of trying multiple nutritionists and counselors to find the right fit for youHow Becky’s calorie restriction turned into binge eating at nightWhy community support was so important for helping Becky to heal from her eating disorderUsing intuitive eating to establish a healthy relationship with foodUsing self care to overcome the self-hatred she experienced with her disorderWhat Becky’s life looks like todayHow her own experiences help her as a school counselor and a CrossFit coachCharacteristics of CrossFit that led Becky to feel like CrossFit saved her lifeHow Becky found the right balance for working out at an appropriate volumeThree things Becky does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her healthOne thing she knows would have a positive impact on her health, but she struggles to implementWhat a healthy life looks like to BeckyYou can follow Becky on Instagram, and you can follow her affiliate, SouthWind CrossFit on Instagram and Facebook.Related episodes:Ep 85 - Back on Track with Carleen MathewsEp 71 - The Sugar Free Revolution with Karen ThomsonEp 30 - Nadia Johnston on How CrossFit Helped Her to Overcome Eating Disorders and DepressionIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on September 14, 2020.
70 minutes | 3 months ago
Chandler Smith: Brotherhood, Heart, Attitude, Warrior PH160
“I think if I just limited myself to being an athlete I’d be doing a disservice to the other demographics that I represent. I’m a wrestler. I’m a former West Pointer. I’m an Army officer. All these different intersectionalities that are composed within me, and everyone has their own group of intersectionalities that they represent. That’s how you - if you want to create understanding about something that you do that’s outside of the gym - the CrossFit box is a great space for it, because again, of what you said. It’s not a responsibility, but it’s an opportunity that I think should be recognized and capitalized upon.”- Chandler SmithIn 2012, Chandler Smith set a goal to qualify for the CrossFit Games by 2022. In 2019, he smashed that goal when he placed 15th at his rookie CrossFit Games appearance, and now he's set his sights on climbing up the leaderboard.The path to becoming an elite CrossFit athlete hasn't always been straight-forward. As a child, Chandler had aspirations of following in his father's footsteps and playing for the NFL. But as a smaller athlete, in high school he decided to focus on wrestling, a sport better suited for his stature.A lifelong interest in the Army led Chandler to attend West Point, where he would continue to compete as a wrestler and received the Warrior Athlete of Excellence Award in recognition of his mental toughness, coachability, perseverance, and athletic skill.Following graduation, Chandler was commissioned as an officer and began work as a tank platoon leader. He had previously used CrossFit to help him train for wrestling, but now it became the primary focus for his athletic drive. In 2016, he made a splash onto the competitive scene when he qualified for the Atlantic Regional after finishing 7th in his region during his first complete CrossFit Open.In 2017, an injury resulting in the loss of part of his ring finger cut his Open season short, and in 2018, a deployment to Bulgaria meant work took priority over training. When he returned to the States, Chandler resumed training with a single-minded focus, and a stellar performance at the 2019 Rogue Invitational earned him a ticket to the Games.Today Chandler is a Captain in the United States Army as well as the officer in charge of the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness Team. In the lead up to the 2020 CrossFit Games, he's been training with athletes from all over the east coast in an effort to get out of his comfort zone and be as prepared as possible for whatever challenges lay in store.When Chandler and I recently caught up, I was excited to hear what his 2020 training season has looked like, how his experiences in the Army have helped him grow as a competitor, and to hear his ideas on how CrossFit can improve it's diversity, equity, and inclusion.In this episode we discuss:What Chandler’s training has looked like leading into the 2020 CrossFit GamesHis background and childhood, and how his parents and the Army have influenced himFactors that influenced Chandler to attend West PointHow Chandler got into CrossFitThe power of writing down your goalsHow Chandler’s success at the 2016 Regionals changed his approach to trainingHis experience at the 2019 CrossFit GamesChandler’s role with the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness TeamHow COVID has impacted his 2020Chandler’s decision to sit out the 2020 CrossFit Games following Greg Glassman’s commentsHis experience at the CrossFit Community Summit and first interactions with Eric RozaDiversity, Equity and Inclusion within CrossFitChandler's experience with being in the racial minority of CrossFit athletesThe importance of being a good role modelHis former political aspirations#BHAW: Brotherhood, Heart, Attitude, WarriorThree things Chandler does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his healthOne thing he thinks could have a big impact on his health, but he has a hard time implementingWhat a healthy life looks like to ChandlerYou can follow Chandler on Instagram and Facebook.Links:Training Think TankChandler Smith Loses Tip of Ring Finger Over WeekendFanBoy Among Top DogsCrossFit Games Regionals 2012 - Spencer Hendel Snatch LadderRelated episodes:Ep 157 - Work Hard, Be Kind with Cole SagerEp 147 - Cancer, Racism, and Speaking Up with Deb Cordner CarsonEp 130 - Kristi Eramo O'Connell on Training for Joy and BalanceEp 52b - Tia-Clair Toomey on Realizing Her CrossFit and Olympic Dreams and Finding ConfidenceIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on September 7, 2020.
65 minutes | 3 months ago
Exercise + Why It’s So Good For Us PH159
In this edition of the Pursuing Health Pearls, we take a deep dive into one of the last big cornerstones of health - physical activity and exercise.Generally physical activity refers to unplanned activity that you are doing throughout the day as part of your job or daily activities, while exercise is intentional, planned, or a structured form of physical activity, but you can expect us to use these terms interchangeably throught the rest of this post.Here, we’ll look at current physical activity patterns in the US and the world, and break down the latest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans which were created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Then we’ll provide an overview of the amazing benefits of physical activity, and dig into the mechanisms behind why it has such a positive impact on our physical and mental health. All of the information from this article comes directly from the guidelines unless otherwise noted.This excerpt from the introduction of the guidelines sums up the health impacts of exercise well:“Regular physical activity is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. Moving more and sitting less have tremendous benefits for everyone, regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, OR current fitness level. Individuals with a chronic disease or a disability benefit from regular physical activity, as do women who are pregnant. The scientific evidence continues to build—physical activity is linked with even more positive health outcomes than we previously thought. And, even better, benefits can start accumulating with small amounts of, and immediately after doing, physical activity.” Physical Activity Patterns in the USShockingly, only 26% of men, 19% of women, and 20% of adolescents report meeting current guidelines for physical activity (both aerobic and muscle strengthening).1 This means that close to 80% of Americans are not getting enough physical activity to support their health.This physical inactivity is linked to $117 billion in annual health care costs and 10% of premature deaths. The therapeutic potential of exercise is far-reaching given that 7 of the 10 most common chronic diseases are improved by physical activity. So, along with nutrition, sleep, and stress management, physical activity is a crucial cornerstone for health.This pattern of insufficient physical activity is also seen worldwide, although not to quite the same degree, where 1 in 5 people are insufficiently physically active according to a 2011 study of 300,000 individuals older than 15 years old form 76 different countries.2Physical Activity GuidelinesNow that we know there is a lot of room for improvement, we’ll break down the latest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. This is the 2nd edition of these guidelines published by the Department of Health and Human Services, and it was published just two years ago in 2018.Definitions:We’ll begin with some definitions to give us context as we go through the guidelines:Intensity of Physical Activity:Light-intensity: Walking at slow/leisurely pace, cooking, light household choresModerate-intensity: Brisk walk, light biking, heavy house cleaning, mowing the lawn or raking the yard (can talk, but not sing)Vigorous-intensity: Jogging, running, carrying heavy groceries upstairs, shoveling snow, fast biking, or a high-intensity fitness class (cannot say more than a few words)Examples of different intensities of physical activity. Adapted from Harvard.edu.Types of Physical Activity:Aerobic: Endurance or “cardio” characterized by increased heart rate. eg) brisk walking, running, biking, jumping rope, swimming, or rowing.Muscle-strengthening: Resistance training or weight lifting, exercises that cause the body’s muscles to work or hold against an applied force or weight. eg) external weights, resistance bands, or body weight exercises.Bone-strengthening: Weight bearing or loading activity that puts a force on the bone to promotes bone growth and strength, commonly produced by impact with the ground. eg) jumping jacks, running, brisk walking, jump rope, weightlifting.Balance: Improves our ability to resist forces outside the body that cause falls. eg) walking backward, standing on one leg, wobble board, or weightlifting with free weights.Flexibility: Enhances the ability of a joint to move through full range of motion eg) stretching, yoga.Next we’ll review the guidelines for children and adolescents, and adults, as well as some special considerations for older adults, those with chronic health conditions and disabilities, and pregnant and postpartum women. Preschool Aged Children (3-5 years)The previous version of the guidelines did not address children in this age group, but evidence for improved bone health and weight in children who are active between age 3-5 years has become clear. Our sedentary lifestyles are now affecting children and younger and younger ages, so that may be why it was important to specifically address this group.The guidelines here are very general, basically saying that kids should be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development. They should be encouraged to engage in active play that includes a variety of activity types. Children and Adolescents (6-17)For children and adolescents, it’s important to provide opportunities and encouragement for movement that is age-appropriate, enjoyable, and offers variety. 60 minutes or more of moderate-vigorous physical activity daily is recommended, and this should include vigorous activity, muscle strengthening activity, and bone strengthening activity at least 3 days per week each. AdultsGeneral recommendations for adults include encouraging them to move more and sit less throughout the day, and these guidelines acknowledge that any amount of moderate-vigorous physical activity is beneficial. Previous guidelines had suggested activity had to come in at least 10 minute intervals, but the evidence is now clear that any amount of activity provides positive health benefits.For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity, 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity (or some combination of the two) aerobic activity per week. Ideally, this should be spread throughout the week. To see what this would look like, that would be a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity (like brisk walking) or 15 minutes of vigorous activity (like biking or running) 5 days per week, or some combination of those. It’s important to note that additional health benefits have been associated with more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week as well. In addition to this aerobic activity, muscle strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups are recommended two or more days per week. Older AdultsThe guidelines for older adults are the same as adults, but include a few extra points.Part of weekly physical activity for older adults should include multicomponent activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.The level of effort should be relative to their level of fitness.When they can’t do 150 min of moderate intensity activity per week because of chronic conditions, they should do as much as they are able.This sounds a lot like CrossFit, doesn’t it? Constantly varied, functional movements, done at intensity that is relative to the individual. Pregnancy + PostpartumFor pregnant and postpartum women, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week spread throughout the week is recommended. If the woman engaged in vigorous intensity aerobic activity before pregnancy, she can safely continue during pregnancy and postpartum.It is also important to note that the guidelines recommend pregnant and postpartum women should be under the care of a healthcare provider who can monitor the progress of the pregnancy, and they should consult their health care providers about whether or how to adjust physical activity during pregnancy and postpartum. Adults with chronic health conditions and disabilitiesThe recommendations for this group are the same as adults, but if they are unable to meet those guidelines they should engage in regular physical activity according to their abilities and avoid inactivity. Basically, something is always better than nothing. Adults with chronic health conditions and disabilities should be under the care of a health care provider when engaging in exercise, and they should consult with a healthcare professional or physical activity specialist about the types and amounts of activity that are appropriate for their abilities and chronic conditions.Physical Activity + SafetyOne of the big deterrents for many considering starting an exercise program is a fear of injury or heart attack. The guidelines specifically address this issue, stating that studies in generally healthy people clearly show that there is low risk with moderate-intensity activity.The risk of injury does increase with the total amount of physical activity, which makes sense. For example, someone who is running 40 miles per week has higher risk of injury than someone running 10 miles per week. Not surprisingly, there is also higher risk of injury in contact or collision sports such as soccer or football.It is also important to note that those who are less fit are more likely to be injured than those who are more fit when doing the same activity. For example, cardiac events (heart attack or sudden death) are very rare during physical activity, but the risk does increase when a person suddenly becomes more active than they were previously. The greatest risk comes when an adult who is usually inactive engages in vigorous intensity activity (for example, shoveling heavy snow). People who are regularly physically active, however, have the lowest risk of cardiac events both during activity and overall. In order to minimize this risk, it’s important for someone who is deconditioned and starting to ramp up their activity to “start low and go slow.”The bottom line is that the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of adverse events for almost everyone, and we also have to weigh the risks of being inactive, such as increased risk of chronic disease, decrepitude, and injury or heart attack when life does demand for us to suddenly exert ourselves.Here are some ways that the guidelines suggest to minimize risk:Choose types of physical activity that are appropriate for current fitness level and health goalsIncrease physical activity gradually over time to meet key guidelines or health goals. “Start low and go slow” with lower intensity activities and gradually increase frequency, duration, and intensity over time. Consider one-on-one instruction when learning something new.Use appropriate gear and sports equipment, choose safe environments, follow rules, and make sensible choices about when, where, and how to be active.Consider air quality when planning to be active. Exposure to air pollution is associated with health problems including asthma attacks and cardiac events. If possible, modifying the location or timing of exercise outdoors to avoid heavy traffic and industrial sites especially during rush hour or high pollution times can improve safety. The Environmental Protection Agency Air Quality Index (AQI) provides information about when air conditions are unhealthy that can be accessed here.And as a reminder, those who have a chronic health condition, symptoms, or are pregnant, should be under the care of a healthcare provider and consult with their health care provider or trainer about types and amounts of activity that are appropriate for them. Physical Activity and Our Health Now that we know the guidelines and some parameters for implementing physical activity safely, we’ll review what we know about how physical activity impacts our health.Most striking is the impact of physical activity on all-cause mortality, or death from any cause. To put some numbers to this, it’s estimated that people who are active 150 minutes/week have a 33% lower risk of death from all causes than those who are not physically active.The graph below compares amount of physical activity per week and mortality. As you can see, the highest mortality (or risk of dying) is over on the top left, when someone is not physically active at all. From there, there is a pretty steep drop off - where going from no physical activity to just small amounts of physical activity results in a large reduction in risk of dying. Most of the benefit of physical activity on mortality risk is achieved by the time you get to 150-300 minutes/week, which is how the guidelines were derived. However, there does seem to be additional benefit and no increased risk of mortality even at very high levels of physical activity (3-5x the amount recommended in the guidelines). Relationship of Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity to All-Cause Mortality from the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Aside from decreased risk of death, regular physical activity has many other specific health benefits which are outlined in the table below:Health Benefits of Regular Physical Activity from the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Cardiorespiratory + Metabolic Health Cardiorespiratory and metabolic health are the areas that have been most heavily researched and where the benefits of regular physical activity are abundantly clear. Physical activity strongly reduces both the risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.Exercise also reduces elevated blood pressure, an effect that can be observed immediately after just one bout of physical activity. Regular physical activity can also reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure in the future.Regular physical activity also reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Insulin sensitivity can improve with just a single bout of physical activity. Physical activity also helps to control blood glucose in people who already have type 2 diabetes, and reduces the progression of the disease.Lower triglycerides and higher HDL are also observed in those who exercise regularly. Physical activity can also help with weight gain, but it’s important to note that a lot of the benefits of exercise are independent of weight. So, even if someone is not losing weight while exercising, they are still experiencing a lot of health benefits. Bone and Musculoskeletal HealthExercise also plays a big role in the health of our muscles and bones. We know muscle strengthening exercises help to preserve or increase muscle mass, strength, and power and can also improve muscular strength in people with conditions where the musculature is affected such as stroke, MS, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord injury.When it comes to bones, regular exercise helps us to build strong bones as we are growing up, and it also helps to reduce the decline in bone density that is often seen with aging. Improved symptoms of osteoarthritis and other bone conditions, pain management, function, and quality of life are also seen in those who are physically active. In particular, having arthritis can often be a deterrent to doing exercise, but regular physical activity is associated with decreased pain, improved physical function, and improved health-related quality of life in those with osteoarthritis, and being active does not seem to make the arthritis progress any more quickly than it would otherwise. Functional Ability and Fall Prevention Physical activity is critical for functionality and the prevention of falls in older adults. Physical activity can prevent or delay the onset of functional limitations that necessitate the need for assisted living or 24/7 care in a nursing home.Physical activity also reduces the risk of falling which can result in injuries that dramatically change one’s quality of life. Hip fractures are one example of this. An all-too-common story is an elder who falls and breaks their hip after which they never return to the same baseline, end up needing support for their activities of daily living, and continue to experience a decline in health until the end of life.For those at risk for these kinds of injuries, multi-component physical activity programs including muscle strengthening, balance, gait and coordination, and moderate-intensity activities such as walking are most successful at reducing falls and injuries. This type of exercise is also beneficial for recovery of injuries such as hip fractures as well as neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and stroke. Brain Health The positive benefits of physical activity are clear, and this is an exciting and continually emerging area of research.Some of the benefits of exercise on the brain are immediate, after just one bout of exercise. These include: reduced anxiety, improved sleep, and improvements in some aspects of cognitive function such as performance on academic achievement tests, executive function, processing speed, and memory.Regular physical activity over the course of days to weeks is also associated with the following improvements: long term anxiety, deep sleep, sleep quality, sleep efficiency, and daytime sleepiness, decreased use of medication to facilitate sleep, aspects of executive function such as the ability to plan and organize, monitor, inhibit or facilitate behaviors, initiate tasks, and control emotions, reduced risk of dementia, improved quality of life, and reduced depression. CancerPhysically active adults have a significantly lower risk of developing several common types of cancer including:BreastColonlungBladderEndometrialEsophagusKidneyStomachBenefits are also seen in breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer cancer survivors with regard to quality of life, and the risk of dying from their cancer as well as all other causes. Pregnancy + PostpartumFinally, with regard to women during the pregnancy and postpartum periods, physical activity is generally safe and reduces risk of excessive weight gain and gestational diabetes during pregnancy. It increases cardiorespiratory fitness without increasing risk of negative birth outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm delivery, or early pregnancy loss. In the postpartum period, physical activity decreases symptoms of postpartum depression and can improve the return to pre-pregnancy weight. Risks of Sedentary Behavior Now that we’ve reviewed all the wonderful positive impacts of exercise on our health, we’ll highlight the increased risk that comes from not being physically active, or from sedentary behavior.We’ve all heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” by now, and it’s well deserved - sedentary behavior poses a tremendous health risk.What does sedentary behavior actually mean? Sedentary behavior includes waking behavior with low energy expenditure, in a sitting, reclining or lying position, which may include TV or other screen time.Relationship among moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, sitting time, and risk of all-cause mortality in adults from the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimates that children and adults in the US spend 7.7 hours per day sedentary. According to the study, that’s more than half of the time they are awake! The prevalence of sedentary professions has increased by 20% in the United States between 1960 and 2008, with a simultaneous decline of more “physically active professions.”3 This may explain, in part, why we are now facing such an epidemic of sedentarism and chronic disease.More time spent in sedentary behavior increases the risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer of the colon, endometrium, and lung.A large 2016 meta-analysis study which pooled 16 studies looking at over 1 million people demonstrated that increased daily sitting time and decreased moderate-vigorous physical activity increased all-cause mortality risk.4 The heatmap above used data from this study to plot all-cause mortality risk based on both daily sitting time and the amount of moderate- to vigorous- physical activity.From all of this data, it is clear that two different approaches are both necessary to decrease all-cause mortality risk: 1) increasing the amount of moderate- to vigorous- physical activity done per week and 2) reducing the time spent sitting (replace with light-intensity activity). Two ways we personally like to do the latter are using standing desks, and the Pomodoro Technique as a way to take regular breaks and move around. Comparison of Exercise and PharmaceuticalsNext, we’ll review the impact of exercise relative to pharmaceutical drug interventions we have for certain chronic diseases. When making such comparisons, it is important to note that exercise does not benefit just the specific condition the drug is treating and what is being studied. As we’ve reviewed above, exercise has a wide range of positive side effects from improved mood, to decreased cancer risk, to decreased frailty and fall risk. So even if exercise is equally or even slightly less effective than a pharmaceutical drug (that comes with its own unwanted side effects), many people may still opt to incorporate exercise if given the choice.A 2015 study that looked at 16 meta-analyses including over 305 randomized controlled trials with over 300,000 participants found that physical activity was more effective than drug interventions among patients with stroke.5 The drug interventions they looked at included antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin or plavix and anticoagulants such as coumadin. Additionally, they found no difference in mortality outcomes between exercise and drug interventions for secondary prevention of heart disease (i.e. trying to prevent cardiac death after already having been diagnosed with heart disease), or prediabetes.Finally, a separate review of randomized controlled trials comparing exercise to antidepressants showed that exercise and antidepressants were equally effective for depression.6 The Mechanisms: How Physical Activity Impacts Our Health7Here, we will review 3 main mechanisms by which exercise improves our health:Optimizing the stress responseReducing inflammationEnhancing brain health A Review of the Stress ResponseWe’ve talked about the stress response in many previous episodes, but essentially it is composed of two different systems:The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis, which releases glucocorticoids including cortisolThe Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), which includes the sympathetic nervous system that releases chemicals like epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrineActivating these systems in response to an acute stressor (such as getting chased by a tiger, or slamming on your breaks at the last minute to nearly miss a car accident) then coordinates the response of other systems (cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, GI, immune, nervous) in a fight-or-flight response that includes mobilization of energy or glucose, increases in heart rate and blood pressure, enhanced cognitive processes such as alertness, arousal, vigilance, and attention, and a coordinated inflammatory response to prepare for potential injuries or infections.However, chronic long-term activation of this fight or flight response results in persistent activation of these systems, which can lead to chronic systemic inflammation and a whole host of chronic health conditions. Optimizing the Stress Response Acute exercise activates the stress response in a dose-dependent manner (that means higher intensity or longer duration exercise results in a more robust stress response). This may seem counterintuitive, however, over time this can be a good thing.It turns out that although exercise acutely increases the stress response, repeated, intermittent exposures to exercise, with enough time to recover in between, can lead to physiological “stress training”, meaning we develop a more optimized response when we encounter exercise or other stressors in the future.This is an example of the concept of hormesis, which is the notion that low levels of cellular stress (whether from exercise, toxins, temperature changes, or other factors) stimulate or upregulate existing cellular and molecular pathways that improve the ability of cells and organisms to withstand greater stresses.An untrained person initially mounts a dramatic stress response to exercise, but after training, the stress response to the same physical stimulus is lower. Not only is the response to physical stress lower, but regular activity seems to provide protection against mental and/or psychological stressors as well. Regular physical activity results in greater control of the parasympathetic system (the “rest and digest” part of the ANS that counters the “fight or flight” effects of the sympathetic nervous system). This is why those who engage in regular activity are also found to have lower heart rate and blood pressure readings at rest. Additionally, higher physical fitness is also associated with a more optimized immune response. Reducing Inflammation In addition to optimizing the stress response, exercise also plays a role in reducing the chronic systemic inflammation that is seen in states of metabolic dysfunction and chronic disease. For example, inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) are lower in those who engage in regular physical activity compared to those who are inactive. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce brain inflammation in response to insults such as stroke or infection.This reduction in inflammation could be at least in part due to a reduction in visceral fat mass, which we know releases many pro-inflammatory chemicals, but there also seems to be an anti-inflammatory effect separate from the reduction in fat mass that may come with regular activity.Interestingly, we know that a specific chemical called IL-6, when released from contracting skeletal muscle promotes an anti-inflammatory environment. More IL-6 is released with increased intensity and duration of exercise. Although IL-6 has a proinflammatory effect when released from other tissues such as adipose tissue, when released from skeletal muscle it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. Enhancing Brain Health A final mechanism by which exercise improves our health is by enhancing brain health. Chronic stress with persistent cortisol exposure has detrimental effects on brain including: reduced volumes of certain brain regions such as the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, decreased expression and signalling of neurotrophic factors (factors that improve cell growth, survival, and repair), reduced generation of new neurons and their supporting cells called glial cells, depression, and impaired cognitive function.Regular exercise, on the other hand, has been shown to enhance positive mood, decrease depression and anxiety, and increase cognitive function. This occurs by two major mechanisms:Structural: Regular exercise results in increased neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, gliogenesis, angiogenesis. This means increased production of brain cells, more connections between those cells, increased surrounding support cells, and more blood vessels to bring nutrients and take away waste from the brain cells as they do their job. Structural brain changes seen with regular exercise include: increased grey matter volume and white matter integrity (especially in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus), and decreased age-related hippocampal volume loss.Cellular and Molecular: Regular physical activity results in increased expression of growth factors and neurotransmitters, which results in improved function and communication between neurons.Together both of these mechanisms help to enhance neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to learn and make new connections between neurons, and may be able to reduce or reverse some of the detrimental effects of chronic stress on the brain.Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is one of the most important and widely studied growth factors when it comes to the impact of exercise. BDNF supports the survival of existing neurons and promotes the growth of new neurons and connections. Low levels of BDNF are found in many chronic disease states and metabolic conditions associated with insulin resistance including neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers, major depression, impaired cognitive function, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Enhanced BDNF levels are associated with improved metabolism and cardiovascular function, and decreased risk of Alzheimer’s. BDNF levels are downregulated by chronic stress and inflammation, but exercise has been shown to significantly increase BDNF production in the brain, which then circulates to the rest of the body.8 In summary, a great majority of our US population is not getting enough physical activity to substantially benefit their health. The ways that increasing physical activity and decreasing sedentary time can improve our health are numerous, and we reviewed the most recent guidelines for Americans to reap these benefits. Regular exercise can have similar effects to pharmaceutical drugs for some common conditions like stroke, heart disease, prediabetes, and depression. Exercise exerts its health benefits through three major mechanisms: optimizing the stress response, reducing inflammation, and enhancing brain health.When it comes to helping a friend or family member get started with exercise, interventions that are based in behavior change theory are usually most successful. Some that we have found most useful are the stages of behavior change, motivational interviewing, and solution focused therapy. Generally, community or peer support is helpful for creating sustained change. Technology can provide feedback or remote coaching and guidance to someone starting a new program. Most importantly, we find that helping someone to tie their physical activity goals to their values and what’s most important to them in life is the key to finding long term success.We also recognize that we have a lot of work to do to improve the ability of our population to be more active on a community level. Working with our communities to make doing physical activity a safe and easy choice is something we can all strive to do. Related episodes:Ep 132 - Healing Through Functional Movement with Dr. Amy WestEp 139 - Stress: The Elephant in the Room with Dr. George Slavich If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday. Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on August 31, 2020.
82 minutes | 3 months ago
Eric Roza: CrossFit’s new CEO on Health, Happiness, and Performance PH158
“So, you have this term sheet, and the term sheet is non-binding, either party can walk away. The most important part of it is that you’re agreed on some basics for the transaction, and there’s what’s called a no-shop or exclusivity period. Usually lawyers write that, and that says that the seller can’t talk to anybody else. You can do a lot of work, spend a lot of time, spend a lot of money figuring out how this is going to happen. So, instead of talking to any lawyers, I just said I’m going to write this myself right from the heart. So, I wrote - I basically said, “Greg, please don’t shop this deal or try to negotiate it in anyway. I’m not commodity money. I’m a passionate [person] who wants to spend the rest of his life building on your legacy.” And, it was my first version of this notion of being the world’s leading platform for health, happiness, and performance.”- Eric RozaWhen CrossFit, Inc. announced that Eric Roza would be taking over as the new owner and CEO, the news was met with excitement and enthusiasm from the CrossFit community. As a longtime CrossFit athlete and affiliate owner, he has experienced first-hand the power of CrossFit to forge bonds and bring people together, as well as the challenges facing affiliate owners.Eric brings much more than just a passion for CrossFit to the table. He has a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur, business owner, executive, and consultant.Eric studied Economics at the University of Michigan, and completed his Masters of Business Administration at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. In 2007 he founded Datalogix and served as CEO until the company was acquired by Oracle in 2015. From there he led Oracle's Data Cloud. Most recently he's served as an executive in residence for a venture capital firm and taught entrepreneur leadership as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.Eric is also an active board member for several organizations and supports charitable efforts focused on mental healthcare, education, and entrepreneurship. In his downtime, he enjoys working out with friends, skiing, mountain biking, running, singing, and playing guitar with his band, The House Cats.I first met Eric about a month ago, and we immediately connected over his vision to make CrossFit “The world’s leading platform for health, happiness, and performance." I was excited to catch up with him to learn more about the behind-the-scenes process for taking over as CrossFit CEO, the key elements that have played a role in the transition, and his vision for the future of CrossFit.In this episode we discuss:Eric’s fitness background and how he found CrossFitHow CrossFit has impacted his mental healthEric's dream of owning CrossFit, and how that dream materializedHow he assessed what needed to be done to transition CrossFit to new leadershipThe importance of identifying and communicating with stakeholdersThe inception and evolution of the CrossFit Community SummitThe biggest priorities for CrossFit at the momentCrossFit's new mission to become, "The world's leading platform for health, happiness and performance."Why CrossFit for health and CrossFit for performance are not separate entitiesThe notion of thinking “in the box” vs “out of the box:” expanding the idea of what a CrossFit box is, and bringing CrossFit to different audiencesWho will be driving the decision-making process of CrossFit moving forwardThree things Eric does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his healthOne thing he thinks could have a big impact on his health, but he has a hard time implementingWhat a healthy life looks like to EricYou can follow Eric on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.Links:Live Zoom with Eric Roza and Dave CastroCrossFit Community Town HallCrossFit SanitasBorn to RunMBS CrossFitThe AlchemistAthena Perez: Famished, Force-Fed, 450 PoundsRelated episodes:Ep 58 - Nicole Carroll On the Early Days and Preserving the Culture of CrossFitEp 118 - The State of CrossFit with Coach Greg GlassmanEp 131 - Dave Castro on Changes in Life and the CrossFit GamesIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on August 24, 2020.
84 minutes | 3 months ago
Be Kind, Work Hard with Cole Sager PH157
“When you think of the CrossFit community, you think of people who are going to the gym to challenge themselves, to be better than they were the day before, and that is such a cool part of the community, and it’s what I fell in love with.”- Cole Sager 6-time CrossFit Games athlete Cole Sager wants to be known as the kindest person you'll ever meet, and in doing so, he hopes to motivate others to be the kindest, hardest-working version of themselves.Growing up in a small town in Washington, Cole played sports throughout his youth and aspired to be an NFL player. In 2009 he joined the Washington University Huskies as an invited walk-on, and was one of only a handful of true freshmen to play. At the end of his freshman year, he was awarded the Scout Special Teams Player of The Year award, an honor that would change the trajectory of his life. The honor was awarded based on hard work, and receiving it ignited Cole's drive to always be the hardest worker on the field.As Cole neared graduation, his goals shifted from playing professional football to becoming a professional CrossFit athlete. Within months of his first CrossFit workout he qualified for Regionals, and just one year after that he established himself a serious contender when he placed first at the 2014 North West Regional and 17th in his rookie appearance at the CrossFit Games.Eventually, Cole took a leap of faith, resigned from his job as a loan originator, and began training full-time in his home garage gym. With the support of his wife, Genasee, and his coach, Ben Bergeron, he has built a reputation as one of CrossFit's most consistent athletes. Career highlights so far include placing 5th at the 2016 CrossFit Games, 2nd at the 2019 Fittest in Cape Town sanctional, and 3rd at the 2019 Rogue Invitational, but according to Cole, one of his biggest achievements was winning the Spirit of the Games award in 2017, an honor that recognized all the hard work he puts into developing his character.I was excited to catch up with Cole to learn more about what drives the intensity behind his training, the qualities he values in himself and others, and why he believes developing character leads to athletic excellence.In this episode we discuss:How Cole is approaching the 2020 CrossFit GamesHow he stays focused on his goals in the face of doubtCole’s collegiate football careerLetting go of NFL aspirations and falling in love with CrossFitCole’s experience of getting to his first CrossFit GamesHow he started working with Ben Bergeron as a coachThe qualities of a good coachHow Cole has developed as a person over the course of his CrossFit careerHow he stays driven to train even on days he doesn’t feel like itThe importance of accepting help from others to hold yourself accountableHow Cole’s wife, Genasee, is a vital part of his teamA typical day for Cole and GenaseeThree things Cole does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his healthOne thing he thinks could have a big impact on his health, but he has a hard time implementingWhat a healthy life looks like to ColeYou can follow Cole on his website and on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.Links:Cole Sager: CrossFit Games 2018Cole Sager: Nutrition, Mindset, and FitnessAshleigh Moe's StruggleRory Zambard: Transmission of CultureCompTrainStart With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon SinekWorking Against GravityEric ThomasRelated episodes:Ep 54 - Neal Maddox: From Football to FortyEp 56 – Katrín Davíðsdóttir and Ben Bergeron on the Process of Creating a ChampionEp 76 - Working Against Gravity with Adee CazayouxEp 84 - Chasing Excellence with Ben BergeronIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on August 17, 2020.
35 minutes | 4 months ago
Adapting to Muscular Dystrophy with Dano Lotz PH156
“When I was 12, I played my last season of parks and rec basketball in braces, and after that, everyone was basically like, 'Hey, no sports. Try to limit activity, we don't need you to get hurt because you could seriously injure yourself.' So, it basically turned into video games and reading. I think it was in the best interest to keep me safe, but in my mind I was like, 'So, I don't get to play with my friends unless I'm inside?'”- Dano LotzImagine being an active kid who loves playing baseball, basketball, soccer- basically anything outdoors. You notice you’re a little slower than your classmates, but you chalk it up to minor differences, and go on playing sports for the love of the game. Then, at age 12, you’re put in leg braces and told you need to stop being active in order to prevent injury. Suddenly your world shrinks to afternoons on the couch, reading and playing video games.This was the case for Daniel ‘Dano’ Lotz, who was born with a genetic condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease. CMT is a form of muscular dystrophy that affects sensory and motor nerves in the extremities, causing nerve degeneration and resulting in muscle weakness. In Dano’s case, his CMT affects his lower legs, including his calves and ankles.Dano wasn’t about to let his condition hold him back. At 16 he started weight training with the football team at his high school, and he found a new passion. Working out helped him regain muscle mass and motor control, and it gave him the satisfaction of being part of a team. It also ignited a fire to one day become a trainer himself.As Dano continued to improve and build strength, his mentality changed. Rather than letting his limitations hold him back, he became more and more active- but ended up breaking several pairs of braces, an expensive habit. He decided to stop wearing the braces and continued with his active lifestyle. After several years of working out at traditional gyms and practicing to become a personal trainer, some friends invited him to join them for his first CrossFit workout- Fight Gone Bad.Dano finished the workout, collapsed to the floor, and fell in love. He would go on to get his Level 1, and then his Level 2 Certificate, and has had the opportunity to compete as an adaptive athlete and to coach at multiple affiliates across the United States. Dano’s tenacity and determination give him a unique perspective as a trainer. As he himself learned what movements he could do, and how to modify the movements he struggled with, he laid the groundwork to be able to empathize with others.Now, as a full-time trainer, Dano says, “The best thing is that I now get to teach and train others to become the best versions of themselves.”I first heard Dano’s story several years ago- not too long after he started CrossFit. I was excited to catch up with him and hear how his story has grown and evolved, and how he's using his passion for fitness to inspire others.In this episode we discuss:CMT muscular dystrophy: what it is and what it has looked like in Dano's lifeHow Dano’s childhood and activity was impacted by his conditionReflecting on how becoming active as a teenager improved his mood and motor functionHow Dano became interested in personal training and exercise scienceHow Dano got into CrossFitThe changes he noticed in his health and physical abilities once he started CrossFitHow he decided to become a CrossFit coach and what that journey has looked likeHow his experiences as an adaptive athlete help him as a coachMaking the most of his downtime from coaching during the COVID pandemicThree things Dano does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his healthOne thing he knows would have a positive impact on his health, but he struggles to implementWhat a healthy life looks like to DanoYou can follow Dano on Instagram and Twitter, and you can follow the Adapting to Life podcast on Instagram and YouTube.Links:Winona State UniversityNational Academy of Sports MedicineRelated episodes:Ep 107 - Play the Hand You're Dealt: Choosing to Thrive with a Rare Genetic Condition and Congenital Heart Defect with Stephen DouglasEp 124 - Breaking Barriers with an Adaptive Athlete and Coach Kevin OgarIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on August 10, 2020.
85 minutes | 4 months ago
FACTS about Fertility with Dr. Marguerite Duane PH155
“When women learn to chart these observable external signs or symptoms that help them understand what’s happening internally with their hormones, it is so empowering, and we really should be about empowering our patients with this information. I mean, that’s why we encourage our patients to track with they’re their eating, or patients with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar so that they can use that information to to make healthier choices to better improve their overall health and well-being. Fertility awareness based methods are such an incredibly effective tool to educate and empower women, and honestly, engage men back in the conversation of family planning.”- Dr. Marguerite Duane Dr. Marguerite Duane is a board-certified family physician and co-founder and Executive Director of FACTS, the Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science. She serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Georgetown University, where she directs an introductory course on natural or fertility awareness based methods of family planning.She is a practicing direct primary care physician and she has served on the board of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the Family Medicine Education Consortium (FMEC).After receiving a Bachelor of Science with Honors and a Master of Health Administration from Cornell University, she earned her medical degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and completed her family medicine residency at Lancaster General Hospital.During her residency, she was surprised to hear her senior resident explain to a postpartum patient that there is a way women can learn to manage their fertility without any medical side effects, such as those that occur from hormonal birth control. She wondered how it was possible this topic hadn't been covered in her medical training.This insight planted the seed that changed the trajectory of her career. Dr. Duane began to focus on learning more about these methods, for her own personal health as well as that of her patients. She went on to complete training in the Creighton Model of natural family planning and has since made it her passion to educate other healthcare providers and patients.After recently completing the FACTS course for medical students and residents myself, I was excited to have the opportunity to chat more with Dr. Duane about the basics of the female cycle, the efficacy of natural family planning, and the science behind fertility awareness based methods.*Dr. Duane's bio adapted from the FACTS website. In this episode we discuss:How Dr. Duane became interested in fertility awareness based methodsHow FACTS came to beThe need to educate doctors about FABMsThe benefits of being in tune with your cycleThe efficacy of this method and the best way to get startedThe basics of the female cycle, and what women can observe throughout their cycleHow following your cycle can give insights to your healthHow FABMs can help explain underlying reasons for infertilityWhere to look for a practitioner and how to get startedFactors to consider when choosing the right method for yourselfPreferred apps and what to look for when selecting an app to useThe value of using FABMs to help with underlying medical conditionsDr. Duane's experience with Teen STAR and the benefits of learning these methods from an early ageThree things that Dr. Duane does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her healthOne thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her healthWhat a healthy life looks like to Dr. DuaneYou can follow the Fertility Awareness Collaborative to Teach the Science (FACTS) on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.Links:Natural family planning: physicians' knowledge, attitudes, and practiceWomen’s interest in natural family planningSurvey of attitudes regarding natural family planning in an urban Hispanic populationThe Female Cycle as the 5th Vital Sign WebinarBillings Ovulation MethodSympto-Thermal MethodStandard Days MethodMarquette ModelWhat is charting?The Performance of Fertility Awareness-based Method Apps Marketed to Avoid PregnancyThe Natural Cycles appThe Dot appPhendo app for endometriosisFEMM Health appCycle Pro Go appChart Neo Fertility appKindara appRelated episodes:Ep 83 - Pelvic Floor Health for Athletes with Julie Wiebe, PTEp 126b - Nicole Christensen on Coaching Pregnant AthletesIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday. Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns. This post was originally published on August 3, 2020.
54 minutes | 4 months ago
Sleep Basics PH154
We continue the saga of exploring the foundations of health in this edition of Pursuing Health Pearls as we take a deep dive into the topic of sleep.We’ll start with a basic overview of the state of sleep in the US and the world. Then we’ll dig deep into how lack of sleep is implicated in disease and shed some light on the crucial role sleep plays in our health and safety. We’ll spend some time briefly outlining the important components of what signals us to sleep and what happens when we do, and then we’ll wrap up by summarizing some of the most important and simple tools at our fingertips for improving sleep quality and quantity.Please do keep in mind that this is an enormous topic, and as the title states, we are only dipping our toe in the basics of sleep and why it’s important here. Future posts may further explore maximizing sleep while doing shift work or traveling across time zones, sleep tracking, and specific sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea, so stay tuned for those!State of Sleep in USLet’s start with what we know about the state of sleep in the US and across the world. In the US, ⅓ of adults report sleeping less than 7 hours per night,1 which is the recommended minimum for adults by the Centers for Disease Control2 and National Sleep Foundation.3Lack of sleep duration also highlights racial and socioeconomic disparities in the US.4 Minorities report less sleep than non-minorities, as do those who are unable to work or those who are unemployed. Furthermore, sleep duration is highest among those with higher education and those who were married. These disparities are seen worldwide as well, where lower education, not living in partnership, and lower quality of life are associated with higher prevalence of sleep problems.5The World Health Organization (WHO) has even declared sleep loss an epidemic with roughly ⅔ of adults sleeping less than 8 hours per night.6Sleep, Health, and DiseaseThe science is becoming increasingly clear that this lack of adequate sleep is a threat to our health and safety. Insufficient sleep is linked to 7 of the 15 leading causes of death in the US including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, accidents, and cancer.7,8,9 Metabolic Health As we discussed in Episode 146 about Metabolic Health, hallmarks of metabolic dysfunction are excess carbohydrate consumption and impaired blood sugar regulation. As it turns out, inadequate sleep results in both.First, we know that inadequate sleep results in increased food consumption, and particularly sugar. Sleep loss results in a decrease in the satiety hormone Leptin - which signals our brains that we are full,10 and also increases a hunger hormone called ghrelin, which motivates us to eat more. Together, these changes in hormone levels signal that we are both hungry and that we are not full. It’s been shown that those who are sleep deprived have increased hunger and appetite.11,12 Sleep loss has also been shown to result in increased calorie consumption by about 250 cal/day when compared to conditions of normal sleep duration.13 Additionally, those who are sleep deprived have increased preference for calorie-dense, high carbohydrate foods that are especially damaging to our metabolic health.14 This preference for hyperpalatable foods and carbohydrates may be due to changes observed in brain activity in sleep loss states in the areas of cognitive control and reward in the brain.15Not only are we primed to consume more calories and more energy-dense carbohydrates when sleep deprived, but sleep deprivation also makes our bodies less insulin sensitive,16 meaning we are not able to handle those carbohydrates as well either. Sleep restriction to 4 hours for 1 night17 or 5 hours per night for just one week resulted in significant reductions in insulin sensitivity.18Together this increased intake paired with impaired glucose regulation (insulin resistance) leads to weight gain19 and metabolic dysfunction. Additionally, even if restricting calories, the fraction of weight loss from fat while sleep deprived is much less, while weight loss from lean body mass is increased.20,21Sleep loss also increases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, the chronic effects of which we discussed in our episode on metabolic health and in Episode 139 with Dr. George Slavich on stress. Some effects of chronic sympathetic activation include increased heart rate and blood pressure, increased stress hormones such as cortisol, increased brain activation which may contribute to anxiety or insomnia, and increased low-grade inflammation. Years of inadequate sleep can contribute to the body chronically being stuck in this fight-or-flight state, which can then lead to a host of health problems. Deep sleep combats this sympathetic state by allowing a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure. Inadequate time in a deep sleep state prevents the cardiovascular system from achieving adequate time for rest, repair, and recovery.Inadequate sleep also contributes to metabolic dysfunction through its epigenetic effects. Each of us is born with DNA which does not change and provides the instructions for our cells, but epigenetics is the description of how those genes are used - which genes are turned on and turned off - and that is mainly controlled by our lifestyle factors and exposures, sleep being an important one. A study restricting men and women to 6 hours of sleep per night for one week compared their gene expression to when they had 8.5 hours of sleep.22 Researchers found a change in the epigenetics, or expression of 711 different genes among these two states. When the researchers looked closer at the genes in the sleep deprived state, they found that the expression of genes linked to chronic inflammation, cell stress, and cardiovascular disease were increased, while those that maintain optimal metabolism and immune function were decreased.As we’ve discussed previously, the ultimate deadly outcome of metabolic dysfunction as the high blood pressure, inflammation, and sympathetic state continue to spiral out of control is cardiovascular disease culminating in strokes and heart attacks, and sleep deprivation has been associated with greater risk of both.23Interestingly, even small changes in sleep may impact heart attack risk. For example, one study done at the University of Michigan found a 24% increase in patients presenting with heart attacks to the hospital the Monday after “spring forward” daylight savings time, when they lost an hour of sleep over the weekend.24 After the “fall back” daylight savings time when patients gained an hour of sleep, they observed a 21% drop in heart attacks.To summarize the effects of chronic sleep loss on metabolism, we know that it:Increases appetite and hungerDecreases impulse control in the brainIncreases caloric intake, particularly carbohydratesDecreases insulin sensitivity (the ability to control blood sugar)Increases sympathetic tone or the “fight-or-flight” stateHas epigenetic effects, altering the expression of genes toward metabolic dysfunctionUltimately, this contributes to a metabolically dysfunctional state in which it is more difficult to lose fat even while restricting calories, and ultimately, over the long-term can accelerate progression toward fatal cardiovascular disease. Alzheimer’s DiseaseOur discussion of sleep and Alzheimer’s Disease is an extension of metabolic health, as Alzheimer’s Disease is sometimes referred to as “Type 3 Diabetes.”We are still just beginning to understand the mechanisms that underlie Alzheimer’s disease, but there does seem to be a relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and poor sleep.25 For example, sleep disturbance affects up to 40% of patients with mild-moderate dementia, sleep changes seem to precede cognitive decline, and the intensity of the sleep disturbance correlates with the severity of dementia symptoms.26Alzheimer’s is characterized by a buildup of toxic proteins called beta-amyloid in plaques within the brain which impair connections between neurons. Increased buildup of these plaques has been noted even after just one night of sleep deprivation.27 Initial research suggests that deposition of these plaques in areas of the brain involved in sleep result in disrupted deep sleep.28 Because deep sleep is important for memory, this disruption in deep sleep may represent one contributor to memory impairment in those with Alzheimers. It’s a two-way street: without adequate sleep, more amyloid plaques build up in the brain, and the amyloid plaques in certain areas of the brain may lead to less deep sleep. So, getting adequate deep sleep in midlife to prevent amyloid plaque buildup (and to allow for any buildup that does occur to be removed) may be important for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Immune SystemSleep is also incredibly important for a properly functioning immune system.29 We’ll review a few of examples of this here:The first is an example of how sleep affects our susceptibility to infection.30 In this experiment, the sleep of 164 healthy men and women was monitored for one week. Each of them was then given nasal drops containing rhinovirus, a cause of the common cold, and they were observed to see who would develop cold symptoms. The researchers found that those sleeping less than 6 hours per night on average had an increased likelihood of developing cold symptoms compared to those sleeping 7 hours or more per night. About 45% of those getting less than 5 hours of sleep per night developed cold symptoms, while just 18% of those sleeping 7 hours or more per night developed colds. This is especially interesting to think about in the era of COVID-19, when getting enough quality sleep could potentially decrease our risk of infection even if we do get exposed.The next example discusses our ability to mount an immune response to the flu vaccine.31,32 A study in JAMA in 2002 demonstrated that adequate sleep is important for mounting a response to the flu vaccine. Normally, the flu vaccine works by stimulating the body’s immune system to create antibodies against the flu virus, so that if you do become infected with the flu virus later on, your immune system will be able to fight it off without you getting sick. In this study of young healthy adults, half were allowed to sleep 7.5-8.5 hours while the other half were restricted to 4 hours per night for 6 nights in a row. At the end of this period they were all given a flu shot. The researchers then measured the antibodies in the blood of the two groups in the days following. Those who got the most sleep showed signs of a healthy immune system generating a powerful antibody response. In contrast, those whose sleep was restricted produced less than 50 percent of the antibody response.Immune function is also important for the prevention of cancer and the natural killer cells of the immune system are particularly important for fighting cancer. Studies have found that even a single night of short sleep (4 hours) results in a 70% reduction in natural killer cells relative to a full night of sleep.33 Observational studies have also shown an increased risk of dying from cancer in those who have shorter sleep duration less than 6 hours.34 Disruptions to circadian rhythms is also at play, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has even classified nighttime shift work as a “probable carcinogen.”35 Testosterone and FertilitySleep also has a tremendous impact on testosterone levels and fertility in both males and females. In a study performed on young healthy men who were restricted to 5 hours of sleep per night for 1 week, a 10-15% drop in testosterone was observed compared to their rested state.36 To put this into context, normal aging results in a 1-2% decrease in testosterone per year, so this one week of sleep loss was effectively equivalent to aging 5-15 years. The poor quality and quantity of sleep in men who with obstructive sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder, has also been shown to lead to decreased testosterone levels.37 Finally, short sleep and late bedtimes are also associated with imparied sperm health in men.38Reproductive function in women is also affected by sleep,39 and levels of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), an important reproductive hormone in women that stimulates egg growth in the ovaries, was found to be 20% lower in women with chronic sleep deprivation.40 Psychiatric ConditionsSleep disruption is also implicated in most major psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder,41 and schizophrenia.42,43 The mechanisms of this are still being worked out, and it is likely not a one way street in which sleep disturbance causes these conditions, but rather sleep may be one of many factors that contribute. Said another way, sleep affects psychiatric conditions and psychiatric conditions affect sleep. Sleep disturbance is also recognized as a universal risk factor for relapse in addictive substance use.44 Driving AccidentsAnother way that inadequate sleep poses a threat to our health and safety is through the impact of sleep loss on car accidents. There is known to be an increased risk of car accidents with increasing sleep deprivation.45 When questioned, 1 in 25 adult drivers report having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.46,47 It is estimated that up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year in the US may be caused by drowsy drivers.48,49,50 After being awake for nineteen hours, people who were sleep-deprived were as cognitively impaired as those who were legally drunk.51 Athletic PerformanceWe’ve spent a lot of time talking about the damaging effects of inadequate sleep on our cognitive function and physical health, but sleep can also be used as a powerful tool to enhance our performance. The International Olympic Committee consensus statement on youth athletic development recognizes the importance of sleep in athletic development as well as the potential consequences of inadequate sleep, and they recommend interventions to support adequate sleep in youth athletes.52 Obtaining adequate sleep has been associated with increased athletic performance in a variety of different domains from aerobic output to vertical jump height, peak and sustained muscle strength.53 Additionally, chronic lack of sleep is associated with a higher risk of injury among athletes.54Chance of injury decreases with increasing hours of average sleep.55 Performance enhancements seen in an NBA player achieving more than 8 hours of sleep56 How Sleep Works Now that we’ve reviewed many implications of poor sleep on health, we’ll provide a brief overview of how sleep works.57 When We SleepThere are two main factors that determine when we sleep: 1. Circadian Rhythms, and 2. Sleep Pressure. The first factor that determines when we sleep is our Circadian Rhythm. You can think of this as the biologically built-in rhythm that allows our bodies to function on a 24 hour clock. The length of each person’s circadian rhythm is unique and usually just slightly longer than 24 hours. On average, the adult human’s circadian clock runs around twenty-four hours and fifteen minutes in length.58 An area of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus uses light to reset the circadian rhythm each day, which allows us to stay in tune with a 24-hour cycle and prevents drift over time.The circadian clock is set not just by light but also by food, exercise, temperature fluctuations, and even regularly timed social interaction. The determination of an individual's preferred sleep and wake times, (whether you are a morning or evening person) differs between people as well and is strongly determined by genetics.The hormone melatonin also plays a role. It is released from the pineal gland and helps to signal darkness and the onset of sleep. Melatonin rises a few hours after dusk, peaks around 4am, then drops quickly. Light signals the pineal gland to stop releasing melatonin, and it is undetectable by mid morning.The second factor that determines when we sleep is Sleep Pressure. A chemical called adenosine gradually builds up in the brain while you are awake. The longer you are awake the more adenosine builds up. The more adenosine you have circulating in your system, the greater the pressure to sleep. Then when you go to sleep, adenosine is cleared and sleep pressure decreases throughout the night. In the morning the process starts all over again. Interestingly, caffeine works by blocking adenosine receptors. So even though there is increasing adenosine and sleep pressure as the day goes on, while caffeine is in your system you can’t sense this sleep drive.Together, the circadian rhythm and the sleep-pressure signal of adenosine both work to coordinate sleep and wake times on a 24 hour cycle as seen in the figure below:The larger the distance between the two lines, the greater the sleep desire. Figure from Walker, M. Why We Sleep. It’s important to note that humans also have a genetically hardwired dip in alertness that occurs in the midafternoon hours. Not adhering to this drive for biphasic sleep, or nighttime sleep followed by a short nap in the mid afternoon, seems to lead to increased cardiovascular risk and mortality. Biphasic sleep is still observed in several siesta cultures throughout the world, including regions of South America and Mediterranean Europe. After one of these cultures in Greece transitioned away from a siesta practice, those that abandoned siestas went on to suffer a 37% increased risk of death from heart disease over the following 6 years.59 It may not be a coincidence that in other areas of Greece where siestas still remain commonplace, there are still the highest concentrations of Centenarians. One example is the Greek island Ikaria, with their famous tagline “where people forget to die.” Sleep CyclesThere are two major stages of sleep, and we alternate between them in approximately 90 minute cycles over the course of the night. Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) SleepNon-rapid eye movement, or NREM, sleep is more predominant earlier in the night. A key function of NREM sleep is storing and strengthening new information while weeding out and removing unnecessary neural connections and waste products. The glymphatic system, which is much like the lymphatic system in the rest of the body, drains waste products from the brain’s tissues and is especially active during deep NREM sleep. The glymphatic system is composed of cells called glia which are distributed throughout the brain. During deep NREM sleep, the glial cells shrink significantly, allowing the cerebral spinal fluid that bathes neurons to clean out toxic waste products that have built up and allows them to drain away. One example of such toxic waste products is the amyloid plaques we discussed above, whose buildup is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) SleepRapid eye movement, or REM sleep, is more predominant later in the night. REM sleep plays a role in integrating new information - this includes integrating new facts and memories with previous experiences, creativity, language learning, and social and emotional learning. REM sleep is also where dreaming takes place. You lose muscle tone during REM sleep, which prevents you from acting out your dreams.To summarize, you can think of states of wake and sleep like this:The waking state is for information perception and gatheringNREM sleep stores that information and weeds out unnecessary waste and connectionsREM sleep integrates new information together with past experiences allowing you to develop complex functions such as problem solving, language, social interactions, and creativity. Sleep CyclesSleep cycles take place every 90 minutes, and the ratio of NREM sleep to REM sleep within each 90-minute cycle changes dramatically across the night. There is a predominance of NREM sleep in the beginning of the night, and more REM sleep in the second half of the night. Because both cycles are important, and REM is especially important for integrating new information and creativity, missing out on the later sleep cycles by short sleeping can be especially detrimental.REM sleep is especially important for development of neural connections in the developing brain. In utero, a fetus is almost exclusively in REM sleep, while infants may have closer to 50/50 split between NREM and REM sleep, and by the late teen and adult years most settle into an 80/20 NREM/REM sleep split.Change in time spent in NREM vs. REM sleep in sleep cycles throughout the night. Figure from Walker, M. Why We Sleep. Sleep as We AgeSeveral changes to sleep occur as we age:First is a decreased ability to generate deep sleep as we age. This is because areas of the brain responsible for generating deep sleep are some of the same areas that degenerate first with aging.Next is reduced sleep efficiency. Teenagers have a sleep efficiency - or the percentage of time that they actually spend asleep while in bed - of about 95 percent. However, sleep efficiency usually drops below 70- 80 percent by the 8th decade of life. This is likely due to increased fragmentation of sleep as we age, often due to medications, diseases, or a weakened bladder.Finally, the circadian rhythm shifts throughout different stages of life and there is a change in sleep timing as we age. In teenagers, the circadian rhythm is shifted forward, meaning they naturally fall asleep later and wake up later. This is why forcing teenagers to go to bed early, or asking them to wake up for an early school start time is especially problematic. In contrast, the circadian rhythm shifts backward in older adults resulting in earlier bedtimes and earlier awakenings. Additionally, the overall strength of the circadian rhythm and the amount of nighttime melatonin released also decrease the older we get. Interestingly, melatonin has been shown to help boost the circadian rhythm in the elderly, in contrast to middle-aged adults where it is most helpful only with jet lag.60Figure from Cirelli, C. Insufficient sleep: Definition, epidemiology, and adverse outcomes. Uptodate.com. How Much Sleep?Now that we’ve addressed the changes that occur to sleep as we age, let’s try to answer everyone’s favorite question - how much sleep do we really need? Both the Centers for Disease Control61 and National Sleep Foundation62 recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Years of research indicates that 8 hours is optimal for most adults.63 After 16 consecutive hours of being awake, the brain begins to slow down significantly. A series of experiments showed that ten consecutive days of just seven hours of sleep resulted in the same level of brain dysfunction as pulling one “all nighter” or going without sleep for 24 hours.Another important distinction to make is that it is almost impossible to “make up” for lost sleep. Performance still suffers even after several full nights of sleep following a night of sleep loss.Finally, we as humans have a very hard time determining how sleep deprived we actually are, which is what can make inadequate sleep behaviors dangerous especially when it comes to things like driving.There are very few people (
187 minutes | 4 months ago
Mat Fraser + Sammy Moniz: Sweethearts on a Mission PH153
“If you're wrapping up your identity in the results… there’s a lot of things that go on that you have no control over that can sway the results big time. So, if you’re basing your identity off those results… it might go right, but… There’s only two options when you sign up for a competition, either you’re going to win or you’re going to lose. I try to base my identity off of the effort that I put in. I hope that if the results aren’t what I was looking for, I hope that I’m still able to hold my head high and be proud knowing that I did everything I could.”- Mat Fraser Four-time Fittest Man on Earth Mat Fraser is arguably the most dominant competitor the sport has ever seen and has stood on the podium at the CrossFit Games every year he has been in attendance. He earned silver in 2014 and 2015, and for the last four years he's earned gold, typically with a huge margin of victory. Mat is the son of two Olympic athletes and growing up he was an Olympic hopeful himself, but the road to becoming the Fittest on Earth hasn't been without challenges. As a teenager he struggled with alcoholism and made the choice to become sober at 17. At 19 he suffered a fractured back, an injury which sidelined his Olympic weightlifting career, but would ultimately lead him to try CrossFit. Since graduating from the University of Vermont with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Business, Mat has become a full-time athlete and trains in Cookeville, Tennessee alongside some of the best CrossFit athletes in the world. Mat's fiancé, Sammy Moniz, holds an impressive resume in her own right. A former Reebok affiliate manager, she is now the brains behind Feeding the Frasers. What started as a Instagram account documenting her love of cooking has grown into a website, e-book and upcoming cookbo0k, all a testament to Sammy's desire to make the people in her life feel loved and cared for. Mat and Sammy are a powerhouse couple who need virtually no introduction in the CrossFit space, and I was excited to catch up with them in their home in Tennessee. We shared lots of laughs as we talked about how they met, what inspires them to give their best in all their endeavors, their take on the recent changes in CrossFit, and where they see themselves in the next 5 to 1o years. In this episode we discuss:Mat & Sammy's day-to-day livesSome of the experiences and challenges from their lives that they've learned from and have contributed to their successes todayThe lessons Mat learned from breaking his backHow Sammy became interested in food and cookingHow Mat’s diet has changed since meeting Sammy, and the changes he’s noticed since improving his nutritionHow Mat’s parents' Olympic career impacted his mindsetWhy Mat decided to pursue engineering in collegeSammy's college experience and how she ended up at ReebokHow Mat and Sammy started datingMat’s experience with alcoholism and sobrietyWhat it’s like for Sammy to watch Mat competeMat and Sammy's plans for the futureThe story of the hype music in the tunnel at the CrossFit GamesHow COVID has affected Mat’s training and their livesMat's first impression of Eric Rosa and what he hopes to see for the future of CrossFitWhat motivates Sammy & Mat every dayWhy it's important not to concern yourself with what other people thinkWhat's next for Feeding the Fraser'sThree things Mat and Sammy do on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on their healthOne thing they think could have a big impact on their health, but they have a hard time implementingWhat a healthy life looks like to Mat and SammyYou can follow Mat on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can follow Sammy on her personal Instagram, on the Feeding the Fraser's website and on Instagram and Facebook.Links:Can Anyone Challenge Mathew Fraser?Mat Fraser: Pursuit for the BetterRoad to the Games 18.05: Mat Fraser vs. The WorldRoad to the Games 16.08: Smith / FraserFeeding the Fraser's Fan Favorite Recipes eBookFittest on Earth 105 DocumentaryChamplain Valley CrossFitJones & Fraser - 1984 International Pros, Pairs' Free SkateOld Thing Back, Biggie Smalls & Ja RuleDJ Lucky LouAlex GuerreroOutliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm GladwellRelated episodes:Ep 57 - Annie Thorisdottir + Fred Aegidius on Team Work and Individual PerformanceEp 56 – Katrín Davíðsdóttir and Ben Bergeron on the Process of Creating a ChampionEp 52a + 52b - Tia-Clair Toomey on Realizing her CrossFit and Olympic Dreams and Finding ConfidenceIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.This post was originally published on July 21, 2020.
40 minutes | 5 months ago
Overcoming Grief & Losing 65 Pounds PH152
“We have life changing events, and at the time, they feel as if they are life-ending but they really mold us into somebody who we are meant to be.” - Marti Giambruno“My first memory of waking up in the recovery room was the consent beep of the monitor. A feeling of impending doom consumed me as my doctor leaned over the stretcher and said, ‘Everything went well. We got it all, and the biopsy came back benign. Marti, 80% of your problem is what you put in your mouth and the stress you carry.’”Another 9 months would pass, and Marti’s weight would top out at 198 pounds before she was ready to act. It was one year after her husband, John, lost his battle with lung cancer, and on his birthday Marti had the first of many epiphanies. She was tired of the pain, fatigue, and the shame of being overweight, and unhealthy.She wanted to change, but had no idea where to begin. She realized she just needed to make just one small step to start. So, she rose one morning, laced up her shoes and walked. Each day Marti added a few more steps. Within a couple of weeks, she was walking 1.5 miles around her lake. “I felt something I hadn't since before my husband was diagnosed: control.”Next, Marti made adjustments to her diet. She added new forms of exercise. Before she knew it, she had lost 65 pounds and was sleeping and feeling better than she had in years. Says Marti, “I felt like I was winning. Imagine feeling like a success while mourning the loss of your husband.”In January 2015, Marti found the courage to walk into CrossFit Hyperperformance and was warmly greeted. She couldn’t wait to return the next day, and she became a regular member for six months, until she needed to move to return to the workforce.“The next year was profoundly revealing. My position as a cardiovascular technologist in Interventional Cardiac Medicine demanded far too much of my time, and there weren't enough hours in the day to make it to the gym. I gained weight, was tired, and achy. My family needed me.” Realizing she needed to heal physically, mentally, and spiritually, Marti stepped back from her new position and sought to resume her new-found healthier lifestyle.She joined CrossFit Palm Beach, where her coaches share the idea of fitness being a process of the mind, body and spirit. “The paradigm shift directing me to whole health has taken hold. At 56, I have more energy, and strength, focus, courage, faith, and desire, which enables me to live young, beautiful and strong in mind, body, and spirit.”Marti is now making the shift to Integrative Medicine to focus on lifestyle changes that improve patient outcomes. She hopes to reach out to those in situations similar to hers to share the message that health, wellness, and fitness must co-exist to produce the changes needed to “Heal Thy Self.”Says Marti, “The day John proposed to me, he declared his faith, which empowered me 3 years ago, and still does today. ‘Marti,’ he said, ‘I have faith and peace knowing that if either one of us passes, the survivor will not only pick up the pieces and move forward but become stronger because of it.’” To this day, Marti strives to uphold his vision and share her gratitude with those who've provided the means for her to get where she is, and where she is going. In this episode we discuss:Her background and the evolution of her healthWhat prompted Marti to start making changes to improve her health and how she got startedHow CrossFit and exercise helped Marti through her grieving processRecognizing the importance of balancing her caring for own health with a stressful jobHer advice to others who are unhappy with their health and want to make a changeThree things Marti does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her healthOne thing she thinks could have a big impact on her health, but she has a hard time implementingWhat a healthy life looks like to Marti Links:Fight Gone BadCrossFit Open Workout 16.1Chasing Excellence by Ben BergeronCan't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David GogginsRelated episodes:Ep 48 - Jen Widerstrom: Health, Habits, and Why You Are EnoughEp 84 - Chasing Excellence with Ben BergeronIf you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns. This post was originally published on July 9, 2020.
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