Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lose Weight for Good!

With obesity at an all time high, how is it that Americans are spending $30 billion annually in the weight-loss industry? The temptation of a quick fix is too hard to resist for many. In our convenience-based society, most people would rather opt for a quick fix gimmick. Promises of reaching your weight loss goals in half the time are much more appealing. However, successful weight loss means losing weight and keeping it off. A weight reduction diet that is slow and incorporates changes in eating habits has been proven to be the most successful.

According to the American Dietetic Association, anytime you are considering a weight loss program, there are a few things you should consider.

How will the program assess your current health status? How will your success in the program be measured?
Will the program include guidance on physical activity?
What data do they have to prove their program really works? Do previous customers keep the weight off after they leave the program?
What are the costs involved for the program? Are you required to purchase specialized food items or supplements?
Will your success be measured in three- to six-month intervals? Is there a maintenance program involved?
What are the health risks?
Will the program include instruction and guidance to help you learn to eat in a more healthful way for the long term?
What kind of professional support is provided?
What are the credentials of the “professional”?

Another consideration is that if it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is! It’s wise to be wary if a program is described using any of these words:

ancient guaranteed
breakthrough magical
discovered in Europe miraculous
cure mysterious
easy new discovery
effortless quick
exotic secret

Most quick weight loss diets allow all the lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs and cheese you want, but no breads or starches, fruits, starchy vegetables or milk. It is a high protein, very low carbohydrate diet that results in ketosis and dehydration. This diet is not recommended for all people. In fact, I would not recommend any quick weight loss diet for anyone. It’s best to consult a Registered Dietitian for a personalized program. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other medical conditions that can benefit from Medical Nutrition Therapy, your medical insurance may cover your visit/s to see a Registered Dietitian. Check with your health insurance, Physician, or Dietitian.

Martial Arts: Excellent Exercise and More

What is a martial art? According to the noted martial arts historian Donn F. Draeger, unless a system was designed by professional warriors for use in actual warfare, it is not a martial art. However, this may cause some serious debate.

Draeger believed that many of the other systems, while proving to be effective forms of combat, would not fare well on the battlefield. Draeger chose to classify these other arts as "civil" arts. If it was not designed for a military application, then according to Draeger, it's not a martial art.

I agree with Forrest Morgan, author of Living the Martial Way, that while Draeger's assessment is correct in a strictly literal sense, it is much too constraining. These arts, though created in temples and in small fishing villages, were designed by men who did not have elaborate armor or weaponry, and instead honed their martial skills by making their body a weapon. Whether you study the modern martial systems of Japan, China, Korea, Hawaii or India, these systems have preserved the fighting spirit that allows the modern man to maintain his or her martial self. For this reason, the modern systems, although not truly combat oriented, can still be termed martial arts.

Today, we are familiar with many of the modern Japanese martial arts, such as the many forms of karate, as well as aikido, jujitsu and judo. China brings us their wushu, such as the hundreds of systems of gung fu and Tai chi. And Korea brings us Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do and Hapkido. We use martial arts for physical as well as spiritual and psychological growth, which is why the martial arts are great for promoting total body fitness. It is these factors that lead me to ask the following questions: What are the physical benefits of martial arts? What do the martial arts offer that exercise programs, such as Tae Bo, do not?

The first days in any dojo, dojang, kwoon, etc, as well as the beginning of class in many schools, are spent learning the basics. The basics are where your training for strength and cardio fitness begins. The basics consist of stretching, stances -- stationary and moving, kicks, punches, blocks and perhaps some basic kata, but we will save the kata discussion for another day.

Many classes begin with some form of stretching. Here, through consistent training, you will develop limberness in your muscles, which will not only allow you to move with greater ease, but will allow you to dissipate stresses entering into your body with minimal effort. According to articles published through Reuters Health, stress has been linked to increased heart disease, increased cold and flu symptoms, fertility problems in women and it can worsen the effects of diabetes. The less stress you have in your body, the less chance you have of being overcome by illness, and in today's hectic world, getting sick is an option few of us can afford. Stretching coupled with the defense techniques you will learn will result in a reduction of both physical as well as psychological stress.

Development of leg strength is a benefit that will begin from day one. Although it may seem tortuous at first, because of the rigors involved, your work with stances will provide you a solid foundation for martial arts and for life. Stances are often wide and low, and you will be encouraged to hold them for very long periods of time while practicing punches and blocks. These wide stances will strengthen your legs, and while you are staring at the higher-ranking students in front of you, knowing that sitting is not an option, you will begin to gain something that is very valuable, mental toughness.

As you learn your punches and blocks, you will begin to develop body awareness. Body awareness comes when you are cognizant of your body and how it functions as a whole. The benefit to being aware of your body is obvious in a martial arts setting, but in general, awareness of your body gives you greater conscious control of your body, which can result in less chance of injury. And when an injury does occur, you will be able to isolate it quicker, significantly shortening the healing process.

Continued practice will promote increased motor reflexes by stimulation of the quick muscle fibers and sustained sessions of practice will stimulate the slow muscle fibers necessary for muscle endurance. And remember, behind all of the exercise, you are on your way to learning a system of martial arts.

Practicing kicks, whether roundhouse, front or side, is an excellent method of exercise, and will continue to aid in your development of body awareness. First you will learn balance; poor balance will lead you to fall over, which can be very embarrassing. Next you will develop strength in both your kicking leg, through repetitive muscle motion, and your supporting leg by supporting your body weight.

I remember dreading the day when class was full, about 20 people, and we would begin doing front or roundhouse kicks, starting with the right leg, and everyone would count to 10 -- that would be 200 kicks, but wait we still had the left leg to do. A continuous session of varied kicks, using both right and left legs will increase your heart rate, strengthen your legs, increase your balance, and once again give you another dose of that highly prized commodity, mental toughness.

Okay, so you can develop strength, balance, cardio fitness and flexibility while training in martial arts, and let's not forget mental toughness, but is that all? It seems to me all of those things may be able to be gained from an exercise system such as Tae Bo. After all, it was developed by Billy Blanks, a very accomplished martial artist in his own right. Tae Bo, while an excellent form of cardio and muscle fitness, does not teach you how to defend yourself, and in terms of physicality, martial arts are superior.

Because Tae Bo is more about cardio fitness, a "good workout," proper body mechanics are not stressed. Most of the instructors are aerobic instructors and are either not aware or not qualified to teach the proper mechanics involved in kicking and punching. Also, because the goals of the participants are different, the methods for achieving those goals will differ greatly.

In the martial arts, attention is given to the proper extension of the legs and arms in kicks and punches. This allows your muscles to benefit from complete range of physical motion. Complete range of motion not only helps to maintain maximum flexibility, but it also promotes a greater amount of breakdown in the tissue which will lead to more rapid cellular growth and increased strength and muscle tone.

But there is more, it cannot provide you with inner strength, what is often termed as "martial spirit." It is this martial spirit that allows you to transcend the purely physical realm of the martial arts and tap into an area that will bring growth to the entire self. But what is martial spirit? This is something I will explore in my next article. Choose the right path and practice hard!

A Life of Movement

Movement of our bodies in focused and intended ways heaps plenty of benefits upon them. There are so many ways to move the body that I am puzzled why more people don't participate in some kind of exercise program.

Whether it is walking, running, dance, martial arts or some other activity, the body collects healthy rewards. The nature of moving our individual body parts to benefit the whole reveals itself to fit any lifestyle, both in time and space. The only suitable excuse to not exercise is by being in a coma or completely paralyzed.

For many (maybe most) people, walking is the ideal way of moving their bodies and gaining the benefits thereof. Almost every joint and muscle in the body is moved and therefore benefited. Moving the joints consistently from an early age can prevent arthritis from ever occurring. The body's heart rate accelerates causing an increased amount of blood to flow through the arteries and veins bringing life-giving oxygen to all parts of the body. Simultaneously metabolism increases causing a greater expenditure of calories and reduction of stored fat. Being outside brings its own rewards depending where the walking takes place. The health benefits from a simple walk far outweigh the effort and possible discomfort for some. Obviously, a brisk walk brings greater benefit then a slow one, but even strolling down a path among natural surroundings beats sitting in front of a TV. When anticipating jogging or running as a lifelong practice, walking is the perfect way to start. Articles on this Web site concerning various aspects of walking might help you obtain the appropriate shoes or pick the ideal pace and starting point physically.

Once a daily walk becomes the norm and feels comfortable, the devotee can move into the more arduous activity of jogging if that is desired. Benefits as well as challenges increase as the speed at which each foot falls in front of the other also increases. However, since the walker-become-runner has gotten the body aligned to the process, challenges are overcome quickly. Jogging exerts more pressure and strain on the many joints of the legs and feet, e.g., ankles and knees, and should be recognized. I suggest either skipping a day altogether, or walking on the non-jogging day until your legs get used to the new routine. Jogging need be only slightly faster then the brisk walking stage attained before changing methods. As your body becomes acclimated to the pace it can be increased and/or so can the distance. Your body's response to the exercise is your gage for maintaining or increasing the pace and distance. The idea is to get your heart rate up to a certain plateau and maintain it for about ten minutes, which varies for age and condition. If that is of interest, the formula probably can be found elsewhere on this Web site or most certainly at the nearest gym, or a book at the library.

If walking and/or jogging maintain the health "quota" you've created for yourself then stick to it. I've jogged at about the same level for almost 30 years and have never felt a need to increase my pace to where I moved at a "running" speed. If running is the goal, then once a person has maintained a reasonable jogging routine for a while all that needs doing is to keep increasing the pace. Soon the body's whole response changes again and adjustments need to be made. Again benefits and challenges shift into a new phase especially if the goal is competition. There are many articles on the Web site explaining the running life in detail and I refer you to them.

The walking, jogging or running activity can become the sole "movement" routine within your life or an adjunct to others. I discovered and have practiced Tai Chi for a decade, and enjoy benefits quite different from running. While running benefits my cardiovascular system as well as other aspects my body-system, it remains an external activity. Tai Chi and other martial art practices are internal and deal more with the mind and energy movement. I've written several articles along with other contributors on the benefits of Tai Chi and refer you to them for more detail and explanation. Other martial art practices such as Chi Kung and Kung Fu can also be found by searching the Web site. The idea here is to introduce the reader to various types of movement so a person can view the choices, and make one that most closely matches his or her lifestyle.

Dance is the term I use loosely to describe movement to music apart from doing something like Tai Chi or Yoga with music. Our bodies seem to have an affinity for music and respond in various ways when exposed to it. If we can take the foot tapping or arm/hand movement a step further and move our entire bodies to music, we've begun to dance. It need go no further then that. Letting the body go and allowing our arms, legs, hands, butts and heads to just flow with the rhythm might reveal an aspect of music never before experienced. While aerobic dancing and other exercise routines use music for their rhythmic flow, unstructured dance movement is just that -- unstructured movement. But you will find a structure, or not, depending on what feels right. The point is that dancing to music with or without structure is an aerobic activity if kept up to meet the aforementioned criteria of heartbeats per minute if that is the goal. Like any other aerobic routine it can be done inside within a small space -- sometimes a required limitation.

There are a multitude of aerobic dances and similar routines available to the practitioner such as kickboxing and Tae Bo, but be aware that they are for people who are already at a level of fitness beyond the average. The faster and longer the activity, whether it is to music, requires considerably more physical endurance. The more strenuous aerobic routines should be entered with caution. A physical checkup might be advisable if you aren't certain about your body's condition.

Yoga and similar practices work with energy and don't have the aerobic aspect to be concerned with. Besides the many Yoga articles on this Web site, plenty of video tapes/DVDs are available to lead you through the easy and highly beneficial routines. Age and physical condition are not so much a concern as with the more active routines, and practices like the Alexander Technique have joined Yoga with its widespread availability to everyone.

Choosing a "movement" routine is simple, because there is a multitude of them available. If movement and exercise is new to you then list the criteria you desire for using a practice. Age, physical condition, health challenges, time, space and goal might do for starters. Beside each criterion put what limitations might exist, such as a small space or only having ten minutes available every morning. Health challenges and physical condition might cause you to check with a physician before beginning any routine at all. Once you've narrowed the goal and limitations down, look for a practice that not only meets them, but also feels right emotionally. For example, I'm not that particular about running, but I love doing Tai Chi. So pick something that will be beneficial health-wise, but also FUN.

Tae Kwon Do: Outdoor Winter Camps

Outdoor camp allows the instructor to experiment a little with training methods in situations that are out of the ordinary. Having students spar on the side of a hill or on muddy ground gives them a chance to sharpen defense skills in settings that are less than ideal.

Outdoor winter camps for tae kwon do provide an opportunity for both students and the dojo to reap considerable benefits. The sometimes rough weather and conditions prepare students for experiences they might not otherwise get in the dojo.

A good number of masters and instructors in the martial arts advocate the use of outdoor training. In addition to taking a person away from the comfort and security of a dojo, training in a realistic setting offers a number of subtle benefits that enhance the development of a solid martial artist. Productive outdoor training camps, however, require a fair amount of planning and logistical considerations. Winter outdoor training in particular requires sound preparation because of the unfavorable weather conditions that may be encountered. Master Mark Geygan, 6th Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, has planned and supervised winter camps for more than 20 years. In the years he has devoted to designing good winter camp programs, Master Geygan has developed an understanding of the nuances of winter training in the outdoors, which have served both him and his students well.

Determining the location for the camp is the first thing to consider. State parks with winterized cabins are ideal. Master Geygan recommends that reservations be made at least two months in advance so that a sufficient number of cabins can be assured. This, of course, means obtaining a financial commitment from students in the form of a nonrefundable deposit. The master sponsoring the camp and his or her instructors need to visit the intended training site if they are not already familiar with it. Such a visit not only allows the instructors to inspect the facilities, but also permits them a chance to survey the area and make note of the terrain. A good knowledge of the outdoor environment and the nuances of the site will prove highly useful when the training camp is under way.

Weather conditions are critical and should not be ignored. "We have practiced in conditions where the wind chill was minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit," said Master Geygan. "Anyone who is not dressed for the weather is in danger of hypothermia or much worse." Traditional uniforms are ordinarily made of heavy material and can retain body heat. Wearing a stocking cap, gloves or mittens, thermal underwear, woolen socks, and a sturdy pair of shoes or boots will keep a student comfortably warm. Master Geygan also suggests that students always move around to keep the blood circulating.

A typical outdoor camp is held from Friday night to Sunday morning, and active training starts after dark on Friday night. "Training at night is totally different than daytime training," says Geygan. "Because of adverse weather conditions and darkness, the student has to concentrate on what he or she is doing. Not being able to see too clearly means that a person has to rely on senses such as hearing and touch; human attributes that are not given a great deal of attention in an ordinary dojo setting." Night training is best done in a wooded area, where the trees and foliage serve to test the student's ability to work under less than optimal conditions. In choosing a training site, Master Geygan always tries to find one near a hill, and use the hill for sidekick training. Having students kick up and then down the hill is a superior leg conditioner. Other landscape features that can enhance training are an open field, a shallow ravine, an area cluttered with fallen branches and stones, and patches of ground with an accumulation of snow.

Saturday training is usually divided into two sessions, morning and afternoon. Master Geygan makes certain to schedule a three to five hour interval between the morning and afternoon sessions so that the students are not over-worked and have an opportunity to rest.

The training emphasizes self-defense and conditioning in more or less equal measure. "While I have a general outline of training to be performed, what the instructor has the students do to achieve the training objectives is the decision of that instructor," explains Master Geygan. "What is most important is to keep the students moving, and making them do interesting drills that distract them from thinking about the weather." Outdoor camp allows the instructor to experiment a little with training methods in situations that are out of the ordinary. Having students spar on the side of a hill or on muddy ground gives them a chance to sharpen defense skills in settings that are less than ideal. In all of the training sessions, Master Geygan strongly advises attention to safety in harsh weather. "We have made a point of telling older students to keep an eye out for the younger students. If an adult notices a child complaining of wet, cold hands, that adult is to tell the instructor immediately, and the child is taken aside to get his or her hands dried. The same holds true if the youngster is overly fatigued; we remove the child from practice and send the kid to his or her cabin to rest." Master Geygan puts a great deal of responsibility for safety on the shoulders of his instructors. "In winter camp, the instructors carry with them an extra pair of gloves at all times and, if possible, a towel. Anyone who complains of freezing or wet hands is attended to immediately. We avoid possible cases of frostbite this way."

Sunday is the last day of the camp and there is a special meaning given to it. Physical training is light, and an emphasis is given to the spiritual and inner meanings of tae kwon do. Meditation is a key part of what goes on. Students are assembled just before sunrise and asked to begin meditation facing east. The intent is that just as the students are finished with their meditation, they are able to view the sunrise. "The effect of this is awesome," says Master Geygan. "My students learn quite a bit at winter camp, but the Sunday meditation has an impact that stays with a student for a long time afterwards." Intangible benefits come from other elements of winter camp as well. The adverse conditions of the weather and the geography sharpen a student's martial acuity, forcing him or her to adapt to situations that go beyond the textbook examples. Winter camp poses a challenge to the student in the shape of environmental impediments.

As the student overcomes the obstacles of winter camp, he or she develops a greater sense of self-confidence and pride. Camaraderie and fellowship are lasting rewards of winter camps. Through experiences shared under adverse conditions, students develop a better understanding and appreciation of each other. "I have had students who didn't know each other, or didn't even like each other, who became good friends because of winter camp," says Master Geygan. "That's good for the student and for the dojo as well. Students who have gone to winter camp stay with us much longer than those have not."

Master Geygan cautions that the way to guarantee a disaster is for the camp sponsors and instructors to plan and execute activities as they go along. Two to three days is a long time to attempt to do things spontaneously. Sooner or later, a poorly planned activity schedule bogs down and students are left out in the cold with nothing to do, and this needs to be avoided. Outdoor winter camps provide an opportunity for both students and the dojo to reap considerable benefits. The outdoor training conducted in wintry weather offers superior learning experiences, and the camps are well worth the time and effort one puts into the planning and preparation.

Exercising With Arthritis: Should I Exercise and Why

The more sedentary a person is the more stiff they will become. Along with that stiffness will be increased pain and increased fatigue. The old adage use it or lose it also applies to people who have arthritis.

Many people who have arthritis hesitate to exercise for one reason or another. Some of these reasons may include pain, stiffness, swelling, coordination and fear. To ask someone who is already in daily pain to go out and exercise that painful limb, in their mind, is asking them to cause themselves more pain. Because of this many people who have arthritis never get started on an exercise program. In this article I am going to discuss some of the reasons for that and why people suffering from arthritis should get started on a properly designed exercise program.

Up until about ten years ago exercise was not routinely included in treatment programs for people who have arthritis. There hadn't been much research done to prove the importance of exercise in reducing pain, improving function and flexibility, and keeping connective tissue strong to support weakened joints. The thought back then was that exercise might possibly accelerate the joint destruction and be the cause of reduced function over time. Most treatment programs were centered on treating the symptoms with various kinds of medication and using heat and cold to help control stiffness and pain.

Fortunately many researchers have began investigating the feasibility of using exercise programs to help control pain, restore function, increase connective tissue strength and regain range of motion. The result of this research has been overwhelmingly positive for the use of exercise for people who have arthritis. At the New England Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, researchers subjected people with rheumatoid arthritis to a progressive resistance-training program for 12 weeks. At the end of that time they had no change in the number of painful or swollen joints, but had significant reductions in the self-reported pain score and fatigue score. They also improved their strength by 57 percent, improved 50-foot walking time, and had improved balance and gait scores. This is only one of many research studies that have similar results. Most physicians would agree that exercise is now accepted as a very important part of the treatment plan.

Since pain is one of the most often used reasons for not engaging in an exercise program, let's look at some of the reasons exercise can actually reduce pain. Just as with the person who is disease free, people with any form of arthritis will begin to lose strength and become stiff with inactivity. The more sedentary a person is the more stiff they will become. Along with that stiffness will be increased pain and increased fatigue. The old adage use it or lose it also applies to people who have arthritis. One of the key benefits that can result from exercising is the increased production of endorphins. These endorphins are natural substances produced in the body that help reduce pain. This pain reduction benefit can last for a number of hours following the exercise session depending on the length and intensity of that exercise program. So, in most cases, once the mild muscle soreness associated with any new exercise program has subsided, the pain associated with arthritis can be greatly reduced.

People who have arthritis lose function over time. Because there is no cure for many forms of arthritis, the joint destruction continues even when the person is on medical therapy. As the deterioration progresses the whole joint capsule is involved. First the cartilage is affected, then the bony surfaces and then eventually the connective tissue stabilizing the joint. With each phase of this deterioration process function is being reduced. As stated above, the disease progression can only be slowed at best, so through an exercise program good nutrients are supplied to the cartilage by weight bearing activity and by strengthening the connective tissue (muscles, ligaments, tendons) it helps support and stabilize the joint. If this can be achieved through an exercise program, a person can stay very functional even though the disease is progressing. Maintaining function not only keeps people mobile and independent, it also adds quality to their lives. It keeps them out enjoying social activities, which can boost their sense of well being.

Another important function exercise can serve is maintaining range of motion in the affected joints. As the joint capsule deteriorates, changes in the joint occur. It may become misaligned, fused or perhaps bone on bone. When these situations occur, joint range of motion is also changed. So along with strengthening connective tissue, they must also keep those structures flexible. This can be achieved by including range of motion or flexibility exercises into a daily exercise routine. Range of motion exercises, when done properly, can be done two to three times daily for best results. Joints affected by arthritis must be moved often or the end result could be complete disuse. If the person with arthritis has not been exercising for a long time, range of motion exercises must be started and progressed slowly to avoid flares and increased discomfort. Again the client who has arthritis must be told this might cause some discomfort at the beginning, just as it would with someone without disease. But in time, the ease of movement achieved through increased range of motion will decrease pain, improve function and lessen fatigue. Ranges of motion exercises are essential for a person to continue to perform daily living activities and remain independent.

When exercise was first recommended for people with arthritis it was just to include range of motion and aerobic exercise. Strength training was not part of the prescription. Doctors felt that the stress and intensity often used in strength training would actually harm the joint rather than help. So people were walking and doing range of motion exercise, but continued to get weaker and lose the stability in their joints. So, research was done to find out the efficacy of strength training. First of all they wanted to dispel the idea that strength training would increase swelling and cause further deterioration. Most, if not all, the research that has been done up until now has proven that strength training does not increase disease symptoms or activity. What they have found is that even a person with an active disease process can safely and effectively engage in strength training exercises. In fact the results have been dramatic. People with arthritis have been able to increase their strength by 50 percent or more without any noticeable increase in disease symptoms or activity. These results are the same for people of the senior population also. By increasing strength in the muscles, tendons and ligaments, those supporting structures can help stabilize a joint that may be deteriorating. Therefore strength training is essential to continued mobility and to perform daily activities.

Another important factor about strength training is its importance before and after a total joint replacement. For example when a total hip replacement is preformed, many muscles along the upper, lateral thigh and buttocks area are cut to expose the hip joint for replacement. The stronger the muscles are in that region the faster the recovery and the better the outcome of that surgery. Those muscles they cut through to expose the hip are the very muscles that stabilize the hip as a person takes a step forward and puts weight on the foot. Without some muscle strength in that area the person would develop a limp that would affect their gate and the other joints of the body, which could end up permanent without proper physical therapy. And using the hip as an example again, when those muscles are cut, so are some nerves. With reduced nerve conduction you have reduced muscle stimulation and fewer muscles being recruited to stabilize the joint. So, the ones that are there might have to perform double duty. Therefore, strength training is a very important component of all exercise programs used with people who have arthritis.

So, in conclusion, when your arthritic client is hesitating to begin an exercise program you can now tell them it is probably one of the more important components of their treatment plan. It can help reduce their pain, decrease their fatigue, improve their joint stability, quality of life, range of motion, and improve or maintain their function. There might be some discomfort in the beginning, just as with someone without disease, but that will diminish in a very short time. They will have to start slow and progress very slow to minimize the possibility of a flare up. They will need to be very consistent in their effort to continue with the exercise program. And to maintain the improvements gained through an exercise program, they must continue on a program for the rest of their lives.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis for the last 47 years I can personally attest to the benefits of a well-planned exercise program. Even after seven major surgeries due to the progression of my disease I have maintained a very high level of function and mobility. Exercise has also helped control my weight, reduce my pain and increase my endurance. Without the inclusion of exercise in my own treatment program I know I would not nearly be as functional as I am today.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nutrition: Gluten Free Diet

Gluten is found in the endosperm of these grains: wheat, oats, rye, spelt and barley. The gluten-free grains include: amaranth, buckwheat, teff, millet, brown rice, and corn. Quinoa, while not wholly gluten-free, is usually well tolerated by individuals with celiac disease . Spelt, a common substitute for wheat, contains a moderate amount of gluten. There are a growing number of largely gluten-free pastas available made from corn, quinoa, rice and buckwheat. Gluten-free flours made from amaranth, garbanzo, brown rice and buckwheat are also available.

• breakfast:
» cooked grains (quinoa, millet, cornmeal porridge) with maple syrup, fruit or nuts
» rice cakes with fruit and nut butter
» eggs and potatoes
» tofu scramble, rice or tofu and vegetables
» mochi and yogurt and fruit
» wheat-free muffins or pancakes (buckwheat, rice flour or cornmeal)
» dried or stewed fruits, nuts

» beverages: herbal tea, milk, soy milk, diluted fruit juices or amazake

• lunch:
» fresh vegetable salad: lettuce (romaine, Boston, butter, red or green leaf), radicchio, spinach, kale, chicory, chard, mustard or collard greens, nasturtium leaves, borage leaves, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumber, squash (zucchini, pattypan), cabbage, jicama, radishes, fresh herbs (parsley, chives, oregano, thyme, basil, sage), flowers (nasturtiums, borage, red clover, calendula)

» choose one: fish, poultry, lamb, beef, lamb, cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu, tempeh, nut butter, hard cheese, eggs, lentils, beans

» choose one: potato, rice, gluten-free bread, rice cakes or crackers

» other suggestions: soups (bean, vegetable rice, miso/vegetable, green pea); gluten-free pasta (buckwheat soba, quinoa, corn); unfried spring rolls made from rice paper wrappers filled with rice, sprouts, egg, tofu, vegetables, etc.

• dinner:
» choose one: fish, poultry, lamb, beef, lamb, cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu, tempeh, nut butter, hard cheese, eggs, lentils, beans and rice

» choose one: millet, rice, eggplant, sweet potato, yam, peas, potato, squash (acorn, hubbard, butternut)

» vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, chard, cabbage, celery, daikon, etc. or fresh vegetable salad as listed in lunch

» other suggestions: soups (bean, vegetable rice, miso/vegetable, green pea); gluten-free pasta (buckwheat soba, quinoa, corn); unfried spring rolls made from rice paper wrappers filled with rice, sprouts, egg, tofu, vegetables, etc.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fitness: Protect Your Back

Cobra Lift
(mid and back)

Step 1.

Lie abs-down on your mat with arms bent, palms down at your shoulders. Keep your head straight and elbows tucked into your sides. Keep your toes, hip bones, and ribs on the floor at all times.

Step 2.

Contract your back muscles and slowly curl your chest off the floor. Immediately release down and slowly repeat using a full range of motion without moving anything but your torso and arms.

Rear Flye
(upper back and rear shoulders)

Step 1.

Lie abs-down on your mat with your arms extended out perpendicular to your chest. Grasp light weights in each hand. Bend your elbows and keep your toes, hip bones, and ribs on the floor at all times.

Step 2.

Lift your arms four inches off the floor and hold briefly up before returning to the starting position. Allow your head to rise naturally, and use a smooth motion both in the upward and downward movements.

The Swim
(entire back)

Step 1.

Do not use weights!

Lie abs down with your arms extended overhead and both legs straight on the floor.

Step 2.

Simultaneously lift your right arm and left leg off the floor to hold for three seconds. As you release both limbs down to the floor or mat, simultaneously lift the opposite sides.

Fitness: A Sleek, Sculpted Upper Body

Bentover Row
(mid-upper back)

Step 1.

Stand tall with weights in each hand and bend over from the waist until your collarbone points to the ground. Bend your knees and tighten your abs. Keep the weights at your sides.

Step 2.

From this standing position, use your whole arms to lift the weights up to chest height and slightly in back of your body. Do not arch your back. Hold up for three seconds, then release the weights back to the starting position and repeat.

Hammer Curl

Step 1.

Stand tall with weights in each hand and turn the weights up to vertical position.

Step 2.

Keep your arms close to your sides, and curl vertical weights up to chest level. Hold up for three seconds, then slowly lower to the starting position and repeat.

Flat Flye

Step 1.

Lie back with knees bent and weights in each hand. Extend your arms at your sides, parallel to your chest, and lift your weighted hands off the floor about four inches. From this position, lift and slowly lower your arms for all sets. Keep your chin off your chest, lower back pressed to the floor and your wrists straight.

External Rotation

Step 1.

Stand tall with weights in each hand and bend your elbows so the weights touch in front of your ribcage. Roll your shoulders back so the shoulder blades almost touch at your back.

Step 2.

Keeping your forearms level with the floor, press weighted hands to the back wall. Open your chest and press your knuckles in back of you, keeping your wrists straight and abs in. Hold there for three seconds then return to the starting position and repeat.

Fitness: Strong Abdominals

Strong Abdominals

The sight of a sculpted six-pack is a fashionable fitness statement indeed, but a strong midsection also helps prevent injury, increases functional use (like lifting your kids out the sandbox) and helps prevent back pain.


In fact, we urge you to perform the Back Routine before or after this workout to enhance the whole area. These side-to-side ab crunches streamline your waist. No weights needed.

Just click on the first exercise below and we will guide you through all three exercises you'll need to know for the workout. The photos help make sure your positioning is correct!

Side Crunch
(waistline and abs)

Step 1.

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and fingertips supporting the nape of your neck. Slowly crunch your torso up for three seconds and allow your shoulder blades to clear the floor.

Step 2.

After you raise your torso straight up, crunch your left elbow up toward your right knee and hold it there for three seconds. Return to the starting position and crunch straight up again. Alternate all sets: straight up, left elbow, straight up, right elbow, etc.

Leg Reach

Step 1.

Lie back with your legs straight up over your stomach and your chin up. Curling your torso off the floor, extend both arms and reach up with your hands as if you were trying to touch your toes.

Step 2.

Alternate sides, reaching up first to your left foot, then to your right. Crunch slowly and aim to clear your shoulder blades off the floor each time.

Middle Reach


Lie back with legs spread in a v-position over your stomach and keep your chin up. Curling your torso off the floor, extend both arms and reach up straight through your legs to hold for five seconds. Crunch slowly and aim to clear your shoulder blades off the floor each time.

Fitness: Tone Your Abs

Aside from looking great, there are many reasons to strengthen your abs. They can help support your back and prevent lower-back pain. Your abs also help you to hold your chest and shoulders up for great posture. Learn how to firm up your abs with fitness expert ab-specific program.

Get Results

For the best results do simple ab exercises in conjunction with a consistent cardio program, strength training, and a balanced diet. Go through all of the exercises at a comfortable pace and intensity to achieve a strong, flat stomach

Side torso strengthener

Step 1

Lie on your back with your arms extended out to your sides. Bend your knees and bring them over your hips until they are at a 90-degree angle as if sitting in a chair. Place a 3-pound ball between knees and keep inner ankles and knees squeezed together.

Step 2

Keeping upper back on the floor and knees at a 90-degree angle, inhale and slowly lower both legs to the right side of your body as far as you can go without lifting left shoulder off the floor. Exhale and slowly bring legs back to original position and repeat on left side.

Details: Do 8 to 12 repetitions on each side. As you get stronger, pause 5 to 6 seconds with your legs in the side positions.

Midsection lightener

Step 1

Rest on your knees and forearms. Knees are behind hips and elbows are directly under shoulders. Palms are flat on floor and toes are curled under.

Step 2

Pushing against your forearms and toes, slowly begin to straighten knees, pushing thighbones away from floor. Draw your tailbone toward your heels and firmly contract abdominals to support spine.

Details: Hold this straight plank position for 5 to 6 seconds. Slowly lower yourself down and repeat 6 to 8 times. As you get stronger, hold the plank position for 10 seconds.

Double oblique crunch

Step 1

Lie on your back on a mat with your hands clasped under your head, elbows pointing out. Left leg is extended, right knee bent and foot flat on the floor.

Step 2

On an exhale, bend your left knee and move it in toward your right shoulder. At the same time, bring your head and right shoulder toward your left knee. Contract abdominals and hold right shoulder and left knee in this position for two counts and slowly release.

Details: Repeat 16 times on each side. As you get stronger you can do three sets of 16, alternating legs between sets.

Fitness: Arm-Toning Tips

What exercises can I do at home to tone my arms without using weights?

There are several good exercises you can do at home to tone the arms. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Dips. This exercise will work your triceps (the back part of your upper arm). Dips can be done using a chair, bench or even the stairs. Place your hands behind you, palms facing down on the flat surface of the chair or bench with your fingers facing your back. Place your feet flat on the floor with knees bent and slowly dip your body down, lowering your butt to the floor. Raise yourself back up slowly and fully extend your elbows.
  • Lateral Raises. This will work the medial deltoids (the outer part of the shoulders). Although this may not be considered an actual arm exercise, your deltoids are extremely noticeable when wearing a sleeveless shirt or dress. Standing straight, with elbows slightly bent and arms at your sides, slowly raise your arms laterally until they are parallel to the floor. Hold for a one count and bring back down to starting position. To add more resistance, hold water bottles or soup cans in your hands.

  • Bicep Curls. This will work the biceps (the front part of your upper arm). Stand straight with your arms at your sides, elbows close to your body, hands in a fist, and slowly bring your fists up towards your chest. Hold for a one count and then slowly lower back down to starting position. To add extra resistance you can hold water bottles or soup cans in your hands.

  • Modified Push-ups. Lie flat on the floor, facing down, and place your palms down shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and cross your ankles, then push up, lifting your body on your knees. Raise and lower your body by bending your elbows. Keep your elbows close to the side of your body as you go up and down. Keep your body straight as you raise up and lower back down. Do not rest on the floor in the down position and do not "lock" (fully extend) your elbows in the top position.

Push-ups work the chest muscles and tone the arms. If you are a beginner, start with wall push-ups, progress to modified push-ups with knees on floor, and work your way gradually to full push-ups.

Push-ups are always a great option, as they are convenient and can be performed anywhere. You can also do pull-ups (if you have a swing set nearby) and tricep dips (great for toning arm flab).

Probiotics: Battle of the Bugs

There is a delicate balance that exists between intestinal microflora. The average intestine contains over 400 species of beneficial bacteria.

Imagine a parking lot. There are a limited number of "parking spaces" and once they are full there isn't room for any more cars. The same goes for the bacteria in the gut. This competitive colonization means an ongoing battle for the bacteria to survive.

Lifestyle factors that can compromise gut flora include:

  • Antibiotic use
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Diet high in refined carbohydrate
  • Stress
  • Age

Minimizing the above factors and eating a diet rich in complex carbohydrate and high in dietary fiber can help improve gut flora. Something that may also help is probiotics.

Probiotics means "for life". They are live bacterial microorganisms that reside in our intestinal tract. Probiotics can help maintain a healthy balance of intestinal flora.

Some popular strains of probiotics include:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus)
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  • Saccharomyces boulardii

Probiotics may help by:

  • Lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and acetic acid production for a more acidic environment that is less favorable for disease causing bacteria.
  • Short chain fatty acid production that serves as a preferential fuel for the colonocytes.
  • Manufacture some B vitamins
  • Lactase production which aids digestion
  • Support body's elimination of cholesterol
  • Secrete natural antibodies which kill off the harmful microorganisms

Potential benefits of probiotics:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Antibiotic associated diarrhea
  • Traveler's diarrhea
  • Yeast infections
  • Candida
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Improved digestion
  • Increased immune function

How you take it:
Probiotics can be found in food products such as yogurt with live cultures, sauerkraut, kefir, and buttermilk. Probiotics are also sold as a dietary supplement in powder, capsule and liquid form. Refrigeration is preferred as heat destroys the microorganisms.

Five billion colony-forming units (CFU) per day are considered the minimum amount for healthy maintenance of intestinal microflora. Therapeutic doses can range up to 50-100 billion CFU per day. No significant adverse side effects have been reported with probiotics in clinical studies.

Starting off with lower, divided doses is recommended to prevent excess gas and gastrointestinal comfort.

Valid concerns exist regarding the quality of probiotic supplements. When assayed, many:

  • Don't meet label claim for bacteria amount
  • Have bacteria other than what's listed on the label
  • Have no bacteria at all

The effects of microbial imbalance aren't necessarily acute. Chronic health concerns can emerge when there continues to be an unfavorable balance. Maintaining balance with beneficial bacteria, can tip the scales in favor of better health. Probiotics may be one such way to do this!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Physique Development: Fitness Myths & Facts

There are a number of misunderstandings in the fitness world. One that I would like to discuss is the ever popular myth, "Use light weights \ high reps for cuts and heavy weights \ low reps to build muscle mass". Many are still under the impression that this is a fitness fact. Lighter weights with higher reps will emphasize developing muscular endurance while heavier weights with lower reps will emphasize developing muscular strength. This is a fitness fact. The most dominant factor in determining your physique potential is your genetic makeup. Just observe two individuals that strength train together, are of the same age and sex, and have similar lifestyles (e.g.- nutrition). Their results and physiques will vary as a result of their genetics.

There are many predisposing factors that will determine your muscular size, strength, and leanness potential. Testosterone levels, muscle fiber types, muscle and tendon lengths, tendon insertion points, neurological efficiency, somatotype (thin and wiry, muscle bound, or round with high body fat), and limb length will all factor in. For example, someone that is an ectomorph (thin and wiry) but has a high level of neurological efficiency will be stronger than he or she appears to be.

Although he \ she will not be very muscle bound, he \ she will be able to utilize more muscle fibers in a given muscle(s) than someone that is a mesomorph (muscle bound) but has a low level of neurological efficiency. In fact, the former can be equally as strong as the latter because of this predisposition. However, an ectomorph will never develop very large muscles (naturally that is) because this somatotype simply won't permit it.

On the other hand, a male that has above average levels of free serum testosterone will typically be a mesomorph because testosterone is the primary hormone responsible for muscle hypertrophy. This individual would increase in muscle size and strength rather quickly and significantly from almost any strength training protocol. Even if he follows a "cut" routine of lighter weights and higher reps, his "light" weights would soon become heavier because of the fast gains he would experience. It is important to remember that muscle definition won't show from any strength training routine if one's body fat is too high.

With regard to women and strength training, women should strength train the same way that men do. While some claim that women should use light weights and high reps to tone, shape, and sculpt, this is quite misleading. While there are a few women that have the potential to develop large muscles, most don't. This is because women typically have lower levels of serum testosterone, more body fat, and shorter muscle bellies. A woman's muscle is exactly the same and responds to weight training exactly the same way as a man's does.

If someone is looking to gain muscle size and they are not meeting their required caloric intake each day, it won't matter how heavy their weights are and how low their reps are. Muscle growth won't be significant because the extra calories needed for supercompensation (recovery and growth) aren't being met. Someone that strength trains and is looking for more muscle definition or "cuts" may need to slightly reduce or change calories consumed and or increase aerobic exercise to accomplish this.

While there are varying programs and controversies regarding the ways to strength train (e.g.- number of sets performed and muscles worked in a given session), there are some standards that should be followed.

All reps should use a full range of motion or pain free range of motion.

The movement speed should be slow and controlled. How slow? Nobody knows the ideal rep speed but when in doubt, move a little slower. Lifting in about 2 seconds and lowering or returning in about 4 seconds is a good guide to follow.

Rep range varies considerably but it is generally accepted that 8-12 reps per set is an excellent guide to use to increase muscle tone, size, and strength.

Pause at the midpoint of each rep but don't lock out the working joints.

Maintain proper body alignment. Don't alter body position to gain a leverage advantage.

Focus on the muscles that are being worked and breathe continuously.

Unless you are looking to maintain your current muscle strength, tone, and size, follow the progressive overload principle. Each set or session should have a goal of improving from the last. Increasing the resistance and or repetitions are the most common ways to accomplish this. Slowly movement speed and altering rest time between sets are others. Some increase training volume (e.g.-more sets) to continue to progress. Others, including yours truly, focus on increasing the intensity.

The greatest training factor that determines our response to exercise is our intensity or degree of effort. While increased exercise volume can enhance results, it brings with it the increased potential to overtrain. The greater the intensity, the greater the training response. Every work set that is performed should at least become challenging at the end reps (muscle fatigue). More advanced trainees may take each work set to momentary muscle failure. That is, the set ends when you cannot complete another rep with proper form. This is the heart of the High Intensity Training (HIT) school.

HIT routines typically consist of full body or upper \ lower body routines. These protocols consist of each work set going to muscle failure and, at times, adding in advanced techniques such as forced reps, breakdowns, or super sets to name a few. This is not for the beginner but once tolerated, produces significant muscle responses.

Getting back to physique specific routines, we all have a mixture of slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. There are subclasses of the fast twitch category but basically the slow twitch fibers are slow to fatigue and produce low levels of force. The fast twitch fibers fatigue quickly but produce high levels of force. The average person has about two thirds slow twitch and about one third fast twitch.

Strength training is an anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic metabolism lasts about 40-70 seconds in someone who has this average mix of slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. So, a set of 8-12 reps, using a 2 / 4 cadence, will have our anaerobic metabolisms exhausted by the end of the set if the resistance is great enough. Extensive research has shown that approximately 75% of the one rep maximum (1 RM) is the appropriate intensity to overload our muscles. Beginners may use a slightly lower resistance (65% 1 RM) but once an establishing a baseline of strength, 75% is ideal.

Some individuals have a greater than average percentage of slow or fast twitch muscle fibers. Those with more slow twitch fibers will be able to achieve about 14-16 reps with 75% of their 1 RM because their anaerobic systems will take longer to fatigue due to their high percentage of "fatigue-resistant" muscle fibers. An individual with an above average amount of fast twitch muscle fibers will probably achieve only 5-7 reps with 75% of their 1 RM because their anaerobic systems will fatigue faster than average because they have more muscle fibers that fatigue quickly. However, while both of these types of individuals may be using 75% of their 1 RM, 75% of a 1 RM from the individual that has more fast twitch fibers would be significantly heavier as a result of having more "strength" fibers.

The muscle fiber ratio varies to a degree from one muscle to the next and some muscles typically consist of more of one of the fiber types. For example, the soleus (lower leg) typically contains more slow twitch muscle fibers while the triceps muscle typically contains more fast twitch muscle fibers. The only absolute way to determine you muscle fiber makeup is to have a muscle biopsy done. However, a crude test can be performed only if a 1 RM can be safely determined. After determining your 1 RM on a leg extension, rest for 5 minutes and then attempt as many reps as possible with 75% of your 1 RM using a 2 / 4 cadence.

The number of reps achieved will give you a ballpark figure of what your makeup is. Less than 8 reps achieved points to more fast twitch, 8-12 reps achieved points to the average mix, and more than 12 reps completed points to more slow twitch. Perform the same procedure on an upper body exercise such as a machine pullover. An even cruder method is to note what you or someone else typically does for exercise. If someone predominantly performs aerobic exercise, they may be more slow twitch. If they predominantly perform weight training, they may be a little more fast twitch. If there is a balance in exercise forms, there is likely the typical makeup.

Unfortunately, individuals that are a greater than average percentage of one or the other contribute to the physique specific training myth. An individual that has an above average amount of slow twitch muscle fibers will likely use "light" weights and high reps since they are usually not very strong and it would take longer than average for them to fatigue when weight training. These individuals are typically lean because slow twitch fibers don't hypertrophy significantly and these persons usually participate in endurance activities because they do well in them as a result of having more "fatigue-resistant fibers". The increased cardiovascular work leads to less body fat. However, many will see their high rep \ light weight routines as the reason for their physique.

On the other hand, the individuals that have an above average amount of fast twitch muscle fibers will probably use "heavy" weights and low reps since they fatigue quickly when weight training. These persons are likely to be muscle bound and strong because fast twitch muscle fibers have a greater potential to hypertrophy than slow twitch fibers. These persons usually perform weight training often and endurance exercise much less since they have more "strength" muscle fibers. This will contribute to less leanness and more of a "mass" build. Again, many will see their low rep \ heavy weight routines are the reason for their muscle mass.

You see, these two groups of individuals will develop their respective physiques inspite of their training protocol, not because of it. However, they make it appear that there is a physique-specific way to strength train when in reality it is their preset genetics that will dictate the results they get. It is important to note that we cannot (at least not yet) alter our muscle fiber types. While it is true that we can change the characteristics of some fast twitch muscle fibers though exercise, we cannot truly change slow to fast and fast to slow.

Regardless of the protocol we use, we all have a tendency to develop a certain kind of physique. Whether we use light weights with high reps or heavy weights with low reps, we will always be prone to develop the physiques that our genes have preset for us. We cannot, through weight training alone, stimulate our muscles to become "cut" or "bulked". Our muscles experience hypertrophy or atrophy. That's it! You can become leaner through increased cardiovascular exercise, proper strength training, and adequate nutrition and recovery. Likewise, you can increase muscle tissue through proper strength training, increased caloric intake, and adequate recovery. However, the strength training performed will need to be proper and not "physique-specific".

Nutrition Secrets for Elite Athletes?


1. Improved performance: Recovery of fuel reserves between training sessions may be easier Weight loss/maintenance * Most popular with endurance athletes.

2. Health concerns * Healthy diet & exercise decreased disease risk * "Natural" foods * Lower rates coronary heart disease, diabetes etc.

3. Ethical reasons * Concern for animal welfare Factory farming etc * Concern for human welfare 70% of grain USA produces chickens, pigs, cattle - Poor countries often grow feed grains to export rather than feed themselves.

4. Environmental reasons * 21 pounds plant protein --> 1 pound beef * 1600L water to produce one pound of pork * Nitrogen contamination of water * Methane production! * Land clearance -tropical rain forest etc

5. Religious reasons * Hindus * Some Buddhists * Seventh Day Adventists

6. Economic reasons


Carl Lewis = 9x Olympic Gold winner
Dave Scott = 4x World Champion Iron Man triathlete
Sixto Linares = World Record Holder longest triathlon ever
Susie Wood = NZ representative duathlete, Yacht racer
Paavo Nurmi = Olympic Gold middle distance runner (20 world records)
Edwin Moses = Olympic Gold 400m hurdler
Bill Misner = former holder American Ultradistance record
Robert Sweetgall = World Champion ultradistance walker
Liisa Veijalainen = World Champion orienteerer
Sean Yates = Professional cyclist (Tour de France stage winner)
Murray Rose = 4x Olympic gold swimmer
Bill Pickering = English Channel swim record
Billie Jean King = Tennis champion
Martina Navratilova = Tennis champion
Surya Bonaly = French Olympic figure skater
Bill Walton = Basketballer Desmond Howard = Professional American football player
Chris Campbell = Olympic medallist wrestler
Stan Price = World record holder in bench press
Bill Manetti = Powerlifting champion
Andreas Cahling = "Mr International" bodybuilder
Bill Pearl = 4x "Mr Universe"
Roy Hilligan = "Mr America"

The Diet of An Elite Tri-Athlete

I can tell you that there is absolutely no meat in my diet what so ever. I drink zero milk, no heavy cheeses, and no eggs either. Even my coffee creamer is a soy beverage (vanilla Silk). If my girlfriend and I eat out, I generally like to do pasta with olive oil, veggie fajitas, or vegetable sushi (avocado and cucumber with brown rice are my addictions).

We only shop at Fresh Fields or Trader Joe's because I'm not a big fan of chemically-grown vegetables (I think I'd rather have a turd from Fresh Fields than regular food from Giant). I generally do a lot of whole wheat pasta with olive oil and garlic, fresh baked bread from Fresh Fields, lots of salad, tofu, and I really like Soy Dream (I'll admit: we're sponsored by Imagine Foods but it's still the best tasting).

Water/Gatorade consumption per day goes to about a gallon and a half, and I only drink freshly squeezed OJ.

My vitamin supplements (all "safe for vegetarians" by Solgar):

4-6 grams Vitamin C/day
2 B-complex/day
Roughly 600% RDA for both Zinc and Iron/day
6g Glucosamine/day
120mg Gingko (standardized 24%)/day
4000mg L-arginine/day

My fiber intake hovers around 30-40 grams a day (Kashi's Go Lean Crunch with Vanilla Soy Dream. Got my girlfriend addicted to it) Snacks are usually sunflower seeds (still shelled), fruit, or the occasional olive oil chips. Energy bars are only Clif, Luna, Ironman Peanut Butter bars (the only ones with no whey protein), Boulder Bars, or the e-Bar ( by Erin DeMarines. It's her own energy bar and she's more anal about being a vegan than I am. Good friend of mine, too.

I'll have to send you the actual caloric intake, but it's between 3000-4000 cal./day. I'll send you our training schedule, as well. Here are some of the races we have coming up:

Wilkes-Barre Triathlon, NYC Triathlon, Damascus Time-Trial, Sandman Triathlon, Lum's Pond Triathlon, Marine Corps Marathon, and Ironman Florida.

Andy MacDonald, Group Exercise Coordinator
Freddie Mac Fitness Center
8200 Jones Branch Road
McLean, VA, 22102



* Energy lower
* Carbohydrate higher
* Fibre much higher
* Protein lower
* Total fat similar or lower
* Saturated fat lower
* Monounsaturated fat lower
* Polyunsaturated fat much higher
* Cholesterol lower


* Iron higher
* Zinc similar
* Calcium similar for LOVs BUT lower for vegans
* Sodium lower
* Vitamin B12 lower for LOVs BUT nonexistent for vegans
* Vitamin C much higher
* Vitamin E much higher


1. Energy Intake:
Vegetarians eat lots of high-fibre low-fat foods (wholegrains, fruit, vegetables) -> Lower energy intake than omnivores Status: LOVs have lower body weight. Vegans may find it difficult to maintain weight if they expend >1,000 kCal/day Advice: If weight loss is a problem: * 6 or more med-size meals and snacks/day * Energy-dense foods: - nuts - avocado - dried fruit - dairy products, - sweetened drinks and low-fat snack foods.

2. Carbohydrate Intake:
Complex CHO tends to be higher. Fibre intake higher Status: Easier to maximise glycogen stores on a vegetarian diet Advice: Nil

3. Protein Intake:
LOVs can easily meet recommended intakes. Vegans do eat less high quality protein, but this is no problem as long as they get sufficient energy, and get their protein from a variety of foods throughout the day (it is no longer considered to be necessary to combine proteins within each meal) Case Study: 70kg vegan endurance athlete * Needs ~84g protein per day * Combine plant proteins during day: - 2 cups baked beans - 8 slices wholegrain bread - 2 T peanut butter - 2 cups vegetables - 2 1/2 cups pasta or brown rice NB: it is much easier for a LOV to get sufficienct protein: - 1 cup trim milk 11 g protein - 1 slice cheese ~5g

4. Iron Intake:
Often consume similar total Fe to omnivorous athletes BUT is not as bioavailable Status: Athletes: lower ferritins (stores) than omnivores Sedentary: lower stores, BUT no greater risk IDA Advice: Increase iron rich foods: * legumes * dried fruit * leavened wholegrains * fortified cereals Increase enhancers: * Vitamin C foods Decrease inhibitors: * phytate * tea * coffee Supplement ONLY if iron deficiency diagnosed.

5. Calcium Intake:
LOV - similar to omnivores Vegans - lower than omnivores
Status: LOVs - No increased risk of osteoporosis reported Advice: LOVs: * dairy products Vegans: * calcium-fortified soy milk * hummus * tofu * broccoli Growing athletes may need supplements.

6. Zinc Intake:
Often consume similar total Zn to omnivorous athletes BUT not as bioavailable Status: Sedentary: Lower plasma Zn BUT No evidence of deficiency symptoms Advice: Increase zinc rich foods: * dairy products * eggs * legumes * whole grains Decrease inhibitors: * phytate (yeast fermentation decreases phytate in bread) * Fe supplements.

7. Vitamin B12 Intake:
ONLY found in animal products LOVs - OK Vegans - Nil Status: Vegans at risk for low status Advice: LOVs: * dairy products * eggs Vegans MUST take: * fortified foods (e.g. soy milk), or * vitamin B12 supplements: spirulina and mushrooms contain inactive analogues.


1. Physical Performance benefits

* Increased CHO -> maximizes glycogen stores * Lower energy -> easier weight maintenance BUT very few studies compare athletic capabilities of vegetarians with omnivores: * insufficient nos vegetarians in any one sport * vegetarians consume a wide variety of different diets.

Hanne et al. (1986) n = 49 vegetarian athletes n = 49 omnivorous controls (age, sex, wt, activity type matched) * VO2max on cycle ergometer * Wingate test => No diff in aerobic or anaerobic capacity in vegetarians compared to omnivore controls.

Raben et al. (1992) n = 8 male endurance athletes 2 x 6 week cross-over study (meat-rich vs LOV diet) * VO2max * incremental aerobic endurance test => 6 week LOV diet did not change endurance performance in male endurance athletes.

2. Health benefits Lower levels:

* serum cholesterol
* blood pressure
* BMI Lower risk of:
* total mortality - vegetarians 20% lower
* coronary heart disease mortality - consuming red meat daily ~60% greater risk than meat 1/wk
* cancer: - vegetarians 39% lower
* stroke
* obesity
* diabetes
* constipation BUT is this due to diet or lifestyle?


* drink less Alcohol
* are less likely to smoke
* are more physically active


Inadequate nutrient intakes Unlikely except for: * Fruitarian and macrobiotic diets
Vegans - vitamin B12, energy, Ca, possibly protein
Fe - LOVs and Vegans may be at risk

2. Hormone status(?) Men: Raben et al. (1992) n = 8 male endurance athletes 2 x 6 week cross-over study (meat-rich vs LOV diet) 6 week LOV diet -> minor decrease in total (NOT free) testosterone levels in male endurance athletes.

Women: Athletic Amenorrhea? Slavin et al. (1984) n = 36 competitive women cyclists Amenorrheic Eumenorrheic Vegetarian 12 20 Omnivorous 0 4 BUT: 90% participants were vegetarian!

Brooks et al. (1984) n = 26 female runners Amenorrheic Amenorrheic Vegetarian 92 Omnivorous 2 13 BUT: * not a random sample * large differences in fat intake (98g/day cf 68g/day)

Goldin et al. (1982) n = 10 vegetarian women n = 10 omnivorous women Vegetarian women had increased fecal estrogen, decreased circulating estrogen. BUT not statistically significant. Researchers suggested it might be due to higher fibre intake (2x) or lower fat intake.

Most studies are poorly controlled, not taking into account the fact that vegetarians have a:

Lower fat intake
Lower energy intake
Higher fibre intake
A vegetarian diet is common in people with eating disorders

3. Practical issues Accessing appropriate vegetarian food when away from home can be tricky - traveling - if dinning out.


A healthy vegetarian diet is NOT an omnivorous diet without the meat

Vegetarian athlete: Should eat a variety of legumes, grains and other plant foods. Athletes and individuals can get all required nutrients.

Vegan athlete: Should eat a variety of legumes, grains and other plant foods, and foods fortified with vitamin B12 (and Ca for women)

As above * BUT more careful menu planning necessary for: - children - adolescents - athletes doing high intensity exercise to ensure sufficient energy and protein intakes


Havala S, Dwyer J (1988). Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian diets. JADA 88:351-355.
Raben A, Kiens B, Richter E A, Rasmussen L B, Svenstrup B, Micic S, Bennett P (1992). Serum sex hormones and endurance performance after a lacto-ovo vegetarian and a mixed diet. Med Sci Sports Exerc 24: 1290-1297.
Frail H (1994). Special needs: the vegetarian athlete. In: Burke L, Deakin V, eds. Clinical Sports Nutrition. Sydney: McGraw-Hill Book Company, pp365-378.
Hanne N, Dlin R & Rotstein A (1986). Physical fitness, anthropometric and metabolic parameters in vegetarian athletes. J Sports Med 26:180-185.
Slavin J, Lutter J, Cushman S (1984). Amenorrhoea in vegetarian athletes (letter). The Lancet (June 30) 1474-1475.
Brooks SM. Sanborn CF, Albrecht BH, Wagner WW (1984). Diet in athletic amenorrhoea (letter). The Lancet (March 10) 559-560.
Goldin BR, Adlercreutz H, Gorbach SL, Warram JH, Dwyer JT, Swenson L, Woods MN (1982). Estrogen excretion patterns and plasma levels in vegetarian and omnivorous women. N Engl J Med 307:1542-1547.
Messina M & Messina V. The Vegetarian Way. Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1996. Messina M & Messina V. A Dietician's Guide to Vegetarian Diets.

Shaping Up for Soccer: The Basics

The best approach for sport conditioning is to carefully consider the physical requirements of the activity and develop training programs that address these areas as effectively and efficiently as possible. Equally important is the need to identify potential injury sites and design exercise protocols that strengthen weak links and reduce the risk of physical problems.

Let's begin with the energy system requirements to successfully compete in this almost constant movement sport that involves high level production from both anaerobic and aerobic energy sources. Soccer is basically a stop and go activity, characterized by repeated sprints and short recovery periods. The sprints, of course, use large amounts of energy from the anaerobic system. However, the short rests and almost continuous running activity (fast-slow combinations) require substantial aerobic energy delivery to the working muscles by means of the cardiovascular system.
Therefore, to be a successful soccer player requires powerful performance from both the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems.

Anaerobic Conditioning

Because simpler is sometimes better when it comes to physical conditioning, I suggest the following basic training program to develop and maintain sprinting ability. All sprints should be performed at maximum speed and with proper form. The key technique factors are to run tall, lift the knees high, drive the arms hard, and sprint from the balls of the feet.

Sprint Training Progression

Phase 1 Progression Distance Repetitions Recovery
50 yards 4x 2 min.
50 yards 6x 2 min.
50 yards 8x 2 min.
50 yards 10x 2 min.
50 yards 10x 90 sec.

Phase 2 Progression Distance Repetitions Recovery
75 yards 6x 90 sec.
75 yards 8x 90 sec.
75 yards 10x 90 sec.
75 yards 10x 1 min.

Phase 3 Progression Distance Repetitions Recovery
100 yards 6x 90 sec.
100 yards 8x 90 sec.
100 yards 8x 1 min.


25-50 yards - hopping (one leg to same leg)

25-50 yards - leaping (one leg to other leg)

25-50 years - lateral leaping (one leg to other leg)

Aerobic Conditioning

In order to perform repeated sprints at top speed with little recovery time, it is essential to have a superbly conditioned cardiovascular system. The following training protocols complement the sprint progressions and should be performed on alternate days. The longer runs require lower kneelift, less forceful arm drive, and more full-foot landings. Pace should be moderate to high effort.

Phase 1 Progression

Distance Repetitions Recovery
1/2 mile 2x 6 min.
1/2 mile 2x 5 min.
1/2 mile 2x 4 min.

Phase 2 Progression

Distance Repetitions Recovery
3/4 mile 2x 6 min.
3/4 mile 2x 5 min.
3/4 mile 2x 4 min.

Phase 2 Progression

Distance Repetitions Recovery
1 mile - -
1 1/2 mile - -
2 miles - -

Muscular Conditioning

Training for speed and endurance is critical for high level soccer performance, and should constitute the basis of the conditioning program. However, the ability to kick, punt or throw the soccer ball forcefully is largely dependent upon the player's power production. In simplest terms power is an end result of movement speed and muscle force. The movement speed of kicking, punting and throwing actions can be best improved through technique training and skill practice. However, muscle force can be best increased through a sensible program of progressive resistance exercise. Better known as strength training, both free-weights and machines are effective for enhancing muscle development.

Strength Training Principles

For most practical purposes soccer players should train with adult 75 percent of their maximum resistance. This generally corresponds to a weightload that can be lifted 8 to 12 times in good form. Good form requires controlled lifting and lowering movements, between 4 to 6 seconds per repetition, and full-range movements to develop strength through the entire joint action. It is also essential to train all of the major muscle groups, rather than emphasize specific muscles used most in soccer. This is to ensure muscle balance, which increases overall performance potential and decreases the risk of injuries.

Depending on the equipment available, the following exercises should be appropriate for all soccer players, including goalies. Let's begin with free weight equipment, utilizing both barbells and dumbbells.

Free Weight Training

Exercises Muscle Groups Relevance to Soccer
Barbell Squat Quadriceps



Barbell Bench Press Pectoralis Major
Front Deltoids


Dumbbell Bent Row Latissimus Dorsi
Rear Deltoids


Dumbbell Shoulder Press Deltoids

Upper Trapezius

Dumbbell Curl Biceps Goaltending
Dumbbell Overhead Extension* Triceps Throwing

Chin Up Latissimus Dorsi
Rear Deltoids


Bar Dip Pectoralis Major
Front Deltoids


Trunk Curl/Twist Abdominals All Aspects
Trunk Extension Lower Back All Aspects

*Note: If pulley apparatus is available, the pulldown may be substituted for the dumbbell bent row, and the pressdown may be substituted for the dumbbell overhead extension

Each free weight exercise may be performed for 2 or 3 sets, with about 2 to 3 minutes rest between sets on barbell exercises, and 1 to 2 minutes rest between sets on dumbbell exercises. When 12 repetitions can be completed in all sets of an exercise, the weightload should be increased by about 5 percent.

Machine Training

If you have access to resistance machines, these exercises should provide a more comprehensive training protocol with greater emphasis on the leg, hip and trunk muscles.

Exercises Muscle Groups Relevance to Soccer
Leg Extension Quadriceps Sprinting



Leg Curl Hamstrings Sprinting



Leg Press Quadriceps



Hip Adduction Hip Adductors Lateral Movement

Chest Press Pectoralis Major
Front Deltoids


Seated Row Latissimus Dorsi
Rear Deltoids


Shoulder Press Deltoids

Upper Trapezius

Preacher Curl Biceps Throwing

Preacher Extension Triceps Throwing

Low Back Erector Spinals All Aspects
Abdominal Curl Rectus Abdominis All Aspects
Rotary Torso Obliques All Aspects
4-Way Neck Neck Flexors
Neck Extensors
Injury Prevention

Machine exercises are typically performed for one set to the point of muscle fatigue. Because successive exercises work different muscle groups, only a brief rest is necessary between exercises. However, if two sets are completed, a 1 to 2 minute recovery period is recommended between sets.

Injury Prevention Exercises

As important as it is to improve soccer performance, conditioning programs for youth should place at least equal emphasis on injury prevention. The first step is to strengthen all of the major muscle groups to ensure balanced musculeskeletal development and to reduce the risk of overuse injuries. The basic strength training programs presented above satisfy this requirement to a large degree. However, due to the rather high injury potential at the ankles (all players) and wrists (goaltenders), the following specific exercises are advisable.

Toe Raise

To strengthen the muscle-tendon attachments that surround the front, inside and outside of the ankles, the best single exercise is the toe raise. Have the athlete sit on a high table with the knee at a right angle and the lower leg hanging vertically. Using a shoestring, loop one end around a 5-pound weight and the other end over the toe area of the athlete's shoe.

Have the player slowly lift the weight a couple inches by dorsi-flexing the ankle (moving the toes towards the shins). One or two sets of 15 repetitions with each leg should be sufficient.

Wrist Roll

This exercise strengthens the muscle-tendon attachments that control wrist movement, and requires a short pipe (or wooden dowel) with a 2-foot section of rope connected and attached to a 5-pound weight on the far end. Have the athlete hold the pipe in both hands with palms facing down. Using the hands alternately, the rope is wrapped around the pipe and the weight
is lifted. When the weight reaches the pipe, the hands are used alternately to slowly lower the weight to full rope's length. These hand actions strengthen the forearm flexor muscles (lifting movements) and the forearm extensor muscles (lowering movements).


Soccer players can benefit from a comprehensive conditioning program that includes sprinting drills to improve anaerobic energy production, running sessions to increase cardiovascular fitness, and strength training workouts to develop a functional and injury-resistant musculoskeletal system. Because much of the practice time during soccer sessions must be spent learning skills and strategies, the conditioning program should be conducted on a year-round basis with pre-season, in-season and past-season components. Generally speaking, time devoted to fitness enhancement should be longer during the off-season and shorter during the competitive season. The basic training programs presented are merely samples, and should be modified accordingly for each situation, both for teams and individuals.

Freshen Up Your Exercise Routine

Battling boredom in your workouts? If so, then try fresh up your exercise routine! Whether you exercise daily or weekly, it is important to make small changes in the duration, progression, and intensity of your exercise routine. By increasing the level of difficulty, changing your environment, modifying your activities or by simply taking time off, you can reunite your passion for exercise and gain a new prospective on your fitness program. Here are some helpful ideas for freshening up your routine.

Challenge Yourself. Our bodies adapt quickly to most exercises, causing a plateau in the benefits received by the activity. If you aren't sweating as much as you used to during your activities, it's time to add new challenges. To do this, try increasing the duration of your workouts, ithe weight or repetitions, adding another day to your workout schedule, and/or changing your activity by venturing out on new machines and aerobic classes. For best results, experts recommended you modify your workout about every two weeks. You will see how these new challenges will keep your motivation on track and the workouts more productive!

Change Your Scene. If you are tired of the health club scene, try moving your workouts outdoors. Find a partner and setup a weekly exercise schedule that includes walking, jogging, biking and other outdoor activities. Parks, schools and beaches are great places for both strength training and cardio activities. A workout surrounded by nature is sure to enlighten your senses and shine a new light on your routine!

Vary Your Activities. Cross training is increasingly becoming a popular training method in which different activities are performed on different days. Cross training helps battle boredom, increases your overall athleticism and encourages you to conquer new horizons!

Get Competitive. Try setting new goals such as finishing a 5K race, participating in a duathlon, biathlon, triathlon, golf or tennis tournament, adventure race or fitness cruise. Better yet, why not join a local running, walking or biking club? You will give your daily workouts more significance and increase motivation and adherence to your fitness program!

Take Time Off. Taking a few days off from exercise every month prevents over training and treats your body and mind to a well-deserved rest. Try scheduling "time off" periods every month. Pamper your body with a massage, hot bath and lots of rest. When you start your program again, you are sure to feel refreshed, rested and eager to pick up where you left off!

How About an Ectomorph, Mesomorph, Endomorph or Something in Between?

Some people, like supermodel Kate Moss, are born to be thin. These delicately built individuals are ectomorphs.

Others are destined to be muscular and athletic, like actors Arnold Schwarzenegger or Tom Cruise. They are mesomorphs.

Then there are the endomorphs, people like talk-show hosts Oprah Winfrey and Rosie O'Donnell, who sport softer, rounder bodies and have difficulty losing weight.

What this is based on
Those three broad categories of body types, or "somatypes," were created in the early 1940s--not by a physician or exercise specialist, but by American psychologist William H. Sheldon.

Sheldon, who died in 1977, developed his somatype theory after studying 4,000 photographs of college-age men. His primary research interest was drawing connections between body type and temperament. He theorized that ectomorphic people tend to be quiet and reflective; mesomorphs brim with energy and vigor; and endomorphic people are magnanimous and love to eat.

While those connections play a relatively minor role in modern psychology, Sheldon's body types have endured to influence, in part at least, how many people exercise, body-build, and manage their weight.

How these body types are used
"They're pretty well accepted" in the nutritional community, says Diane Rigassio, M.S., R.D., a clinical assistant professor at the School of Health-Related Professions at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey.

Exercise physiologist Richard Cotton, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise, says that knowing your somatype is useful, but not crucial, in developing an effective fitness prescription.

"An ectomorph can strength train very aggressively and not necessarily gain a lot of muscle mass," Cotton says. "This is often desirable for women but not for men.

"A 'meso' female may gain muscle mass easily but not want big shoulders, so we would focus on staying away from lifting heavy weights for 8 to 12 repetitions and work more with lighter weights in the 15- to 20-rep range."

The endomorph has a thicker body type and tends to carry more fat weight, Cotton continues, so a program that is heavy on aerobic exercise to burn more calories would be warranted. "But she'd still have to have some strength training component," he says.

Few women have a "pure" body type
Relatively few people can be pigeonholed as pure "ecto," "meso," or "endo." Most of us fall somewhere in between. In her book, "Bodyscopes," author Carol Saltus defines nine female somatypes based on Sheldon's concepts:

  • Balanced Ecto A light, sharp, alert body with a narrow, shallow, rather short torso; square shoulders; very long, slim limbs; and narrow hips and pelvis.
  • Endo Ecto A long, soft, willowy body that is rounder and looser than the balanced ecto and has a less tapered waistline and more prominent and curvaceous hips and belly.
  • Meso Ecto A lean, muscular body with a broader, deeper chest tapering more sharply to the waist than in the balanced ecto.
  • Balanced Meso A clean-cut, sturdy, athletic body with chest and shoulders strongly dominant over the belly; a low waistline with little indentation; narrow pelvis and hips; strong arms and legs that don't taper; and well-defined muscle contours.
  • Endo Meso A compact, rounded, solid body with more curves and a higher, more indented waistline than the balanced meso.
  • Ecto Meso A lean, lithe, agile body that is longer and slimmer than the balanced meso.
  • Balanced Endo A small-boned, billowy body with soft, gently swelling curves; full, smooth shoulders; high, hourglass waistline; and deeply curved and prominent belly, hips, and thighs.
  • Meso Endo More strongly muscled than the balanced endo with more firmly molded and pronounced curves.
  • Ecto Endo A slightly leaner version of the balanced ecto with a high but less sharply indented waistline and narrower chest, shoulders, and hips.
Changing your body type
According to Cotton, designing a weight-management plan is an individualized venture, even if you can correctly identify your somatype. And no matter what you do, he adds, it is difficult, if not impossible, to change the body type you inherited from your parents.

You can, however, move toward a more desirable body type--if you are willing to put in the time. For example, Cotton says, a pure, overweight endo can move toward an endo-meso by significantly reducing her fat and calorie intake and exercising for an hour at moderately high intensity every day. But it is difficult to sustain such a lifestyle over the long haul.

"When I put people on programs, I explore how much time they are really willing to put into this," says Cotton. "They may have goal to get down to what they weighed at age 21, but they also aren't willing to put in the time. It can take an inordinate amount of time for some people to stay thin."

Be realistic
A more realistic tack is making sure your diet is primarily plant based and you are getting at least 20 or 30 minutes of physical activity four or five days a week, according to Cotton and dietitian Rigassio. Additionally, all body types should weight train at least two times a week and stretch their muscles regularly to increase flexibility and lower their injury risk.

"Let changing your body type be secondary to improving your health measures (such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels) and your quality of life," Cotton advises. "You can design your program based on making some changes in your appearance, but it shouldn't be your index for success."