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Moringa Oleifera – The Greatest Nutrition for Recovery?

May 8, 2012

I am like many other humans who are challenged with recovery from excessive heat, overtraining, or just forgetting to eat properly.  Every time this happens I get fagitued, grouchy and many times a good ole headache.  The use of Gatorade was ok, but always left me wanting more and more and more.  Water kept me hydrated, but did not fill in the gaps.  Even the use of EmergenC was not enough for these situations.  So of course I searched in the internet for recovery drinks that were formulated to aid in this department.  The most popular are the sports powders with mass electrolytes and often sugar.  These seemed to give me the feeling of being satisfied, but lacked the long term benefits.  They also seemed to burn going down my throat.  So disappointing.

So after many years of products that didn’t live up to the demands that I required, I heard about a plant called moringa oleifera.  At first I was skeptical, but I always do my research and give almost anything a try.  This plant has just about every nutrient the body needs to perform it daily functions.  If this is true, then it should fill in the gaps of nutrients lost during times of excessive heat, overtraining, or poor nutrition.  After five months of putting the plants and its many derivative products through the paces, I have found it to be the best of anything I have tried to date.  It can be consumed in many forms.  The leaves as a salad.  The seeds as a snack.  Oil from seeds as an added fat source.  For USDA nutrition information, please visit there page on the leaves and pods.

Unfortunately, there is a challenge in obtaining this plant in its most beneficial form.  Luckily, my sister  informed me of a company that offered this plant in a powder form to mix with water.  Downside, I didn’t research it deeply for several months, but as all things I do eventually get the studying done to determine an outcome.  (Especially when a second person months later brings it to my attention.)  During the five month period, I utilized just about every way I could think of to decrease the balanced nutrients in my body.  Each time my recovery or ability to continue my task at hand was almost perfect.  The company that makes this moringa oleifera nutrition is called Zija.  I have tried there other products, but there flagship powder drink mix his there best for these necessary needs.  If you have interest in learning more about the details of my testing, please email me.

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Mountaineering Training

April 22, 2012

Over the past 18 months, I have been heavily focused on smarter ways to train the physical body to climb mountains of all sizes.  The reason?  I live in the low lands and love the high lands.  This love began from dreams as a child and culminated as a young twenty something in the Beartooths of Montana.  Luckily, I now have a job that keeps me in the Rockies on a fairly regularly basis, but I ran into a small problem.  So often I would fly into cities of high elevation, then I would have to “acclimatize” just to enjoy a day there.  The original plan was to simply do more cardio and train cross fit style which worked great because I had the time.  Now that my first child has joined my daily routine, I had to find a way to continue my same activities in less time.  Luckily, I had most of the tools I needed through my educational background.  Using this knowledge, a hypothesis of preparation had to be designed first.  Utilizing Howard Loomis’s system of determining any digestive inadequacies, I was able to eliminate the large majority of any internal stresses on the chemical side.  In addition, I was able to exploit to some degree how well my body recycled red blood cells.  My theory was that this would greatly increase my ability to manage a decrease in oxygen consumption.  The other side to the process involved utilizing Muscle Activation Techniques as a way to determine any mechanical inadequacies.  This powerful tool enabled me to reduce any physical stress I may have encountered during normal climbing movements.  With a few other added  tools, the August Mount Rainier climb was a huge success.  There were a few minor hiccups prior to the climb that were quickly addressed and resolved.  Since this particular climb, my main focus has been to working through some small details that I found could become troublesome on longer and higher climbs.

These details will be further discussed in future blogs.  The final plan will hopefully be fully complete by this fall (2012).

What does it mean to be fit?

April 13, 2011

Fitness is going to the gym in the early morning to run for an hour on a treadmill followed by some squats, lunges, situps, pushups and pullups.  The workout is immediately followed by a protein bar or shake.  After shower, we then eat a balanced breakfast consisting of oatmeal, walnuts, and soy milk.  The mid morning snack includes a piece of fruit with some probiotic yogurt. For lunch, we munch on some spinach with olives, tomatos, goat cheese, and a slice of chicken.  For dinner, we eat quinoa with broccoli and salmon.  Does this sound about what a fit person does?  Well, that is how we are marketed.

So what does it mean to be fit?  Let’s first define the word fit using the Merriam-Websters Dictionary.  There are many meanings that define the word, so let’s look at the ones that relate to our topic of a fit human:

1.  adapted to an end or design : suitable by nature or by art : adapted to the environment so as to be capable of surviving

2. to put into a condition of readiness

3.  to be suitable for or to harmonize with : to be seemly or proper for : to be in agreement or accord with

4.  being in such a state as to be or seem ready to do something

5.  sound physically and mentally

There are some key words that really pop out into the reality of being fit.  The first is in number 3 of harmony and accord.  A human with harmony has balance not only in standing on one foot, but also in our actions and reactions to external or internal stimuli.  Secondly, number 4 offers what many try to improve which would be the ability to perform functions.  Going through various exercises to gain strength does not necessarily transfer in a new ability.  For example, if one wanted to have the ability to crawl or climb, but lacked normal hand function an exercise in the fitness center could not improve that. Next is number 2.  Putting oneself into a condition of readiness is the goal of everyone who decides to get in “shape” (another misused word, please look up shape in the dictionary.  In reference to fit, it means it fits like a puzzle piece.  Shape does not refer to a condition of the body.).  Being conditioned or prepared involves previously being in balance and harmony, but also being able to perform the function that would get one in condition in the first place.  Being conditioned also means one can perform the function flawlessly without error or excessive stress to the human body.  Following these three is number 1 which is having the ability to adapt to the environment around you.  This may be as simple as being comfortable in the rain or not losing focus in a loud arena.  With all four of these together we get a fit human that is both sound physically and mentally.

Being fit is more than just what you see in the mirror.  I have seen many who look it, but cannot act fit.  It is progression of development of the human body to achieve  a level of performance that can respond to any stimuli with precision and efficiency that relates to their personal needs.  This may be an athlete, but it is also a retired lady who would like to work in her garden.  Everyone has their own fitness goal, but the avenues traveled to achieve them are numerous.

Acute versus Chronic Stress

March 28, 2011

It has been a few weeks since offering my last tidbits on living a fit life.  (Next week the discussion will be on exactly that.  What is a fitness?)  For now, let’s delve into the feelings we have from stress and their potential consequences.  Stress shows its ugly face in a variety of ways, but the most popular is by way of a physical feeling.  This may be a tight or crampy muscle, a headache, a stomach ache, or even a mess in the porcelain bowl.  Each is a warning sign that something is amiss whatever that may be.

The question that often made is:  So What?  Well, a warning sign usually means you may need to look into what the physical feeling could mean.  Acute stress usually comes in a full force feeling of pain, but often times is ignored because it comes and leaves quickly.  Or did it???  This stress is the initial warning that needs to be addressed.  More often than not the reason it went away is because the body was able to compensate away from the stress and give the appearance that your body is working at normal function.  The appearance is smoke and mirrors.  Something was wrong, but more than likely was not corrected to the original normal.  If this happens often enough (and it usually does), then we reach a point where we can no longer compensate away from the stress and a chronic annoyance arrives.  At this point, the odds of moving to original function or at least to a point where the body can adapt because more slim.  This is the time we usually call the doctor or some other practitioner to aid our dilemma, but often times a correction that will meet our needs is not available unless we can find a way to give our body the opportunity to heal and repair the previous stresses.

Does the end justify the means?

March 11, 2011

So many of us have made decisions to reach a goal that may have been at a cost that outweighed the benefit.  At the time the benefit seemed so great that the cost was not understood, even though the outcome was exactly what we wanted.  It would be a blessing to have been able to understand this great cost prior to making the decision.  However, even knowing the cost sometimes we still will spend it without understanding the benefit that we desire so much.

How does this relate to our lives in health and fitness?  The relation is bigger than we can imagine.  Let’s take for example a classic breakfast:  a couple cups of joe, toast with jam, and maybe a pastry or muffin.  In this intake of food (aka chemicals), there is a high degree of sugar and stimulants.  With these components of nutrition, the body would move to an excited state (let’s use this terminology without getting to great detail).  Many of us know that by eating these foods, we getting a burst of energy, but what few of us understand is that this burst of energy when chosen many times over retards our bodies natural balance.  By doing this, our bodies lose the ability to have enough focus on recovery and repair.  Over a period of time, this constant morning decision could age your faster.  Does this need for energy and the final outcome justify the use of harsh stimulants?  That is your call.  Before anything enters the mouth, be sure to understand what it is and what it can do before ingestion.

I hope you enjoy your latte and muffin this morning!

Try this thought process with other areas of health and fitness.  I am sure you could come up with so many more.

Brain Un-Re-Training

February 25, 2011

Many of us train for various tasks or events to gain or increase our skills in areas of our weakness(es), but many of us don’t realize that our day to day activities, thoughts and routines train us as well.  This area of fitness is unlike the physical training; it is mental training.  Our daily decisions can potentially effect the way we eat, sleep and react to various situations.  Thus we have what many have used to combat these possible bad effects: brain training games.  Originally these we used to improve brain functions, but now they are even used to retrain they way we use our brains after we made poor decisions to untrain them.  The issue here is that the original cause to the problem still exists.  Are you following me?  Let’s give an example:  We think we are fantastic drivers, so we do multiple things while we drive change through radio stations, text our friends, talk on the phone, touch up our make up, punish our screaming kids in the back seat, or a typical conversation on the theory of relativity.  The next thing you know you are having difficulty focusing on simple things such as a conversation with another person.  Bring on Luminosity, Posit Science, or any other brain training game, yet we are still doing the same things that brought us to this brain training in the first place.

As we invest in retraining our brains, we continue the stuck in front of technology lifestyle we now lead.  We are so stuck in front of it that we now sit around with family or friends at the dinner table staring at whatever is on our phone screen instead of engaging ourselves in conversation.  It is like watching Wall-E in its infant stages, but knowing that that future is near.  Now, that phones are capable of video chatting technology is taking us even closer.

Is technology the problem?  No, we are the problem.  Technology has become an addiction.  Many are deciding to purchase the next big thing instead of saving their money for the next big life issue.  Another brain decision that could use some un-re-training.  How about the television?  It is not the problem, the shows, commercials and films however are.  They have been able to pull us in to their plot and keep our eyes focused on them rather than us controlling our focus.  If you are not control of how you focus, someone or something else is.  This can possibly lead to erratic decision-making, anger, depression, or sadness.  Are you following this downward spiral?  It continues in many possible avenues.

The  next question is how do we correct it.  You could go the brain training route, but the continuous battle against your daily decisions is still there.  The better choice would be to create a mental fitness training plan just as you would a physical training plan.  First, we need to feed the brain differently.  Let’s remove all the junk food and add in the healthy nutrients.  Decrease your TV time and increase your reading time.  Decrease your texting to simple responses and for long responses make it a phone call or in person conversation.  (You would be amazed at how much better a response is taken when it is in person.)  Remove the phone from your person while with friends or family (Not only is it rude, but it takes away from the group dynamic.  If there is something you need to reference, write it down on a small notepad and look it up later.)  These are just a few ideas to get you started on your mental nutrition, so take sometime and look into your life and see how technology may be ruling you rather than you ruling it.  Make is simplify your life as it was designed to.

For brain improvement beyond what you can remove or add, do your research on a brain training system.  They are available as a book, but also as online games (remember to schedule this into your day and to not do it whenever you feel like it).  The ones I recommend are Luminosity and Posit Science.  If you find another, be sure it is designed by some highly-knowledgeable neuro studs!

Body Mechanics

February 15, 2011

The first thing I think of when I hear the word mechanic is my Chevy pickup limping to the auto shop for repair.  If I had only taken due diligence and changed the oil regularly, rotated the tires, and checked for those little warning signs that pop up on occasion or seem to constantly remind me.  Unfortunately, the good ole Chevy has to go see a real mechanic and dip into my savings account to repair the rear stabilizer bar.  One of the many things I cannot do on my own to save money.  There is really no better comparison to the maintenance and repair of your automobile and your own human body.  If your automobile is not maintained, it will fail earlier than it should.  If your body is not maintained, it will fail earlier than it should.

One of the best decision you can make is to be active, but one of the biggest fears many have now is injuring themselves.  Without constant use of the body, it decides to scale its abilities back and it loses what it had previously learned just like an old truck that has been sitting for the last 20 years begging to be out on the muddy roads.  So which on is worse, getting injured or losing it all together?  I am going to skip that all together.  Let’s look at the possibility that neither is a necessary concern.  There is a new branch of fitness specialists that focus on not only prevent injuries, but also maintaining status quo and possibly improving your abilities and also your personal confidence.  The focus of these few utilize principles of physics along with anatomy and the central nervous system.  By applying the correct amount of force in the correct direction across the correct joint(s), the body has the opportunity to respond in a positive manner and achieve results that would not be possible by the method of “just going to the gym and doing it”.  There is so much more to what the body can do with a small amount of force as long as there is an intentional effort.

These specialists, known as Resistance Training Specialists and Muscle Activation Techniques Specialists, strive to determine your limitations in movement that could lead to stress elsewhere and improve your body’s ability to move into the limitation.  Your first thought at this moment is probably “stretching”.  Well, not exactly.  The central nervous system will tighten up certain joint because it knows that there are specific weaknesses in movements that could potentially cause an injury.  This intelligent system does not want you to move in that direction or manner and will do whatever it takes to keep you from there unless you decide to force it, then it may give in or decide to really lock everything down.  I am sure many of you have experienced this by lifting something too heavy, overstretching, or working out too hard.  Those stiff muscles are not just “broken down”, they may be on “lockdown” as well.  You may have just lost the ability to move one or more of your joints they way your previously were able to.  This sounds like aging, right?

By visiting a Resistance Training Specialist or Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist, the ability to prevent these situations or improve your current state can be changed for the better.  I know it sounds impossible, but these individuals use science in its true form to determine your limitations and choose the right path to achieve success.  Just like you would put gas in your car, change your oil regularly, and rotate the tires, “body mechanics” can offer the same benefits to keep your body running longer without running it into the ground.

For more information, visit muscleactivation.com or resistancetrainingspecialist.com