Are Organic Foods Really That Much Better for Us?


The Downfall to Organic Food

 

I don’t know about you, but I almost feel guilty buying non-organic vegetables. As if the ethically-sound, environmentally-conscious shopper next to me is looking down on the non-organic carrots in my cart.

We have been told that organic is healthier for us and for the planet, and the message is obviously being heard loud and clear: The organic food industry in the US was estimated to be worth $29 billion in 2010, and has grown about 10 percent per year since then. On average, consumer report analyses say organic is about 47 percent more expensive than non-organic food. Other than organic being expensive, is there anything else problematic about it? Have we been brainwashed into thinking it’s something it’s not? Possibly, maybe, arguably this might be the case.

 

Here are a few things to consider before you blindly believe organic is automatically better for your health and the planet:

 

1. A Little Substance Called Carrageenan

What is carrageenan? It’s a substance extracted from some seaweeds that contains a mix of polysaccharides and is used to thicken foods, especially organic foods, such as almond milk and coconut milk. It is also found in some organic infant formulas and soy products. Sometimes it’s used as a substitute for gelatin in many vegan foods.

Why is it bad? Though a debatable subject, it has been shown to cause chronic inflammation, diabetes and cancer. And in fact, in 2016, the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) even voted to remove carrageenan from the list of substances allowed in organic food out of fear/evidence that it’s harmful to our health. Some evidence of health concerns can be found in Dr. Joanne K. Tobacman’s research on the substance. Her studies suggest that carrageenan can cause gastrointestinal inflammation, impaired glucose intolerance and insulin function. Read more here: https://www.cornucopia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/CarageenanReport-2016.pdf  Meanwhile, a more recent study published in 2012 also shows a link between carrageenan and diabetes. Full study can be read here: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22011715).

 

 

2. More Waste!

 Often times organic food, especially produce, doesn’t last as long in your fridge before going bad. This means you either end up with more waste, or have to go shopping more often. Or get really good at making soup with old, wrinkly vegetables.

 

 

 

3. Is it really healthier?

 

 A few things that might be misleading:

• While we have often assumed organic means no chemicals are used at all, this isn’t always the case.

•In Europe, the UK Food Standards Agency, the French Food Safety Agency and the Swedish National Food Administration, have all released research that claims organic food is neither safer nor more nutritious than non-organic food.

• Similarly, a 2009 analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/90/3/680/4597089) said there’s no nutrient difference between organic and non-organic food. A 2012 study found similar results: (http://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/1355685/organic-foods-safer-healthier-than-conventional-alternatives-systematic-review).

• Meanwhile, a 2012 study from Stanford University analyzed 240 studies. 223 of these studies compared nutrient, bacterial, fungal or pesticide levels on various organic and non-organic products, such as fruit, vegetables, grains, meats, milk, poultry and eggs. The result: Little significant health benefits between organic and conventional foods, and also no difference in vitamin content. (One significant difference were the level of Omega-3 fatty acids in organic milk).

 

 

 

4. What about ethics and the environment?

 

 When it comes to ethics and the environment, it seems pretty evident that organic animal faming is the way to go: Animals are clearly treated more humanely and live in better conditions on organic farms. BUT, when it comes to vegetables, this isn’t the case.

The common belief is that pesticides used on non-organic produce are bad for the environment, but a 2010 study (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100622175510.htm) found that some organic pesticides actually have worse environmental impacts than conventional ones.

It goes beyond just pesticides: Organic milk, cereals and pork often generate higher greenhouse gas emissions per product than non-organic ones (this comes from a study from Oxford university. Not only, that more, but organic products often take up more land (an average of 85% more land) and produce less products in the process!

 And finally, check out this article that talks about how organic agriculture today actually creates more pollution than conventional faming: (https://qz.com/454479/organic-farming-is-actually-worse-for-climate-change-than-conventional-farming/).

 

What do you think? Do you think it’s worth breaking your wallet and bank account on organic food? Why or why not?

 

 

 

 

Kids with ADHD and Autism NEED More Exercise


Kids with ADHD and Autism NEED More Exercise

 

Health professionals these days are placing more and more children on the autism spectrum – in fact, in the 1970s and 1980s, about one in 2,000 children were thought to have autism. Today, it’s estimated that one in every 150 children are on the spectrum. To a large degree, this massive rise is a mystery scientists are still trying to figure out. Read more about the topic here: https://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/searching-for-answers/autism-rise.

 

Whether or not you think the numbers have really increased this much in recent decades, or if we’re just over diagnosing conditions like autism and ADHD these days, a new report by ParticipAction (https://www.participaction.com/en-ca/thought-leadership/report-card/2018)—a Canadian national non-profit set up to promote healthy living and physical fitness—says kids with both autism and ADHD have the most to gain from increasing their physical activity. The research—headed by a team that included paediatric neuroscientists, clinicians and practitioners—found physical activity in children with these conditions is highly connected to their brain health. Specifically, exercise helps them with depression, anxiety, as well as sleep disorders. Sadly, the report also noted that only 35 percent of children ages 5 to 17, are getting the exercise they need. It is thought that this is part of what’s making these children even less focused, more moody, and more prone to depression and anxiety.

 

 

We Believe its Never Too Early to Start Working Out!

Though working out looks different at the age of 5 than it does at the age of 25 or 65, it’s never too early, or too late, to start developing the 10 general physical skills—cardiovascular respiratory endurance, stamina, speed, strength, power, coordination, balance, agility, flexibility and accuracy. These skills will make sports and life easier, and will help you live a long, healthy life. As for children, specifically, here are 7 more reasons you should get your kids going with an exercise program sooner as opposed to later!

 

  • HABIT:Starting early establishes the habit. By the time your kid is 18, working out will be so second nature to him/her, it will be easy to maintain the routine and lifestyle well into adulthood.

 

  • OBESITY: Children who are active for 60 minutes each day are significantly less prone to obesity. If your children and teenagers train with us, they’ll be surrounded by health-conscious people who are excited about eating healthy, which we have seen rub off on our younger members in a healthy way over and over.

 

  • GOOD GRADES: Physical activity is connected with improved behaviour and focus at school.

 

  • BRAIN HEALTH:Anaerobic activity in children is connected to an increase in the size of essential brain structures and neural connections.

 

  • MENTAL HEALTH: Physical activity is linked to lower rates of depression and anxiety in children.

 

  • BODY IMAGE:Fit children develop more self-confidence and have a healthier self-image.

 

  • SOUND SLEEP:In adults and children alike, exercise is linked to better sleep!

 

If you have a child(ren) you think could benefit from starting a fitness program with a professional coach, dont hesitate to contact us now. Its never too soon to focus on your health.

Aging Doesn’t Have to Mean Declining: If You Strength Train, That Is


 

We dont quit playing because we age, we age because we quit playing.” George Barnard Shaw

When you think of your grandma, you think of her as being old and wrinkly with white hair, frail and weak with hunched shoulders and a curved spine. Although you can’t know her health numbers by looking at her, her bone density is a fraction of what it once was, and she suffers from a phenomenon called sarcopenia, meaning she has lost muscles mass and strength. Read more about sarcopenia here: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4066461/).

Now I’m not promising we can help you avoid greying hair and wrinkles but the other stuff can be avoided and it will go a long way in keeping your quality of life where you want it to be for as long as possible. Aging does not have to go hand-in-hand with frailty and broken bones, nor does it have to mean a decline in strength or muscle mass. Strength training is at the heart of maintaining both your bone density and muscle mass and strength.

 

 

Here are 8 reasons why it’s ESPECIALLY important to strength train in your later years, and it’s never too late to start:

8. Don’t Break a Hip

The National Osteoporosis Foundation says bone density loss generally happens to both men and women in mid-life. For a woman, it often speeds up during menopause, as her estrogen levels drop, and by the time she’s 65 years old, if she has experienced a fracture in her hip, she’s five times more likely to die within a year. Strength training helps prevent bone density loss, and might even help build new bone. Check out this study for more about strength training and bone density:(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9927006)

 

7. Keep Getting it Up

In short, strength training keeps testosterone levels higher, both in men and women. It can even increase testosterone levels, so certainly incentive for men who have felt themselves decline in that regard.  Read more: (https://www.webmd.com/men/features/exercise-and-testosterone)

 

6. Metabolism on Fire

Remember when you were a kid and you could eat anything you wanted and not gain a pound? I’m not saying your metabolism will improve to be that of a 10-year-old kid, but there is evidence that strength training helps your body’s metabolic processes, which essentially means it keeps your body running more effectively. A more efficient body means fighting off things like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

 

5. Lift that Couch at 75!

One of the worst parts of aging seems to be losing the ability to do things you used to be able to do, like carrying groceries up five flights of stairs or moving a couch so you can vacuum underneath it. In short, if you want to stay independent and continue to look after yourself when you’re 80, you need to maintain your muscle mass and strength. Check out this study that shows that weight training does exactly this: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3117172/). Simply put, the study concludes “Progressive strength training in the elderly is efficient, even with higher intensities, to reduce sarcopenia, and to retain motor function.”

 

4. Who Wants to be Happier?

Dr. Wayne Westcott(http://www.wayneandgary.com/meetwayne.php) has done several studies on psychological changes associated with resistance training, studies that have shown that strength training helps with depression, physical self-concept, tranquility, positive engagement and overall mood in adults and older adults.

 

3. Stop, or Even Reverse, Type 2 Diabetes

Westcott also says that people with appropriate body weights, as well as moderate to high levels of muscular fitness, are at a low risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. On top of this, many studies have shown an improvement in insulin sensitivity and glycemic control after people start weight training. For motivation, check out this story in the CrossFit Journal of how this man reversed his diabetes through fitness: (https://journal.crossfit.com/article/delatorre-beers-2)

 

2. Who Wants to Live Without Pain?

Many people just accept that aging comes with weird aches and pains, and often chronic pain. Improving your strength also goes a long way in helping with things like lower back pain, as well as arthritis and fibromyalgia.

 

1. Look Better, Feel Better

Real simple: A more efficient, strong body with more lean muscle mass just looks and feels better than being frail or overweight. Look good, feel good! Even at 70. That’s our hope for you.

Contact us now, no matter how old are are, and how old you feel right now!

 

The Importance of Recovery – Part 2


PRs Slowing Down and Youre Feeling a Plateau? Fix Your Recovery! Part 2

In Part 1, we talked about warning signs that your body isn’t recovering well. In a nutshell, some of the big signs include: performance plateau or decline, trouble sleeping, resting heart rate changes, feeling low or depressed and uncharacteristic muscle soreness (DOMS). Obviously there are others, but those are some of the most common red flags. Even if your recovery is decent, it can probably always be better. If you’re working out as hard AF and want your fitness to improve your life, you might as well be diligent and recover as hard AF. Although Mat Fraser maybe doesn’t post shots of him on Instagram meal prepping or getting a massage, you better believe he’s doing those things. If you think any of the above symptoms could be related to your recovery, consider some of the following solutions:

 

Prioritize Sleep

If you’re in the detrimental poor sleep cycle and you can’t shake it—meaning, you’re not recovering, so you can’t sleep, then bad sleep makes recovery even worse—then it’s time to take sleep seriously for the sake of your mental health, hormonal balance and muscular recovery. You’ve all heard the magic 8-hour sleep number. Truth is everyone’s magic number is different: Could be 7 hours for you, could be 10 hours.

Some sleep tips include:

•Go to bed (even if you can’t fall asleep right away at first) and wake up (preferably early) at the same time every night for two weeks. Resetting a consistent rhythm has proven to be best for quality sleep.

•Make it as dark as possible: Try black out blinds, and definitely make sure there are no screens or lights on, even lights from alarm clocks!

•Wake up with the sun if possible

•Adjust the temperature. Fresh air and cooler temperatures have been shown to improve the quality of your sleep.

 

 

 

Stop Skipping Cooldown and Active Recovery Days

Many people I work with have a “go hard or go home” mentality. Active recovery—be it a hike or a swim or a mobility session—and cooling down after a workout are important, not just for the mind but for muscular recovery. If you feel your legs cramping after 150 wall balls, don’t run out the door right away only to sit at a computer for five hours. Take 10 minutes to do a light bike, roll out, and stretch. Same goes for active recovery days: If you’re sore, moving at a low intensity helps flush out your body and decrease the DOMS.

Here’s a great article about foam rolling and why it’s good for recovery: https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/what-is-a-foam-roller-how-do-i-use-it-and-why-does-it-hurt

 

 

Continue to Dial in the Diet

If you’re not eating well, let’s just keep it simple for now: Avoid sugar and processed foods. Try the Whole30 Diet (https://whole30.com) or the Plant Paradox diet (https://gundrymd.com/food-pyramid/) for 30 days and see how you feel. Then report back to your coach for life and we can talk about how to dial it in further. And if you think you’re already eating well—lots of protein, healthy fats and vegetables—it might be worth considering a food sensitivities test if you feel your recovery still isn’t great. It can tell you what foods your body just doesn’t like: Sometimes foods you least expect—even healthy foods like eggs or broccoli—are causing you inflammation. Tweaking your diet and removing foods that make you inflamed can make all the difference in your recovery. Also consider WHEN you eat. If you’re not eating some carbs, protein and fat within 30 minutes after a hard workout, start doing that.

 

 

H2O

People tend to be attentive to hydration levels on game day—“I am doing a half marathon today so I better drink lots this morning”—but day-to-day hydration is often overlooked. Not only does drinking enough help recovery, it also helps efficient nutrient uptake, helps lower stress on the heart, and improves skin tone and hair quality. You’ve all heard of the pee test: If your pee is clear to pale yellow, you’re probably hydrated enough. If it’s dark yellow, drink the water! If you can’t get yourself to get that much water down, add a lemon or cucumber, or buy a soda stream if it’s the bubbles that you’re after.

 

 

Stop Slouching

Might sound strange to put this in the recovery tools, but bad posture, be it sitting or standing posture, can lead to back pain, neck pain, making your body feel like it isn’t recovered and ready to train. A good chair is a great place to start, especially if you sit all day at work: Invest in an ergonomically correct one. If you have a hard time sitting up straight, place a foam roller or lacrosse ball in your back to give you a tactile reminder to sit up straight. If the foam roller or ball falls, you know you started to slouch. As for standing, make an effort to stand with equal weight on both feet, and don’t let yourself lean on objects for support.

 

 

Some Substances are OK

Though we’re not here to tell you to pump yourself with all sorts of supplements, there are some good ones that have shown over and over to help with recovery. Here are three to consider:

Fish oil: Fish oil is one of the most proven substances for recovery. It increases recovery by decreasing inflammation in your body, decreasing muscle soreness (DOMS), and boosting your immune system.

L-Glutamine: An amino acid, glutamine removes waste products like ammonia from your bloodstream, helps with both brain and digestive function, and ultimately helps recovery from physical stress.

 Magnesium: First of all, magnesium is great for sleep. But it also helps improve muscle function, helps maintain electrolyte balance and reduces fatigue. Combining magnesium with zinc is something else to consider, as zinc also helps boost the immune system.

 

Like diet, its best to trial and error and see what works best for you! And dont hesitate to reach out to us for more help.

The Importance of Recovery


PRs slowing down and youre feeling a plateau? Your recovery could be to blame! Part 1

If you speak to any CrossFit Games athlete, they will probably tell you the biggest factors that affect their performance (especially in competition) are: Mental Game and Recovery.

All of the athletes at the Games are incredibly fit and capable, but it’s those whose bodies and minds hold up over multiple workouts who come out on top at an event like Regionals or the Games. And you better believe they actively work on both of those components—mental training and recovery—of their game.

Today, we’re going to address one of them: Recovery! Now I know you’re not a Games athletes, BUT recovery still matters, even if you’re an accountant who goes to the gym recreationally three days a week and plays hockey on the weekend. Recovery matters…more than you probably think. Sure, you might be able to get away with performing well after one night of bad sleep, or PR-ing a workout when you’re hungover once in a blue moon, but imagine an entire week without sleep: Could your perform well then? Or what about a month of binge-drinking every night: Think you could PR then? Although you hopefully haven’t ever gone a week without sleeping, many of us are still chronically under-recovered. Don’t mistake under-recovery for overtraining. For most people, under-recovery is more a result of poor lifestyle and nutrition choices than training volume.Think this might be you? In this—Part 1—we’ll consider symptoms that tell you your recovery is out of whack. In Part 2, we’ll look at potential solutions to the problem. Here are some signs and symptoms that your recovery might not be on point:

You Havent PRed in Months

If you don’t find your numbers going up, especially if you’ve only been committed to your training for a year or two – once you hit five years, plateaus do become normal and part of the process, but in your first year or two of training, PRs should happen quite regularly if you’re coming to the gym regularly and following a consistent program.

DOMS All Day Everyday

Obviously you’re going to be sore from doing 100 pull-ups if the most pull-ups you normally do is 25 to 30, but if you’re feeling DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) more than you used to, or after a training session you know your body shouldn’t feel sore from, it could have something to do with poor recovery.

Resting Heart Rate

Is your resting heart rate higher (or lower) than it used to be? If you’re not recovering from training, or from other physical or mental stresses, you might notice a rise in your resting heart rate. If the problem isn’t dealt with—as the body gets more and more worn down, you might experience a decline in your resting heart rate. Knowing your resting heart rate is certainly a good thing to keep track of, so you can then note changes if and when they do occur.

Are You OK?

If you’re feeling uncharacteristically blue/low/depressed and people keep asking you if you’re OK, it could be something diet-related that’s stopping you from recovering properly to the point that it’s affecting your mood.

Tossing and Turning in Bed?

Did you used to be a good sleeper, and now you find yourself unable to fall asleep, or you wake up and can’t get back to sleep? Again, this might have to do with your recovery: In this case, perhaps your adrenals aren’t recovering enough. It could also have to do with stress: Too much cortisol in the body will certainly negatively affect your sleep.

If this sounds like it might be you, check back in for Part 2 – Solutions to help your recover!

How to Conquer Back Pain Once and For All!


 

 

Possible Solutions to Your Chronic Back Pain

So you feel like you have tried everything: Ice, heat, epsom salt baths, muscle relaxants, physio, acupuncture, IMS, massage, but nothing seems to work! Your chronic back pain keeps coming back and knocking you down and for a day, a week, a month at a time…Sound familiar?

Many times people with chronic back pain never bother to really look into the source of the problem, so their undisclosed injury never really gets better. Here are some suggestions that might help you deal with that nagging back pain once and for all:

8. Seek a True Diagnosis

If you’re in the group who has had back issues on and off for years, it might be worth getting an MRI to see if there’s something going on in there that you don’t know about. Maybe your back pain isn’t stemming from your rib that slips out of place from time to time that allegedly causes your muscles to spasm, after all. Maybe you have a bulging or slipped disc you need to deal with…If it’s not going away, consider an MRI.

 

7. Check Your Sleep

Sleeping injuries are no joke. Sleeping in bad positions, or with bad pillows, can cause legitimate injuries.

As for positions, it’s pretty well-known that sleeping on your stomach can cause neck pain. Others have back issues when they sleep on their backs unless they put a pillow under their knees. (Read more here: https://www.cnn.com/2016/03/18/health/sleep-positions-good-bad/index.html). Everyone is different, so no one size fits all, but it’s worth experimenting with sleep positions.

As for pillows, selecting the appropriate style might also have something to do with whether you’re a stomach, back or side sleeper. Expert consensus is that back sleepers should sleep with thinner pillows, so their head doesn’t get thrown too far forward, while side sleepers are better off with larger, firmer pillows to fill in the distance between the ear and outside shoulder. And if you’re a stomach sleeper, a thin, almost flat pillow is probably best. Some recommend no pillow for stomach sleepers.

 

6. Dont Sit for 8 Hours Unbroken

Often times back pain simply stems from—or at least is massively aggravated—by sitting too long. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up once an hour if if helps, but the point is, if you’re someone who sits all day at work, it’s important to stand up and move around. Spending five minutes foam rolling and stretching multiple times a day might also help. Another option a couple of my clients have had success with: A standing desk. It’s not for everyone, but it is an option.

 

5. Decompress

Many things can cause your spine to compress, the main reason being degenerative disease.  We have two pieces of equipment in our gym that may help with that compression.

  1. Inversion Table
  2. Reverse Hyper

It’s not a quick fix but it may help. If you aren’t familiar with either, ask your coach for life and they can help!

 

4. Hire a Coach

This is where we come in. Our coaches can help you figure out if there are any muscle imbalances or muscle tightness, that’s contributing to your pain. Are your glutes or abdominals just really weak, or your hip flexors or hamstrings really tight? Sometimes back pain stems from somewhere else in your body that needs work. We’ll provide you a plan of attack to iron out weaknesses that might be contributing to your undiagnosed pain.

Along the same lines, here are some things you can try doing at home if you think your weak glutes or weak abs, tight hamstrings or hips are leading to your back pain.

 Weak Glutes:Do 50-100 glute bridges, 50-100 clamshells on each leg and 50-100 bird dogs every morning when you wake up.

Weak Abs: Spend 5 minutes in a deadbug, bent hollow or hollow hold position every morning. Focus on building as much tension in your body as you can as you hold the position.

Tight glutes/hamstrings/hips: There are tons of great stretches out there. Kelly Starrett is one health professional who does a great job breaking down the importance of stretching, flexibility and mobility. His videos are easy to find, but here are three good ones that address these areas of the body:

HIPS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBHzXF-mVjY

HAMSTRINGS:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQtwaPoK-UM

GLUTES:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yl53kPn_YXU

 

3. Fix Your Posture

Often times undisclosed back pain comes from poor posture, and I’m not just talking about slouching. The problem might even start at your feet. Being pidgeon-toed or having tight ankles, for example, can lead to less than ideal posture, and ultimately hip or back pain.

 

2. Are You Wearing Proper Shoes?

Although those stilettos are sexy, they might be causing your back pain. The same is true of flip flops and sandals. If you’re in pain and wear the wrong shoes, it might be worth considering prioritizing health and pain-free living over fashion…

 

1. Lose Weight?

Is the pressure you’re putting on your back from being overweight the main source of the problem? It could very well be. Contact us and we’ll help you with your exercise and nutrition. We’ll get you exercising regularly as well as food prepping and fuelling your body with the right foods for you—to help you improve your body composition so that your body starts functioning more optimally. Sound good?