Think Beyond the Sugar this Hallowe’en?


First, an excerpt about Hallowe’en from Jerry Seinfeld’s old-school stand-up:

“The first time you hear the concept of Hallowe’en when you’re a kid, your brain can’t even process the information. You’re like, ‘What is this? What did you say? …Who is giving out candy? Everyone that we know is just giving away candy? Are you kidding me? When is this happening? Where? Why? Take me with you….I gotta be a part of this …I can wear that!’(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MarBVyZVe9s)

 

If you were a kid who took Hallowe’en seriously, you’re probably not going to love what I’m about to suggest about moving away from giving out free Type 2 Diabetes to kids this year…

 (In case you don’t know what I mean about the kid who took Hallowe’en overly seriously, he is the kid who started planning his costume in August. The kid who took notes each Hallowe’en—noting who gave out full-sized candy bars and who disappointed him with granola bars and tootsie rolls—to use the following year when mapping out his route to maximize candy collection. This kid was fairly discerning about who he let Trick-or-Treat with him: Less athletic friends, who wouldn’t be able to keep up with his pace, were cut from the roster, as were those who didn’t show adequate enthusiasm for the event. That’s what I mean about taking Hallowe’en seriously!)

 

If that was you, I ask you to open your mind and think beyond the full-size chocolate bar for the sake of the next generation of children and their health, because times have changed, man. Kids who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s were raised by mothers who used Campbell’s mushroom soup as a sauce for everything. Go figure, these same mothers encouraged us to use oversized pillow cases as reasonable Trick-or-Treating bags. Today, we’re living in a modern gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, most definitely Campbell’s Mushroom Soup-free era. Not to mention, we have become more sensitive about allergies and food sensitivities. What does this mean for today’s generation of Hallowe’en enthusiasts? It means half their candy might just get confiscated by their health-conscious, helicopter parents anyway, so it might be time to think outside the box when we consider what to give out this year. Yes? No? Are you with me?

 

 

Here’s the thing: I think if you’re smart about it, you can give out healthier, no-sugar options on Hallowe’en that kids will be even more excited about than they are about a fun-sized Snickers bar (Why do they call it fun-sized, anyway? Isn’t it more fun to have a bigger size? Just saying). The key is to move away from handing out edible treats altogether. This way, there will be less comparing going on between a Mars bar and a homemade, gluten-free, sugar-free nut ball. 

I know what your next objection is “How much is this Hallowe’en going to cost me?” If you do it right, it doesn’t have to cost you anymore than a giant box of chocolate bars. To get you thinking in the right direction, here are 7 treats you can give out this year without murdering children’s teeth or giving them Type 2 Diabetes before the age of 15.

7. Mini Glider Airplanes: (amazon.com). Novel, fun, and they’re just under $10 for a 24-pack. If you normally give out two small Hallowe’en-sized candy bars to each child, you’ll spend about the same. Not only that, but they promote being physical. 

6. Carabiners: (amazon.com) If you get some older 12 or 13-year-old Trick-or-Treaters, carabiners are a great choice for them. Practical for all sorts of uses. A carabiner house would have been on our map as a 13-year-old!

5. Mini Flashlight: Similarly, a mini flashlight is great for the “older” Trick-or-Treaters (and the younger ones, for that matter), and they are also surprisingly inexpensive: 20 for $24. (amazon.com). Better yet, if you’re feeling extra generous, give out a flashlight on a carabiner and your house will be remembered by all who Trick-or-Treat at yours. 

4. Bouncy Balls:A pack of 50 for $50 (amazon.com). No kid of any age–or adult for that matter–would turn down a bouncy ball if offered. They’re timeless. And promote a little hand-eye coordination, perhaps?

3. Tattoos: I don’t know a 4-year-old who wouldn’t choose a tattoo over a Kit Kat bar!

2. Bubbles: See above. Younger Trick-or-Treaters especially, live for bubbles more than they do for candy.

1. Fidget Spinner: While I don’t understand the fidget spinner generation, they seem to be popular among kids of all ages, and you can buy mini ones for not much more than 50 cents each (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073HR8S3H/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=supheakid-20&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B073HR8S3H&linkId=83e5b71ac318e6490431fb4d85ab2e6c).

Not sold? Here’s an experiment: Put out a bowl of candy and a bowl of trinkets this year, and let the children select a candy treat versus healthy treat.. Report back!

Sleep Deprivation in the Short Term to Benefit the Long Term?


Say what? How is sleep deprivation ever a good thing? I know, it sounds counterintuitive at best—and counterproductive or even harmful at worst—but forced sleep restriction in the short term is one of the methods used in Cognitive Behavioural Insomnia Therapy, or CBiT.

CBiT 101

CBiT is a way to treat insomnia, or poor sleep, without the use of any pills or medication. Instead, it focuses on helping people build good habits and associations with their beds (and bedrooms), and uses some other interesting techniques, such as relaxation therapy, biofeedback, as well as sleep restriction and sleep deprivation to help people sleep more effectively. You can read more about CbiT here (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/in-depth/insomnia-treatment/art-20046677), but today we’re going to talk about sleep restriction and deprivation and how it works.

 

 

Restricting Sleep to Benefit Future You…

Often people who have trouble sleeping find themselves lying in bed awake, frustrated that they’re not falling asleep. So the idea here is to get you super tired over the course of a few nights by restricting your sleep, which then makes you more tired the following nights, and ultimately helps you develop more consistent bed and wake-up times.

It’s actually pretty systematic in how it works in practice. Here’s how to give it a go:

  • Calculate how many hours of sleep you’re averaging a night right now. Let’s say this number is 6 hours.
  • Figure out your normal, consistent wake up time (If you don’t have a ‘normal’ time, commit to waking up at the same time as much as work/life allows). Let’s say this time is 6 a.m. 6 a.m. is now your daily wake-up time.
  • Work back from 6 a.m. to calculate what time you need to go to bed to log 6 hours of sleep: This means midnight. Your new bedtime is midnight and your new wake- up time is6 a.m. (Doesn’t sound like enough sleep, right?)
  • Go to bed at midnight and get up at 6 a.m. every day/night until you experience7 days in a row of successfully going to bed at midnight, waking up at 6 a.m. and experience little to no restlessness in the night. For most people, this happens faster than people think it will because they’ll find themselves not getting enough sleep for a few days—especially if they don’t fall asleep right away at midnight—and then being more than ready for bed well before midnight the following nights. At this point, and only at this point—after you log 7 good nights of sleep—you can set your bedtime 20 minutes earlier: Your new bedtime is 11:40 p.m.
  • Repeat this cycle, changing your bedtime by 20 minutes after one week of good sleep at your current set bedtime. Pretty soon, you’ll be falling asleep at 10 p.m. and waking up at 6 a.m.—getting your 8 hours of sleep—without trouble. Or at least, that’s the hope, and that’s what those who have had success with sleep restriction via CBiT have experienced.

 

 

While we’re at it, here are 3 more tips associated with CBiT that make a whole lot of sense to me in concept:

 

  1. Lose the Clock

Many people wake up and look at their phones or clocks to see how many more hours or minutes they have until their alarm goes off. The problem here is twofold:

One:Looking at the clock makes you subconsciously more anxious about the amount of sleep you’re getting, or aren’t getting, and often makes your sleep troubles worse.

Two: Opening your eyes, picking up your phone, seeing the bright light shine in your eyes etc wakes you body up more than it would have had you left your eyes closed, your body still, and simply gone back to sleep.

 

  1. Lose the App

There’s an app for everything, as they say, and sleep tracker apps are no exception: They can tell you information, such as how many hours of sleep you log each night, how deeply you’re sleeping, how many times you stirred in the night, and how many times your body woke up completely.

Trying a sleep app once or twice might be a good idea, but becoming consumed with it can backfire, because now you find yourself even more concerned about your sleep, and should you experience a poor night’s sleep, there you are stressing and putting pressure on yourself about needing to ensure you get a better sleep the following night to make up for the bad sleep the night before. This stress and pressure can contribute to a restless, stressed out sleep. And on and on the cycle goes.

 

  1. Lose the Nap

Napping can be great, and if you’re a good sleeper who naps here and there, keep on with the naps. But if you’re struggling with sleep at night and rely on a nap during the day to get you through the week, eliminate the nap for a month and replace it with a consistent bedtime and wake up time.

At the very least check out this chart that tell you about more and less appropriate nap times for what you’re after (By the way, a 3-hour nap isn’t a nap! It’s a full-blown sleep):

 

Read more about ideal nap times here: (https://sleep.org/articles/how-long-to-nap/).

Sleep well, and report back if you decide to try short term sleep restriction and let us know about your experience.

Don’t Take a Rest Month!


Two new studies find same conclusion: Don’t take a rest month!

 

If two recent studies out of the University of Liverpool and McMaster University are true, then that old saying, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” can even be taken a bit further:“If you don’t use it, not only will you lose it, but you might not even get it back!” The studies monitored regularly active and healthy people without Type 2 diabetes, who stopped working out and sat around for a couple weeks and discovered that their health markers worsened in just a couple weeks. Specifically, their blood sugar levels rose, their insulin sensitivity became worse and they gained weight. What’s even scarier is that when some of them, especially the older participants, returned to their regular exercise programs, the negative metabolic changes that had occurred in their bodies during those two sedentary weeks didn’t fully reverse themselves.

 

 

Here’s a link to the two studies:

Study 1(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29671031)

Study 2 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29095970)

 

The magic number seems to be two weeks, especially in people 65 years old and older; they had a harder time reversing the damage placed on their bodies from those two lazy weeks. However, even past studies that looked at college-aged people showed a similar result; health markers decreased in just two weeks, but their young age allowed them to reverse the damage quite quickly. Don’t be fooled: This isn’t an excuse to not take a rest day. Rest days are crucial for your recovery. We don’t want to see you here seven days a week. But it’s certainly reason to not less yourself fall off for more than a few days at a time. And reason to continue to exercise even on your 3-week vacation this summer!

 

 

The fine line between taking much-needed rest days and losing fitness…

Sometimes your body needs more than a day off. I know when I have taken a week off here and there, I feel like I come back stronger and mentally fresh, ready to attack training again. According to science, the first thing you start to lose is your cardiovascular fitness. For a conditioned runner, for example, it might take 7 to 14 days until they start losing their aerobic capacity. This article (https://www.polar.com/blog/losing-fitness/) speaks to an exercise physiologist, who explained that a person’s V02 max (essentially how efficiently your body uses oxygen) will start to decrease after just two weeks, as well as your lactate threshold (the intensity point where your blood concentration of lactic acid starts to increase exponentially). On a similar note, another study showed that after four weeks of inactivity, endurance cyclists saw a 20 percent decrease in their V02 max, and after 12 days of inactivity, their blood enzymes needed for endurance performance had decreased by 50 percent. Also consistent with the two new studies from Liverpool and McMaster that I noted above, older people lose their endurance faster than younger people.

 

Strength loss is pretty similar. According to this study out of Coppenhagen (https://healthsciences.ku.dk/news/news2015/inactivity-reduces-peoples-muscle-strength/) from 2015, it takes just two weeks of not using your lower body for you to lose one third of your muscular strength. That being said, the Danish study looked at people who were immobilized completely, which is obviously much different than just not squatting heavy for two weeks. And yes, you might feel a little weak for a day or two if you don’t squat for two weeks, but this isn’t necessarily a negative thing. That strength will easily return as fast as you lost it. The lesson: Your body needs rest to recover, but two weeks of doing nothing is likely too much!

 

 

 Our Prescription For You:

 

Alas, our prescription for you:

  1. Show up to the gym three to five days a week as much as possible (On top of this, we strongly encourage you do get outside and hike, ski, run, swim, bike, surf, golf etc once a week when you can, and try a new sport each year).

 

  1. Listen to your body: If it tells you to take a rest day, take it. Even if it doesn’t, take at least one rest day per week.

 

  1. One or two times a year, take a full week off (or at least of an active recovery week, where you’re away from the gym), to heal any nagging injuries and reset your body and your mind.

 

  1. Avoid taking two weeks or more of sedentary living!

 

Obviously everyone is different, however, the above template is what we think is best for most people, to allow them to live a long, happy, fulfilling and independent life.

PRs Come in all Forms


Ever heard of social comparison theory? It’s a term coined by a psychologist named Leon Festiner in the 1950’s. Basically, it says we compare ourselves to others in order to determine our self worth. Never does this sound more relevant than when we look at the world today, where social media has become but a platform to show our value to others, and through their approval, to ourselves.

 

However, it’s more complicated than that, said Karen North, a professor of digital social media at the University of Southern California Annenberg. North explained that research shows that most people feel satisfied and confident if they perceive themselves to be better than two-thirds of what she referred to as their “relevant peer group.” What’s a relevant peer group? Well, let’s say you’re a high school athlete looking to get a college scholarship. You don’t compare yourself to the benchwarmers on your team who barely get to play, and you probably don’t directly compare yourself to the Olympic athletes in your sport. You compare yourself to other athletes looking to get an NCAA scholarship. And if you’re in the top third, you feel pretty good.

 

We see this all the time at the gym: People form rivalries—most of the time fun and healthy rivalries—with people at a similar level to them. You’re probably not online getting angry that you can’t finish a workout as fast as Mat Fraser or Tia-Clair Toomey, but dammit you are going to try to finish ahead of your gym rival. Seems logical, and not necessarily a negative thing; however, there’s a problem. It’s a losing battle because, as North explained, once you conquer one person or group, so to speak, you set your sights on conquering a new group! Bottom line: No matter how good you get, there will always be someone better than you. Now we’re not telling you to stop comparing yourself to others, because that’s a natural part of being human. And we’re certainly all for healthy rivalries that push people to be better, faster, stronger. But what we are asking you all to do is to stop and take the time, let’s say once a month, to write down or reflect upon YOUR PERSONAL IMPROVEMENTS and PRs.

 

 

 

If You Don’t, This Might Happen:

You finish a workout, where you lifted 10 lb. more than your best lift, or shaved two minutes off your previous time. The first thing you do is look at the leaderboard. You discover there are 10 people who finished faster than you that day. You then feel discouraged and you assume the person who had the fastest time of the day must be feeling a great little ego boost. But what you don’t know is he went 30 seconds slower than his best time and is feeling down on himself because he didn’t improve. Perception certainly is everything! The above is the perfect example of how comparison can kill joy. It’s natural to compare yourself, but if you’re forgetting to celebrate your wins along the way, no matter how small, you’re missing out on a lot of the fun. Here are some tools for you to employ you to ensure you recognize your improvements.

 

 

Write Down Your Scores, Times and Weights:

Step one: If you have no clue what your time was the first time you did a benchmark workout, then you have no way of knowing whether or not you have improved. Use an app, a notebook, or keep your numbers in your phone, but make sure you’re keeping track of your performance numbers somewhere.

 

 

Monthly and Quarterly Reviews:

Sit down and reflect, or meet with your coach each month, or at the very least each quarter, to make notes about any improvements and PRs you have made in recent weeks.

 

Recognize that PRs Come in all Forms:

Don’t just focus on your physical improvements. PRs can come in all forms. A PR can be that you showed up three times a week for six weeks straight and didn’t hit the snooze button once. Or that you haven’t had sugar in 30 days. Or that you’re finally able to put your arm overhead without pain in your shoulder.

 

Pictures Don’t Lie:

If you’re on a quest to change your body composition, take pictures and look back every few months. Chances are you have changed more than you realize.

 

Embrace the Plateau:

OK, this might be the toughest one to do mentally, but there will come a time where PRs do slow down. Even the best athletes in the world plateau. Take comfort in the fact that a plateau is part of the improvement process, too, and it’s usually the time when the biggest learning curve happens because it forces you to make small changes that can lead to big results.

Stay the course and enjoy the journey.