The Beginner’s Guide to the CrossFit Galaxy

Everybody’s talking about CrossFit – your colleagues, your friends, even your sister. It sounds exciting, it sounds like something you would definitely try… The trouble is you either don’t know what in the world it is or you don’t know where to start.

Relax, we’ve all been there. This article will tackle the difficult situation of CrossFit beginners. Read on to find out more about the box, the equipment, the motivation, the WODs and the community!

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Improve Your Mobility & Make Your Workout More Effective

Long gone are the days when you would leave mobility exercises out of your fitness routine. Even a few minutes every day can make a huge difference! Mobility is a way to improve your power output, recover faster from injuries and get an overall boost in performance via joint mobilization, stretching and soft tissue work. It’s often confused with warm-ups, but the key difference is that warm-ups are not designed to improve position.

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Preventing Traveller’s Diarrhea – Probiotics for Travelling

traveller's diarrheaGetting some Traveller’s Diarrhea when you travel abroad is a common occurrence with up to 12 million cases reported a year, and heading to some areas of Africa, Latin America, The Middle East and South East Asia can see tourist incidence rates of GI problems hit 50% or more! (1-2). Luckily for most of us it’s not too serious, however, it is unpleasant and can potentially ruin and limit your trip.

However, by strengthening our guts and understanding what to take for diarrhea prior to heading off on our adventures we can significantly reduce our chances of picking up anything nasty, and maximize our time away, as well as the money we spend on it.

Traveller’s diarrhea or ‘TA’ is caused by coming into contact with ‘fecally’ contaminated food, that’s human poo in straightforward language – not very nice, unfortunately it does happen, and the most likely places for contamination tend to be eating food from street vendors, markets and small restaurants (3). There’s normally an incubation period of 2-3 days, so it takes around 2-3 days from eating the contaminated food to getting symptoms, and the symptoms range from stomach cramps and nausea to vomiting, muscle pain and fever. Normally it’s over in a few days, but around 15% of cases can last between one week and one month.

Preventing Traveller’s Diarrhea

probiotics for diarrheaThe best method for avoiding TD is understanding where you are most likely to encounter problems, i.e street vendors etc, and avoiding eating there, as well as focussing on basic hygiene. However, obviously this isn’t a fool proof method, and can also stop a trip away being as authentic or adventurous as it could be. So in an attempt to avoid TD and still get the most from a trip away, traveller’s will often take antibiotics prophylactically to prevent any infection. The problem with this is that the overuse of antibiotics is associated with antibiotic resistance, and also taking antibiotics when we don’t need to can kill off the good bacteria that are living in our guts, and leave us more susceptible to infections and other health problems in the future. So really, although many people do it, it’s not a great idea.

However, a 2007 meta-analysis study (that’s an overall review of studies previously done on the subject) found that supplementation with probiotics could prevent 85% of cases of Traveller’s diarrhea (4). However, there were certain key factors that related to the success of probiotic supplementation in preventing TD. To give good resistance against TD the probiotics need to be taken in doses of at least 10 billion CFU’s (colony forming units). Also the probiotics should be continued throughout the whole period of susceptibility to TD. The study suggested that it could take a full 6-8 week period for the microbiome (gut) bacteria to fully return to normal after a trip away, so this means you need to be taking probiotics for a full 2 months after you return, just in case! This shouldn’t really be a problem, because in our opinion you should be taking probiotics everyday wherever you are, (if possible!). A final problem highlighted by the study is that many probiotics need refrigeration, so if you’re travelling for long periods of time that’s not going to be possible, and the probiotics will likely die off. So you need to use a brand that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

Thankfully, this is not an issue with Intelligent Labs Probiotics as they don’t need refrigeration, (although you should try to keep them cool). Also each one of our capsules provides 50 billion CFU’s, so they are easily strong enough to provide full protection. Despite this, when travelling we do recommend increasing our normal dosage of one capsule a day to 2 capsules a day for a week before travel, and then keep taking 2 capsules a day for a full week after you return, and then going back to taking the normal one capsule a day. This will give you the best chance of avoiding any problems whilst you are away, (along with some basic common sense), so you can make the most of your trip.

Check out our probiotics by Clicking Here.

References

(1) Cheng AC, Thielman NM. Update on traveler’s diarrhea. Curr Infect Dis Rep 2002;4:70–7.

(2) Hill DR. Occurrence and self-treatment of diarrhea in a large cohort of Americans traveling to developing countries. Am J Trop Med Hyg 2000;62:585–9

(3) Centers for Communicable Diseases, CDC. Travelers’ diarrhea. CDC. 1-8. 4-27-2004. Atlanta, Georgia, Centers for Communicable Diseases. The Yellow Book.

(4) Lynne V. McFarlanda. Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of traveler’s diarrhea. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease (2007) 5, 97–105.

 

 

Overtraining – When should you take rest days?

Guest Blog by Hayley Madigan

The more our body and mind gets used to daily training, the more we revel in the endorphin high and muscle building power of keeping fit. Although the benefits of exercise far out way any of the negatives. We sometimes over compensate on the frequency of our training schedule. This can cause undesirable effects on our bodies’. Overtraining can lead to particularly unwelcomed injuries, whole body fatigue and insomnia. Like me, most of us have goals to reach in and out of the gym. Sometimes we forget that recovery and rest is just as important in achieving any fitness related aspirations.

 

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When should I take a rest day?

Your fitness goals will dictate when and how often you should rest. If you are yearning for hypertrophy and the majority of your training is based around weight lifting then you should have at least one rest day every three days. This will enable your muscles the chance to grow and repair stronger leading to better hypertrophy. Our muscles tear when we load them with resistance (i.e. weight training). And they only grow when they are at rest and have sufficient fuel to do so (i.e. good nutrition and rest days). Therefore, if you’re smashing out the weights every day with limited rest days then this may be why you are plateauing. Or even not seeing as many changes as you think you deserve.

If you are an endurance type individual and your training is more cardio based, then your rest days can be less frequent and can often take the form of active rest. Cardiovascular adaptations on the body happen gradually with regular training and as your body gets used to physical activity your body will not need as much rest as it used to when you first starting exercising. If you are a beginner, then listen to your body. Know when you need to recover by accessing how much your muscles ache (how bad are your DOMS?) and how tired you may be. There is a fine line between thinking you are tired and actually being physically too tired to train. Sometimes a good run can wake you up and give you the energy that you striving for pre exercise.

As your body adapts to your training, you won’t need to take as many rest days as you did as a beginner. And often your recovery days can be in the form of active rest days. This refers to a lighter workout or less physically demanding exercise session. It allows the blood to circulate the body and start to repair the muscles that are in need of recovery. It also means that the exercise is not harsh enough on the body to cause even more damage. The important thing to remember here is listen to your body, try to access whether you’re physically drained or just in need of a strong coffee, either way rest days are imperative to your training programme and should be scheduled in habitually.

 

Do I still eat the same amount of calories on rest days?

Depending on your goals, will depend on your calorie split however don’t be scared to actually eat more on your rest days. Some individuals even use rest days to have a controlled re-feed. These are used to top up their glycogen stores and rev up their fat burning hormones (leptin and ghrelin). Many people believe that they need to decrease calories on rest days as they are not burning as many calories due to less activity. However, considering this, keep in mind that your body has made it clear to you that it deserves a rest day so starving it of energy and food is not going to help it recover. Therefore, keeping your calories the same or even increasingly them slightly will aid your body’s recovery process and help your muscles recoup in a shorter amount of time.

Points to remember:

  • Listen to your body it’s extremely smart in knowing what it needs
  • Plan rest days to suit your life outside of the gym so you don’t feel guilty from resting.
  • Remember rest allows your muscles to GROW and REPAIR
  • Learn that rest is just as important for your mind as well as your body, this helps with motivation levels.
  • Eat to recover, think about your nutrition as you owe your body nutritiously good food to allow it to repair stronger – Wholesome starchy carbohydrates, high protein sources and unsaturated fats will all help speed up recovery.

 

This post was written by Hayley Madigan, co-founder of www.themusclecoaches.com . Hayley is a WNBF PRO Natural Bodybuilder and Physical Education Secondary School Teacher. You can follow my journey to the Worlds stage in November on my Instagram @tmchayley

Achievements:

UKDFBA Bikini UK Champion 2015

WNBF Overall Bikini World Champion 2015

Sick of Dieting? The Real Reason Diets Don’t Work and How to Really Lose Weight Long Term!

Sick of Dieting? The Real Reason Diets Don't Work and How to Really Lose Weight Long Term! 3Diets suck! That’s a fact, and not only are they no fun, they don’t even work! Sure, people lose weight on a diet, I’m not disputing that. The problem is that virtually everyone puts that weight back on, and in many cases they put back on more weight than they lost in the first place, and end up with even worse associated health problems than before such as diabetes, skin, cholesterol and heart problems as well as other metabolic issues.

The studies show that 80% of people who lose more than 10% of their body weight on a diet will have put that weight back on within a year, and one third to one half will have put more back on than they originally lost (1). What is more shocking is that each subsequent time a person goes through the cycle of weight loss then regain, often called ‘yo-yo dieting’, the amount of weight regain grows, and the associated health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar also get more serious (2,3).

However, a new study has finally shed some light on why this cycle happens so often. It also tells us the real secret to losing weight, and then keeping that weight off as well as keeping the other positive changes weight loss brings to our health permanently.

Sick of Dieting? The Real Reason Diets Don't Work and How to Really Lose Weight Long Term! 1The study published last week in the journal Nature looked at ‘Yo-Yo Dieting’ in mice, scientifically known as ‘weight cycling’. The researchers cycled the mice by feeding them unhealthy and then healthy diets to manipulate their weight between normal and obese. They then carefully measured all of their physiological responses and compared them against controls (mice that hadn’t gone through the weight cycling process).

They found that with each subsequent ‘cycle’ the mice got fatter than before, they also had worse blood sugar levels, higher levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol), were less active despite having the same amount of food as their control counterparts, and had higher levels of the hormone leptin (5).

Leptin is the body’s ‘starvation hormone’ and also our ‘master hormone’. Discovered in 1996, it’s produced by the body’s fat cells, but is still not widely known outside the scientific community. When our fat stores are low, leptin levels are also low and the brain receives the signal to turn down energy burning, making us less energetic, allowing us to store more fat. However, as fat stores rise, leptin levels increase and signal the brain to produce more energy, making us more active so we can reduce fat stores. However, with each yo-yo dieting cycle our brain becomes resistant to the signal of leptin, so even when our fat stores are full and leptin levels our high, our brain doesn’t understand it and energy burning is turned down.

Basically our brains become switched off to the signal of leptin during periods when it’s level’s are chronically high, and we become ‘leptin resistant’. Even when our fat cells are producing more and more we don’t produce any more energy, or become more active. It’s a vicious cycle and because it’s our master hormone, when leptin levels are pushed too high, other hormones can be adversely affected and be either increased or decreased to a level where they are out of balance, potentially causing metabolic problems throughout the body.

The good news is that these problems only surface when the mice were obese or becoming obese. As soon as they lost weight in a dieting cycle all their physiological problems went back to normal, so no high cholesterol, blood pressure, leptin resistance and blood sugar problems. Energy levels went back to normal, as did food intake. The problem is of course staying slim, and the question is why do people slip back into a weight gain cycle if all the physiological problems of the body have returned normal?

The researchers found the answer when they tested the gut bacteria of the Sick of Dieting? The Real Reason Diets Don't Work and How to Really Lose Weight Long Term! 4mice. They found that even when the mice ate a healthy diet that led to their weight becoming normal again, as well as all the other physiological problems associated with obesity going back to normal, their gut bacteria would continue to be ‘abnormal’ for a considerable length of time.

We’ve covered whether your gut bacteria can make you fat in another blog post here. You gut bacteria can affect every physiological process in the body from the action of leptin, to cholesterol levels and how much energy we burn. The fact that bacteria levels remain altered for a considerable amount of time after weight is lost is really a key finding. The researchers found that is could take up to 21 weeks for the microbiome (i.e their gut bacteria) of the mice to return to the same makeup as normal mice who had never been obese and eaten unhealthily. This 21 week period was 5 times longer than the weight gain or dieting period.

The researchers went on to test whether the microbiome was responsible for faster weight regain further by giving obese mice antibiotics to knock out the bad bacteria that populated their guts during times of eating unhealthily and becoming obese. Amazingly the mice receiving antibiotics did not become as fat, or develop as serious other health issues when they re-fed unhealthy diets, as mice that were not given antibiotics.

The researchers then went a step further, however, this time instead of using antibiotics to kill the ‘bad’ bacteria they used fecal transplants (literally poop transplants) from healthy non obese mice, and transplanted them into the  mice that had never been been through several dieting cycles.

These fecal transplants changed the gut microbiome of the obese cycling mice to one similar to the healthy mice, and when that happened the mice no longer gained weight at the same rate, or developed other problems like resistance to leptin and high cholesterol.

The Secret to Maintaining a Healthy Weight Long Term

Although Fecal transplants have started to become available for treatment in people, they are still very much in the early stages of development, and lot’s of people just plain don’t like the idea. Also indiscriminate antibiotic use can also cause problems by killing beneficial bacteria as well as bad bacteria.
Sick of Dieting? The Real Reason Diets Don't Work and How to Really Lose Weight Long Term! 5 The good news is that we don’t have to follow either of these routes, there are basic common sense steps we can take to reach and maintain healthy weight levels that don’t include starving ourselves or looking for the latest new diet fad.

The only problem is that it’s not quick or ‘sexy’. The only reliable way to lose weight long term, and keep it off is to eat healthily without starving yourself. That means eating real food, and cutting out processed foods, refined carbohydrates and sugar. You don’t diet, you just have to permanently eat healthily, in a way that can always be sustained permanently.

You don’t have to cut calories below normal levels, because every time someone does that they eventually break. There may initially be problems with cravings for sweet and bad foods, but these pass with time, and they are much more bearable when calories are not being restricted. The longer we spend without processed food the more our hormones balance, and the less cravings we get.

Sick of Dieting? The Real Reason Diets Don't Work and How to Really Lose Weight Long Term! 3We also need to work on our guts. That means adding fermented foods and drinks to our diets (choose ones you like!) such as sauerkraut, Kefir or Kombucha (Kombucha is my personal favourite), as well as adding a good probiotic daily, and ensure you get plenty of fiber in your diet, which acts as food for you gut bacteria (known as prebiotics).

The next thing is to make sure you get physical activity regularly, but you must choose something you enjoy, that you will keep doing long term. If you don’t enjoy it, it’s just another ‘yo-yo’ activity which will be given up at some point.

Finally, we have to keep going. It took up to 21 weeks to normalize gut bacteria after weight loss on average in mice, this period could be much longer in humans and possibly take several years, and there will definitely be plateaus along the way. However, as long as you are eating good quality tasty food, looking after your gut with drinks or food you like, enjoying the occasional treat, and doing physical activity that brings you pleasure, what’s the rush?

References

(1) Dulloo, A. G. & Montani, J. P. Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: an overview. Obes Rev 16 Suppl 1, 1–6, doi:10.1111/obr.12250 (2015).

(2) Pietilainen, K. H., Saarni, S. E., Kaprio, J. & Rissanen, A. Does dieting make you fat? A twin study. Int J Obes (Lond) 36, 456–464, doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.160 (2012).

(3) Montani, J. P., Schutz, Y. & Dulloo, A. G. Dieting and weight cycling as risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases: who is really at risk? Obes Rev16 Suppl 1, 7–18, doi:10.1111/obr.12251 (2015).

(4) Anastasiou, C. A., Karfopoulou, E. & Yannakoulia, M. Weight regaining: From statistics and behaviors to physiology and metabolism. Metabolism 64, 1395–1407, doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2015.08.006 (2015).

 

 

 

Grilled Citrus Salmon with Asparagus

This week we are all about those healthy omega 3’s and tasty veggies! This recipe is fast and easy to prepare so no excuses!

GRILLED CITRUS SALMON WITH ASPARAGUS

by @buzzfeedtasty
Servings: 2
2 salmon fillets
¼ cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
3 lemons (1 juiced, 2 sliced)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs rosemary (1 for marinade, 2 for grilling)
1 sprig thyme
1 pound asparagus
Garnish:
Parsley

2 PREPARATION
1. In a resealable bag or dish, add salmon, olive oil, salt, pepper, juice of one lemon, minced garlic, one thyme sprig, and one rosemary sprig.
2. Seal, mix marinade around, being careful not to bruise the fish, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
3. Preheat half of the grill to medium-high heat for indirect grilling.
4. Slice the two remaining lemons horizontally, so that you get six slices of lemon from each one, excluding the top and bottom.
5. Bend each piece of asparagus until the woody end snaps off and discard it.
6. Oil the grill with olive oil and place lemon slices over indirect heat (the side of the grill where the burners are not on). 7. Lay salmon on top of the lemon slices and top with a sprig of rosemary on each fillet.
8. Close the cover and grill for 20 minutes.
9. Place the asparagus spears on the grill and brush with olive oil. Grill for 5 additional minutes.
10. Enjoy!

 

Crossfit Athlete Interview! : Cory Gibson

This week, we had the pleasure to have a nice chat with Cory Gibson. Cory has been a recurrent focus for us as he is a very motivational individual. We wanted to share his story with you, hope you enjoy the ride!

Cory Gibson – Start and Progress

Who is Cory and what is your favorite meal ever?
I am a 23-year-old guy in Columbus, Ga. I have an A.S. in Biology, a B.S. in Exercise Science. I played sports in high school such as football and basketball. I’m a fun guy who likes to joke around, eat ice cream, and binge-watch National Geographic shows. I’m optimistic and do some behind the door coaching with some of the people that go to my gym. My favorite meal, outside of ice cream, is arroz con pollo from any Mexican restaurant.

Crossfit Athlete Interview! : Cory Gibson 1

What made you start practicing CrossFit in the first place?

I saw an Ad for it on Facebook and decided that I would go in and try it out to see what the hype was all about. I was already in shape from the military and high school and thought that it would be something that I would be good at.

Were you ever an athlete in High school?

I was a football and basketball athlete. I wanted to do swimming as well but it was the same time as basketball season.

What other sports do you practice?

These days I just do CrossFit. I play basketball and frisbee in my spare time but I don’t play on any collegiate team.

What have been your biggest achievements so far in CrossFit?

Qualifying for Wodapalooza on an incredible team and also getting 5th at Pensacola Beach Brawl against some incredible guys such as Jeremy Lancaster, Kirk Gibson, Travis Williams, Aaron Hanna, and Lex Ozias.

Cory Gibson – Motivation

How do you motivate yourself to keep working out?

I always want to be the best at whatever I do so I always imagine someone who’s better than me doing the workout beside me which ultimately makes me want to go fast and push harder. Also, when I see my strength numbers go up or times go down it lets me know that something is working and to keep working in that direction.

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you while working out?

I’ve actually dropped a 200lb snatch straight onto my neck when I first started. It’s on my Facebook. I hit 195 and got big headed and gave it a shot. I wasn’t very graceful either but I hoped right back up and shook it off and laughed about it with my buddies. It’s just as funny now as it was back then.

Another story is my workout partner Zack who is terrible at double unders. Every time he jumps rope and messes up he goes on this rant, throwing things, yelling, and causing a huge scene. It’s super funny and I always make sure to record it.

Crossfit Athlete Interview! : Cory Gibson 2

If you could meet any fitness legend, who would that be?

I’m sure everyone would say Rich Froning, right? No, I’d actually want to meet Mat Fraser. He’s an incredible athlete and knows how to be passionate about something and dominate the competition.

What is your favorite exercise of all?

Hands down it would have to be the snatch. It’s a movement that I am extremely comfortable with and would almost do it every day if it was on the program.

What would you say to those who are considering starting their CrossFit journey?

I would say that you need to understand that Crossfit is a process. It doesn’t come overnight. It is a very rewarding experience that is accompanied by hundreds of break throughs, millions of personal gains, and countless friends. You also have to put in the work to achieve your goal but never lose sight of the memories you make when doing this sport. It takes a leap of faith to begin the journey but it will be completely worth it in the end.

You can connect with Cory on Instagram: @cgibson20

Crossfit Athlete Interview! : Cory Gibson 3

Why Muscles Aren’t Just For Show – The Amazing Health Benefits of Building Muscle Mass

health benefits of muscleStrong is the new skinny. But building muscle mass is about much more than looking great in a swimsuit. Muscles help us move, lift and carry, and the research also shows that they also appear to play a vital role in keeping us healthy. Having an increased muscle mass can protect us against disease, fight obesity, maintain bone strength and increase our resilience to stress and illness as we get older.

The problem is that it’s all too easy to let modern conveniences take the strain, so that our muscles don’t have to. Taking the escalator, pulling a trolley or lounging in front of a screen can leave our muscles shrunken and our bodies weak. Sarcopenia or having too little muscle can mean we’re ‘skinny fat’, or thin on the outside and flabby on the inside. Being slim simply isn’t enough to protect us from osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity and the impact of stress. Still not reaching for the dumb-bells? Then read on.(1)

Muscle Mass and Diabetes

The muscles store the carbohydrates from our diets as glycogen. This is our energy reserve to fuel activity and bodily functions. This means that muscle is essential for maintaining energy levels, keeping us moving and allowing our bodies to use and store glucose.

Resistance to the effects of insulin is one of the biggest problems in world health. It is believed to be a key cause of diabetes, high blood fat levels and high blood pressure. Research has shown that sarcopenic obesity (high fat and low muscle mass), to a greater extent than just obesity alone is associated with insulin resistance, demonstrating the vital part muscle mass plays in preventing metabolic diseases. Put simply, the more muscle you have the less likely you may be to develop type 2 diabetes.(2)

Super Storage

Our muscles are the body’s main reservoir for amino acids, the building blocks of protein. These are essential for growth, immunity, energy and the efficient function of our bodies. If our diets are inadequate, or we’re unwell or being starved then the body relies on this ready supply to enable it to make the proteins that are essential for life.(3)

Muscle Mass and Obesity

Our bodies burn energy night and day, just to fuel essential body processes and to keep us alive. The higher the rate at which we burn this energy, the more calories we use up and the less likely we are to gain weight.

So, how can we speed up this process, boost our metabolism and stay slim? You guessed it, we need to gain muscle. This process of protein synthesis and breakdown in the muscles is the single biggest part of the body’s resting energy expenditure or REE. The more muscle, the higher the REE and the greater the metabolic rate. So, the good news is being well-muscled will make you use up more energy, even when you’re sleeping! (4)

Muscle Mass and Stress-busting

When our bodies are stressed by cancer, severe injury or infection the body has a huge need for amino acids. It triggers a mechanism to break down the muscle protein to address this demand and provide plenty of the crucial building blocks. This process is tricky to reverse, even with an excellent diet and nutritional supplements. It’s the reason why you may see people who are critically ill seem to waste away before your eyes.

People with lower muscle mass may be less likely to survive severe burns, trauma or cancer. Muscle can also have an impact on your recovery. A severe illness or accident can leave you frail and weak. It can be tough to recover and if you’re short of muscle before, the extra loss can make it unlikely that you will ever regain full function and mobility. Think of weight training and building muscle as your insurance policy against future health problems.(4)

Muscle Mass and Heart Disease

Researchers from UCLA looked at the link between the body’s musculature and the most important muscle of all, the heart. They investigated patients admitted with cardiovascular disease and found that patients with a bigger muscle mass had a lower mortality risk. These findings seemed to be independent of the level of fat. It seems that simply having muscles can reduce the risk of heart attack death.

If we want to prolong life, it’s just as important to focus on maintaining muscle mass as encouraging weight loss.(5)

Muscle Mass and Osteoporosis

Illness, age, poor diets and the menopause can all lead to our bones becoming weaker and more brittle. Broken bones can be painful and frustrating but osteoporosis is more than just an inconvenience. Fractures can decrease mobility, increase the risk of blood clots and infections and even lead to premature death. So, it’s vital to prevent it in any way we can.

Having more muscle can protect against thinning bones. It’s all down to the work your bones do. They grow stronger by bearing a heavy load-and that includes your body! Walking, lifting and weight training can all build your bones and protect against falls and fractures.

Don’t wait until you’re collecting your pension. It’s better to start building muscle mass and bone density when you’re young. It gives you a great foundation to work from and gets you into good habits early.(6)

Muscle Mass and Ageing

We don’t have to shrivel away as we get older. The evidence suggests that good nutrition and fitness can prevent weakness, immobility and decline as we age. Building our muscle mass can help us age actively, even outrageously if we so desire! (7)

Why Muscles Aren't Just For Show - The Amazing Health Benefits of Building Muscle Mass

The well known researcher into ageing Michael McLeod said:

“The importance of muscle size and strength for longevity and health in humans puts a new spin on the Darwinian statement “Survival of the Fittest” as it is clear that the strongest, fittest individuals are more likely to live longer and healthier lives”(8)

With more muscle we can prevent falls, protect against illness and live dynamic, fulfilling lives. The problem is that as we age, building muscle gets harder and if we don’t use them, we lose them. The trick is to build muscle mass now, and maintain it by continuing to live an active lifestyle and eating plenty of dietary protein.

If you thought being ripped was all about vanity, then think again. Building muscle can help you feel good, look good and live longer. So get down and give me twenty!

 

References

 

  1. http://paleoleap.com/the-importance-of-muscle/

 

  1. Sarcopenia Exacerbates Obesity-Associated Insulin Resistance and Dysglycemia: Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (PLoS One. 2010 May 26; 5(5)) Preethi Srikanthan, Andrea L. Hevener and Arun S. Karlamangla

 

  1. http://primaldocs.com/members-blog/do-you-have-enough-muscle/

 

  1. The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease (American Journal for Clinical Nutrition 2006) Robert R Wolfe

 

  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160422080059.htm

 

  1. Peak bone mass and osteoporosis prevention (Osteoporosis International), January 1993, Volume 3, Supplement 1, pp 56–60) J. A. Eisman, P. J. Kelly, N. A. Morrison, N. A. Pocock, R. Yeoman, J. Birmingham, P. N. Sambrook

 

  1. Low Relative Skeletal Muscle Mass (Sarcopenia) in Older Persons Is Associated with Functional Impairment and Physical Disability (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Volume 50, Issue 5, May 2002. Pages 889–896) Ian Janssen PhD, Steven B. Heymsfield MD, Robert Ross PhD

 

  1. Live strong and prosper: the importance of skeletal muscle strength for healthy ageing (Biogerontology, June 2016, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 497–510) Michael McLeod, Leigh Breen, D. Lee Hamilton, Andrew Philp

 

One Thing You Can Do Right Now To Bring More Happiness, Wealth and Success

The title of this blog does make me feel a little like a snake-oil salesman, making impossibly grandiose promises. Surely, it couldn’t be that simple right? Well, according to scientific research maybe it is.

So what is the magic bullet? A tablet, an injection, a form of surgery? No, it’s simply gratitude.

Really, cultivating a little gratitude can improve your wellbeing in so many ways. If someone expresses their thanks for a job well done, it makes us feel good. That process works just as well within our own minds. It’s easy to focus on the bad stuff in life, which only serves to increase dissatisfaction and unhappiness. By appreciating what we actually have we can improve our health, our relationships and our mood.(1)

How to be happy

Gratitude and Mood

 Gratitude can reduce a whole load of negative or frankly toxic emotions. When we concentrate on all the bad stuff, feelings like envy, anger, frustration and regret, it can proliferate. By being thankful for all that is positive in our lives, we can feel better and help protect ourselves from anxiety and depression.

This is not about sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring problems. It’s about dealing with important issues but not ruminating about the things over which we have no control. Researcher Dr. Robert Emmons said:

“To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”

Research confirms that grateful individuals are happier and more well-adjusted. Studies show that grateful people tend to be less angry, hostile and depressed. They also were shown to have greater emotional warmth, trust, gregariousness and consideration for others. (2) (3)

So, is there just a group of lucky, happy people who are born with natural traits of warmth, altruism and gratitude? It’s not as simple as that. There may be a thankful trait but the rest of us can make a real difference by regularly practicing gratitude and thinking about the aspects of our life, loves and work that make us smile.(4)

Gratitude and Health

 It’s not just our psychological health that can be affected by gratitude, our physical health can be improved too. In some ways that’s a no brainer; there’s good evidence that persistent stress, depression and insomnia can affect our bodies as well as our minds.

Stress can boost levels of the hormone cortisol. It has a vital role in raising plasma glucose levels at times of  acute stress, so that the body has the energy it needs to face attacks from injury, illness or infection.  This was great when we were cavemen fighting sabre-toothed tigers -but less ideal in modern lives when stress can be psychological and constant.

Too much cortisol for too long can be damaging, reducing musculature and increasing abdominal fat, not an ideal result! It also suppresses levels of growth hormone and sex hormones, which can reduce libido, fertility and a feeling of well being. It lessens glucose usage and increases blood levels potentially predisposing us to type 2 diabetes and its effects on calcium can increase the risk of osteoporosis. So it is clear that moderating cortisol levels is important for the maintenance of our health and wellbeing.

And how can we do that? Well, one easy way is gratitude. Being grateful has been shown to decrease our feelings of stress, drop our cortisol levels and help us sleep more easily.(5)

how to be happy

 

Gratitude and Success

What is success? Is it achieving a favorable outcome? Gaining wealth, fame or eminence or simply doing well and progressing in your career?

Research studies have shown that people who are more grateful have increased levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, they were more likely to communicate well and help others. Sound like someone you would like to work with? By being focusing on the positive you can make better progress towards your own individual goals and improve the working environment for those around you.

If you’re feeling sad, unsuccessful or stuck in a rut then stop dwelling on your failures and make changes now. Start a journal itemizing the good things that have happened in your life, the people that are important to you and the moments you have treasured (6), or simply start the day by spending 2 minutes or coming up with 5 things that you are grateful for. By rejoicing in the simple pleasures you can be happier, healthier and more successful-with no snake oil required.

 

Find out more:

 

  1. 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude that will motivate you to give thanks year round. (Forbes 2014) Amy Morin
  2. Gratitude and Happiness: Development of a Measure of Gratitude, and Relationships with Subjective Well-Being (Social Behaviour and Personality 2003, P C Watkins, K Woodward, T Stone, R L Kolts)
  3. Gratitude in intermediate affective terrain: Links of grateful moods to individual differences and daily emotional experience. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2004., 86, 295–309.) McCullough, M. E., Tsang, J. -A., & Emmons, R. A
  4. Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration (Clinical Psychology Review, 2010) Alex M. Wood, Jeffrey J. Froh, Adam W.A. Geraghty
  5. The impact of a new emotional self-management program on stress, emotions, heart rate variability, DHEA and cortisol. (Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science 1998, 32, 151-70) McCraty, R., Barrios-Choplin, B., Rozman, D. , Atkinson, M. & Watkins, A.
  6. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/tips_for_keeping_a_gratitude_journal