Category Archives: How to

Smart Recovery Improves Your Longevity

Hey there Team!
If you have been reading my blog for a while, chances are you have read a thing or two about recovery. That is no coincidence! I think recovery is a very under utilized tool in our lives. It’s almost like we don’t want to really talk about it, as if it’s not cool to look after yourself. Let’s change that!

"Most people are not over-trained, 
they are under-recovered."

-Joe Holder

I mean, it’s the guy in the office (Larry) that brags about the amount of training that he did that morning on almost no sleep, coffee and 2 Ibuprofen, that gets the “oh, wow, he’s cool”. Compare that to Dan who opted for no Netflix the night before, who did some Yoga or meditation instead and was in bed by 9pm. In our society Dan typically doesn’t get the same “cool” factor. He should though. Dan is setting himself up for success in the long term, whereas Larry is on his way to burn out and have plenty of injuries.

“Just focusing all on the training, and not on the recovery, can be a big mistake!” [1]

I have worked with professional athletes who had to do fewer and less intense workouts for a couple of months, because they had injured themselves in racing. In this case it was falling off a bike and landing on the head. Even though their training volume was drastically reduced they came back way stronger the following season!

Crazy huh?! Well, not really. Being chronically over-trained and under-recovered is not where you want to be for optimal performance. Sometimes it takes a serious injury to understand where you are.

“We want people to be exercising for life, you know exercise is medicine, it’s the best you can do for your body, for prevention of pretty much every disease, so we want people to exercise for a lifetime.” [2]

There is a lot of hype about the best and newest recovery methods, and sometimes it’s not easy to know what makes the most sense. Dr. Shona Halson, a former Senior Recovery Physiologist at the Australian Institute of Sport, and currently Associate Professor in the School of Behavioral and Health Sciences at the Australian Catholic University, highlights how we can best maximize our recovery time.

 

The core Foundations are:
Sleep and Nutrition (including hydration.)

Then add on:
Massage, (Great for muscle repair and for balancing the Nervous System)
Soft Tissue Work, Mobility
Compression (socks)
Stretching, Yoga
Meditation, Float Tanks
Cold Showers
Cold Water Immersion (ocean, lake, river)
Ice-Baths (use as “icing on the cake”)

For more detail check out this great podcast from TRAINED with Ryan Flaherty and Dr. Shona Halson with tonnes of knowledge.

Some often misread signs of under-recovery are fatigue and irritability. So why should a weekend warrior or just an active person care about recovery?

Who cares, right? It’s not like I’m about to go to the Olympics or anything. Well, it’s the smartest strategy for making sure that you are injury free, that you feel good and aren’t sore all the time, so that you can be consistent and be able to go out there and do whatever it is that you want to do! For the rest of your life…just saying… 😉

“Rest days are good too! Adaptation happens in rest.” [3]

Why not write down a list of what you use today in terms of recovery on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Is the list very short? What can you add to it? Maybe start investing in a monthly massage or get a foam-roller, or why not both? Are you able to make it to the sauna once in a while, or take a bath with added epsom salt? How is your sleep? What about meditation?

There are many small things that you can do to improve on your recovery, but you have to start doing them. Make space in your calendar and take care of yourself! You will feel better and your athletic performance will improve as well. What’s not to like?!

Wishing you a great weekend with lots of smart recovery!
😉

 


[1,2,3] Excerpts from the Podcast Trained: Shona Halson – How Recovery Can Push You Forward in Unexpected Ways
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Photo by Katee Lue on Unsplash

Drew, an exercise physiologist, goes Paleo, Keto, then Plant-Based .

Hello everyone!
If you have ever felt confused about the concepts of going Paleo, Keto or Plant-Based, then this episode is certainly for you! What I find so interesting about Drew Harrisberg in this situation, is the amount of personal data that he has been collecting over the years.

Because he has Type 1 diabetes[1], Drew has this unique situation that has allowed him to monitor what is going on INSIDE his body for a really long time. That is definitely some amazing knowledge to have!

Being an exercise physiologist, he also noted very early on the effect that working out had on his insulin sensitivity. Wanting to do the best he could nutrition-wise he started searching for “the best” diet to follow. He started out with Paleo but that is certainly not where he ended.

What’s so great about Drew’s story you ask? Well, because of his type 1 diabetes, he has his blood work done all the time. This accumulated data tells a story on its own, because what we see on the outside, does not necessarily mirror what’s going on – on the inside. Meaning, he was looking super fit and lean, but his insulin sensitivity was telling another story.

So, due to his constant blood-work, he could track and get a much more complete picture of what was going on inside of him. Ultimately this prompted him to change the way he is eating today.

This is such an interesting podcast between Drew Harrisberg and Simon Hill with the Plant Proof podcast!
Also, Drew and Simon mention a lot of studies during the podcast and you can find them here.

I hope you will enjoy their conversation as much as I did.

 

Have an amazing weekend!
😉

 

 


[1] This is when your pancreas stops producing insulin, often due to an autoimmune disease, and therefore you have to get insulin injections.

Photo from the Plant Proof website www.plantproof.com
Photo from Drew’s Daily Dose www.drewsdailydose.com
Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

 

 

Carrot tops to the rescue!

Hey there Team!
I hope that you are all doing well, and have something nice planned for the weekend. There are so many fresh vegetables around at this time of the year. One of my favorites is carrots.

Here is a question: When you buy fresh carrots, what do you do with the green tops?
Do you just cut them off and throw them away? I used to do that for years, until I found out that you can actually eat them. Carrot greens are really nutritious, and good for you,  just like the actual carrot itself, so do take advantage and eat the greens as well. Also, eating these greens creates less waste. What’s not to like?

You can eat them raw, but unless they are super fresh it’s maybe not the best way to do it. You could add them to a green smoothie of course, or use it for a home made pesto. The one version I tend to use the most is just to slightly cook them with other veggies. Just like I would if I was using spinach or kale.

You could also put them in a soup or stir-fry them in a pan. The stems can be a bit chewier so you might want to cut them up quite fine, and put the fine leafy tips in at the very end as they cook very fast. Just try it out and see what you like the best!

Quick tip! Cut the very top off the carrot off, with the greens still attached to it. Then put the ends in a bit of water and place in the fridge. This way the carrot tops stay fresh for another couple of days. Then you can choose the most convenient day for you to cook with them.

A little while ago I was attending a lecture on nutrition in Amsterdam. The speaker told us how one of his best friends, who works in agriculture, said that whenever they want to “clean” soil that had been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides, they would plant carrots as they were really good at absorbing all of that. For that reason, even though carrots are not on the top of the dirty dozen list,  he told us to never buy non-organic carrots. It’s just not worth the gamble.

Growing carrots with kids is a great way for them to take an interest in vegetables and cooking. Don’t have a garden – no problem. Just get a larger pot and plant some carrot seeds in there. Easy! You don’t always need a lot of space for something to grow.

If you have never used carrot greens before, I do hope that this post have inspired you to try it out. Get that extra boost of Vitamin A and enjoy those extra greens on your plate!

Have an amazing weekend rescuing those carrot tops!
😉

 

 


Photo by Nathalie Visser
Photo by Heather Gill on Unsplash

Tight Hip Flexors Weakens Your Breathing!

Hey there Team!
I hope you had a few nice days off during Easter and were able to spend some time outside. We had amazing (!) weather over here, so I was lucky enough to bike to the beach a few times. It was quite windy though, and I had to push hard on the pedals more than a few times. Breathing hard and being on a bike made me think about lung capacity. It’s a normal train of thought, right? 😉

Did you know that tight hip flexors (often seen in cyclists, but even more so for people who sit on a chair during many hours of the day) can decrease your lung capacity? Well, how does that work?

When your hip flexors are tight they pull your hips into a forward (anterior) position. This extra tension makes it harder for your diaphragm to do its work. If the diaphragm is unable to fully expand it means that you will not be able to inhale as much air as your body wants and needs. For instance, less air into your lungs means that you will have less oxygenation of your muscles.

Less oxygen, less power.
Less oxygen, less recovery, less power…

Dr. Kevin Kirsch explains it short and sweet in this video. He is an Art Of Breath Instructor with Power Speed Endurance. Check it out.

 

Try out the different positions once and see how it feels. Tilt your hips forward as far as you can (just like in the video), and then take a deep breath. Then bring your hips back into a neutral position and take a deep breath here. Notice how much easier it gets to breath deeply when your hips are in a good position. Imagine the impact that can have over a longer period of time.

Here are two previous articles that includes the couch stretch, and also here. I hope this can motivate you, coming from a different angle, to work on those hip flexors. I mean, who doesn’t want their breathing to be as effective as possible?!

Being aware of your breathing is the first step. Now go out there and practice.

Have a great weekend freeing up those hip flexors!
😉

 


Guilt-Free Easter Candy, Anyone?

Hey there Team!
I hope that you are all doing well, and that you will be able to do something really nice for the Easter Holidays. The weather is looking awesome over here, so I will make sure to hit the beach!

Today is Good Friday and the Easter Weekend tends to be the culmination into a mountain of chocolate eggs, and all types of other Easter candy! For some, this time of the year is a pure joy of indulging in lots of yummy treats.

However, for plenty of others it can be quite stressful. Many people are trying to adopt healthier habits and want to minimize dairy and sugar intake. But because the Easter candy comes wrapped as a gift, we feel obliged to eat it. What to do with all that guilt around the chocolates that you have received???

Just because you receive a gift of chocolate, or any other treat for Easter for that matter – you are not obliged to eat it! I say again: You are not obliged to eat it!  All you have to do is to be grateful for the kind gesture that someone was thinking of you, and wanted to do something nice. Giving thanks does not equal having to eat the gift. (Repeat loudly for the diabolic part of your brain!)

"The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not "things" but a means for conveying someone's feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don't need to feel guilty for parting with a gift. Just thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it."[1] Marie Kondo

So let’s practice this. You are at home with your chocolate eggs that you have received from your lovely friends. But, as you have already decided before Easter, this is not the kind of processed foods that you want to put into your body.

Pick up the gift, and in your mind say something like “Thank you dear friend for thinking of me and going out of your way to give me this lovely gift. It is very much appreciated and it made me very happy. However, eating this gift will make me feel guilty and unhappy and therefore I won’t do that.” Then donate it or discard it.

"But surely the person who gave it to you doesn't want you to use [eat] it out of a sense of obligation,...only to feel guilty every time you see [eat] it. When you discard or donate it, you do so for the sake of the giver, too." [2]

If all else fails try to trick the diabolic part of your brain with sarcasm “Thanks for getting me a step closer to diabetes!”, and then donate or discard.

Alternatively write a blog about how to get rid of your Easter Candy…it will reduce your chances for having to deal with too much candy in the first place!

If you do want to eat it – do so and then really enjoy the moment! Eat the lovely chocolate because you want too. Not because your mind is making you feel guilty, just because it was a gift.

 

Have a lovely guilt-free Easter weekend!
😉

 


[1,2] The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Photo by Michael Dam on Unsplash
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Stinky Breath?! It’s Your Food Choices

Hey there Team!
Last week we talked about how your health is connected to your stinky breath.

Quick recap from last week:
If we think about the mouth as a large entrance hallway, what other rooms lead to that same hallway? Well, OK we have the esophagus coming from the digestive system. Then we have the sinuses. (Anyone who has ever had to do a saltwater rinse for a sinus infection knows that all that yucky stuff ends up in the mouth). And last but not least, your lungs, via the trachea, also leads to that same hallway.

That means, that if there is any kind of imbalance, infection, or bad  bacterial overgrowth in any one of these areas, it can lead to a stinky, bad breath (aka halitosis). This is something that is  commonly known in Eastern Medicine[2], but not so often talked about in our Western type Medicine. So what can you do if you suffer from halitosis? Phoebe is definitely asking the right question!

“Smelly cat,
smelly cat,
what are they feeding you?”
-Phoebe, in Friends

If your bad breath is something that is occurring often, or all the time, I would look into your food choices. This is the easiest thing for us to change. And, I also believe that it has the biggest impact on our bodies as well. Your best bet is to stay away from processed foods and eat a well prepared whole foods diet.

Why not make a note of when you notice the stinky breath coming back or being particularly bad.  Ask yourself what kind of foods and drinks that you had a day or two before that. It’s sometimes very easy to notice a pattern occurring, if you just start to pay attention. For instance, if you have really bad morning breath, what did you eat and drink the night before?

If your digestion is a bit sluggish, it means that it takes too long for the food to be broken down. Also, eating a heavy meal late at night is not ideal, as your digestion slows down at night. As the food then hangs around in your intestines for too long, it starts to rot and bad bacteria has  a field day. Add a sugary dessert at the end of that heavy meal, and your bad bacteria are totally overjoyed! When bad bacteria is busy, they create a lot of stinky gas.

This is the gas that comes back to your mouth and makes your breath smell. It’s like having an open garbage bin with rotten food in the other room. Even if you try to close the door, after a while it’s going to stink.

The foods that takes the longest to break down is fat and protein, particularly if it’s coming from an animal. Therefore it would be interesting to eliminate (or reduce as much as you can) these foods. A lot of people also do not do well with dairy, so that’s another one to watch out for.

If you have noticed your breath being a challenge sometimes, why not take a week or three and eat lots of veggies and whole foods. Give your body a chance to clean out the gunk! Go easy on the fats, and meats as this is harder for the body to digest. Completely stay away from all fried foods, dairy and processed foods. A lot of people get surprised as how quickly their breath clean up when they do this.

After that make a note when you notice the bad breath coming back and what kind of foods that you ate a day or two before that. On the same smelly topic, if you, or someone near you is having to use a lot of deodorant to smell better, then this article “too dirty for a shower” might interest you as well.

Phoebe was asking the right question all along…
😉 Have a great weekend everyone!


[2] https://bodahealth.ca/bad-breath-and-chinese-medicine/

 

Today is the Day. Let’s Go Team!

Hey there Team!
How is everyone doing? I hope you all had a great week and are ready for the weekend. I recently came across this video that speaks louder than words. It’s the kind of stuff that I really like. So, without adding anymore words, here it is!


Today is the day.
Just start.

😉


Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

What about the LAST minutes of a workout?

Hey there Team!
Last week we took a look at the first couple of minutes of your run or  workout, and what that could look like. Getting your body ready to perform, should always be a part of your workout. What about the last minutes of your workout though? Are they really that important? “I’m no pro-athlete so who cares, right?”

I would say that they are just as important – if you want a well performing and injury free body for many years to come. I hear exactly the same reasons here though, as I do for why people don’t warmup properly. “I don’t have the time” and “I gotta get the workout in” and “I gotta get to work”. Let’s look at it from a completely different perspective.

Imagine that you have just invested a huge amount of money into a race horse called Black Thunder. This amazing horse is expected to have a long and successful career. How do you think you would feel if you found out that Herb the trainer had put him straight into his box after finishing his race without a cool down?

Not only that, Herb leaves him there until the next day.  Then he brings him straight to the starting line for a race, without any kind of warmup. Would you bet on your own horse winning that day? Would you be surprised to hear that Black Thunder had gotten injured if that practice continued? My guess is that you probably would fire Herb as soon as you could, if he didn’t start taking better care of your horse.

Ok, ok this story might a bit extra dramatic, but really, isn’t this what we do all the time to ourselves? The only differences is how surprised we get when we get injured, even though we still haven’t fired Herb!

So, what to do? I like to try and outsmart myself. Meaning, I leave myself with only one option, and that option is a good one. For example, I take my bike to my CrossFit Gym. That way I have an automatic extra warmup and cool down built in by default. If you are in a Gym, hop onto a bike, a rower or a foam roller for a couple of minutes. Move that lactic acid out of your body nice and easy.

Targeted warm up + Performance + Cool down
= a Workout

Is there a cool down included in your group workout? Awesome! But, you also should ask yourself “Is this enough for me today, or do I need a few more minutes?” If so, hop on that bike or rower, jog slowly, take a walk, or use a foam roller. Your coach is often very limited in the time that they have with you, and it’s your responsibility to add more minutes to the cool down when you need it.

In conclusion:
Make sure you look after the amazing Black Thunder. Have a good long talk with Herb, or just fire him! Set yourself up for a winning strategy in the long run. Make sure the last few minutes of your workout are easy, allowing you to cool down. When you can, add some mobility exercises to work on your tougher areas, later during the day or evening.

 

Keep working on those workouts, and have an amazing weekend!
😉

 



What about the first minutes of your workout?

Hey there Team!
How is everyone doing? As the sun is showing up earlier and earlier each morning, I come across more and more runners as I’m biking to and from my early CrossFit training sessions. It’s great to see more people out there doing their best to get some more activity in to their days.

Also around this time of year people tend to set goals, like running a half-marathon or even a full one. Training for something specific can be a great motivation to get going, and also sticking to it.

Together with that though, I also see a lot of strains and injuries in my practice. Often a combination of too much too soon, while more or less excluding a proper warm-up and cool down.

Paying attention to the first minutes of your workout, and making sure that you start off with a good warm-up is an essential part to a long-lasting injury free body. I have written about this before, and I am bringing it up again, because I am still seeing the same issues again and again.

“Well, an injured body cannot do a workout at all, so be smart and plan for the long run!”

“I don’t have time” and “I’ve gotta get my workout in” are reasons I hear all the time as to why people don’t do a warm-up. Well, an injured body cannot do a workout at all, so be smart and plan for the long run.

A warm-up should always be a part of any workout you choose. This becomes even more important when you work out first thing in the morning, as the body is just getting started.

Check out this super easy warm-up routine, and see how you can build it into your workout. You can use it just as well for a cool down. This warm-up is a favorite of mine to do whenever I’m about to go running. I hope you will enjoy it too.

Be good to that performing body of yours, you’ve only got the one.
Have an amazing warmed-up weekend!
😉


You’re Not Over-Trained. You’re Under-Recovered!

Hey there Team!
How is everyone doing this week? As I am writing this the sun is shining and the weather is absolutely smashing! I do hope it stays like this for a couple of days. Just this week I completed a 10 day liver-detox-fast. Phew! Since I didn’t have to food-prep or cook, which usually takes up quite a bit of my time, I had some extra time to listen to podcasts.

"Most people are not over-trained, they are under-recovered."
-Joe Holder

I came across this one, optimizing your performance with Nike Master Trainer Joe Holder, and it’s such a good one! The Podcast is called Plant Proof, with Simon Hill, episode 52.

For Joe, it all started with being an athlete, but also with his family and the value system that they raised him with. His family was very nutritionally aware and ahead of their time in terms of how they were looking at food. Having the right mindset and critical thinking were also important topics for them.

“Culture had to be created by someone. Who says that we have to adhere to the rules, instead of creating our own personal manifesto and culture, to maximize our results.”
-Joe Holder

It would take Joe a couple of nasty sports injuries, to start digging deeper into why his body wasn’t healing so well. “Doctors couldn’t really tell me why my body wasn’t healing.” Together with his father he started to look into foods for the solution. But, also along that path he started to realize that “my emotional state was hindering my body’s natural healing.”

This led him onto a journey of working on fixing the physical but also the emotional parts of his body. Using meditation, nutrition [focusing on nutrient dense foods that seemed to have an increased link to healing], pain management from a mental state and traditional rehab exercises, he was able to return to his sport much quicker than anticipated. All of these different tools are at the base of his training system called the Ocho System.

These are just some of the many topics that Joe and Simon talk about. Without giving away any more golden nuggets, I really encourage you to check out this interesting  and inspirational podcast.

Have an amazing weekend!
😉

 

 



Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
https://www.sakara.com/blogs/mag/joe-holder-interview
https://plantproof.com/optimising-your-performance-with-nike-master-trainer-joe-holder/