This Instagram post by Coach Ben Bergeron is just too good not to share. It just sums up so much in one picture. I really don’t think that I have to add anything to it. Hopefully this will provoke some good head-work, and help you to evaluate your own situation, whether in sports, relationships or work.
“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”
So you feel a bit guilty about having over indulged on food and drinks in the last few weeks. You have decided to jump into a detox program to give your body a break. That can both be good and bad, depending on your current health and energy. Jumping into the deep end of a detox from a state of overindulging, can be very hard for your body. Therefore it is better to prepare the body first before starting a detox.
In essence, you want to stop putting junk into your body, and you want to help the body to get rid of the junk that is already there. The main key organ working in detoxing is the liver.
With stop putting junk into your body, I mean limit as much as possible or avoid completely processed foods, fried processed foods, hydrogenated oils, sugar, cigarettes, snus, aspirin and ibuprofen (unless prescribed by Dr.), all alcohol, and caffeine. Why is caffeine included? Because the liver has to break down caffeine before it can leave the body, and that adds another burden to the liver. We want to leave the liver as much energy as possible for detoxing. I would also exclude dairy, unless it is a fermented, probiotic product, like kefir and natural yogurt without added sugar.
You can help the body with giving it good nutrients, so that it has all the building blocks that it needs to break down all the junk and get rid of it. Did you know that you need 42 molecules of magnesium in order to help break down 1 molecule of sugar in the liver…wow!(1)
It is easy to give he body what it needs by eating an organic nutrient dense whole food diet. The liver needs plenty of protein to do its job, so do your best to eat good quality, organic protein that you can get your hands on, at this time. Make sure that you are properly hydrated as well. If not, your body will have a much harder time getting the toxins out of your body, and you will feel a lot worse during this time.
So what are some of the type of toxins that we are trying to get rid of? We get toxins accumulating in our bodies from air and water pollution, radiation, chemicals, stress, cellular/metabolic wastes, poorly digested foods, heavy metal exposure, bacterial/parasitic/fungal overgrowth. Drugs, food additives and allergens can also cause toxic elements in the body. Basically, any substance that creates irritating and/or harmful effects in the body is a toxin.
Going to the sauna, taking an epsom salt bath, and getting a deep tissue massage are also things that you can do to help your body detoxify. Adding movement into your day is also a great idea. Your lymphatic system works like a “pre-filter” for the liver, but it is a passive system. That means you have to move in order to move fluid through it. Optimal would be to jump on a rebounder every day. It does not have to be heavy exercise though, any kind of movement will help. This is also a reason why it is helpful to work at a standing desk opposed to a sitting one.
Remember, these are what some of the healing reactions may look like. I would say, the stronger you feel that these reactions are, the longer you need to stay on the preparation phase, before going into a full detox. Fatigue, headaches, bad smelling body odor, sleeping problems, bad breath, itchy skin and irritability.
Depending on your current and recent lifestyle, you might want to stay on the preparation detox schedule from anything for a week to quite a few. Also, some people might opt for just doing the preparation phase for a while without detoxing, and that is fine too. You will do your body a lot of good by just sticking to the preparation phase. If you want to learn more there are plenty of books out there that can help you further. I like the 7-Day Detox Miracle by Bennet, Barrie and Faye.
Good preparation is key, so stay with it, and let the body adjust with time 😉
(1) Lecture on detox, Nutritional Therapy Association
Frequently I get asked if there are particular times of the year where my work is extra busy. There sure are, and one of them is just about to come up. It is the same, year after year, and it typically starts around the third week of January and runs through February. What could be the reason for this injury season?
Maybe you think it is because of all the skiing holidays? Sure, they add up as well, but no that’s not it. It is because of all the New Years Resolutions. What do I mean by that?
Typically we completely overestimate our body’s ability to adapt to new changes when it comes to fitness. Often we are not realistic about where our current fitness level is. We tend to focus on strength and speed and forget about any other component, like the importance of flexibility, and having full range of movement. You may have been the superstar athlete back in school, and that is awesome! But, if you haven’t continuously taken care of your body during the last 10 or 20 years, you cannot expect to jump right back into your old work out routines. And if you do, you should not be surprised if (when) you get injured.
Let’s use “Sarah” as an example of what it typically looks like. Sarah is in her late 30’s, has a desk job, used to be really sporty but has completely gotten out of her routine in the last year(s). She makes a New Years Resolution to get fit again, and to get back into a routine. She is super motivated and starts with running 5 times a week between 30-60minutes, even though she hasn’t really been running in the last year. She doesn’t warm up or cool down, because she doesn’t have time for that. Besides you get warm while running, right?! The same goes for mobility work. It’s only running, right? It’s not like she she going to do gymnastics or anything, so it cannot be that important.
Towards the end of January Sarah shows up at my practice. She tells me that she has been taking ibuprofen and that helped her through last weeks training sessions, but now it’s not enough to help her with the pain. She has low back pain, her left knee is sore when she runs and she thinks she might have heel-spurs, as her feet are painful. Upon examination it is very clear that her hipflexors, quads, and calves are super tight, and she does not have proper range of motion in several joints.
I will talk to her about the importance of slowly increasing the intensity and duration of a training program. And also the importance of a warm up, cool down, mobility work, nutrition and hydration.This typically goes in one of two ways.
#1. Sarah actually listens, makes the needed adjustments, and starts with a less intense training program after 10 days of active recovery and mobility work. She took a look at her nutrition and hydration. She added some strength training, is working on her running technique and does daily mobility work. I see Sarah about once a month for preventative work, and am happy to hear that she has registered for a half marathon in 5 months time. She is using the Nike Run App to help her prepare correctly.
Scenario #2. After the treatment Sarah feels better and decides to “test her body” on a long run to make sure everything is alright. Towards the end of the run she is in pain again. She goes to the Doctor and gets anti-inflammatory drugs and is not allowed to run for at least 14 days. On the 15th day she goes out to “test her body” again, but is not able to finish her run as the pain is back. She goes back to the Doctor, who gives her another round of anti-inflammatory drugs, and says that if this continues she will need injections and potentially surgery. After a few weeks on this roller coaster Sarah gives up on sports and concludes that she is just too old, unlucky, and there is nothing she can do about it.
This is just one example, but I see it all the time. We all think that we are immune to injury until it happens to us. This year, why not be smart about your New Years Resolutions. Get yourself a good coach who can help you, or use Apps like Nike Run and Nike Training to help you out at YOUR CURRENT level. Be honest with yourself here! Make a plan for the long run and slowly increase your training. Make sure that you add all the other components to being a great athlete, like warming up, mobility, hydration etc. Be kind to your body and give it a chance to adapt.
If you are interested in some serious goal setting, then check out this video with Coach Ben Bergeron.
I wish you all an excellent start to the New Year 😉
Are you holding your breath again? It is that time of the year where everyone is trying to wrap up all of those loose ends and finish the year with some amazing accomplishments. At least so that it looks like it on paper, am I right? That together with very busy holiday plans tend to push a lot of people into high stress mode. Staying in this stressed mode, where the sympathetic nervous system is in charge (fight or flight) creates a lot of tension. If you don’t have a method for relieving some of that inner tension, you may feel like the pressure is about to make you explode.
In order to relieve some pressure and get out of the fight and flight mode, we need to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest system. A really easy way to do that is to use your breath. By something as simple as taking 3 deep breaths, you can calm your over active nervous system and get it to relax. Breathe in through your nose, let your lungs fill up completely, and then slowly breathe out through your mouth.
Someone I know uses this technique every time she has to stop at a red light while driving. Instead of getting worked up about “loosing time” she uses it as an opportunity to work on her breath. It is such a simple thing to do, but it really can make a huge change to your day.
If you have a little more time, (maybe you are standing in line waiting to pay for your groceries), try to see if you can make it all the way up to 10 breaths, and then count backwards with each breath until you get back to 0. In my head it would sound something like this “one, I breathe in – one, I breathe out, two…”. You get the picture. Again, it is very simple, but oh so effective. This can be a great technique to try as well if you have problems falling asleep.
If you feel like trying a 2 minute super easy meditation, then check out this video with Andy Puddicombe.
I am also a big fan of meditation and this is one of my favorite apps. You can check out my previous blog about meditation right here.
In terms of nutrition you can help your nervous system by keeping your blood sugar as steady as possible. For example, when you eat sugar, quick carbs and drink caffeine, these things all stimulate your nervous system to be in the fight and flight mode. That makes it so much harder for us to relax. So, if you feel the pressure building up try to stay away from these processed sugary types of foods as much as possible, and focus on whole nutrient dense foods instead.
I know I talk a lot about hydration but it cannot be emphasized enough! Make sure that you properly hydrate, especially between all the extra holiday drinks. Your liver and body will thank you.
Doing some exercise is also a great idea. If you don’t have time for a full session, try to get some simple movement into your day, like walking. It doesn’t always have to be strenuous to be doing you some good.
Do what you can, when you can. Every little piece helps. Have a great weekend! 😉
Photo by Gabriel Matula, Ben White, Afonso Coutinho and Ethan Sykes on Unsplash
There is a rhythm to almost everything in life, and especially in our bodies. Knowing the rhythms of certain things can give us a lot of information. If we know what to look for that is. If we look closer at Traditional Chinese Medicine we find the Organ Clock, and it can help us getting some useful information.
Although the Organ Clock is not used in western medicine, “[Joseph] Takahashi and colleagues stated in a 2013 article that “almost every cell in the body contains a circadian clock.“ For example, these clocks, called peripheral oscillators, have been found in the adrenal gland, oesophagus, lungs, liver, pancreas, spleen, thymus, and skin.”
So, what does the Organ Clock tell us? It shows us when different organs in the body are very active. For instance, a lot of organs are doing their “house cleaning” during the night when we are asleep. It’s the only time they are not frantically trying to accommodate our demands, and so they have some time to clean house and prepare for the next day. OK, so how can this help us?
Let’s take a look at the liver. According to the Organ Clock it is the most busy during 1-3am at night. (Assuming you go to bed around 10-11pm.) If things are running smooth in the liver, you will never notice that it is working at all. However, if the liver is a bit backed up from too much stuff it has to detox, (ex:pesticides, pollution, medication, hormones, alcohol) the cleaning process will not be smooth. You might wake up during this time at night and feel very warm, and not feel very well. The liver can raise body temperature quite a bit as it is trying to burn through our garbage. Maybe you know the feeling of having been out partying and waking up really hot and sweaty in the middle of the night. It most likely is your liver trying to get rid of all that alcohol.
So, if you find yourself waking up often at the same time at night, check out what the Organ Clock says. Which organ is the most busy at that time, and how do you think this could relate to you and your lifestyle? Start taking some notes, and see what you can learn from the information gathered. It is of course no precise medicine, but I have found it a very useful indicator on many occasions.
It’s 2 am. I know what my liver is up to. Do you know what yours is up to? 😉
P.S. Also, a BIG thanks to all of you who came and listened to my talk “Walk of Health”. It was a blast! For those of you who signed up, you will have the keynotes from the talk within the next few days.
-Well, how do you know?
-I can feel it in my stomach.
-How can you be sure it’s hunger, and not pain from thirst or a food sensitivity?
Certain types of signals are very closely related in how they feel and it is very hard for us to tell the difference. Who has time to really figure out what the body is trying to tell us anyway, right? We would much rather just take an aspirin or ibuprofen and get on with it. Pain from hunger, thirst and food sensitivities all have very different meanings for the body, yet we are not tuned in enough to tell the difference.
From the movie Remember the Titans
“Pain is only bread in french”
If your body is telling you that you need more water, but you think that you are “hungry” and need more food, you are setting yourself up for failure. Why? The body needs about 10 liters of water in order to have proper digestion. Some of it will come from the food we just ingested but most of it will come from recycled sources of water from other areas of our body. If we were already a bit dehydrated from the beginning, we will be even more dehydrated after we have eaten. Now other areas of your body will have even less water for its functions, because its all needed in digestion. This is a very costly operation for your body, and it doesn’t like it. Did you know that as little as a 2% dehydration can give you these symptoms:
Fatigue, Anxiety, Irritability, Depression, Cravings, Cramps and Headaches.
So before you start snacking away, thinking that you are starving, ask yourself “does it seem reasonable that I should be this hungry at this time”? If not, have a big glass of water with a pinch of sea salt first and wait and see what happens to that “hunger” feeling. If it goes away it means your body is in need of more water.
A time to start suspecting that you may have some food intolerance or sensitivity is when it goes something like this: You have just had a plate of food, but your stomach “is telling you” that you are “still starving”, and you dig into another big plate. When you “feel hunger” midway through a meal it is possible that it is actually a pain signal from the gut. It is trying to tell you that it is sensitive to something in the food you are eating. For your gut it is like you are eating stinging jellyfish. Ouch!
Ask yourself, does it seem reasonable that I am feeling “this hungry” even though I already had a plate of food? Why not note down what you ate, and if it was at a restaurant, which one. With this information, see if you can compile a pattern of when you get “hunger pains” like this. It can give you some very valuable clues as to what could be irritating and hurting your gut. These are the most common offenders:
If it seems to you that you are “feeling hungry” too often, check out your hydration situation and make sure you have figured out your own Hydration Formula. If the hunger pains happens during a meal, be very suspect of food sensitivities and start your detective work to figure out what it can be.
Have a great weekend! 😉
For those of you in Luxembourg, I hope to see you on Tuesday evening at 19:00! We will continue to look at the different messages our body is sending us, and how to interpret them.
I have been asked to hold a presentation by “Friskis and Svettis” here in Luxembourg, and the good news is that it is open to everyone! So save the date and come on over! What is it all about? Check out below and look here for more information.
“The Walk of Health”
Are you frustrated because you are doing everything right from training to diet, but you don’t get the results that you want, and/or you are still in pain?
There is a huge orange zone between being healthy and being diagnosed with disease.
Join Nathalie in this active talk where we will go through “the walk of health” to find out how improper digestion impacts every aspect of your health, from fatty acid deficiency to shoulder pain.
Simply put, you cannot out-train a shitty diet or a poor digestion. Learn to recognize the clues that tells us when something is wrong, and what to do about it.
Day: Tuesday the 28th of November
Where: in Limpertsberg Language: English
Address: École Français (EF), 188 av de la Faîencerie, L-1511 Luxembourg
Cost: €10.- which also includes the Flex class starting at 20.00.
You have probably read about the importance of core values, both for business and in your personal life. Maybe you have even done a workshop on the topic. Identifying your core values is one thing. But, what are you doing on a daily basis to put them into action, so that your core values will truly become a part of you?
“What are you doing on a daily basis to put them into action, so that your core values will truly become a part of you?”
For most people I think we get stuck at the slogan version, “have integrity” “be kind” “work hard” and so on. The slogan version both sounds and looks good. But, it doesn’t say anything about how to implementthat value on a daily basis. If you don’t have a clear daily map to guide you, how will you ever get to where you want to go? The difference is thinking that the top of the mountain probably looks good, compared to making it all the way up the mountain and enjoying the actual view. I think this key component is missed by most of us.
-Are you stuck at the “Slogan version”?
Excellent coaches are hard to come by, and I am always very happy when I find one that I think is worth listening to. Ben Bergeron belongs in that group, and I hope that this podcast will make you think about your core values and most importantly – how to implement them into daily actions. Even a small action put on rinse, wash, repeat will make a big impact given enough time.
The question just recently came up from one of my new clients. “Why do I feel so tired after a sports massage?” It was her first session of a sports/deep tissue massage in a very long time, and she was in bed by 9pm that night. If it’s your first time in a while since a sports massage this might often be the case. It will get better after a few sessions, as the body starts cleaning out the gunk that has been stored in it for so long. Gunk, what gunk?
Stored gunk We store heavy metals, pesticides, pollutants and other toxins in the fatty tissue in our bodies. When there is an overexposure of these toxins, or the liver is under too much stress for other reasons, it cannot clear out all the toxins right away. As a protective mechanism the body then stores these toxins in the fatty tissue. This may be a good short term strategy, but with all the toxins that we are faced with everyday, we just keep accumulating toxins in our fatty tissues. The liver is under constant pressure to catch up with all the cleaning. This is on top of all the usual waste products that the liver has to clean up as well, like for instance lactic acid.
A thorough deep cleaning
As you are getting a sports massage, it’s in a way like a deep spring cleaning of your house. You will find dirt you didn’t know about and it will take some effort to get the house cleaned. Going deep into the tissues will help liberate stored toxins and waste products and get it out of storage and into the bloodstream. From there it gets transported to the liver, who can safely disassemble them and make sure the garbage leaves our body through the urine and poop.
It gets worse before it gets better
I had a client who used to smoke a lot and had recently quit, and the first couple of times she felt really nauseous after the massage. This was due to the built up of toxins from years of smoking that now were released out of the fatty tissues and into the bloodstream. As the toxins enters the bloodstream, it can make you feel worse at first, before the liver can take care of it. For the body it is like you just ingested all those toxins again.
Another client works as a painter and is constantly in contact with toxic fumes. Changing his line of work is not an option, even though from a body-toxicity exposure that would be better. Instead he has created a preventative strategy that works very well for him. On a regular basis he goes to the sauna, gets deep tissue massage, runs a couple of times a week, stays well hydrated and takes herbal supplements to support his liver. Twice a year he does a week of detoxification as well.
“It is unrealistic to think that we can all change our work or where we live based on the amount of toxicity that we are exposed too. But, we can certainly have an influence on how well the body is prepared to deal with it all.” 
It takes a lot of work and energy for the liver to deal with all the extra cleaning that comes from the toxins that just entered the bloodstream. By getting a deeper treatment you are helping the body to start the process of self-healing through detoxification and an increased blood circulation. Therefore it is very common to feel extra tired due to the energy expended.
From my experience, the better shape your body is in all around, the less tired you will be. Feeling relaxed after a massage, which you should be, is different from being tired. The life of your liver is very much like being M-O, and you are the one that keeps bringing in the dirt. So, take very good care of M-O. Help him out by bringing in as little dirt as possible, as he is doing his very best continuously taking care of you!
It is common to feel extra tension for 1-2 days in some areas of the body that felt very tight during the massage. After the very first couple of sessions you may even feel it for a few more days, but that should subside as your body gets used to the treatment. You should not have any bruises after a sports or deep tissue massage. If that happens let your massage therapist know so that they can adjust their work with you accordingly.
Make sure you are hydrated before the treatment and hydrate well after. It is the quickest way to make sure that the body has enough fluids to easily transport and disassemble all of the gunk that is coming out of storage. You will help the body to recover quickly and you are making it easy for M-O (the liver) to do his job. If you are, or know that you have been exposed to a lot of toxins, it might also be a good idea to support your liver with some herbal supplements.
Take good care of M-O and have a great weekend! 😉
quote from Nathalie Visser
Photo by Jeremy Bishop, Hernan Sanchez, Pan Xiaozhen, Tim Mossholder and Matt Hoffman on Unsplash
Completing a task is easy, right? You set out a goal, and line up some intermediate steps to get you there. It’s just like walking up the stairs, taking one step at a time, and –voila– you are there. Mission completed. Well, if it is that easy, how come so many of us are still procrastinating? Did you start the new hydration plan yet? Did you go out running, or go to the gym like you had planned? Did you do your mobility exercises? And so on…so what gets in the way?
Wanting, planning or actually doing?
Wanting to do something, and even planning for it is very different to actually getting it done. Too often the instant gratification monkey takes over, and the rational decision maker is no longer in control of where we are going. It is not until the Panic Monster has been activated that we are able to deactivate the monkey.
What am I talking about?!
Tim Urban explains in his humorous and enlightening TED talk how a procrastinators brain work, and what all of these characters has to do with it. And, since we are all procrastinators on one level or another this means that he is talking about you and me…
Ok, so I recognize myself in this. Now what?
Be sure to set a deadline for your goal, this allows the Panic Monster to keep the instant gratification monkey quiet. Tell a friend about it, or even better, get a friend to join you, because this keeps you accountable. Then make the task not seem too daunting by dividing it into smaller pieces. Tim has written about it here in his blog as well.
Here is an easy example. Goal: To drink 3 Liters of water, with added salt, per day, in 3 weeks.
If you are currently only drinking 1 Liter, 3 Liter a day will seem almost unimaginable. But, can you start your day with 1 big glass of water? Sure!
That is a very attainable step, and to remind yourself to get it done in the early morning, place the cup somewhere where you cannot miss it the night before. Easy!
After a couple of days, maybe your next step is to add drinking a big glass of water as soon as you get home. Again, no big deal, and this is an easy habit to adopt. Well, if you are using a large cup, or glass by now you have almost added a Liter of water to your day, and it was easy, right? Just continue down that path, and you will reach your goal swiftly without even having to activate the Panic Monster.
Wishing you a great weekend – where the instant gratification monkey won’t take over too much of your valuable time 😉
Photo credit to Sander Smeekes, Ethan Sykes and Benjamin Dada on Unsplash