Category Archives: Travel

As fresh as it gets from farm to table

I am currently in the US for a seminar on Nutrition. On Wednesday I had the great opportunity to visit the local farmers market in Boulder, Colorado. It was amazing to see all of the fresh organic produce, and the people behind it. I only wish I was staying longer and had a kitchen so I could use all of this amazing food. Unless you have your own vegetable garden it does not get fresher than this. Yumm!

The freshness of a vegetable or a fruit also directly translates into how much nutrition it contains. For every day it’s left on the shelf it looses nutrition through oxidation. That is why eating fresh, local and organic produce is the best way to go if you want to optimize the nutritional value of your food.

Very often I think that we get stuck in a routine and we buy the same stuff at the same store as we always do. Of course, it is convenient and saves us some time. But, I would like to remind you to try and think more local and farm fresh, rather than easy and pre packaged. Remember that every time that you buy something you vote with your money for that producer, whether you think about it or not. And that vote weighs heavier than you might think. The food industry has to follow quickly if we as buyers decide that we do not want to buy a certain product any more. And as many times as we eat in a day, week and year – that’s a lot of votes!

We are never going to “get rid of” the huge supermarkets and that is not the point. But, let’s not forget about our local heroes, trying to make a difference around the area where you live. It’s not easy for them to try and compete with the prices of the large corporations and the convenience of the huge supermarkets.

So I would like to ask you to try and support your local farming community in any way you can. Find out about where the different markets are and when you could visit one. Are there co-ops that delivers fresh produce? A lot of small local farmers also have chickens, maybe you can get your eggs from there? Why not buy a vegetable that’s in season that you haven’t tried before? Who knows maybe that recipe will become a new staple in your kitchen? Get out of your comfort zone a little and just try.

Remember that you have the ability to vote for fresh, local produce every time you buy food. So, vote wisely and support your local farmers and co-ops whenever you can. If for no other reason, it will simply taste better!

Enjoy your local Farmers Market 😉

 

 


http://www.chgeharvard.org/sites/default/files/resources/local_nutrition.pdf

Photo credit Nathalie Visser

Holiday Driving and Swiss Army Back Problems

It is about that time of year where a lot of people are about to go on vacation, and plenty choose to go by car. Sitting in the car for many hours in a row can cause a lot of muscle stiffness and back pain. Starting your vacation moving around like an unfolded Swiss knife is not exactly how most of us envision our vacation to start, so what can we do?

I would start by taking good care of the hip-flexors, and the large surrounding muscle groups. When we are sitting still for long periods of time our hip-flexors become very stiff, and when they get too tight they won’t allow us to stand up straight very easily. Instead the muscles on the flip side of the body, the glutes and hamstrings have to work a lot harder to try and keep you in an upright position. This is a loose loose power battle between the muscles, and after a while they all get jammed up and this is where you step out of the car like an unfolded Swiss army knife and are unable to stand up straight and move freely. That situation is definitely no fun at all, so, let’s do some preventative work instead!

Make sure to target the following muscles to stay as flexible as possible in your low back and hip area. Use the lacrosse ball for 2-3 min on each. Remember, where it is the most tender and painful, that is where the most stiffness is, so that is where it would be a good idea to add on a few extra minutes.

TFL or Tensor Fascia Latae
Quads or Quadriceps femoris
Glutes, don’t forget to work on the sides of the hips as well
Hamstrings

The TFL is really key here so make sure you spend some time on both of them. Here is a video to help you get into the right position. You can also do the same move with the lacrosse ball lying down on your side on the floor, instead of standing up. I prefer only using the lacrosse ball while lying on my side on the floor, but try out what works best for you. Remember that it is a small muscle so use small deliberate movements.

Add these active mobility moves to keep the hips free:
Lateral lunges (see video below)
Couch stretch (there is a previous post about it)

If you know that you typically will have a problem in the low back and hip area after a long drive, why not get ahead of the problem and start a couple of days or at least the day before with the above mobility exercises.

Think pre-hab instead of re-hab!

On the day(s) of driving, every time you stop, make a couple of lateral lunges, and stretch your quads. It will go a long way.

Also – hydration is key for the muscles and your body to feel well. So keep drinking that water. Aim for at least 2L a day and even more if you are drinking anything with caffeine or sugar in it as it will act as a diuretic.

I wish you a smooth drive and fun adventures 😉


Yellow Fever Hits Düsseldorf – Le Tour de France

Yesterday was showcasing the big Team Presentations with all the riders, including some of the fresh National Champions sporting their special jerseys, and tomorrow Le Tour de France 2017 kicks off in Düsseldorf. If you are not too far from the area and you have never experienced the Tour de France live before, why not head on over and join in the celebration of one of the biggest sport spectacles in Europe. If you are in Luxembourg you can catch the riders passing through the country on the 3rd Stage on Monday. If you  don’t have to work on Tuesday, or maybe can get away with taking a long lunch, you can watch them start the 4th Stage in Mondorf-les-Bains.

If you want to visit Düsseldorf during this weekend, you can find some great information here. You can also visit their facebook page that has a lot of fun videos and information, and Cyclingnews is always a good place to keep up with the results. If you have never been to Düsseldorf I highly recommend it. It is a very stylish and fun city with lots of new cool design buildings in the harbor area, and the Old-town along the river is a nice place to hang out and grab a bite to eat. For more information about what’s going on check here and here.

This inspirational video was shot in Düsseldorf, starring a good friend who also used to be one of “my riders” from when I was working on the Pro-circuit, Steffen “Weigi” Weigold. Another one of “my riders” Marcel Sieberg is getting ready to start the Tour and you can see a short video with “Sibi” here.

With all this cycling inspiration and yellow fever going around, people tend to all of a sudden jump onto their bikes and ride a lot more than usual. I think it’s awesome that people are motivated and getting out there! However, I see a lot of people failing in their preparations so I want to highlight a couple of things that could be a brick in the road.

“To repeat, if your bike is not fitted correctly, everything from your position to your mechanics is compromised. In addition to not being as efficient as possible, you dramatically increase your susceptibility to injury.”[1]

Get properly fitted for your bike. It is supposed to feel good when you are out riding. Yes, tired muscles is one thing but you should not be in a compromised position slowly creating a chronic problem. Check out the below videos for some easy changes. Go to a bike store that has been around for a while and ask them to help you out. If you are into getting stuff done yourself, the book Power Speed Endurance [1] is a great source on how to do that.

And here are a couple of quick tips on proper form while riding.

Make sure that you invest in a good pair of bike shorts that fit you right. If the seams on the pad are just in the wrong place, or if the pad is too large for you the creases will quickly cause you a lot of discomfort and even saddle sores, and that, no amount of “chammy cream” can undo. Which brings me to my next point, do yourself a favor and use a good chamoise cream to put in your bike shorts and/or directly onto your crotch. It will make a big difference especially when you are increasing the length and frequency of your rides. I have always liked the Swiss Assos brand but there is plenty to choose from like for example DZ Nuts Pro created by another one of “my riders” Dave Zabriskie.

I hope today’s blog has given you some good basic information, but even more so, inspiration.
Enjoy the ride! 😉


[1] Power Speed Endurance by Brian MacKenzie & Glen Cordosa, Cycling as a skill p.140

Photo Credit to Robert Calin

3 day reset after the holiday splurge

After 3 weeks of traveling in Asia I have enjoyed a lot of different foods and drinks, and as much fun as it has been I also can feel the toll it has taken on my body.
No matter how well you choose when eating out, eating in hotels and restaurants is always a challenge as you have no control over what is put into the food. Of course part of the fun when traveling is trying a lot of different things so I am not saying that you shouldn’t. But, all the added extras that tend to show up in restaurant food like different kinds of sugar, taste enhancers and unhealthy fats does make life very tough for your digestive system.

So what can you do on your way back home?
I like to look at the flight as an opportunity to transfer from the holiday fun back into a more healthy sustainable lifestyle. Whether or not there is a lot of jet lag involved I think that following my previous jet lag guide is a great place to start, and this includes avoiding all airplane food. If most restaurant food is not that great for you, airplane food is way worse. So plan ahead and bring your own healthy food along, like organic apples and nuts. Or if you are a bit more hardcore simply fast during the flight. If you think about it, even on longer flights you do not really need to eat, it’s usually something that you tend to do more out of boredom. But if you feel that it is too much, just try with a few healthy snacks instead.

Once you are back home remember to hydrate! Drinking enough water really is key for optimal health. You can think of water as the body’s internal transportation system which is very important for proper cell function and balance within. Do some easy sports or just get out and walk, as your body will feel better with movement, and it will help your lymphatic system to drain excess fluid.
If you have the opportunity to use a sauna then do! It is an excellent way for the body to recover and to sweat out unwanted bacteria and toxins. A bath with epsom salt is also a great alternative. Cut out all sugars (this includes alcohol) as the sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your gut. I know this one is tough, but it is totally necessary.
Reduce caffeine as much as possible as it is a strong stimulant and as such keeps the body wired and makes it harder to relax and recover. Try green tea instead of coffee.
Eat as much vegetables as you can and take a break from meat, to make it easy on your digestive system. Adding a green smoothie into your day is a great way to boost your health.

We quickly get used to eating more sugar (and drinking) so it is important to make a strong reduction as soon as you get home so that you don’t get stuck in the new “holiday habit” you might have acquired. Taking a pro-biotic supplement to help the good bacteria take back control in your digestive system might be a good idea. It might also be a good idea to help out your liver and you could do that by taking the natural herbal supplement of milk-thistle.

Why a 3 day reset? It is small enough that mentally the obstacle isn’t too big, but still long enough to actually have an impact, and if you are up for it why not continue for another few days? I wish you a lot of fun during your future travels, but make yourself a favor and have a plan ready for once you are back home, so that your fun indulgences doesn’t become new unhealthy habits.

Enjoy exploring some new teas 🙂

My best mobile friends

If you have followed my blog you know that I am a huge  believer in prevention and taking care of yourself. And just because you are traveling it doesn’t mean that you should stop doing that. One of my favorite methods for doing this is using mobility exercises. There are lots of different ways to get the job done and tools to help you. Depending on how long you will be traveling for and how much space you have in your suitcase, you will most likely have to choose between different tools to bring.

The following two tools are the most minimalistic tools that I bring along where I feel I get all the help I need. They easily fit into your luggage and can also be thrown into your hand luggage or backpack if need be.

No 1 is the lacrosse ball. If you have never seen one before it’s the size of a tennis ball but made completely out of rubber. Therefore it is a lot more versatile than the tennis ball as it does not cave in with added pressure. Basically put the ball on a part of your body that you feel needs extra attention, like your calves after a lot of walking. Slowly let the ball sink into the muscle and then move back and forth across a small area for a minute or two. In my previous post I wrote about how to use lacrosse ball in flight, you can read about that here.

No 2 is the Gemini. I absolutely love this tool and use this every day to mobilize all the way along the spine. The shape of the Gemini is specifically made for this and it works great. I have tried a lot of different mobility tools and so far I have not come across anything that has been more effective in working along the spine than this. You can also use it for larger muscle groups like the quads or lats if you wanted to.

Usually I will bring a yoga mat with me as well as it gets me good traction and helps me avoid some dodgy hotel room floors, but it is not necessary if you are short on space, and you could always use a towel if need be. If I still had some extra space left in my suitcase I would add a foam roller to the mix as I find it to be more effective going over larger muscle groups as well. But with the lacrosse ball and Gemini you really have everything you need, and as they are so easy to bring with you no matter where you are going you will always find them with me while traveling.

Enjoy your traveling and keep up your mobility work 😉

 

 

Staying mobile above the clouds

As I am writing this I am midair somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on my way to Hanoi in Vietnam. It is my second longer flight in just a few days and how to prevent getting stiff from all that sitting and speed up recovery is on my mind.
So what can you do to help yourself? My all time favorite is to use the lacrosse ball for the hamstrings and part of the glutes (butt). With all that sitting, blood circulation is compromised, especially in the legs. This creates a lot of stiffness which  besides making you move like an old grandma also can have longer lasting effects on your hips and knees. This is due to muscles becoming tight and therefore restricting full extension of the hip and knee, for example being able to straighten the leg completely. If you don’t get this taken care of immediately then pretty soon you can end up with low back pain due to the altered way of moving.

How to avoid all of this stuff? Whenever you can – get up and move a bit extra. It is often said to walk around the cabin as much as you can, but I tend to find this very challenging. Instead I try to add in some squats (and lateral lunges if space permits) every time I get up and go to the bathroom. As a minimum I do 10 squats before and 10 squats after.

When you get back into your seat use the lacrosse ball. You might be able to use a tennis ball but I don’t recommend it as I find it too soft against the seat.
Put the lacrosse ball under one of your hamstrings and then do small, slow movements across the ball with your leg. You can also move your lower leg from side to side and back and forth. There really is no right and wrong here so just try a few different angles and see what works for you. Then after a minute or two move the ball to another area and go through the same procedure. Once you have worked your way through one hamstring move the ball to the next.

I like to do this while watching a movie, and during a 10-12 hour flight I tend to do this at least 4 times. It is a huge help and as you only do small movements with the leg you are not jeopardizing to disturb your fellow passenger, which is a plus.

Of course you can do this on shorter flights too, or actually during any prolonged sitting. I have used this technique during long lectures for instance. Keeping the blood circulation as good as possible in your legs is also very important in preventing blood clots forming. You can read more about that here. I also find that compression socks are a great help. Make sure that you get some good ones that fit you correctly so that they are tight enough but not so tight that they are completely constricting you. You don’t want to feel as if an anaconda is eating its way up your leg! By measuring the width of your calf you should be able to find the right size for you.

The Using the lacrosse ball technique on my hamstrings have really saved me on many long flights so if there is just one thing you should try for your next flight, then try that.

Wishing you happy travel adventures 😉

 

Here is a motivational video for some more mobility on your next flight.


Air travel health tips from Harvard
http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/air-travel-health-tips

 

Do you say Good-morning when it is midnight?

It is getting to that time of the year where a lot of my friends are traveling far, and with changing time zones the question of how to best deal with jet lag often comes up. This was indeed the topic as I was talking to one of my friends about my upcoming Asia trip. She said that she always has a horrible time with it, so when I said that I usually don’t have much of a problem with it at all, she wanted to know my strategy. Before I tell you all about my strategy lets just take a quick look at hers, or rather the non-existing strategy.

She would:
Drink alcohol or take a sleeping pill.
Not pay attention to hydration.
Not move much.
Sleep as much as possible.
Eat all the food offered.
Would often sugar binge before and after the flight, and drink too much coffee to compensate the blood sugar lows.

During the last two decades of some crazy and extensive travel, this is the strategy that have ended up working great for me and hope it can be helpful for you too!

The day before traveling and on the actual day:
Drink lots of water so you are hydrated
No alcohol
No sugar
Drink very little coffee

On the plane:
Change your watch immediately you get on the plane to the new timezone, this way you are already mentally preparing for the change.
Drink lots of water.
No alcohol!
No sleeping pills!
No sugar. (makes for steady blood sugar levels which keeps the energy steady without major dips)
No airplane food. Bring your own or do a fast. Seriously, no one has gotten ill from not eating airplane food.
Get up and move when you can.
Don’t sleep a lot. I usually only sleep the last 3-4 hours before breakfast is served (on a 10-12 hour flight). That way I am already in the new time zone rhythm, and I am not completely dead once I land because I did sleep a bit, but I will be tired enough when it gets to the evening.

Day 1 in the new time zone:
Stay awake the whole day after landing and do not take any naps.
If possible do some easy sports or take a long walk and/or do some mobility exercises.
No caffeine after 3pm.
No alcohol.
No sugar.
Do some mobility exercises even if it’s only 5 minutes. (I find it very helpful to work along the spine, and on the quads, hamstrings and glutes)
Go to bed around 10pm. You should be very tired by now and manage to get a pretty good nights sleep, which will set you up great for the following day. I once landed in Tokyo at 08.00 in the morning, and it was indeed tough to stay awake the whole day, but I fell asleep in the evening no problem, had a good nights sleep, and the next day I was pretty much in the new time zone without a problem or major energy dips.

Day 2:
Do some sport early in the day or take a long walk and/or do some mobility exercises.
Keep drinking lots of water.
Avoid sugar.
No naps.
Aaaaand….You are good to go!

If you really want to get into more details about this there is also a great website you can use called Jet Lag Rooster. I hope my strategy will be as helpful to you as it has been to me, and enjoy your upcoming traveling.

Happy travels! 😉

“He says Good-morning when it is midnight…”

This video is a special tribute to you Kate (Watson) and your amazing kids 🙂 what an awesome video and such fun times!