Category Archives: Urban Health

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/

What Will Food Taste Like in the Future?

Hey there Team! How are you doing? I hope you all had a good week so far.

I really like going to bookstores. But, living in Europe it’s hard to find bookstores with an interesting selection in English. Therefore I am always happy when I’m in an English speaking city that also happens to have a great bookstore. When I was in New York a few months back I was specifically looking for one book, which I found. And right next to it stood “The Third Plate” with the subtitle field notes on the future of food, by Dan Barber.

I had heard about Dan Barber before, because I had watched his TED talks. He is also known from Netflix Chef’s Table Season 1. He is the co-owner and Chef of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and Blue Hill in Manhattan’s West Village. From his TED talks you really understand his passion for great tasting food. I didn’t know that he had written a book though. On the front of the cover it said:

“Not since Michael Pollan has such a powerful storyteller emerged to reform American food.”
-The Washington Post

I was immediately hooked and got the book.
But what makes great tasting food? Is it all about using the best quality ingredients? One might think so, yes. Well, how do we get the best flavor from those ingredients? Does the soil it grows in have anything to do with that? Yes, that seems reasonable. If so, what agricultural system best sustains high quality produce? Is how we eat today really sustainable for the future, and if not what needs to change?

“I thought it would be impossible for Dan Barber to be as interesting on the page as he is on the plate. I was wrong.”
– Malcolm Gladwell

If you are at all interested in the food that you eat, and what great flavor really means, you don’t want to miss this book. It’s such an interesting and well written book I wish I could get you all to read it. And in the light of the latest Lancet report it becomes even more interesting. Food for thought indeed.

Get The Third Plate this weekend and enjoy!
😉



https://www.thethirdplate.com/

What does a healthy diet and sustainable plate look like?

Hey there Team!
I hope that you have all had a great week so far. Have you heard about the most recent report published by the very esteemed medical journal The Lancet and EAT? The question they asked was “Can we feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries?”

37 experts from 16 different countries worked together, looking at all the hard science, in order to create this report. Based on that science, these experts agreed upon what is the healthiest diet for us, and also for our planet.

[1]EAT is a global, non-profit startup dedicated to transforming our global food system through sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships.

The vision of EAT:
 A fair and sustainable global food system for healthy people and planet – leaving no one behind.

So what was their conclusions?
Transformation to healthy diets will includes more than doubling in the consumption of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, and a greater than 50% reduction in global consumption of less healthy foods such as added sugars and red meat (i.e. primarily by reducing excessive consumption in wealthier countries).

“Food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability on Earth.”

A planetary health plate should consist by volume of approximately half a plate of vegetables and fruits; the other half, displayed by contribution to calories, should consist of primarily whole grains, plant protein sources, unsaturated plant oils, and (optionally) modest amounts of animal sources of protein. For further details, please refer to section 1 of the Commission.

Canada has just released new recommendations of what a healthy diet should look like, completely making a U-turn to the typical plate we know from before. Dairy products are no longer recommended, and it’s largely plant based. In a nutshell here is what Canada Health is recommending:

-Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.
-Choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat

-Limit highly processed foods. If you choose these foods, eat them less often and in small amounts.
-Make water your drink of choice
-Use food labels
-Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices

Dr David Jenkins, the Canada research chair in nutrition and metabolism and a professor at the University of Toronto stated: “I think [the guide] is moving in a plant-based direction, which will ruffle some feathers, but I think that’s the direction it needs to go” [2]

The whole foods that that we eat comes from the land, so it seems pretty straight forward that what is good for the planet, is also very good for our health.

But, we apparently have to be reminded of this. Especially for us living in a Western type lifestyle. We seem to have lost that important connection to the health of the land and the quality of food on our plates. It’s easy to forget when we buy our plastic wrapped products in the supermarket.

My suggestion is to read this report and have a think about it. We all need to do what we can to take better care of our planet and of our health. It is in our hands and now is the time to up the game!

Have a great sustainable weekend!
😉

 



[1]https://eatforum.org/content/uploads/2019/01/EAT-Lancet_Commission_Summary_Report.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2wdrVXCzFQk6rFgPldhJj6pZLGY6RUGvm447_v3dXZmICL5t2_dq1sccw
[2]https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46964549

https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/
https://nationalpost.com/health/health-canada-new-food-guide-2019

Downloadable link to the summary of the report in many different languages:

EAT-Lancet Commission Summary Report

You don’t want to miss this one! Free Solo

Alex Honnold free soloing the Scotty-Burke offwedth pitch of Freerider on Yosemite’s El Capitan. (National Geographic/Jimmy Chin)

Hey Team!
Going to the movies is something that I really enjoy, but rarely do I come across something that leaves a deep impression for days (and I suspect for weeks and months). I had heard about this movie for a while, and kinda thought I knew what I was going to see. But, it was truly amazing and made a much deeper impression on me than I ever could have imagined.

Jimmy Chin filming during production of Free Solo. (National Geographic/Cheyne Lempe)

The movie Free Solo, is a documentary about Alex Honnold climbing the most outrageous wall one could climb, El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, without any rope or security what so ever. It is a feat so incredibly hard to really grasp and understand. Yeah, I mean I get that it’s amazing, but not being a rock climber I cannot fathom what his feat really means.

Jimmy Chin [climber, photographer and one of the producers and directors] described it very well. He said, it’s like everyone is talking about how to break the 2 hour barrier in running a marathon, which no one has done yet. Then this guy shows up, and runs a marathon in under 1 hour! The major difference of course being that if Alex would make a wrong step during his “Marathon”, he would die. That is what Alex has achieved. It’s beyond comprehension.

I’m a fan of Jimmy Chin’s work and have written about the movie Meru previously. If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend that you check it out as well. For Free Solo, Jimmy Chin worked together with Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi as directors, and they just got nominated for an Oscar this week! How awesome is that!

This movie is beautifully shot, and really captures so many different angles of this incredible story about Alex Honnold. Do not miss it! Check out the trailer below.

The directors of the film documenting Alex Honnold on his quest to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi. They’re at the base of the cookie cliff talking through production logistics. (National Geographic/Jimmy Chin Productions)

If you like a bit more background to how the movie came about, then I suggest you listen to this great podcast with Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.

 

Wishing you all an adventurous, but very safe, weekend!
😉

*Interesting side note: To help his body recover from all the training, Alex had weekly massages. He is a vegetarian since a few years back, and during the last phase leading up to this event he was only eating a plant-based diet. [From the podcast with Rich Roll episode #351]


Photos from
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/films/free-solo/resources/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/films/free-solo/

Your Habits Vote for Your Identity

Hey Team!
Around this time of year a lot of people are busy trying to keep up with their New Years Resolutions, and new goals that they have set for themselves. Maybe you are too? Creating new habits, that are good for us, is not always as easy as we want it to be. So, understanding how beliefs and behavior is connected – through habits, can be very useful.

“Your habits are the way that you embody a particular identity”

James Clear, the writer of Atomic Habits, says that “Your habits are the way that you embody a particular identity”. Meaning that if you are in the habit of making your bed every morning, you embody the identity of an organized person. Or, if you are someone who works out every day (habit), you are a fit person (identity). These actions are a continuous vote for who you believe you are. I think that this is really something to be aware of, and to think about! Habits then, become very important as they shape our self image.

What is a habit by definition then? According to James Clear from the podcast with Rich Roll, there are three ways to define a habit.
1. A habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to be performed more or less automatically.
2. When you face a problem [small or large] in life, your brain tries to find a solution to that. When you come across a recurring problem in life, you start to automate those.
3. …an automatic solution we fall into for whatever the recurring problems are that we face.

“Your original habit is not necessarily the optimal one” -James Clear

Here is a huge key in order to understand our habits and to be able to change them: “Your original habit is not necessarily the optimal one”. Once aware of that, maybe you can redesign your habit to solve that particular problem in a better way.

Here is another golden nugget from the podcast “Every behavior is driven by the desire for a change in state”. For example, when you eat some sweets, you are not after the calories in that cake or chocolate, right. You want to feel different, like maybe less anxious, or a little happier.
When you come home in the evening feeling stressed and you have a glass of wine, you want to feel more relaxed. The question then is, is this a good habit for you, and what kind of identity are you shaping with that habit?

“Good habits serve you in the long run, bad habits do not.” -James Clear

I really enjoyed this podcast with former baseball player James  Clear, and wanted to share it with you. Rich Roll says on his webpage “This is a highly practical conversation that explores the psychology and neuroscience behind behavior change.” I totally agree! Check out the podcast, it’s well worth your time.

Listen to the podcast here, or check out the video below

I hope you find this podcast useful and maybe it will inspire you to take a look at your current habits, and see if they are in line with the identity of the person that you want to be.

I wish you all an atomically awesome weekend!
😉

 

 

 


Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash
Photo by Form on Unsplash
https://www.richroll.com/podcast/james-clear-401/
https://jamesclear.com/

A Nutritionally Complete Creamy Oatmeal Recipe

Hey Team!
How is everyone doing? A lot of people tend to be looking for healthy recipe options in January, after the over indulgences in December. This oatmeal recipe is one of my absolute favorites. The taste is great and it fills you right up. It has all of the good stuff, none of the bad, and it is also easy to adjust to fit your personal taste.

No milk of any kind is required for this recipe. If you are sensitive to gluten, make sure you get the gluten free oats. I call this recipe “nutrionally complete” because it has a great mixture of healthy carbs, protein, fats and fiber.

Creamy Oatmeal - Dairy Free (for 1 person)
1 ripe banana (or apple, berries)
1- 1.5 dL Oats (pre-soaked is good but not a must, use small flakes or large)
3 dL water (adjust-soaked or not, and how you like it)
pinch of sea-salt
1.5 Tablespoon chia seed
2 large Tablespoons hemp seed
1 Tablespoon Nutbutter (almond, hazelnut,...)

Method:
Mash the banana with a fork, add the oats, chia-seed, sea-salt and water.
Bring it to a boil while stirring, then lower heat and stir occasionally.
After a few minutes when the consistency is good (if you find it too thick you can always add more water), turn off the heat.
Add the hemp seed and nut butter and mix it in.
If you want to make it fancy, cut up some fruit and put on top, and/or sprinkle with a few nuts. Add cinnamon – it’s a natural anti-oxidant, which will support your immune system.
Ready to serve!

Some things to think about:
Oats
are high in fiber, phytochemicals and nutritional value. It is also believed that oats can lower cholesterol, help diabetics with weight management, and  has anti-cancerous effects[1,2]. Great reasons for including more oats into your diet if you ask me!

If you are not used to eating a lot of fiber, then start out with a small amount of oats and chia seeds. (In that case adjust the amount of water accordingly.) When you quickly add a lot more fiber to your diet, you might get some extra gas and bloating in the beginning. That is because your gut is not used to it. But with time, you will increase the number of good bacteria that loves fiber. This is a really good thing for your health. So, slowly increase the amount over time, and it should be no problem.

If your liver is a bit sluggish, or you have a stagnant lymph system, you want to go easy on the nutbutter and extra nuts. That’s because fat is being transported by the lymph system, and if it’s sluggish, adding more fat to the system, even when it’s good fats, is probably not the best idea.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Have fun experimenting with it until you find the version that you like the most.

Enjoy your creamy oatmeal this weekend!
🙂


[1]Nutritional advantages of oats:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325078/

[2] Oats and diabetes
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037534/

More reading on oats:
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/oats/

Exercise Your Brain for Better Nerve Function

Hey Team!
Happy New Year to you all! How did you guys get started? My year started with a nice bike ride to the beach, where I met up with my friends and a whoooooole lot of other wild people. We had all decided to start the New Year with a plunge into the North Sea, off the Dutch coast.

This marked 30 year in a row of the famous tradition of the “Nieuwjaarsduik” in Zandvoort. Of course nothing goes down in the Netherlands without a live DJ, so it was a party all the way in and out of the ice-cold water. You can check out my experience here if you want. Indeed, I am one of those people with an orange hat on!

Jumping into that cold water sure got my brain awake! Another great thing to do for your brain-health is exercise. You need to get your heart rate up and get some sweating going to get the most benefits.

Turns out a bit of sweating will immediately help your mood and focus. It will also help to protect your brain from conditions such as depression, Alzheimer and dementia.

So many good reasons to pick a workout and just go for it! Check out this excellent TED talk by neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki to learn more.

 

I wish you all an excellent start to 2019!
😉

 

 


Photo by Justyn Warner on Unsplash