Category Archives: Mind Gym

Extraordinary MERU!

It’s Easter weekend, and for a lot of us that means a little bit of extra free time. I suggest that you check out this totally epic documentary called Meru in between food sessions, and/or while traveling. I had heard about it before, but just recently got down to watching it. It will blow your mind! You can currently find it on Netflix.

“A genuinely moving tale of super human perseverance and friendship”
-The Playlist
This is a view of Mount Meru as seen from
Tapovon Basecamp. The Shark’s Fin is the central pillar in the
formation and the part of the mountain most obviously shaped like a
shark’s fin.

At the very least it will make you appreciate the mountain of food most likely  in front of you during this time. *big smile*  Not only are the images of the mountain climbing breathtaking for a lot of reasons, but the story being told of friendship, athleticism, pure grit and what someone can achieve when they really want it, is mind blowing. How about using this film for a perspective check on your own difficulties? Just check it out, you won’t regret it.

I would also suggest that you listen to the podcast episode with Tim Ferriss interviewing Jimmy Chin called “The Athlete (and Artist) Who Cheats Death”.

Happy Easter everyone! 😉

 


Photo and photo text credit to Jimmy Chin @ website www.merufilm.com

Constipation – Where does it all start?

Last weeks post created some interesting conversations! So, if constipation is an end problem, where does it all start? It all has to do with proper digestion.

Digestion is a process moving from North to South. Meaning, it starts up top, moves through a “long tube”, the digestive tract, and comes out at the very end. This means that if things are not working well from the upper end of the tube, it will just be worse the further down the tube we go.

So, why don’t we go to the very first step of digestion and see what we can do to improve the situation on a daily basis. Do you think that the first step is when the food enters your mouth? Close, but that’s not it.

The very first step of digestion actually happens in your brain! When we see, smell or think of the food we are about to eat we trigger a response in the brain. This is an important step because the brain in turn sends signals to get the digestive tract ready for food. That’s why for instance we start salivating before we eat, and it also activates our stomach juices.

However, this can only happen when we are in a relaxed state, which is run by the parasympathetic nervous system aka “the rest and digest” system. If we are hurrying and feeling a bit stressed, it is the sympathetic nervous system that is turned on aka “the fight and flight” system. When this system is turned on we are not able to digest food very well. It makes a lot of sense to the body, because whenever the fight and flight mode is up and running, the body’s main concern is immediate survival.

We have gotten so used to being in constant stress, running from one place to the next that we now perceive this state as normal. It is not. Therefore, if you want to start your digestion off right you need to activate your parasympathetic, rest and digest, system. This can easily be done by sitting down at the table and taking at least 3 deep breaths, preferably more, before eating. By allowing your body to slow down and relax, it is now able to start the digestion process in a great way. Whether you are religious or not, saying grace before eating actually makes a lot of sense from a digestive point of view.

It also goes without saying that eating while driving, walking, or hurrying in between meetings is not going to be a great idea. To improve upon your digestion from the very start the principle is simple and easy to perform. Anyone can take 3 deep breaths before eating. We just have to retrain ourselves to slow down and relax before we eat.

Take a deep breath, slow down and enjoy your food! 😉

 

 

 


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0025459/
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

New projects and a whole year of blogging!

I am very excited and happy to be able to tell you that after a lot of studying and exams, I am now a certified Nutritional Therapist! There is new information on my web page about functional nutrition and how that works. There is also an update on the welcome page, and on some of the general information pages. As always you can find my working hours on the contact page. Of course learning never stops, so I am very glad about the opportunity to dig even deeper into this key area of health at a couple of seminars in New York during this year.

There are also some new projects in the works, so keep an eye out for those here.

The blog has been up and running for over a year! Time flies, that’s for sure. It has definitely been a challenge at times to post something every week, between work, studies and travel. But every time someone comments on the blog, or I get a “ah, I hadn’t thought about that” makes it worthwhile.

It has been a great experience for me so far, bringing up a lot of fun and interesting conversations with clients and friends. Thank you very much for your feedback -and keep it coming, as I plan to keep this up for quite a while longer.

 

“It always seems impossible until it’s done”
Have a great weekend! 😉

 


Photo by Mariana Medvedeva

Who do You Blame for the stuff that doesn’t work?

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.”
-Dr.Robert Anthony

 

And if by the end of it all, you still think it is the situation or the people around you that is causing the problem, then I have a quote for you.

“If you don’t like where you are…move! (You are not a tree.)”

 

Wishing you all a great start to your weekend 😉

 


Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

Holding your breath to keep your mind from exploding?

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



The benefits of heat. Get in the Sauna! – Part 2.

Very recently I wrote about the benefits to the Nervous System of using the Sauna. I just came across this podcast with more reasons of why getting into the Sauna is really beneficial for you.

How about improving cardiovascular disease, or positively impacting depression for up to 6 weeks with just one sauna session? Read about that study here.

Dr. Rhonda Patrick Ph.D. who is an expert on nutritional health, brain, cancer and aging has done a podcast on the theme, and I find the information in it very interesting.  You can download it and listen to it here or watch it below.

Enjoy your weekend and hopefully a session in the Sauna 😉


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27172277
https://www.foundmyfitness.com/

Your Nervous System Wants You in the Sauna

If you are living in the Northern Hemisphere, winter has most likely arrived or is just lurking around the corner. The colder it gets outside, the more one tends to think about being warm. Going to the Sauna is a great idea at this time of the year. Actually going to the Sauna is good for us all year round, but in the summer time we tend to do more activities that makes us sweat, and as we do less of this in the winter – going to the Sauna can help us out.

When we are working out we are in action mode and our sympathetic nervous system, the “fight or flight” system, is responsible for keeping us ready for anything. Sweating in this state is good for us as it cools down the body, and it will also help detoxify our bodies.

When we are relaxed and sitting still, it is the parasympathetic nervous system , aka the “rest and digest” system, that keeps us calm and relaxed. Sweating in this state is very different for our body than when we are in action or under stress, and it can help reset our nervous system.

Being able to positively influence our nervous system is something that is very beneficial to us. Typically we spend way too much of our time in the “fight and flight” mode, from stress, sugary foods and stimulants such as caffeine. The Adrenal Glands have many different functions, with one of them being the production of “adrenaline and noradrenaline, which function to produce a rapid response throughout the body in stress situations”.[1] When we are in this “fight and flight” mode for long periods of time it starts to wear out the Adrenal Glands, and other systems get over burdened as well. We commonly know this as being “burned out”.

Sweating in the Sauna while relaxing can help reset the nervous system, and give our bodies and especially the Adrenal glands a much needed break. And, we also get the beneficial detox happening at the same time. What’s not to like?

Don’t forget…
Make sure that you are properly hydrated before going to the Sauna, as well as during.  You will put an enormous burden on your body if you start out slightly dehydrated, and it will likely do you more damage than good. If you haven’t been for a while, remember to start out gently, and slowly increase your efforts to give the body time to adapt.

Enjoy the Sauna and a nervous system reset! 😉

 

 


[1] Melmed, S; Polonsky, KS; Larsen, PR; Kronenberg, HM (2011). Williams Textbook of Endocrinology (12th ed.). Saunders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23859414

https://www.drlam.com/blog/heat-therapy-afs/2525/

Photo by Joshua Newton. Hernan Sanchez on Unsplash

28 Nov in Luxembourg -Save the Date!

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
Time: 19.00
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.

Hope to see you there! 🙂


Are Your Core Values on Rinse, Wash, Repeat?

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 implement that 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.

Here is the link to the 30min podcast if you want to download it: Living Based on Core Values by Chasing Excellence.

And if your prefer to watch, here is the video of the podcast.

 

Have fun chasing excellence this weekend! 😉

 


This App Will Make Your Running Coach Obsolete

Last weekend I had the great pleasure to run the half marathon “halvevanhaarlem” in the Netherlands. Haarlem is situated in between Amsterdam and the ocean, and it is a very nice and laid back city. The running route was really fun, going through narrow city streets, cute neighborhoods, through the sand dunes on smaller trails, and we even ran on some gravel roads next to the canals.

The Plan and Preparation
I had never ran a half marathon before, and I knew I needed a plan to follow when I made up my mind to go for it. I decided to try the Nike+ Running app, NRC. With people like Ryan Flaherty behind the app, who is a brilliant coach and really knows what he is talking about, I wanted to see if the app could get me prepared. I went to the “coach” in the app, set the date for my half marathon, and put in the details of my running at the time. The app then set up a plan for me to follow, making sure that I did not increase the kilometers too soon. So far, so good.

Most common mistakes
Often people are so motivated, that they increase the mileage way too soon, only to get injured, and not being able to run at all. A second fault I see most people do is that they don’t change up their training with intervals, or any kind of strength training. For half marathons and beyond people typically just try to collect a lot of kilometers. This will not really make you a lot faster or stronger. It’s more of a surviving the grind kind of a thing. I think that it is neither fun nor smart training.

It is much better for the body to change things up, and do different things. The app does this very well, and I can tell you that on my own I would not have run so many different intervals as I did with this program. Sure, intervals are hard work, but it is also fun and the training sessions goes by a lot faster. And, it is really cool when you notice that your speed is improving.

The Nike+ Running Club App is also connected to the Nike+ Training Club app. I think it is a brilliant concept to put these two together, to build a more well rounded athlete. Because of this some of my scheduled training sessions were flexibility and strength training, and no running. It’s a great way to keep the fitness up, but letting the body adapt to more running step by step.

The Goal
My goal for the half marathon was to be as well prepared as I could, so that I could enjoy the day. I did not want to have to worry about injuring myself. I really think that all the interval work I did was key, because I only had 2 longer runs in the whole program at 14.5km and 16.5km. On the day of the race I felt really great and was able to enjoy the event. My goal was achieved! Two days after the event I was out with my friend playing catch with her dogs, and she said “you don’t move like someone who just ran a half marathon!” Trust me, I am no natural gazelle so I contribute that to the good programming and not increasing the kilometers to soon.

Running with the phone
Practically, I really do not like to run with my phone though. I don’t like the arm wrap from Nike, and the best solution so far that I have found is a sports bra from Lululemon that has an extra pocket for the phone on your back. If you have any other good suggestions do let me know. Instead I used my Garmin watch to get the length and time of my run, and then I just added it manually in the app. I would only run with my phone on the days where I had to do a “bench mark”  to see how I had improved. This worked well enough for me. However, I believe that you will get the most out of the app if you always use the phone.

A really good running coach is of course never obsolete. But most people are probably looking for more general guidance. As these apps are free and will help you to be smart with your training, there really is no reason not to use them. It would also be smart to work on your running technique for your long-term plan. Maybe there is a workshop somewhere close to you?

For your next running goal, whether it’s just for you getting off the sofa or taking part in a race, I would say you have two good options.
1. Get the app and follow the instructions as best as you can.
2. Find a real knowledgeable running coach who can help you.

Having a plan behind the training will make you better, less prone to injury and the training will be a lot more fun – what’s not to like?

“Failing to plan, is planning to fail”
Enjoy your weekend! 😉



Full disclosure, I am not affiliated with Nike.

A great podcast “The Savant of Speed” with Ryan Flaherty and Tim Ferriss
The Savant of Speed — Ryan Flaherty

Photo by Bruno Nascimento, Tim Gouw, Autumn Goodman, William Iven, Jenny Hill on Unsplash