Posts Tagged ‘body’

Fasting puts a good stress on the body

February 18, 2017

Tomorrow I will fast. I plan to do a one-day fast every Sunday. How about joining me?

For most of human history there were occasions when there was no food. So the human body evolved to survive in times of famine. That’s why we have fat – it is there to carry us over during times of famine.

It’s only in the last 100 years that technology has advanced to the point where food is plentiful and we never have to endure famine. But while technology has changed, our bodies are essentially the same. Our bodies still expect periods without food. There is lots of evidence that when we don’t periodically fast, illnesses ensue. So, periodic fasting is a really good thing. It puts a good stress on the body.

Factors that determine how much of your brain you use

April 23, 2016

I don’t think there is a single solution for maximizing how much of your brain you use. I think it’s a combination of many factors (there are many ways to influence the brain). Here are the key factors (I think) that determine how much of your brain you use:

  1. Exercise: how much exercise? What type of exercise? Frequency of exercise? Variability of exercise? Heavy or light? Endurance or strength? Balancing/coordination? Flexibility? Hormone-stimulating exercises? Walking? Running?
  2. Rest: how much sleep? Naps?
  3. Mental stimulation: reading? Writing? Debate? Games/puzzles?
  4. Food: fresh foods? Cooked or raw? Meat or no meat? Carbs or no carbs? Nutrient-dense? Fasting?
  5. Supplements: caffeine? Supplements that promote the flow of blood to the brain (e.g., Gingko Biloba)? Green tea? Black tea?
  6. Nature: how much time spent in a park? Frequency?
  7. Stress: no stress? Moderate amounts of stress? Massage? Foam roller? Body work?
  8. Music: how much? Classical or other?
  9. Social: lots of socializing? Lots of friends? A few close friends?
  10. Positive attitude: how to keep positive and motivated? Laughter? Smiling?
  11. Goals: short-term goals? Long-term goals?

One thing that I am fairly sure of is this: the body and brain adapt quickly. A strategy that works today for stimulating the brain will likely not work next week or next month. Constant change is crucial. Also, it seems that each human is unique. What works for me may not work for you.

The plank exercise as meditation

April 19, 2016

Over the years I’ve tried to meditate: sit still, note any tension in my body and let go of the tension, observe my breath and adopt a steady, slow breathing pattern. But I quickly get bored with that and soon stop meditating.

Recently I’ve been doing the plank exercise. For the first couple weeks, all I could think about while doing the plank was how unpleasant and hard it is. But then I decided to shift my focus to my breathing and on mentally observing the pull of gravity on my body. Wow! What a fantastic change in perspective. Now I love doing the plank. I love watching my breath and mentally observing the pull of gravity on my body as I perform the exercise. The plank has become meditation for me!

A day of constant movement

January 16, 2016

Think about a stream where the water is constantly flowing. The water is clear and pure. Conversely, a body of water that sits motionless soon becomes stagnant and filthy.

Our bodies are filled with fluids. When we sit — sedentary — for extended periods of time, the fluids in our body become unhealthy, just like a stagnant body of motionless water. Conversely, when we are constantly moving, then the fluids in our body are clear and pure, just like a stream with constantly flowing water.

Tomorrow I am going to do an experiment. I am going to move all day long. I will not sit for even one minute.

 

Eat more protein after age 40, stretch the muscle after each exercise

August 12, 2014

Two fascinating things that I’ve recently learned:

1. As we all know, protein is used by the body to repair and rebuild. When we are under 40 years old the body is very efficient at utilizing the protein that we consume. So 20 grams of protein per meal is sufficient (more than 20 grams and it is wasted). However, when we get over 40 years of age, the body is less efficient at utilizing the protein. So to obtain the same benefit that the 20 grams of protein gave us when we were younger, we must consume more protein at each meal. How much? At least 40 grams per meal.

2. The body is covered (obviously) with skin. Under the skin is something called fascia. The fascia holds everything together. The fascia can limit muscle growth because it tightly holds the muscles in. So if we want the muscles to grow bigger (hypertrophy), we need to get the fascia to free up and allow the muscle to expand. How to do that? Stretch! After each exercise stretch the muscle. Without stretching the muscle may be unable to expand and get bigger.

Diary of my move to a low-carb diet

July 25, 2014

As I get older I have noticed that my body is more sensitive to sugar and sweets: my energy fluctuates widely, I get sleepy after eating sugar.

Recently I read an article [1] which says there is increasing evidence of a connection between high blood sugar levels and dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Time to go low carb…

… I have been on a low carb diet for nearly two weeks. Interesting changes are occuring in my body.

The first day of the diet (Sunday) I felt disoriented and low energy. I wee’ed a lot. I lost 3 pounds overnight. The next day I felt better and continued to feel better and better all week. By the end of the week my energy level was rock steady. No more yo-yo in my energy levels.

On Saturday I went for a 30 minute walk followed by a very intense workout. I felt tired all day. The next day (Sunday) I went for a 90 minute walk first thing in the morning. Upon finishing the walk I felt drained. That entire day I was more drained than I have ever felt in my life. I could barely move. All I wanted to do is sleep. “There’s no fuel in the tank”, I thought. Interestingly, a couple days later I reflected on that and realized what had happened: since I was not giving my body carbs to replenish the cells energy, I literally was “out of fuel”. The next day my energy was back to high levels. Apparently it is taking my body longer to replenish the cell’s energy stores. My body hasn’t yet made the switch to using fat as its primary fuel source; it is still relying on carbs for its energy source.

This past week I have felt good: my energy is high and steady. My wee smells kind of strange.

Update (Sept. 7, 2014): I have been on a low-carb diet for 8 weeks now. It has been remarkably easy to maintain the diet. Initially I was tempted by breads and sweets but not any longer. My energy level is constantly high. No more yo-yo energy cycles. I have lost 7-8 pounds in the 8 weeks. I think that I have gained some muscle. My abs are more ripped than they have been in many years. This week I listened to a doctor on the radio talking about recent research showing that low-carb is a heart-healthy diet. That made me feel good as it confirms that I am on the right path.

Update (Sept. 15, 2014) Good article: Low-carb diets may beat low-fat options for weight loss, heart health

[1] High Blood Sugar Linked to Dementia

The power of a 30 minute walk to alter your body chemistry

May 31, 2014

A few weeks ago I was inspired to do an ultra-high intensity bike workout: go all out for 30 seconds, then 60% max for 30 seconds, repeat for 10 sets. Just prior to doing this I went for a 30 minute, brisk walk. Although the bike workout was hard, it was not devastating. A week later I was inspired to do the bike workout again, but this time I didn’t precede it with the 30 minute brisk walk. I felt like puking my guts out. My body did not like it at all.

What I learned from that experience is that a 30 minute brisk walk has a deep impact on the body’s internal chemistry.

Walking is the best exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far. [Thomas Jefferson]

The body adapts quickly, so change often

April 11, 2014

Diets, just like exercise training programs,
work for a while but not forever.

— Jose Antonio, Ph.D.

The key to bodybuilding is to use moderate weights and develop a strong mind/body connection

December 29, 2012

Ever since I was a child I wanted to be a bodybuilder. When I was old enough I started lifting weights. I worked hard and ate right. But I got little results. It was particularly disheartening as those around me got bigger and bigger. Clearly they had the genetics and I did not.

Nonetheless I have persisted in my training over the years. Recently two events have given me insight into why I have never achieved all that I believe I am capable of:

1. I was watching a YouTube video on Kai Greene. He took 2nd place in the most recent Mr. Olympia contest. In the video he said, “I am not a weightlifter.” He distinguishes between a weightlifter and a bodybuilder: a weightlifter is focused on lifting as much weight as possible whereas a bodybuilder is focused on hypertrophy (increasing muscle size).

2. I read this statement by Ron Harris in an exercise magazine: It is the stubborn refusal to train with moderate weights and have a better mind/body connection that prevents many would-be bodybuilders from ever looking quite like a bodybuilder.

Those two events have rocked my world. I will now approach my training in a completely different manner.

Weightlessness (here on Earth)

December 27, 2012

The body is composed of a series of building blocks, one on top of the other. The head is the topmost building block. It rests on the neck building block, and so forth down to the foot building block. Gravity pulls the building blocks down. We feel heavy and tired because the building blocks are not aligned perfectly. For example, if our head is forward we are constantly fighting against gravity. However, if the building blocks are aligned such that none of them are leaning forward or to one side, then there is a straight line of gravity pulling from the top of the head down through the middle of the foot. In such a case the building blocks are perfectly stacked and the body feels … weightless.