Carbohydrates

The topic of carbohydrates can be very confusing, partly because of many misconceptions surrounding it.  This is why I chose to talk to you about them this month.  I would like to clarify a few key points based on this wide subject.

The information you find about carbohydrates depends on what sources you have gathered information from. There are loads of books, articles and blog’s  based solely on this subject. Schools of thought vary greatly.  For example, people want to know the number of carbohydrates you should eat per day.  Popular answers to this question vary from 10 grams to 300 grams.  Why do these numbers vary so greatly?

It’s not about a number, it’s about what foods are best for you!

I believe that the question people ask regarding carbohydrates should not be about how many we should “count” per day, but we should be learning to be in tune with how our bodies react to different sources of carbohydrates.  Some people can handle more of them than others depending on their metabolic type.  The side effects that come from eating certain foods are all in sync with how your body processes them.  Obviously, we are all different!

I know this subject has been covered before but I feel it is very important to clarify certain points when the subject of proper diet arises. None of us are created equal. Therefore, paying attention to how we feel after eating a meal is what it really comes down to.  Within 30 to 60 minutes, your body will tell you if you have eaten the proper ratios of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for your particular body.

For example: You’ve enjoyed a bowl of pasta for dinner along with three or four pieces of soft bread and a can of soda.  Have you ever experienced feeling completely drained, like you need a nap after consuming a meal like this?  I have, and it’s not a good side effect.  This is your body sending you a negative signal.  That meal contained a large amount of carbohydrates, and they robbed you of energy.

Trying to compensate for our bad food choices

Large amounts of simple carbohydrates that compose a meal such as this cause the pancreas to go into defense mode by secreting  large amounts of insulin in attempt to dilute the carbohydrates you have ingested.  This insulin secretion rapidly sends blood sugar levels upward causing you to crash which is followed by many negative responses. Such as, headaches, anxiety, jumpy mind (ADHD) behavior, tired but wired, jittery feeling, an inability to focus, etc.

Unfortunately, many people take a short cut to obtain energy the wrong way after it has been drained because of poor dietary choices. Consuming a meal made up of empty carbohydrates may leave most feeling drowsy and lethargic soon after.   Trying to make up for it, they make another detrimental decision to get more energy by consuming energy drinks that are high in carbohydrates, sugar, and caffeine.  This creates a vicious cycle causing your energy levels to have a yo-yo effect all day.

 Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index (GI) was designed to easily identify simple and complex carbohydrates. The difference between the two is that simple carbohydrates will break down more quickly than complex carbohydrates.  An 8oz glass of orange juice, for example, contains 25 grams of of carbohydrates.  This compares to a whole grain slice of bread which has approximately 15 grams.  Orange Juice is considered a simple carbohydrate because it  breaks down faster into glycogen due to its composition of sugars, no protein and no fats.  On the other hand, the slice of whole bread contains about 5 grams of protein and sometimes few grams of fat, making the conversion into glycogen slower.

Beware of Gluten free foods

Gluten is a composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grains.  More and more people are becoming aware of gluten intolerance and how it is affected by diseases such as celiac disease–an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine–which causes your body to reject foods that contain gluten.

Scientific studies have shown that one of the reasons that most of the wheat’s used to make bread, pasta, etc. comes from a limited 6-8 kinds of wheat families.  These numbers have reduced from 150+ than what they were 100 years ago, which is a whole other topic.  Gluten-free foods obviously do not have wheat, but most of them are very high in carbohydrates and sugar.  Take time to read the labels!  Just because it is gluten free doesn’t mean it holds nutritious value.

Loading up on carbohydrates the day before an endurance race

Skeletal muscles and the liver are the 2 chief storage facilities for glycogen. Approximately 8-10% of the liver’s weight is stored glycogen, although the amount will be less in the case of an inflamed, fatty, or dysfunctional liver. waking up in the middle of the night may be an issue of the liver because there is not enough glycogen stored to last them through the night.

Approximately 1-2% of your muscle mass is glycogen.  By volume, the skeletal muscles store two times as much glycogen as does the liver. This depends on how much muscle mass the person has and how often they exercise. Whereas the average liver holds 70grams of glycogen, a healthy liver can store up to 100-120 grams of glycogen.  Skeletal muscles will store up to two times as much, 240grams, when also healthy. The average person’s muscles holds 130 grams of glycogen.

If your are working out 4-5 times per week for 45-60 min per work out, and have the recommended body mass per your height and age, you can eat more carbohydrates, because your ability to  burn them up will be much higher and will not cause them to be stored as fat. Your performance, recovery and progress to better muscle mass and lower body fat percentage are very good guide lines to tell you if you are providing your body with the proper ratios of carbs, proteins and fats, to create the optimum fuel to perform your daily activities including sleeping 8 hours per night.

In Conclusion

Keep a food diary for 7-10 days to make a basic observation of your energy levels after your eat.  Most importantly, see if you have mood swings post-meal.  This is a signal that you did not have the proper nutrients in your meal to balance your body.

Think out of the box when you prepare your meals!  Rather than consuming nutrient empty options such as cereals and muffins for breakfast, eat things that you would eat for dinner.  Things like soups, salads with chicken or fish, etc. will give you the fuel that you need to feel your best throughout the day.  Filling up on empty carbohydrates first thing in the morning is a sure way to be drowsy and starve your organs of the nourishment they need to function properly and keep you going.  Eating a dense nutrient-rich breakfast as the first meal of your day should be common sense, and I’m a firm believer in this practice.

Check the GI chart to learn about simple and complex carbohydrates and reduce the intake of simple carbohydrates per meal.

Lastly, try your best to make good diet choices over the holidays!  Baked goods and candies this time of year can be very tempting.  Stay focused on what you have to do for yourself to stay healthy and maintain your energy! 

Contact us with any questions!  We are happy to help you in any way we can.

“Keep on moving”

Luis Ponce Sr.

(408) 778-5577

Get More Out of Your Workouts by Using a Heart Rate Monitor!

A novice exercise enthusiast recently asked me if I could share some information on how to incorporate a heart rate monitor into her running program. This woman wants to keep her exercise at a healthy pace, while avoiding injury and promoting weight loss. So that’s what I decided to write about this month.

A heart rate monitor is used to measure the amount of times that your heart beats per minute. It is a valuable tool to help you exercise within the “safe zone”. This means keeping your heart rate at a pace that will not over-stress your body while also exercising hard enough to raise it to a healthy level and burn fat. Knowing your heart rate zones will help you monitor progress and avoid injuries that can stem from over-exertion. As a corrective exercise specialist, my first priority with clients starting to exercise is for them to enjoy it, my second to keep them free of injury. A heart rate monitor is a valuable tool used to accomplish this. Wearing one gives you the basic feedback needed to make your exercise safe.

The other advantage to using a heart rate monitor is to understand the different “zones” and where the body burns fats if you are interested in losing or maintaining your weight. The science behind this is counter-intuitive to how most people think it works. The common process is to work very hard at high heart rates to lose weight. While that might burn a lot of calories, it burns off the sugar in your body and not the fat.   Exercising at an aerobic “safe zone” is where the body actually burns fat.

Where do I start?

Lets imagine that Jenny Heart decides to start exercising and has not run since her high school days. She would like to begin a long-term lifestyle change before the holidays to address her issue of being about 30 pounds overweight.

First of all, we must find out if Jenny has any major health issues. This will play a very important part in determining the intensity level of her exercise. Additional stressors can exacerbate existing health problems and hinder one’s ability to perform. If this is not the case with Jenny, I would start her out with a simple stretching routine.

Now let’s talk about the intensity at which she should start exercising in order to have a safe experience getting back into the arena. Although there are several ways to find your target zones, such as exerting youself to your maximum limit, I feel the safest formula to use is Dr. Maffetone’s method. Dr. Philip Maffetone is the author of the acclaimed book, “The Maffetone Method- The Holistic, No- Stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness”.

Dr. Maffetone has trained many professional athletes, and uses the formula that takes 180 minus your age as a maximum heart rate. Because Jenny is 40 years old, I would estimate 140 as Jenny’s maximum heart rate (180-40=140). This will provide her with great aerobic training (also known as cardio training).   For the first 2-4 weeks of her new exercise program, Jenny can reduce her maximum heart rate number by 5 beats to allow her body to adapt to the beginning stages of her running program. Running at a heart rate over 140 will go over the healthy aerobic threshold, or “safe zone”, and will move into the anaerobic stage. This will cause her to burn more sugar than fat and not be effective in achieving her goal of weight-loss.

Warming up and cooling down

Many people find this part of an exercise program to be a hassle, but it is important in preventing injuries and developing the proper mechanisms to mobilize blood to the lower extremities. In other words, this can help in preventing soreness.

The human body is always performing various biological activities throughout the day. For example, meals you ate yesterday are in transit inside your digestive tract, the nutrients being broken down and utilized as your body needs them. Beginning an exercise session at a high level of intensity, rather than warming up at a lower intensity, will force this process to an abrupt halt. This may cause further biological disturbances because the body is being forced to adapt to the sudden strain of exercise. This may further complicate the issue by causing the heart rate to reach abnormal heights too quickly. However, if we start with a fast walk and gradually accelerate the pace after a few minutes, our body will have time to prepare for a more intense level of exercise without unnecessary stress on your system.

Cooling down will help the blood return to the upper extremities to resume your pre-run activities. Overall, this makes your exercise session a pleasant and safe experience. You should feel alert and energized after exercise, not pure exhaustion.

In conclusion

I would suggest that you invest in a heart rate monitor and set it to alert you when your heart rate reaches its healthy maximum. This is a key element to not go above limits that are potentially harmful to your body. It may be a challenge at first, but as you continue to train this way, you will notice that you are running faster while staying within the same healthy heart rate range. This is a positive sign of building endurance and your heart’s ability to pump more blood per beat.

Make sure to stretch the muscles that you engage while you run: calves, thighs, groin, gluteus, core and shoulders. Do short 3-5 second” contract and relax” movements, 2-3 times per stretch. Tight, short muscles force you to work harder to compensate for inflexibility. Stretching these muscles will enhance your performance and reduce post-workout soreness.

Give yourself the “mile test”. Select a route and identify a section that is one mile. Set your heart rate monitor to beep when it reaches 5 beats below your maximum heart rate so that you’ll have time to slow down before you hit your max. Warm up appropriately and then run your mile, trying to keep a steady heart rate at or just below your max. Note the time that it takes you to run a mile, train 3-4 times per week then test yourself again 4 weeks later. You’ll notice that it took you less time to complete the mile.   The outcome? Less stress on your body which will lessen the chances of injuries. Most importantly, you’ll enjoy training!

If you’d like help with a better understanding of training within your safe zone or setting up a training program, please contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our fitness professionals. We are always happy to meet with you and discuss a training plan that will suit your needs!

“Keep on moving”

Luis Ponce Sr.

(408) 778-5577

Artificial Light

 

Since World War I, we have been moving our clocks 1 hour back every fall and going through the same routine of trying to adapt to time change.  At 2am on Sunday, November 7, daylight saving time will end.  We tend to become more fatigued earlier as our bodies slowly adjust to the time change.  Although one hour seems like a very minor switch, our body clocks take a few days to adjust to the new sleep schedule due to the shorter days and longer nights.

Our systems signal us to “wind down” around the time that the sun sets.  Scientific studies have presented us with sufficient evidence showing how our sleep-wake cycles are tied to the earth’s rotation around the sun.  Although we probably don’t think about them, there are many benefits of relying on the patterns of natural light, rather than artificial, as a guideline for our sleep cycles.

Artificial light  

Before the electric light bulb was invented, people relied on the sun to see.  Human beings have functioned in sync with sunlight and darkness for thousands of years.  Although one could use fire to light their way if necessary, the convenience of flipping a switch to light a dark room was an unknown luxury.

This modern convenience is surely one of the reasons that people go to sleep far past the time that their body’s natural instincts would tell them.  When lights are on, our brains are manipulated to believe that it’s time to be awake when it is actually time for the body to rest and rejuvenate.

There are many effects of artificial light; positive and negative ones.  The problem arises when our day ends as late as 11pm, causing our bodies to dip into our energy reserves. Artificial light stimulates the release of cortisol, therefore depleting growth and repair hormones that are supposed to be active and released during our  sleep cycles. Even worse, a poor choice in a late night snack containing sugar and starchy carbohydrates may compound this effect as well as causing extra calories to be stored in fat tissue.

Our 24/7 access to artificial light does not change the fact that our internal body clocks are set in tune with natural light/dark cycles.  The convenience of electricity is undeniable and most of us can’t imagine life without it.  However, we must understand that not functioning in step with the earth’s orbit around the sun easily results in neglect of the rejuvenation process that happens when we go to sleep.

 
How does your body respond to light and dark?  

There are vital psychological occurrences that happen in our bodies throughout a 24-hour period.  Depending on the time of year, the sun generally rises around 6:30 am.  When you are exposed to any type of light, cortisol is released into your system and you are alerted that it is time to be awake.  After 9am, the cortisol levels start to decrease and after 6pm, our systems switch to a release of the opposite hormone.  This hormone is called melatonin and will assist the body to grow and repair itself.

Automatic repair during sleep



Our body goes into automatic “repair mode” during sleep.  Around 10pm to 2am physical repair of the body is taking place.  Then around 2am until 6am psychological and mental repair verve kicks in.

Consequently, it’s very important to be sleeping a majority of the time between 10pm and 6am.  If one neglects hours of sleep within the time period for physical or mental repair, one or the other is experiencing neglect.  For example, say you’re a night owl.  You may think it’s just in your nature to go to bed at midnight.  However, you are depriving your body of the physical healing process, and shouldn’t be surprised if you’re that person who gets sick all the time.  Your body is TELLING you that it’s being neglected.  Listen to it.  On the other hand, if there is a job or any other reason that requires you to get up at 3 or 4 am, your body is surely not going through it’s proper process of mental repair.  We often see that people who awaken this early on a regular basis are more prone to stress headaches, sluggishness, and even neurological disorders.

How is a women’s menstrual cycle effected by a faulty circadian rhythm?  

  I’d like to say a short word specifically to women  on this topic.  Sleep is of vital importance when a female experiences hormonal changes.  On top of headaches, cramps, fatigue, etc., ladies can surely confirm the negative effects of being short of sleep while on their menstrual cycle.  These effects range from a delay in the cycle, heavier flow, more painful cramps, and sometimes the cycle lasts longer than usual.  The female body of certain age goes through major changes from month to month.  This makes her tired even if she’s not sleep deprived.  One on top of the other surely takes a toll on one’s energy and health!

What are the best times to exercise?

We regularly witness our clients experiencing greater fatigue and difficulty concentrating when they are sleep deprived. We also found that exercise performance is better at different times of the day.  While one person will have an excellent work out at the start of their day, another might struggle with getting going early in the morning.

Athletes generally experience greater performance at track workouts after 5pm.  The body is completely relaxed and its temperature has warmed up the joints in a more uniform manner, therefore making it easier to move and reducing injuries.

In conclusion…



Go to bed at 10:30 at the latest, and practice some basic breathing exercises before sleep.  This helps the body relax with sufficient oxygen and relieves stress.

It is ideal to eat dinner no less than three hours before going to sleep.  When you eat shortly before bed, your system is too busy to rest while trying to digest a meal.  Have a light snack one hour before going to bed if you go longer than three hours without food.  This will help you maintain your blood sugar levels within safe limits.

I hope that you have gained a better understanding of how important sleep is. Adjust your schedule and routine as necessary to give your body the rest it needs to stay healthy!  You will personally notice a positive difference when your body gets enough “repair time”.  You will feel vibrant and have sufficient energy to focus and finish your day well!

Please let us know if you have any questions on this subject.  We are here to assist you in reaching your goals for a healthier lifestyle!

“Keep on moving!”

Luis Ponce Sr.

(408) 778-5577

Why Are Whole Foods So Important?

There is a lot of information circulating through the media these days regarding the dangers of processed foods. Are these concerns valid? Most products that we consume on a regular basis are fortified and enriched with synthetic vitamins. I would like to cover the basics of what you should know about these processed foods. The truth is, we have swerved far away from whole food eating that we practiced 2,000 years ago, and are reaping the negative consequences today.

This can be a delicate issue and is certainly surrounded by many differing opinions. The fact is that we are destroying our foods. Taking food apart and trying to put it back together for cheaper production disrupts the natural nutritional makeup of the product. I’ll explain more about how this happens along with the negative effects that processed foods have on our bodies.

Enhancing whole foods with synthetic vitamins

As the human race has increased in knowledge through research and the use of technology, much of it has been applied to researching human chemistry. Through these studies, scientists have discovered various vitamins that are essential to us and how they are processed and utilized by our bodies. It is apparent to the researchers that the modern American diet lacks many essential vitamins. This is because of the breakdown of whole foods and the destructive processing that they go through.

For example…

Lets take milk for example. Milk is pasteurized and homogenized before it hits the shelves of your local grocery store. From its raw state, the milk is put through pasteurization where the liquid is cooked over high heat. This process kills the enzymes and amino acids, which are the nutritious components in milk. As the process of pasteurization takes place, any natural enzymes are obliterated and milk isn’t even approved until the chemist finds no living enzymes in it! Once milk is pasteurized, it is enhanced with synthetic vitamins such as A and D to replace what this process burned off. Then milk is put through through homogenization in which the structure of the healthy fats are either broken down (to prevent the fat from separating) or removed, depending on the fat percentage of the product.

Why is this a problem? Vitamins A and D are fat soluble. This means that we need fat along with these nutrients to properly absorb them. Adding isolated vitamins to milk that has a fat percentage of 0, 1 or 2% makes them unable to be absorbed by our bodies. The liver and kidneys are taxed as they filter these additives that can’t even be utilized because they are no longer a “whole food”. In contrast, raw milk contains these nutrients and is a great source of healthy fats.

Orange juice is another great example, pasteurized then fortified with vitamin C and Calcium.

A similar process is used in the production of bread. After a grain is broken down and made into flour, it too goes through an enrichment with vitamins A, B, and Iron. Because the grain is a completely different molecular structure and broken down from its intended state, your body’s organs are overworked as they try to filter out the synthetic chemicals.

With this information about enriched foods and isolated vitamins in mind, think about how it relates to taking vitamin supplements. There is a lack of proprietary blend and a wholesome food base in these synthetic products. I believe that a proper solution to these issues would be to not remove the nutrients from our foods in the first place. Despite the increase in vitamin supplement sales within the past few decades, the results speak for themselves.

Something’s not working

Throughout my 28 years in practice, it is all too obvious to me that the human body’s ability to stay healthy throughout the aging process is fading.   Evidence lies in the latest statistics of people suffering from osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc., even as vitamin sales skyrocket.

Take a look at any packaged food that you find in a grocery store. Most of the labels indicate their amounts of calcium and vitamins. According to this information, many people who purchase them are supposedly consuming a sufficient amounts of these nutrients. Unfortunately, they are synthetic and not from whole food sources, therefore the body does not absorb them.

The basic foods that are being consumed are not even close to supplying the body with the basic ingredients needed to provide building materials necessary for growing children and for adults to equip and restore their bodies as they age.

In conclusion

I know that one of the biggest challenges is not having enough time to prepare our meals from reliable food sources. This limits choices and leaves us with foods that can be obtained fast and have an extensive shelf life.

Take the time to prepare nutritious foods, and schedule your meals throughout the day. You might be surprised how much it helps to plan ahead. Eating healthy is not stressful if you are organized.

To learn your metabolic type, fill out the questionnaires to find out your needed ratios of micro nutrients (carbs, fats and protein) for your body. Choosing the correct food combinations is the best way to get the most out of your meals.

Supplement your diet with whole food supplements. Even if you make good choices at the grocery store, it is still fairly difficult to get proper nutrition from diet alone. However, whole food supplements must contain a proprietary blend, meaning that they contain all the factors that real food would have and allow our bodies to properly digest and assimilate the nutrients.

Would you like to come in for a nutritional evaluation? Give us a call at MBM and we’ll send you a FREE metabolic typing questionnaire for you to determine what food ratios are best for you!

“Keep on moving”

Luis Ponce Sr.

(408) 778-5577

Improve Your Tennis Game!

This month I am writing about a sport that is popular both in the USA and around the world: tennis!

Friends and clients have often requested information about avoiding tennis injuries as well as strength and conditioning exercises. In my experience, tennis injuries are usually a result of a lack of proper conditioning. I would like to dig a little deeper and examine what’s happening to our bodies when we train for a sport and what you can do to play a better game.

How can a tennis player maintain and improve

their skill while preventing injuries at the same time? Tennis requires very precise hand, foot, and eye coordination to hit the ball exactly where you want it to go. A certain level of skill is a must when it comes to playing this sport.

Coordination and Muscle Memory

Let’s visualize a machine that can be taught to play tennis. In order to perform, it needs programming that consists of some basic movement patterns such as squatting, bending, lunging, pulling, pushing, twisting, as well as gait. Downloading this basic information into the memory of our machine will increase its skill level, depending on the amount of information. A robot programmed with these basic movements will be able to execute them quickly, with more accuracy and without having to stop and think about them. This machine will be able to play well and win more games than a machine with less programming.

The human body is similar. We generally rely on something called “muscle memory”: a process that consciously trains our muscles to operate and move in one way or another by repetition. When a motion is repeated over and over, it creates a facilitated “pathway of least resistance” for the energy to travel and activate certain muscle groups. Creating proper muscle memory takes approximately 350 repetitions, which enables the body to perform movement without any conscious effort. This is the same process needed to correct a faulty pattern of movement. It will take a conscious effort of proper repetitions to establish a new muscle memory.

If we practice functional exercise, muscle memory developed from those movements will increase our overall skill. A properly conditioned body is one of more resilience due to a well developed communication network within its neuromuscular system. For example, when your body is flexible and conditioned to execute a stable lunge, the motion will be quick, more accurate and stable. Along with preventing injury, this will give us the proper generation of energy to improve our game!

Rotation and Flexibility

I believe this is very important to touch on. Do you have proper rotation in your upper body in relationship with your lower body? You should be able to rotate equally from right to left and utilize the inner and outer muscle groups of your core. So many tennis injuries are caused by overuse of the shoulder, elbow or wrist due to a lack of flexibility in their upper body. If your abdominal muscles are tight or weak, the rest of your body will inevitably overcompensate. A region that is being overused will likely suffer an injury as it tries to balance a deficiency.

Isolated Muscle Conditioning

I have treated many tennis players with pulled hamstrings, back and shoulder muscles, many of whom have been involved in isolated muscle conditioning programs. The problem with many of these types of programs is that they lack a comprehensive approach to conditioning. A proper process includes 1) flexibility 2) stability 3) strength and 4) explosive movements. This allows someone to develop muscle memory, facilitated pathways of movement, skill development as well as decrease the risk of injury.

Our bodies are designed to activate muscle groups that work together. Imagine being on the court with your racket, ready to play. From this partial squat stance, a player will likely step into a lunge followed by a twist of the upper body, then a push to hit the ball over the net.   When our muscle memory is developed with a comprehensive approach, the movements recorded in your neuromuscular system will be much more efficient in executing this sequence.

In Conclusion

All these things are truly applicable in whatever sport you play, as are these concluding tips I’d like to share:

Only stretch muscles that are short and tight. A professional assessment is a great way to determine what is appropriate for you. From there, a corrective exercise program that targets your neuro-motor capabilities and develops the proper muscle memories will carry over to the tennis court.

Hydrating is a must, especially when playing on a hot, sunny day. Hydration must be a day to day priority, not just on game day. Hydration and a balanced diet are vitally important for your overall health, and your game will surely suffer if you’re dehydrated or undernourished.

Call us to schedule a 3D Bio-Structural Assessment to determine what kind of exercise program would most benefit your body.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions that weren’t answered!

“Keep on moving”

Luis Ponce Sr.

(408) 778-5577

Men’s Health

Not too long ago, I was at a health seminar where the presenter asked us the question, “If you could go back in time, what age would you like to be again?”  The answers were varied; many of them said they’d like to be 35 to 40 years old.  I personally said 25, but the most desired age for the men in the room was 18 years.  As I heard that number, my mind traveled back to that time in my life.

When I was 18, I felt invincible.  I did pretty much anything I wanted.  I played soccer games Saturdays and Sundays, worked during the day, went to Kung Fu classes in the evening, and finished off my day with night school.  I surely missed the constant flow of vital energy, the fact that muscle soreness only lasted 12 hours and injuries healed within a couple of days.  Even though my food intake at that time was not optimal, I seemed to stay on the right path no matter what I played or practiced.

Cruising along today in my late 50’s, 60 years is just around the corner.  As they get older, people ask themselves, “how do I add more years to my life?”  I ask myself the same, and considering  the normal expectation of growing older, add to it, “how can I add more life to my years?”  Sure, we have longer life expectancies than a century ago.  However, most people are relying on drugs that they think they need to keep their bodies functioning at a so-called normal level.  These drugs that are promoted to help you can be a potential detriment to your quality of life.

ENERGY AND STRESS

I decided that I must ask outstanding questions to get outstanding results.  I asked myself, “What can I do to increase my energy?”

One important thing to do is breathe deeply to increase oxygen intake.  Breathing is probably not something that one gives much thought.  However, it is very important to realize the necessity of oxygen to our brain.  There is much we could say on this topic, but the most important thing to realize is that without proper oxygen, our brains certainly do not function at optimum level.

Also, chewing your foods well, almost to the point where you can drink it is crucial to digesting it properly.  Chewing your food well helps the body assimilate the nutrients that we receive from what we eat.  In addition to breaking down your meals well, eating meals that are right for your metabolic type is a key factor in rebuilding the body.  Also, make it a point to eat every 3-4 hours to maintain energy throughout the day.

Another thing to remember is to identify the stressors in our daily life that decrease our energy.  This is an essential key to being successful in achieving our health and fitness goals.

There are 6 different types of stress in our daily life:

  • Physical stress
  • Chemical stress
  • Electromagnetic stress
  • Psychological stress
  • Nutritional stress
  • Thermal stress

The point is to understand that all the stress we experience directly stresses our adrenals.  Adrenals receive the message via our nervous system and can become severely fatigued.  Think of them as a funnel where all stressors come in and stimulate a fight or flight response.  When you feel very uncomfortable or anxious, the adrenal glands immediately shoot cortisol hormones into the blood stream.  This has the potential of causing a myriad of physical dysfunctions.  This type of exhaustion is often a result of working overtime, exercising at a higher level than you are fit to, not sleeping well, or skipping meals.   Taking stimulants or energy drinks to give the body a boost just to be able to finish the day is just the cherry on top of a complete mess of a day.

These are just some of the challenges that we face in our daily lives.  It is a constant 24/7 ordeal that signals our central nervous system to make the necessary adjustments.

Another thing we must be aware of is the importance of getting enough sleep.  Our bodies go into “physical repair mode” from approximately 10:30pm-2am, preceding the psychological repair that occurs from about 2-6am.  If we are only getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night, there is obviously repair that is not happening.  Our adrenals being forced to compensate for  deficiencies.  They overwork, and become fatigued.

We Men lack information when it comes to the changes we go through when we enter our 50’s.

Men go through hormonal changes just like women.  Andropause (male menopause) often gets confused with having a “midlife crisis”.  Men do not seem to find interest in life as we once did.  We suddenly wake up finding ourselves with less muscle and our toneless belly sticking out.  As men seek answers to find out what in the world happened, we get a loud response from friends and family:  “Yup, that’s what happens to men when you reach your 50’s!  Join the club my friends it just gets worse…”

Well, I want you to know that it doesn’t have to be that way!  That is the typical response of social conditioning that has been imposed on us for decades.  In reality, we become passive and careless, taking the easy way out by settling for an inactive life.

Take a moment to visualize yourself playing any sport that you have been or are involved in right now.   Take tennis for example:  you’re getting ready to play against an opponent who is at a higher level than you.  As you rehearse your game, you visualize yourself returning the most difficult shots your challenger sends you.  You see yourself like Andre Agassi, winning Wimbledon.  You feel unstoppable as you keep on visualizing the game until it becomes part of your “nature”. And guess what happens the day of the game?  You totally kick butt and tear the opponent apart!  Do you get my point?  Why or how did you get achieve such an accomplishment?  The answer is simple: because you did not hope to win, you EXPECTED TO WIN!!!  If you settle for what everybody expects of you will get just that.

There are outstanding people performing at optimal levels in their 60s and 70s.  Do you think these people have the mentality of listening to what the TV commercials promote, taking a pill for this and that?  I do not think so!  They are proactive thinkers, they use their wisdom of all the years they’ve lived and applied it to get outstanding results!

IN CONCLUSION

If you honestly desire outstanding health and fitness, start by cleaning up your filters.  Many people will do a 7 day colon detox, which does just that.  Imagine changing the oil in your car and not your filter.  This is precisely what happens to your digestive system when it goes through a detox.

In order to achieve complete purification, the liver must go through a biotransformation when cleansing.  The 1st phase allows toxins to be collected in the liver.  Once that is accomplished, the 2nd phase comes into play, which removes the toxins out of the liver and out of our bodies.  This is accomplished simply by not consuming the 4 white devils– flour, sugar, milk and salt–, increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables for 10 to 15 days, using good quality whey protein or dairy free protein, and drinking ½ of your body weight in oz. of clean spring water daily.   These things will allow the liver to rebuild itself.  Within the next 10 to 15, days you would introduce organic free range chicken and wild caught fish.  Since our livers produce 70% of the necessary hormones, making these diet changes will reset and balance your hormone levels.

Common sense tells me if I do this my digestive system will be clean and ready to distribute the right amount of nutrients that my body needs to repair itself.

In addition to a good diet, is very important to identify stressors in our daily lives and take the time to exercise.  All it takes is 20 to 30 minutes of exercise either before or after work.  This will spark your metabolism if done early in the morning, and you will burn more calories throughout the day.  Exercise and eat right.  These things, simple as they sound, are imperative to aging well, and “adding more life to your years!” 

If you are feeling overwhelmed with this information and would like to find out if your adrenal glands are not functioning to optimal levels, please take the time to ask yourself the following questions:

Do you have fat tissue around your waist (love handles)?

Do you suffer from muscle and joint pain?

Do you get fatigued easily?

Are you in need of coffee, soda, candy, or cookies to get energy?

Have you experienced a decrease in sex drive, low libido?

Are your chest muscles looking like breasts?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is a possibility that you adrenal glands are screaming for help.  Listen to what your body is clearly communicating to you!

I always put myself to this same test before I suggest anything to my clients.  One must always examine his own lifestyle before suggesting that others make changes to theirs!  I make a priority to eat balanced meals according to my metabolic type at least 80% of the time.   My workouts range from 20-45 minutes, 5-6 mornings per week and I try to be asleep by 10:30.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can assist you attain an outstanding life full of energy and health, please call our office for an appointment!  You don’t have to settle for less.

Keep on Moving!

Luis Ponce Sr.

(408) 778-5577

Achilles Tendonitis

After writing about the Plantar Fascia last month, I want to talk about the connecting tissue of the calf muscle and the heel bone and a common condition associated with it: the Achilles Tendon and Achilles Tendonitis.

The Achilles Tendon

The Achilles Tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in your entire body. It is the thick, wide band of connective tissue stretching from the gastrocnemius and soleus (calf) muscles and connecting right behind the calcaneus (heel) bone. Whether you are a high performance athlete or a stay-at-home mom, this part of your leg is constantly being used as you perform daily tasks. It is vital that it is conditioned and used properly to prevent injury.

Mechanics

The Achilles Tendon has everything to do with proper walking mechanics. Different from the bone to bone connection of the Plantar Fascia from the Calcaneus to the Metatarsal (toe) bones, the Achilles Tendon connects the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles to the calcaneus, creating a muscle to bone connection. Contraction of the calf muscles are what mobilize the ankle joint and propel the body in a forward walking motion. The ankle and knee joints along with all the muscles in your leg must work together to create a smooth fluid motion when you are walking. Any tight muscles in the calf or the bottom of the foot prevent a painless, fluid motion and put added stress on your Achilles Tendon.

Think of jumping straight up in the air. The Gastrocnemius muscle is the primary source of strength used for the upward movement. The motion is reversed when the Soleus and Gastrocnemius muscles absorb impact of the landing. The Gastrocnemius takes the initial load and transfers it to the Soleus as the knee bends. Think of a basketball player going in for a slam-dunk or a dancer leaping off the floor.

They would not be able to execute such amazing activities without conditioned calf muscles.

What causes Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles Tendonitis is caused by repetitive or intense strain on the Achilles Tendon.   Inflammation follows and is worsened when coupled with lack of rest and/or flexibility. High performance activities on an unconditioned and imbalanced lower leg make it very likely that you will develop Achilles Tendonitis.

The tendon can also get inflamed when the shape of the heel of the shoe rubs uncomfortably on the back of the foot where there is not a thick layer of flesh to protect it.

Achilles tendonitis is a very common condition in runners, particularly those who practice uphill running. This places an overload on their calves and achilles tendon. The mechanics used to run uphill safely and without strain or injury are very specific.

The Importance of Good Posture

Some professional runners and running coaches advocate leaning forward with the incline of the hill as they run. When I evaluate the uphill running technique of long-distance runners, I notice that in most cases they lean forward too much. This is often due to a weak core and they slouch from their mid body (low back) rather than bending at the ankle joint. Posterior muscle groups of the thigh and the glutes do not engage properly, making the calf muscles do all the work. These runners end up with overdeveloped calf muscles and underdeveloped hamstrings and glutes.

On the other hand, when you observe a 100-200 meter sprinter with good posture, you can appreciate the symmetry of the thigh and gluteal muscles and that the calves are not overdeveloped. This is a great example of a balanced weight being distributed on legs that absorb the force evenly rather than force that stresses the ankle joint.

Try this test. Stand upright in good posture with your head over your shoulders. Now walk a few steps. Then with your shoulders collapsed and head slouched forward, walk again. You will be able to feel the added stress on your achilles tendon/ankle when you’re in a state of poor posture.

How Can We Correct Achilles Tendinitis?

First of all, you must reduce activities that you suspect are provoking the problem. Try taking 1-2 weeks off to stop the inflammation and increase the natural healing process of the body.

To an athlete who needs to continue in event preparation or working out but has achilles tendonitis, I would suggest that you change up your activities. Try “running” in the pool. This is a great way to continue gaining muscle strength from movements with water resistance without the weight of the heel striking the ground.

These are some other things you can do to help heal the condition:

  • Ice the inflamed area
  • Get a friction massage
  • Use night splints
  • Change shoes
  • Use an incline board or stretch the ankle joint with assistance
  • Kinesio taping

In Conclusion

An important thing to remember is that rotation of the trunk is a must if you want to avoid overstressing the lower leg. “Cross crawling” is what we call the mechanics of proper gait. For example, as we walk or run, the right leg propelling forward makes the opposite (left) arm do the same. Once again, you can test yourself. Have a friend video you to see if you are crossing your limbs symmetrically. Time after time I have observed people only crossing one side properly or not at all. This hinders a balanced walking rhythm and causes the unbalanced weight to fall on your legs.

Flexibility of the ankle joint and leg is essential to avoid achilles tendinitis. Short, restricted shin muscles, for example, can put continuous stress on the achilles tendon because of lack of movement.

A full range of motion in your ankles is very important. Assisted stretching from a sports therapist or using an incline board can be helpful.

Treat any possible hidden trigger points. The achilles tendon covers the soleus muscle and there can often be active trigger points on that area that feel like a hot spot right on the achilles tendon. What you may think is achilles tendonitis could possibly be tightness or inflammation in your calf. Have a professional sports massage therapist evaluate this possible ghost effect.

Lastly, remember that pain is NOT gain! Pain signals are your body trying to tell you that something is not working the way that it’s supposed to! Train hard? Rest hard!

“Keep on moving”

Luis Ponce Sr.

(408) 778-5577

Women’s Health

This month’s topic is a very sensitive one, not just because it’s about women but because personally, as a man, learning what women go through monthly, daily and even yearly is truly something I admire in a woman. The hormone balancing activity is incredibly fascinating yet a difficult thing to manage.

For men, hormonal life is a breeze if we think about it. After puberty sets in we are pretty much set to go, as research shows that we don’t have any hormonal imbalances until we reach 50 to 60 years of age. Women are different: Once they get their first menstrual cycle it becomes a monthly thing and can last anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. Talking to my wife and daughters, they discuss how it can be difficult to perform daily activities every time their menstrual cycle is near and begun. The body experiences fatigue, low or no energy, pain, and feeling grumpy and/or upset. My daughter Sonia who had a baby 7 months ago has been experiencing a lot of hormonal changes. She can speak from experience about how these changes have made her feel and how she has been handling them, so I will pass the pen to her.

Hello, as my father Luis stated above I am a first time mom to a beautiful 7 month old baby girl. I cannot tell you what joy she has brought me, but when I experience hormonal shifts, my smiles often turn upside down. Learning how to manage the fluctuation of hormones post-baby was a challenge, but making sure I stay on point with nutrition, exercise and sleep has made me feel like myself again and avoid post-partum depression symptoms which can really take a toll on the female body. In order for this not to happen it is very important to have your liver working properly.

CHOLESTEROL

Amazingly, the liver is responsible for 75% of cholesterol in our body. The other 25% comes from fats we consume, without it we would not have the raw materials required production of hormones to keep our endocrine system working at its peak. Modern day philosophers would tell you to avoid fats for all sorts of reasons. However, healthy fats are essential and your body would thank you to include them in your diet. When we restrict good fats that come from animal tissue, (e.g. raw butter, fatty meats) and polyunsaturated fats (e.g. variety of nuts and seeds), the liver has to work harder to compensate, causing all sorts of problems. In moments of stress, your cortisol levels spike and your blood sugar elevates, leaving fat around the hips, thighs and belly.

EAT RIGHT

There is so much to say about this topic, but the most important one is to stay healthy by consuming a lot of green leafy vegetables which will allow the liver to continuously detoxify itself without having any serious side effects. Also, eat healthy fats and unprocessed meats, as we discussed in our last newsletter. Eat according to your metabolic type. Consuming 80% of good foods and 20% of the not so good foods is a great rule to live by. l recommend sticking strictly to really great nutrition, avoiding sweet and salty foods one week before and during your menstrual cycle to avoid any hormonal side effects (e.g. hot flashes, cramps, acne). Other things to avoid are certain skin and hygiene products: lotions, makeup, deodorant, etc. Most of them contain an estrogen-mimicking chemical that just adds more stress to your liver and disrupt the proper function of hormones. Thankfully, there are natural products available that do not contain chemicals and are made of natural oils. For more information log onto www.skindeep.com and see if any of your skin products are in the safe zone!

CONCLUSION

There you have it! It is helpful to have a female professional’s view when learning about such a complex topic. There are general health guidelines for both men and women that are exceptionally important especially for a woman’s fluctuating hormones. Please remember to keep your body hydrated, drinking ½ of your weight in oz. per day. Consume a minimum of .6 grams per lb. of your present weight of high quality protein in order to supply your body with essential amino acids. Essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 oils, organic butter, wild caught fish, hormone free beef, chicken and eggs are important to rebuild your body. Exercise a minimum of 4-5 times a week for 20-30 minutes. Do your best to be in bed by 10:30 pm and sleep 7-8 hours to allow your body to heal physically and psychologically.

If you are interested in more specific information on nutritional and hormonal testing please give us a call at Mind Body Motion and find out what holistic alternatives are available to fit your personal challenges.

Looking forward to next month’s newsletter on Men’s Health!

Keep on Moving!

Luis Ponce Sr.
(408) 778-5577

What it Takes to Feel Great!

Health and Fitness Program

With the Olympic games approaching, athletes, sports enthusiasts and even those without any connection to sports will be motivated to start exercise routines!  Olympic athletes somehow motivate people to aspire to be disciplined, work hard and show good sportsmanship–regardless of defeat or victory.

Throughout your life, in whatever sport you play, the best game to play is the one that involves life’s actions. 

I want to invite you to get started with a health and fitness program, designed specifically for your current lifestyle.  If you are already involved in one, congratulations!  You are making a valuable investment from which you will benefit for the rest of your life.  If for any reason you have put it off due to other priorities in your life, take a chance on yourself!  Olympic athletes started their 2012 Olympic training 4 years ago, consisting of a basic conditioning program.  They work on things like fixing broken movement patterns and habits that our bodies give way to.  Our bodies are not any different; when we fail to maintain our physical health, we suffer the consequences.

Most people need energy for an average of 12-16 hours per day.  For that, we should be preparing to function at our optimal level.  In addition to the importance of getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night, we should be challenging ourselves to 15-30 minutes of exercise per day!  You will certainly notice a difference in how you feel.

A Fitness Program Has 4 Basic Components

  • Flexibility: Only stretching out your tight muscles.
  • Stability: Keeping proper body alignment while moving your limbs. Strength: Able to move moderate to heavy weight
  • Power Explosive Movements: Plyometric jumps, power lifting, 100 and 200 meter sprints.
  • 

Strength Training: If you decide to engage in a strength conditioning program, it is key to assess your present levels of fitness as well as your health and stress levels.

If you have proper levels of flexibility and stability, then you are ready to engage in a strengthening program!  However, exercising without the first two components is a recipe for disaster.

It is surely possible for one to be healthy and not fit.  What I have noticed is that everything depends on what we perceive as being in good shape.  Is it looking muscular with a specific body fat percentage?  Is it being able to run at a certain speed for a certain amount of time?  Or is it just being able to move throughout the day with minimum discomfort and not suffering from constant illnesses, digestion problems, pain, aches, and blood pressure irregularities?

Nutrition

As I mentioned before, we need to have energy to focus for 12-16 hours per day.  A vital component of a health and fitness program requires a balanced food intake throughout the day.  Our bodies are taxed as we are bombarded daily with many different stressors, reducing the energy we have, making it difficult to stay focused.

As I see it, achieving success in a health and fitness program requires the individual’s awareness of how he or she reacts food they are consuming.  Within 30-45 minutes of your meal, you will receive a clear signal of how your body is reacting to what you have eaten.  Whether you feel good or bad depends on the ratios of proteins and carbohydrates that have been consumed.

(To find out the percentages of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins that you should be consuming, find out your metabolic type.  Knowing how your metabolism functions is of great benefit as you plan your meals.  If you are interested in finding out your metabolic type, contact us at Mind Body Motion.)

Rest

Follow the rule of working hard, and resting hard.  Perhaps this is the segment where I personally see athletes and people in general make the mistake of training too much and not stopping until it’s too late.  Most people will stop only if the pain is too great or when they notice inflammation of injured areas.  By then, the damage is done and the athlete must refrain from activity until their body has recovered.  I highly recommend that you invest in a simple heart rate monitor so you can keep your levels of intensity to manageable levels for your body.  Usually 60-70% of your maximum heart rate is a safe range to maintain while you train, without the risk of causing injuries.  Checking your resting heart rate as your wake up in the morning and keeping track of the highs and lows is an effective way to keep your body from getting over trained and over tired.

In Conclusion

Find your metabolic type and prepare your meals accordingly to keep your blood sugar at optimal levels throughout the day.

Make an effort to be in bed by 10:30 to ensure your body gets 7-8 hours of sleep per night for optimum muscle repair.

Set realistic goals for yourself and always keep them in sight!  Use 4-week phases to assure that you achieve the results you aspire to reach.  Most importantly, have fun as you embark on this life-changing journey.

Have a great summer!



 

Keep on moving

Luis Ponce Sr.

(408) 778-5577

Plantar Fasciitis

Are you involved in a sport in which your foot strength is essential for performance? Does you job require you to be on your feet for long hours? If so, you may have experienced a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis- a painful inflammatory process of the Plantar Fascia tissue.

The Plantar Fascia is the connecting tissue that stretches from the heal bone to the ball of your foot, forming the main arch. Some people describe the pain of Plantar Fasciitis like having a rock inside their shoe, while others say that they experience stabbing, unbearable pain with every step. If you have ever had this condition, you are familiar with that discomfort on the bottom of your foot.

How does it happen?

There are several causes of Plantar Fasciitis. It’s commonly the result of repetitive impact activities among athletes and people who work on their feet for long periods of time. Think about it: gymnasts, martial artists, dancers, and any athletes in a running sport can easily injure the Plantar Fascia tissue. Repetitive impact and overuse of this part of the foot causes tears in the tissue, which results in inflammation and irritation. If one does not attend to the first signs of inflammation by reducing the activities and correcting the bio-mechanics, the pain and discomfort will increase for most people.

Changing from one activity to another without proper adaptation also causes the plantar fascia to become irritated. For example, take a swimmer who begins a running program. If they begin to run too long of a distance too soon, they could very likely develop Plantar Fasciitis.

This is because a swimmer’s foot is accustomed to working in a certain position. Swimming requires the Plantar Fascia to be shortened, while running requires lengthening of the Plantar Fascia, plus a repetitive impact that the foot is not used to.

Switching from a very low impact activity or sport to high impact activity without the proper conditioning will inevitably result in negative side-effects. When the heel strikes the ground, an unconditioned Plantar Fascia suffers inflammation and micro-tears that must heal with rest coupled with proper nutrition to support the building of stronger connective tissue.

Bone Spurs

A case that is frequently associated, and sometimes confused with Plantar Fasciitis is called a “heel spur”. Heel spurs are a calcium buildup that grow into a smooth, pointed formation on the underside of the Calcaneus (heel bone). They form when the body detects an injury (like Plantar Faciitis) and, in attempt to repair itself by growing extra bone. The spurs range in size and can cause growing discomfort with every step as your body weight presses the bone spur into the soft tissue under your foot. Heel spurs are often caused by Plantar Fasciitis and common among athletes whose activities include a lot of running and jumping. About 70% of people who complain about an inflamed Plantar Fascia also suffer from heel spurs.

How can I correct plantar fasciitis?

RICE. Rest, ice, compress, and elevate! This will help remove pressure from the injured area by reducing inflammation and preventing further strain due to activity.

The following can also help with healing your Plantar Fasciitis:

  • Night splints
  • Friction massage
  • Stretching sequences
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Change shoes
  • Find good orthotic shoe inserts
  • Kinesio Taping

Through experience, I have realized the importance of the indispensable relationship between the ankle, knee and hip joints. If any of these joints are out of alignment when the heel strikes the ground, sheer force is put on the Calcaneus due to mechanical deficiencies. This causes the fibers of the plantar fascia to be torn and become inflamed.

Lately, I have witnessed many athletes lifting heavy loads while executing a squat or deadlift who complain of plantar fasciitis. The reason for this happening is that their core is untrained. Although you may think that the relationship between the two is completely unrelated, nothing could be further from the truth. As I have mentioned in the past two newsletters, addressing core strength supports correction and often directly corrects all other issues. The instability of the midsection causes unstable hips which causes the feet to lose their arches, putting tremendous force on the plantar fascia. If you perform a squat on an exercise mat, you’ll be able to observe exactly how your foot is moving and why you could be suffering from Plantar Fascia.

In addition to proper movement, icing the inflamed area is an important step in treating a strained Plantar Fascia.

In Conclusion

The way that we must approach this condition is to find out the root of the problem. These are some ways to do just that:

  • Note the flexibility of the toes, ankle, knee, hip, and pelvis joints. Professionals often make the mistake of only observing the area of the body where the pain is. Many times, restriction on one side of your body causes you to use one foot as much as 25% more than the other.
  • We must remember that the mechanical activity of muscle contraction is always coupled with joint movement and the extension of the opposite muscle. If the muscle opposite the injured area- in this case the top of the foot- is constantly in a contracted position, the Plantar Fascia tissue will be in an extended stretching state. This will make it very difficult to heal. Try stretching the muscle opposite the strained area. Extending the shin muscles and contracting the Plantar Fascia into a relaxed position is a great way to help correct the problem.
  • Get a professional sports massage. A session of transverse friction massage on the tissue in need of treatment will be of great benefit to speed up the healing process.
  • Talk to a health practitioner regarding possible need of nutritional supplementation. Your present food intake may not have the proper nutrients to provide a healing force. When the proper supplements are taken, your body will deliver the nutrition to where it’s needed most; usually an injured or deficient area.

These are some of the supplements that we use to help support this kind of structural healing:

  • Organic Minerals: bone support
  • Complex Vitamin C: collagen support
  • Calcium and magnesium: muscle support
  • Ligament complex: ligament healing support

I trust that you gained some useful info, whether you have suffered from Plantar Fasciitis, or just picked up useful tips on how to prevent it! As always, please don’t ever hesitate to contact us with any questions!

“Keep on moving”

Luis Ponce Sr.

(408) 778-5577