When it comes to weight, let’s take a look at what exactly is a biological set point. Simply put, the set point is the range (usually within a 10% fluctuation) our body was genetically programmed to weigh. Much like our height was determined by genetic factors, so is our body weight…mostly. It is also governed by our hormones and environmental factors which all influence how the hypothalamus affects energy output and intake (eating and metabolism). The amount of food we eat, how much body fat we store and the calories we burn are all regulated by our hormones, neurotransmitters and microbiome. Set point theory states our “set point weight” is automatically controlled. Our bodies want to maintain the status-quo, also known as homeostasis. It explains why certain people, no matter what they eat remain rail thin (don’t be a hater!) and others stay obese on a normal diet of 1500-2000 calories per day. Continue readingby
For years I was convinced acupuncture was a valid medical procedure with clear benefits backed by reams of good evidence. Although I never did believe in the meridian qi energy theories associated with this treatment, I routinely encouraged clients and friends to add acupuncture to their health and wellness toolbox. After all, the Chinese people have been utilizing acupuncture for approximately 2500 to 4000 years and it has stood the test of time, right? – turns out this is not completely true. Many U.S. health insurance companies reimburse their customers for the service, believing it brings quantifiable benefits. However, skeptics suspect this simply makes prudent fiscal sense because acupuncture is a cheaper payout than traditional medical care. In an effort to appease customer demand, many prestigious hospitals have added acupuncture to their wellness and rehab programs despite pushback from the scientific community. The anecdotal evidence was and is overwhelming. I constantly hear intelligent thoughtful people talk about the efficacy and personal success in regards to the treatment. Almost unbelievably, the United States Military started using acupuncture to treat pain on the battlefield (they also practice cupping – our tax dollars hard at work). How can all these hospitals, insurers, government agencies and smart people be wrong? After doing a deep dive into the research and talking with a few doctors and scientists I am no longer convinced acupuncture treatment is better than a placebo. As it turns out, it makes no difference where you put the needle. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether you use a needle at all! In the best-controlled studies, only one thing mattered: whether the patients believed they were getting acupuncture. Even then, people responded no better than the placebo control. Continue readingby
I have been working out since the Reagan administration. It was the Cold War and I had to be ready. ‘Red Dawn’ and ‘The Day After’ convinced me I needed to be bigger, faster, stronger. Plus I was eager to show up the school bully who tormented me weekly. Scrawny thirteen-year-old me began hitting the weights in a dank suburban New York basement. My mom never bothered me when I was in my training dungeon. The only workout resources I had were bodybuilding magazines and old Army pamphlets I found at a garage sale. I devoted myself to Arnold’s workout routine and added some Bertil Fox chest work and Tom Platz leg exercises into the mix. This happened two hours per day, six days a week, for years. I also played soccer, joined the wrestling team and ran track and field (200 and 400-meter sprint, discus, and shot put). As a teenager, I was brimming with testosterone and idealism. I could do anything. But I looked like a living string bean: 6 feet tall and 137lbs. That began to change over the coming months as I continued to lift. I quickly discovered that not only was I getting stronger by leaps and bounds but I was also calmer. I looked forward to my self-imposed torture sessions. They helped me deal with my world. There were many reasons I began my training. Some have changed but many have stayed the same. Working out became my hobby and is now a deeply ingrained habit. The why behind your actions is perhaps the strongest driver of motivation. Finding the ‘why’ is a crucial step to achieving your goals. Why do you workout? What is your motivation to exercise? Continue readingby
The fitness industry is brimming with tons of rules and guidelines that are contradictory and/or downright wrong. And there are many more ideas that are not wrong or right – they live in the gray area. The fact of the matter is there are many more complicated non-definitive guidelines than absolutes about fitness. We have the desire to oversimplify complex ideas and adhere to easy to understand dogma. Here is a list of my favorite exercise myths and fallacies: Continue readingby
Your feet are probably dysfunctional. A life-long addiction to shoes and chairs has trounced your tootsies and likely set off a chain of negative events on the rest of your body, from faulty movement patterns to migraines.
In 2005, after the book “Born to Run” became a best seller, barefoot running and minimalist shoes rose in popularity. Unfortunately so did injury rates. Physical therapists and podiatrists were overjoyed with their spike in business. The main problem is most of us are clueless when it comes to regaining the foot and ankle function of our youth. Look at how a 4-year-old picks up a ball: flat back, knees bent, butt to the ground and lifting with the legs. Watch them running in the park: forefoot striking, upright posture, forward feet etc. Most toddlers and little kids have perfect posture and fantastic biomechanics until…we strap them into sneakers and chairs. Multiply a whole bunch of years in tight fitting shoes with a sedentary lifestyle (sitting for more than 6 hours per day) and you’ve got a mess on your feet. Continue readingby
No scientific truism is beyond all scrutiny and error. And yet, to the best of our current knowledge, we do have a scientific consensus on many things. Health and fitness science has a few of these so-called ‘certainties’ but is otherwise filled with falsehoods and unproven theories. And don’t even get me started on nutritional science. According to the Mayo Clinic and many others reputable institutions, nutritional science is borderline ‘pseudoscience’. The majority of nutritional research is epidemiological (correlative and not causative in scope) with an emphasis on notoriously inaccurate dietary recall journals and outcomes that cannot be replicated. There are very few randomized placebo controlled double blind studies in the field of human nutrition. This opens the field up to conjecture and contradictions. In fact, many studies show statistically significant opposing outcomes. This is why one week you will read “Eggs Will Kill You” and the next week you will hear “Eggs Will Help You Live to 100″. What to believe? The list below covers some of the important fundamental ‘truths’ of exercise and diet:by
Losing weight, more specifically body fat, can be an arduous undertaking. First and foremost, focus on fat loss, not weight loss. Changing body composition by adding lean muscle and decreasing fat tissue is or should be the real goal. The scale does not matter as much as body fat deposits and circumference measurements. Losing weight is easy….losing fat and putting on lean muscle takes some planning. Although the process of losing weight is not complicated, sustaining long-term fat loss is quite tricky and requires some lifestyle and behavior modifications. Continue readingby
First, let me say individual sustained body-fat loss (which is different than weight loss) is a complicated topic which is not completely understood by science. Rather than delve into the overwhelming multitude of variables, I will keep the scope of this article focused on a simple question: is resistance training better than steady state cardio for fat loss? Maybe. This is the truest answer you’ll ever get. If you have to choose, I believe weight training is a more efficient way for most people to lose body fat than steady state cardio. Side Note: The fat loss evidence is much stronger for high-intensity interval training than steady state cardio.
In my opinion, the best weight loss strategy is a blend of high-intensity interval cardio and progressive weight training. Continue readingby
‘Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty…..’
That means beach weather, bikinis, bare-feet and lots of unwanted sand following you home. Worst part: finding that sand stuck in your fat rolls. So let’s prevent that from happening, right?! If you want a shredded 6 pack and super defined muscles you’ll have to work very, very hard. Most people are not willing to commit to such an endeavor, so let’s keep our expectations in check. Nevertheless, you can achieve your best body following these 9 simple steps without having to live at the gym nor eat like a monk.by
Our big toe, sometimes referred to as the great toe, the first MTP (metatarsophalangeal joint) or simply the hallux, plays a critical role in dynamic balance and forward motion during a gait cycle (AKA running). It is arguably the most important toe for normal arch functioning, particularly when it comes to propulsion and shock absorption. Without your big toe, running would be nearly impossible. In addition to bearing the majority of contact pressure (60-65%) during movement, this tough little joint is unique in many ways: Continue readingby
Plyometrics refer to the “type of muscular activity produced when an impulsive eccentric movement terminates suddenly, eliciting a powerful stretch reflex and causing a maximal rebound concentric muscle contraction.” (Siff, 2002) It is basically the rapid shock loading of a muscle (think springs) followed by an immediate elastic energy output. Continue readingby
The controversy surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is made needlessly complex thanks to junk science. A little refresher course on scientific logic would help the public get clear on this contentious topic. If you believe science should be subject to popular opinion, political interests, media bias, and/or religious views, then stop reading now. Science is not democratic.
“Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.”
I used to believe GMO’s were a freighting Pandora’s Box; a travesty on nature we could not possibly understand nor contain. I was intent on keeping the “Frankenfood” away from my family. After months of careful consideration and research, I have changed my mind. The scientific evidence pointing toward the safety of GMO’s is undeniable. Continue readingby
I have been working out for over 25 years but some days I just don’t feel like dragging myself to the gym. To combat this malaise I cultivate a frame of mind driven by joy rather than self imposed pressure. Finding ways to enjoy the gym and making it habitual is paramount. The pleasures of living a healthy lifestyle far out weight the fleeting sugar highs we are all so accustomed to. I do not have the power to motivate you. Only you can do it. Here are some mind hacks to help you with the process: Continue readingby
Car·bo·hy·drate: – any of a large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues and including sugars, starch, and cellulose. They contain hydrogen and oxygen in the same ratio as water (2:1) and typically can be broken down to release energy in the animal body. (Commonly referred to as: Carbs).
Let’s be very clear about carbohydrates: they are not essential for human health and nutrition. It sounds like crazy talk yet it’s true. You might be wondering how our brain and central nervous system can function without its primary fuel, glucose? It’s simple. Our bodies convert protein and fat into glucose through a normal process called gluconeogenesis. This happens when the body is in a state of ketosis, actively breaking down fat for energy. Who doesn’t want that? Humans can live without carbs and really only need the following nutrients to sustain health: Continue readingby
Do you ever feel an urge to kick off your shoes and run barefoot like you used to when you were a carefree child? If you’ve been wearing shoes all your life, odds are your feet are in terrible shape and not ready to go au naturel. Long term shoe wearing is linked to an impressive list of ailments, most of which are not present in barefoot communities. According to The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, the vast majority of foot pathology is directly caused by shoe wearing and has little to do with hereditary factors, arch height or size. Wearing shoes has altered the shape of our feet and is closely associated with these unfortunate conditions: Continue readingby
Are you too busy to workout? Do you have 4 minutes? Sure you do. The Tabata training method, a 4-minute high-intensity workout, was created in 1996 by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. Working with the Japanese Olympic speed skating team, Tabata was looking for ways to improve their performance. He had a group of college athletes ride stationary bikes 4 days a week, 4 minutes per session, using his brand of high-intensity interval training (HITT). A control group trained at a moderate pace 5 days a week, 60 minutes per session. The results were unreal: after following the respective routines for 6 weeks, the experimental group boosted their aerobic fitness by 14% and anaerobic capacity by 28%. By comparison, the control group increased their aerobic fitness by only about 10%. Since this landmark study was performed there have been many similar studies completed, all confirming analogous findings (not only with bikes but also sprints, body weight exercises and plyometrics). Less time, more results – it’s the American way! Continue readingby