Find Your Sustainable Change
It’s safe to say I’ve learned a great deal about training, performance, health, nutrition, and hormone optimization over my years as an athlete and a trainer. Most of it, I’ve learned the hard way. When I read or hear about most things training or performance related, I like to experience them for myself to decide if they’re effective for me. And, when I find something that works, something that helps me feel better or perform better, I stick with it.
I have found that those of us who aren’t willing to step outside our comfort zone learn very little and often struggle to see the change we desire.
I have also found that our most successful stories of weight loss, performance gains, and overall goal-reaching have come from people who are willing to tinker around with all sorts of different combinations of nutrition, training, and recovery. These are the people who are willing to be patient, learn, and occasionally go to the extremes to find out what their capacities are and then dial it in from that point. Then, it just becomes a regular part of the their routine. When you perform at a higher level, look better, and feel stronger and healthier, it’s hard to go backwards.
As we approach the new year, I encourage each of you to begin to think about a learning experience that will allow you to dial in on something that will, in the long run, end up being not only sustainable, but a way to learn something new about yourself.
Photo by Alison Marras
Photo by Mario Klassen
Top 5 Ways to Live Forever and Be Fit
I’m going to keep this really simple and to the point. I believe that there are certain things that should be part of everyone's routine in order to live longer, not get sick, increase performance, increase energy, and be lean and healthy. I have tinkered with a ton of different approaches to creating habits that will help me reach my ultimate level of health and performance. These are the habits that have proven to be the most effective for me.
Do a fasted workout that is high intensity at least 1 day a week. The fast could be anywhere from 6 hours, building your way up to 16 hours. The easiest way to do this is to stop eating after your last meal and train first thing in the morning before you eat.
Get rid of all processed foods and stop snacking throughout the day.
Save all your carbs till the end of the day. Up to that point, eat mostly healthy fats and a moderate amount of protein. Make this plant based if you like. Dark leafy green veggies should be your main source of carbs.
Stay mildly physically active all day long. Try a stand up desk, walking meetings, push ups, squats, etc.
Build the immune system and become antifragile by exposing yourself to extreme changes in temperatures from hot to cold. Ice baths and cold showers are great!
Photo Credit: Brad Neathery
Hi. We are Darryle and Dawn Owens and we have been coming to Fit for the past 5 years. We just finished the 21 day low-carb challenge. While we have participated in our fair share of Fit Challenges, we both found this latest one to be very effective, often in ways we did not expect. So, since we have done many challenges before, Aaron asked us to share our most recent experience.
The challenge came at a very good time for us - we were both needing a “pick-me-up”. Clothes were not fitting so well, and workouts were less consistent due to work demands, kid stuff and injuries. We were eating a lot of those delicious Whole Foods tortilla chips and drinking lots of margaritas.
We discovered quite a few things about ourselves, our fitness and our eating habits during this challenge. Here are a few things we learned:
On the Nutrition Front
- We learned that there are a ton of carbs in the foods we eat every day and that eating “sort of” healthy is not that healthy.
- We learned that limiting carbs was not that hard, and one of us (not Darryle) could be satisfied on 50 carbs a day.
- We loved feeling more energetic after we acclimated to our new “diet”.
- We discovered the joy of the Rocket Fuel Latte from the Keto Diet Cookbook. (See recipe below.)
- We learned a lot of great recipes that are new to us. Our favorite is Mia’s Pizza. Maybe she can share the recipe in her next video or blog.
- We learned that eating fat doesn’t make you fat… Really.
On the Fitness Front
- We learned the benefits of recovery and that we can work out 21 days in a row and not feel wasted and tired.
- We learned that 35 people can work out at the same time, with heavy weights, without head injuries (from someone else).
- We learned that it’s a lot easier to wake up for a 5 am class if you haven’t had a cocktail or three the night before. We don’t know if this is a fitness, nutrition or just plain common sense insight, but we thought it worth sharing none-the-less.
- We were surprised how much less stiff and sore we were than usual.
- We loved finding our abs again.
Our Fit Community
- We were reminded of the great people we have in our Fit community. We come in all shapes, sizes, fitness levels, ages, etc, but the support and encouragement that is a part of who we are as a community shines brightest during these challenges.
- Finally, a big shout out to the coaches. The talents and encouragement of the Fit coaches was tremendous and getting a glimpse into their homes through the low-carb recipe videos was cool.
The trick will be how to take all this and build it into our day-to-day routine. We’ll start by incorporating moderate (prep) days, all-out game days and recovery days into our workout plans, just like we did during the challenge. We expect it’ll be somewhat challenging because we won’t always be on the same schedule as the person next to us. We’ll also consciously dial down the carbs. While it was hard to give up bananas and KitchFix Paleo Granola and our daily cocktails, it was worth it. We feel better and have definitely seen an improvement in our fitness.
See you at the gym!
Rocket Fuel Latte, The Keto Diet
- 1 ¾ cups (415 ml) hot brewed coffee (regular or decaf) or tea
- 1 tablespoon MCT oil or coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon cacao butter
- 1 tablespoon hulled hemp seeds
- 2 to 4 drops liquid stevia (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract or powder
- Pinch of finely ground Himalayan rock salt (optional)
- 1 tablespoon collagen peptides or protein powder
- Pinch of ground cinnamon, for garnish
- Place the hot coffee, oil, cacao butter, hemp seeds, stevia (if using), vanilla, and salt in a high-powered blender. Blend on high speed for 1 minute, or until the hemp seeds are pulverized.
- During the last 10 seconds, add the collagen and continue to blend.
- Transfer to a mug, sprinkle with cinnamon, and enjoy.
Photo Credit: Tim Gouw
Why I Feel 105 Years Old When I Wake Up
First thing in the morning can be the worst time of day for stiffness, soreness, and inflammation. Sure, some of it can be attributed to what you did the day before: a tough workout, a ton of yard work, a long run or bike. When the body builds up acidity, like the byproduct of lactic acid, we get soreness in the muscles and tissues associated with that work. This is a good thing because it shows that the work you did was intense enough to cause a reaction in your body. When you work hard enough to get this reaction, you are forcing growth hormone to rise and repair tissue, in turn metabolism increases and we see the cycle of fitness and reverse-aging begin. That said, there are some tips I have that can help you not wake up feeling like you are 105 years old and having every joint and muscle feel stiff.
The reason you feel stiff first thing in the morning is because movement is the best tool we have to clear acidity and inflammation, so it makes sense that we are more sore after not moving for 6-8 hours while we sleep. Any movement starts to fire up the lymphatic system which will be the primary aid in clearing this stiffness and inflammation.
Tip #1: Adopt a mobility practice before you go to bed each night for 10-15 minutes. Not only will it help you fall asleep, but it will also help get rid of morning stiffness.
Tip #2: Stop eating foods that are processed. Our diet, in general, plays a huge part in our level of systemic inflammation. The more inflammation we have, the more stiff we are going to feel in the morning. A whole foods diet is more abundant in bioavailable nutrients and much more dense in vitamins and minerals, which will help keep inflammation down. The additives and stabilizers in processed foods have a large inflammatory response when consumed. Try to eat foods that are found around the perimeter of the grocery store. Foods that come directly from the earth, sea, and sky are best!
Tip #3 - Eat disease fighting foods. There are certain foods that you should include in your diet that aren’t just good to help get rid of morning stiffness because they are anti inflammatory, but they also help fight disease. Include these foods as often as you can with any meal or take them in supplement form. These include ginger, turmeric, green, leafy vegetables, beets, blueberries, and pineapple, just to name a few.
Tip # 4- Drink water. Just water. Preferably filtered water. I recommend you drink your body weight in ounces of water every day. Hydration is really important in general, but when it comes to stiffness, it’s a big one. Our tissue needs water in order for the lymphatic system to really work efficiently.
Tip #5 - Get a foam roller to keep at home! This doesn’t have to be painful, just light rolling when you wake up. I call this re-hydrating tissue. Nothing heavy, just a bit of quick rolling and compression with hydrated tissue that might be matted down or sticky from not moving overnight. Thirty seconds at various parts of the body that are stiff can go a long way. I do this every morning and it takes some getting used to, but I notice a difference if I don’t do it.
Tip #6 - Take one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar daily. It has nutrients that help the body become more PH neutral and not as acidic which is what leads to inflammation, stiffness, and not feeling good. I take a tablespoon diluted in 6-8 ounces of water.
An Opportunity To Change
The number one reason why people don’t participate in some kind of movement practice or tinker around with nutrition is simple. They are afraid. Honestly, since the entire fitness industry is unregulated, I can’t say that I blame them. It’s not like there is an FDA organic stamp of approval for nutrition and fitness. We are forced to figure it out on our own. We have to look at the science and create an N=1 experiment using our own body.
I believe the best point of view to take on finding what works for you is to tinker around. It just so happens that, in the gym, we are tinkering with carb intake as an approach to nutrition over the course of the next 21 days. The science shows us that low carb intake can help support a healthier lifestyle, including weight loss, increased metabolism, better performance, and a balanced daily level of hormones. We know that the average American consumes 320 grams per day of carbs. Insidious weight gain starts around 300 grams per day. For us to maintain a healthy weight, we need 150 grams per day of carbs. The sweet spot for weight loss is at about 50 grams of carbs per day.
In order to figure out what works for you individually, we have to balance lifestyle and health. Here is what it should look like.
Spend a few days tracking total carbs. Remember, carbs are in everything from vegetables to processed food. I like to just ask siri on my iphone how many carbs are in “________” fill in the blank and she will know. This gives you a baseline for where you are.
Once you know where you are with carb intake on a daily basis, you are going to have to experiment. Start a bit higher on your carb intake for a week. Maybe between 100-200 grams a day. Then each week drop it so that by the last week of the 21 days you are at 50 grams or less.
Track body weight, energy, and mood daily. You will find your balance over the course of 21 days. You might be able to lose weight quickly at 50 grams but your workouts might suffer and you might be in a bad mood. This is not a place you want to live. Whereas, at 75 grams, you may find you can still train hard and are in a better mood, but weight loss isn’t as rapid, but it's more manageable for your lifestyle. Then you get to decide what works for you to move forward.
Here is how to eat: Limit carbs to 200-50 grams a day slowly working your way down. Eat one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, and fill the rest in with healthy fats until you are satisfied but not full.
I believe this N=1 scaled approach can work as you tinker around with what works for you individually.