Laird Hamilton’s Top 10 Nutrition Tips

Laird Hamilton is someone who I have great respect for is a world class big wave surfer and activist for charity  foundations notably autism research. I was recently reading through the latest issue of Men’s Journal and came across some of his top 10 tips for eating, the guy is in great shape and he seems to know a thing or two about good eating!

1 – Start Light

Laird Hamilton likes to start his day with some light easy to digest food; for him thats wither a fruit smoothie with an extra shot of greens or just some fruit before hitting the waves. He likes to add frozen bananas and berries when making smoothies as they give him the energy boost needed to get through the day…..

2 – No Grazing

Don’t eat unless your hungry! When you sit down to eat a meal you should really want it and this means little or no snacking….For me this is a key thing; I used to graze all afternoon and once dinner came around I wasn’t really too hungry. Recently I have been eating my lunch and only having tea, water and coffee throughout the afternoon this has not only led to me enjoying dinner more but improved my body composition.

3 – Chew Slowly

Don’t take your food for granted chew it thoroughly and enjoy the flavors that nature has given us. This is also important to make sure we digest our food well…. Well chewed food is far easier on the digestive system and therefore makes the whole digestion process quicker and better absorbed.

4 – Eat Real Foods

This one is a no brainer, Laird is a strong practioner of eating real whole foods. Nothing out of a box is usually a good rule of thumb. Stick to foods with fewer ingriedients on the label…..If you don’t know what’s going into your body don’t eat it!

5 – Diversity

There are so many foods available each with their own vitamin profile and selection of enzymes, fatty acids, phytochemicals etc…..Each food provides us with something unique. Hence the more diversity you have in your diet the healthier you are going to be. Mix things up next time you go shopping try a new fruit or vegtable or buy a different kind of meat to what your used to; Bison is a great source of lean red meat!

6 – Experimentation

This one goes out to the chef’s out there; with the wide variety of every type of food group out there experiment with your cooking and eating (try new spices, herbs and recipies there are so many available its a shame to eat the same dishes all the time). One tip Laird gives is next time you go for out for Sushi try a seaweed salad instead of your standard edamame for a starter its packed with cancer fighting Iodine.

7 – Listen to Your Body

Cravings get a bad reputation for nothing. Laird see’s them as a signal your body wants something and is looking for a certain nutrient. Listen to your body and learn to figure out what you really want, If Laird get’s a craving for something sweet he turns to tropical fruit like papaya or pineapple instead of junk.

8 – Don’t be a Cheapskate

Buying quality pay’s off especially when it comes to food. Some people blow all their cash on things like huge TV’s and beautiful cars but sacrifice on their food and eat like crap! One example Laird gives is coffee he goes by the rule of buying quality coffee rather than cheap drip stuff…..Remember a quality espresso contains less caffeine, has more anti-oxidants and isnt acidic like other coffee. Americano’s or Espresso’s are the way to go!

9 – Skip The Starches

Laird says that bread makes him fall to sleep as do most other starches, he avoids all starchy food like white rice, pasta and other wheat based products simply becuase he feels better that way. Saying this Laird does like Potatoes, Yams and Oatmeal. So its skip the junky starch…..

10 – Eat Sustainable Food

When buying meat or seafood look out for things like; Locally Caught, grass-fed or free range this means the animal was properly and ethically reared. The same goes for fruit and vegetables eating seasonal local produce means you are helping the local farmers and ensuring there is demand for the crops.

A Dream May Be a Wish, But Not When It Has a Deadline (Part 1 of 4)

“When I grow up, I want to be a rock star and an NFL player,” dreams my 11 year old son.  We’ve all had some kind of big big dream. Do you remember any of your dreams? To be a Disney princess and have big twirly dresses, to sing like Belle on “Beauty and the Beast”, and to be a teacher. These were a few of my dreams.

There’s something instilled in us to dream and dream big. Somewhere along the way, we were told that dreaming big was unrealistic. If everyone believed that lie, we wouldn’t have Carrie Underwood and Russell Wilson. Their current life all started as a dream.

1. Start Dreaming
Get a piece of paper and a pencil. Then, start writing down some dreams; dreams for you, your business, your family, your health. What do you really really want? What do you want to see happen in those areas in the next month, year or years? Nothing is too lofty. Just keep writing.

2. Visualize your Dream
Now, next to those dreams, write why you really really want it. What will it feel like to have your dream come true?  How would things change if these dreams came true? Identifying why you really really want something triggers an emotional response and that emotional response is often what motivates us into action.

3. Breakdown the Big Dream
Here comes the hard part. Take 1 of your dreams and write it on a new sheet of paper at the top. Now work backwards. If that dream will take 5 years, you’ll have a lot to work back from. For practice, pick a dream that is more short-term. For example, “I’d like to lose 18 pounds (the extra baby weight) by June 1st.” That’s one of my goals being that I just had my fourth baby boy. Working backwards from there, I say, “I will lose 4-8 pounds/month”

4. Turning your Dream into a Goal with Deadlines
You have now taken a dream and given it a deadline. It’s a measurable dream so now it’s a goal. Write the deadlines in your calendar. You want to have them in front of you all of the time. No, they won’t magically happen just by scheduling them. We’ll cover how we plan on reaching those goals and making the dreams our reality in they next 3 blog posts.

5. Who will encourage you to chase your dreams?
Last thing, write down the name or names of at least two people in your life who will believe in you and hold you accountable. Sometimes you’re able to do something amazing in life simply because someone else thought you could. Write down when you will tell them your dream and then do it.

We have one life. You have passions, you have dreams. Let’s go get ‘em!

Real Ways To Remove Stress

After reading Mark Sisson’s post on stress over at the Fitness Spotlight…… it made me think, yup stress really does suck the life out of us. Let stress get the better of you and you will feel lethargic, scared and a shadow of your real self. I’m going to look into some real ways I find helpful to tone down stress that can help you fight those tough times.

1- Have a Release

Whatever that may be make sure you have one, just make sure its not something destructive to yourself or those around you. If you haven’t found a release try and find yours its easier than you think.

I enjoy exercising to release stress preferably hitting the weights or going for a run, I have also found writing and meditating a good way to release stress or at least calm my mind in times when I have too much going on and too much to think about. Learning to meditate is simple and anyone can pickup a pen and paper and jot down what’s on their mind. Make sure your release is something you can do alone without the need for anything more than yourself and some time. You never know when your going to need to unwind!

2 – Read

Reading can be an effective stress buster in a variety of different ways; Firstly reading a good book you enjoy will allow your mind to get away from what it is thats stressing you out. It will quiet down your mind and allow you to be in the present moment which is the real key to removing stress. Try and read anything that you can get into whether that is a novel or a biography it doesn’t matter. Personally I like going somewhere quiet and free of distraction to read; try a cafe near home or a peaceful room free of televisions and computers.

The other reason I suggest reading is that there are a variety of personal improvement books which can help you quiet your mind and deal with stress. Some of my Favourites are;

– “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle

– “Happiness” by Matthieu Ricard

Both of these are great books which can vastly improve the quality of your life. I highly recommend investing some time and reading both of these, they will give you a different perspective on life.

3- Supplement

Earlier this week I was looking into some of the benefits of Fish Oil and it astounds me how important this stuff is for our brains to function properly. Its been proven that fish oil and Omega 3 consumption has a dirtect effect on our seratonin (feel good hormone) levels by dramatically improving it! on top of this it stabilizes mood and calms the mind. This is really a supplement no one should turn a blind eye to so to make sure your getting an adequete dose;

– Take 1-2 TBSP of high quality Fish Oil a day (Carlson’s is good)

– Try to eat oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackrel etc) a few times a week

L-Theanine is something I also am a big fan of, its the stuff that comes naturally in tea (notably green) a good dose of around 150mg is typically what you would get from 4-6 cups of green tea. The stuff can calm anxiety, reduce stress and is a potent antioxidant, plus it really works have you ever noticed the calming effect of a good cup of green tea? Well that’s the Theanine working! If you can’t drink enough tea consider supplementing with capsules the stuff is cheap and its proven to be extremely safe……

Supplementing effectively will really help you deal with things when the going gets tough, they may even allow you to see things in a different light halting the problem early on, allowing you to deal with stressful situations better.

Magnesium is something we also lack in our diets today this is partly due to the water we drink being low in minerals and the soil our food is grown in suffering from the same problem. Magnesium is necessary for every major biochemical process, such as digestion, energy production and the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It is also needed for bone strength, muscle strength and proper functioning of the heart and nervous system. Try taking 200mg a day of Magnesium Citrate to start, it could help calm your body and mind.

4- Appreciate Social Support

If you are lucky enough to have a good set of social support in the form of friends and family then make use of them, they will be the best thing you can get when times get tough. Having someone to talk to about what your stressed about is great, just make sure you don’t moan about your predicament rather discuss the issue and ask for a second opinion if your unsure as to what to do. Having social suport gives you;

– A Strong Sense Of Belonging: this can help free yourself from lonliness knowing you have someone to talk to can help hugely in hard times. No one likes to be lonely even in the best of times!

– A Feeling of Security: Having people that you can talk to gives us security for when the going gets tough (which it always does) and friends/family can always keep you posted when problems arise, allowing you to know who to trust.

– Others Can Depend On You: When you go to others in hard times they know you have trust in them which gives people great comfort. It also allows them to be able to turn to you in times of need. Helping others out is a great feeling and it will help deepen and strengthen relationships.

Stressful times are hard but they can always be dealt with effectivly. In an ideal world one should always try to do the following:

– Deal with the Situation in Hand

– Learn form the situation and take out the valuable lesson’s

– Move on with life and avoid dwelling on the past

Often easier said than done as is knowing when to walk away in when in a dispute or argument, but its often the best thing to prevent tension and limit the damage of a stressful encounter.

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5 Benefits of Stretching

Editors Note: This is a contribution written by John Accardi.

A lot of guys think that adding a daily stretching routine to their workout is a waste of time.This is anything but the truth! Stretching for only 5-10 minutes a day can give you some amazing benefits that will improve your workouts and your health.

Neglecting stretching is just setting you up for injury and slower recovery. It is important we keep our muscles long, lean and limber.

1. Greater Strength

Stretching increases strength by improving circulation and blood flow to the muscles. This not only provides greater nutrients to every muscle of the body but helps those muscles recover faster in between workouts. The increased blood flow helps prevent soreness and muscles fatigue during recovery periods and allows for more frequent high-intensity workouts.

2. More Flexibility

Stretching is the most effective way to improve flexibility. As the body ages, muscles shorten and tighten. This decreases range of motion, and increases the chance of tendon, ligament, and other soft tissue injuries. Flexibility also helps with fluid motion in athletic performance. Watch out not to over stretch though – overly flexible muscles are injury prone and give you a sloppiness when moving. You can see this sometimes in people who overdo it with Yoga.

3. Good for Circulation

Lengthening and loosening the muscles helps dramatically with circulation. Not only will this help reduce post-workout soreness and shorten recovery time, but it will improve overall health. Greater blood circulation helps promote cell growth and organ function. The heart rate will also lower since it doesn’t have to work as hard and blood pressure will become more even and consistent.

4. Reduced Stress

Stretching reduces stress through loosening the muscles and relieving built up tension. It also releases endorphins in the brain that can cause a feeling of wellbeing and calmness. It is also thought that stretching reduces stress through a mechanism similar to meditation or yoga in that it promotes a state of mindfulness. This is especially true for the muscles around your neck and shoulders – stretch these out in the evening for a good nights sleep.

5. Increased Range of Motion

An increased range of motion in the joints has many benefits and stretching is the best way to achieve this. It improves balance which decreases risk of injury and improves athletic performance. It also allows for more complete workouts, whether it be swimming, jogging, or lifting, an increased range of motion will allow for better form and complete muscle recruitment.

You have all seen people with tight hunched up postures. This comes from a lack of stretching and normally overdoing it with weight training or sitting at desks hunched over all day. Be sure to give yourself a good stretch, breathing into the muscle you’re stretching to further increase the stretch.

See THISTHIS or THIS for further stretching info.


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Getting That Crunch Naturally

Getting a nice crunch when eating is something we all crave, unfortunately most of the main stream “Crunch” foods out there are refined junk. Things like crackers, baguette or potato chips….. Although with a bit of know how we can all get a crunch from healthy nourishing foods we just need to know where to look.


Seen as a healthy “weight loss” food the humble celery stick is usually shunned by a lot of people, probably thanks to its acquired taste and stringy texture. Celery is crunchy and makes for a superb snack food, smear it with some almond butter and you have a snack or something to finish a meal off with. I also tend to add chopped up pieces to my mega salads to add a juicy crunch.

Celery is valuable in weight-loss diets, where it provides low-calorie dietary fiberbulk.

In Ancient Roman times Celery was seen as a hangover cure and was routinely eaten after a night of heavy partying, ever wondered why there is a stick of celery in a bloody mary? As well as this it is packed with Silicon which is hugely important for bone health keeping joints supple and flexible. On top of this Chinese Medicine hails celery as the number one natural remedy for high blood pressure…

So on top of giving you a sense of satisfaction and crunch Celery ca help your joints and keep your blood pressure in check, what more could you ask for?


“The King of Vegetables”

Slice a big carrot in half and you have the base for a crunchy dipping tool. Try some of the following:

  • Guacamole – Great Recipe….
  • Salsa
  • Almond butter and Raisins (Ants on a Log)
  • Cottage Cheese and Herbs

All make for satisfying and healthy dips that suit either a carrot or some celery. Carrots also have numerous health benefits, they are packed with Beta-Carotene which is a Anti-Oxidant which has been shown to reduce incidence of several types of cancer by 50%, Cartenoids can be found in most Orange Fruit/Vegtables think Squash, Pumpkin, Citrus etc…..

They are also packed with Vitamin A which is essential for eye health, helping to produce Rhodopsin which forms the retina. So the old saying that Carrots help you see at night is very accurate as a deficiency of Vitamin A can lead to poor eyesight.

Nuts and Seeds

These are an obvious one as they are naturally crunchy and have a wide variety of uses. They provide a wide variety of trace minerals and are high in Vitamin E and Zinc. To get an ultimate crunch though it is best to roast or lightly fry them, try chucking some nuts and seeds in a frying pan with a dash of coconut oil and honey or chilli’s depending on what you are using them for. Give them about 5 minutes on high heat (until browned) and you are ready to with a tasty topping for salads or yoghurt.

  • Pecans
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds (straight from the pumpkin)

All of the above are things that you should keep on hand to add crunch and variety to your meals. I have even recently found pre-roasted, chilli seeds at local health stores which are awesome to add to salads or sprinkle over roasted vegetables. Just don’t go overboard with the nuts or seeds…….

In Moderation

There is no problem with a small piece of crusty bread at lunch time (with a big salad) or a handful of Gluten Free Tortilla chips with some guacamole or other dips. They are healthy foods in moderation when used to add variety and texture to meals.

I also enjoy an Italian Biscotti with a Coffee after a meal, it makes for a perfect sweet treat with a satisfying crunch….

Don’t deprive yourself, the Crunch is something that we all crave when eating as food without texture can be boring and bland. Experiment with foods and see if you can find any others which hit the cravings while being healthy and nutritious!

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Developing and Maintaining Aerobic Fitness


There is little doubt that a conscientious program of physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, significantly improves the health and wellness of the exerciser. What is more, evidence is mounting that the benefits of regular and continuing exercise can be enjoyed over an entire life span. It has been proven fairly convincingly that individuals who maintain an active lifestyle may actually add years to their lives while significantly enhancing the quality of life in later years as well. Physical activity reduces the premature, deleterious effects of degenerative diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. Individuals of all ages, from children to the elderly, should be encouraged to exercise. It is never too late to begin a regular exercise program, but the best time to start is usually now. Clearance by a health care provider is always recommended prior to the commencement of an exercise program.

General Principles of Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is generally recognized as exercise that is rhythmic, uses the major muscle groups, and is maintained at a fairly continuous intensity for a prolonged period of time. Provided the intensity is such that the exercise is maintained without undue fatigue for at least 10-15 minutes, the aerobic system serves as the predominant source of energy. Because of the significant role the cardiovascular and respiratory systems play in aerobic exercise, adaptations occur in the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and skeletal muscles with regular and continued aerobic training. These adaptations can lead to significant health benefits and to an improvement in aerobic exercise performance.

Modes of Aerobic Exercise

Most authorities consider the best aerobic exercises to be those that consistently maintain intensity at a constant level. This is especially true for individuals who are just beginning an exercise program or for those individuals who may experience symptoms of cardiovascular disease, including chest pain, abnormal heart rhythms, or unusually high blood pressure. Many other exercise modes, in which the intensity is more variable, also provide significant aerobic benefits, but may not be recommended for all people.

Constant Intensity Exercise

Some of the best examples of aerobic exercise, in which the intensity can be maintained at a constant level, include walking, hiking, jogging, running, stepping, aerobics, step aerobics, stationary cycling, road cycling, mountain biking, rowing, roller skating, inline skating, and cross-country skiing. All of these exercises, provided they are performed at the appropriate frequency, duration, and intensity, improve the performance of the heart and lungs to an equal degree. However, some might be considered more beneficial than others because they train a larger portion of the body’s muscle mass as well. The important factor is not which of these modes is used, but that any mode practiced consistently will result in beneficial health and performance changes.

Variable Intensity Exercise

Other modes of exercise, in which the intensity is less predictable and more variable, also have the potential for providing aerobic benefits. These include recreational pursuits, such as tennis, racquetball, squash, handball, soccer, basketball, roller hockey, and ice hockey. However, these sports must be played in a continuous manner. In the racquet sports, the time spent serving and receiving a serve must be intentionally reduced, and the players must have levels of skill that enable them to maintain longer rallies. In the team sports, penalties and play stoppages must be eliminated or severely restricted, so that the level of activity is more evenly maintained. For example, if basketball is played recreationally, if no free throws are taken, and the ball is quickly put back into play after each foul or basket, it can provide significant aerobic benefit. As it is played competitively at the collegiate or professional level, however, basketball is very intermittent and highly dependent on anaerobic metabolism.

Before and After Exercise

To maximize safety, certain precautions should be taken before and after exercise. Adequately warming up prior to the aerobic exercise session may prevent damage to skeletal muscle, connective tissue, and the heart. A sufficient cooldown is necessary after exercise to alleviate a potential rapid drop in blood pressure that could cause light headedness, dizziness, or fainting. Proper warm-up and cool-down are increasingly important before and after higher intensity exercise.


Prior to aerobic exercise, low-intensity, dynamic exercise is performed to gradually prepare the body for the exercise and to prevent damage to skeletal muscle, connective tissue, and the heart. The main benefits of the warm-up are to increase blood flow to the previously mentioned tissues and to increase body temperature. Skeletal muscle and connective tissue become more pliable, stretching more easily, and thus become more resistant to tearing. The gradual increase in exercise intensity allows adequate blood flow to the heart. Without proper warm-up, especially in older adults, exercise can result in an inadequate blood flow to the heart which can lead to chest pain, tissue damage, or an irregular heartbeat.

Inappropriate changes in blood pressure can be observed with inadequate warm-up. The large blood vessels in the arms and legs are constricted (narrow) at rest and provide a high resistance to blood flow. If exercise is started at a low intensity, it allows time for the blood vessels to slowly dilate and for the resistance to drop. If however, the exercise intensity is increased too fast, the blood vessels are still constricted and blood pressure rapidly rises to very high levels. Exercise blood pressures of 250/115 mmHg are considered too high, and increase the likelihood of stroke and the rupturing of other blood vessels throughout the body. Proper warm-up makes the working skeletal muscles warm and acidic, which makes it easier for the muscles to extract more oxygen from the circulating blood.

Typically, two different types of exercise are performed during the warm-up session. Mild, dynamic exercise is used to increase blood flow and body temperature. This exercise is usually of the same mode as the exercise used for the aerobic conditioning, but is performed at a very low intensity (30-40% of maximum). Prepartory stretching exercises are a second type of exercise that can be included in the warm-up to prepare muscles and help minimize the risk of soft tissue injury. For instance, cycling should be preceded by preparatory stretches emphasizing the muscles in the legs; swimming is preceded by stretches emphasizing the arms and upper body. While emphasizing particular muscle groups is a good idea, it should not be done at the exclusion of other muscles throughout the body.


The cool-down period following exercise is used primarily to prevent a rapid drop in arterial blood pressure. Many arteries are fully dilated following exercise due to changes that have occurred in the skeletal muscle around them. This significantly reduces the resistance to blood flow. If heart rate, stroke volume, and cardiac output are allowed to drop rapidly after exercise, the reduced blood flow, in combination with the reduced resistance, can result in very low blood pressure. As a result of inadequate blood pressure, an insufficient supply of blood reaches the brain, which can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting. To avoid rapid drops in blood pressure, it is important to continue some type of dynamic exercise during recovery. Due to the rhythmic muscular contractions, blood flow back to the heart is enhanced maintaining stroke volume and cardiac output. Standing or sitting still after exercise should be avoided because of the pooling of blood in the legs that will occur due to gravity. The blood pooling reduces stroke volume, which reduces cardiac output and thereby leads to a significant drop in arterial blood pressure.

During the cool-down period, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and caloric expenditure remain elevated above resting levels and gradually decline. This period of increased oxygen consumption and energy expenditure after exercise has traditionally been called oxygen debt. This name was given because the increased expenditure during recovery was thought to “pay back” the deficit incurred during the warm-up (the first 3-5 minutes) when the anaerobic pathways predominate. Today, oxygen debt is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. The length of the extra oxygen consumption and corresponding increased caloric expenditure depends on the intensity and the duration of the exercise. The harder and longer the exercise, the greater the EPOC, as the body works to restore resting levels and homeostasis.

Before and After Exercise

In this discussion, aerobic training is assumed to consist of continuous aerobic exercise. It is generally performed by healthy adults at 64-94% of maximum heart rate (HR max) or 40-85% of heart rate reserve (HRR). The main purpose of aerobic exercise is to improve the ability of the cardiorespiratory system to deliver oxygen and to improve the aerobic endurance of the skeletal muscle used during the exercise. This type of training is highly recommended for the general public because of the associated health benefits provided by such activity. It is believed to facilitate a normalization of blood pressure, to lower body fat, to improve glucose utilization, to reduce psychological stress, and to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Three important characteristics of exercise must be considered. The frequency, duration, and intensity of the exercise are all interrelated and must be monitored and adjusted to provide maximal aerobic benefits. As discussed previously, to ensure the safety of the exercise, careful consideration must be given to the activity used in warming up prior to the exercise and in cooling down afterward. Provided all of these principles are followed correctly, they may be applied to improve the aerobic fitness of any apparently healthy adult or athlete.


In order to see improvement in aerobic power, the exercise should be performed at least 3-5 days per week. Exercising only once or twice a week has been shown to maintain fitness for the most part, but does not provide enough stimulus to achieve significant gains in aerobic fitness. On the other hand, performing the same mode of exercise too frequently has a tendency to increase both the possibility of exhaustion and the risk of overuse injuries. It is recommended that 1-2 days per week be rest days with no hard training. Cross-training, using more than one primary mode of exercise (e.g., aerobics, running, cycling, swimming), is also a popular way of exercising more frequently with less risk of injury. It also relieves, for many people and athletes, much of the boredom associated with long months of training. In addition to aerobic training, it is strongly recommended that strength training (or resistance training) be done at least 2 days a week to gain the added benefits it provides, including increased strength, improved glucose utilization, and increased bone mineral content.


The duration of the exercise must be at least 20 minutes to achieve gains in aerobic endurance. More significant gains are observed when the duration is extended to 30-60 minutes per session. There is nothing wrong with exercising continuously for over an hour if it is tolerated well. Some individuals, however, become chronically fatigued and are prone to overuse injury due to exercising for too long with insufficient rest. Long training sessions, of over an hour in duration, should be divided into bouts of differing modes of exercise, or should be limited to two to three times per week. While exercise bouts of less than 20 minutes have not proven useful in improving aerobic endurance, there is recent evidence they may still result in health benefits and in psychological and emotional benefits. In other words, benefits can be gained by taking advantage of brief exercise breaks, such as walking the dog, walking during your lunch break, or riding your bike to work.


The intensity of the exercise is more difficult to monitor than frequency or duration. With less experienced exercisers, intensity is best monitored by using heart rate as an indicator of stress. An added benefit of using heart rate is that it is sensitive to environmental changes the exerciser may encounter. To improve aerobic power (determined by your V02max), the intensity of the exercise should be maintained between 55% and 85% of heart rate reserve (HRR) in order to stimulate structural changes in your heart and peripheral changes in your skeletal muscles, which in turn lead to an increase in V02max. Keep in mind that the benefits of aerobic exercise (e.g., reduction in blood pressure, decrease in body fat) can occur at intensity thresholds as low as 40% HRR.

The heart rate reserve (HRR) method is based on the number of beats between resting heart rate (HRrest) and a measured or estimated maximal heart rate (HRmax). HRrest is simply the lowest palpable heart rate achieved while resting. It is usually suggested that HRrest be taken in the morning, but it can be measured at any time during the day provided the subject is well rested and free from stress. Although HRmax is best obtained through the use of a graded exercise test, it can also be estimated based on the subject’s age. Table 5-1 demonstrates the method for calculating training heart rates at 55%, 65%, 75%, and 85% of HRR using a HRmax estimated from age. A directly measured HRmax is preferred, but because it is infrequently measured, a HRmax estimated from age will suffice. (This calculation of intensity is one way to determine an appropriate training HRR.

The minimum intensity believed necessary to produce moderate fitness gains in a healthy adult is about 40-60% HRR. Increasing the intensity of the exercise to 65-85% HRR causes adaptations to occur more quickly, resulting in faster increases in aerobic fitness and aerobic exercise performance. By increasing the intensity still further, however, to over 85% HRR, the exercise now requires anaerobic energy production. Consequently, the exercise leads to fatigue too rapidly and, as such, is not suggested for inclusion in an aerobic program. More experienced exercisers usually do not need to monitor heart rate each time they exercise. Instead, they can eventually rely on their experience to perceive and maintain a level of exertion that produces the desirable heart rate within a minimal range of error.

The most appropriate exercise intensity is determined based on the participant characteristics, fitness level, and exercise program goals. Fitness level may be assumed based on the exercise history of the subject or can be measured using a graded exercise test. Intensity should be kept low ( 40-55% HRR) for apparently healthy individuals who are in poor to fair condition. In certain populations, such as previously sedentary, elderly, or symptomatic participants, even this level of intensity may be too high. In these populations it may be recommended that very low-intensity exercise (30-40% HRR) be performed until the subject reaches a sufficient level of fitness. The main advantage of very low- and low-intensity exercise is found in the health benefits achieved. It can result in weight loss, an improvement in body composition, a modest reduction in blood pressure, improved glucose utilization, and possible improvement in blood lipids. Because of the low intensity, however, it needs to be practiced more frequently and for a longer duration to obtain the desired benefit.

For those in fair to average condition, low- to moderate-intensity exercise (55- 65% HRR) is recommended, but this intensity should not be attempted until some initial level of fitness is attained. Exercise of this type results in health benefits as well as some adaptations that may lead to moderate gains in aerobic fitness. For participants who are in average to good shape, with a previous history of regular aerobic exercise, moderate- to high-intensity exercise ( 65-75% HRR) or high-intensity exercise (75-85% HRR) is required to ensure sufficient stress for continued improvement in aerobic fitness and performance. Exercise of this intensity can lead to significant training effects in the heart, lungs, and skeletal muscles that can improve aerobic exercise performance.

A summary of determining training heart rates based on participant characteristics, fitness level, and exercise program goals is presented in Table 5-2.

Two other means of measuring intensity include the talk test and rating of perceived exertion.

Summary of Exercise Principles

To appreciate the relationship between frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise, a brief summary is necessary. When beginning an exercise program, it is best to maintain a conservative approach and start at the suggested minimums of three times per week, 20 minutes per session, at no more than 55-65% HRR. (This corresponds to an exercise heart rate of 131-142 bpm when considering the example in Table 3-1 for a 40-year-old exerciser.) Provided this level of activity is tolerated well, the next step consists of gradually increasing the duration to 30 minutes, while maintaining the same frequency and intensity. The intensity should not be increased until the subject can exercise for 30-45 minutes without becoming overly tired. At this point, the intensity can be increased to 65-75% HRR (e.g., 142-153 bpm).

The frequency may now also be increased to four to five times per week if so desired. Once the subject feels comfortable exercising 30-45 minutes, three to five times per week, at 65-75% intensity, the intensity may be raised toward the recommended maximum of 75-85% HRR (e.g., 153-164 bpm). If the purpose of the exercise is to maintain aerobic fitness in a healthy non-athlete, the previous recommendations of frequency (three to five times per week), duration (20-60 minutes), and intensity (55-85% HRR) apply.

It may be beneficial to consider a combination of exercise frequency, duration, and intensity almost as a “volume” of exercise per week. Table 5-3 includes key guidelines for physical activity that incorporate all three of these exercise principles. The minimal volume of exercise for substantial health benefits is 150 min of moderate intensity exercise (55-70% HRR) per week. This could be done as 30 min/day for 5 days, as 50 min/day for 3 days, or as any combination of duration and frequency. Or it could be 75 min of vigorous exercise (70-85% HRR). The goal eventually for more extensive benefits would be to increase the volume of aerobic exercise to 300 min of moderate intensity exercise (55-70% HRR) per week, or 150 min of vigorous exercise (70-85% HRR) spread throughout the week.


Embedding Catgut in Tissue and Cupping

The embedding of catgut at acupuncture points is a therapy recently intro­duced by a Chinese medical group in Peking. A catgut suture is embedded around a selected point. As the catgut is absorbed into the tissue, continuous stimulation is produced at the acupuncture point which prolongs the effect and obviates the need for frequent needling. The average effect of each such treatment has been found to last for a 4- to 6-week period.

Certain patients have been found to benefit from this procedure; they include those suffering from bronchial asthma, gastric and duodenal ulcers, lumbago, and enuresis.

Points to Use

Bronchial Asthma

Ding Chuan (EM)
Shan Chung (35, VC 17)
Ta Chui (14, VG 14)
Fei Shu (244, BL 13)
Feng Lung (182, ST 40)

Gastric and Duodenal Ulcers

Shan Wan (39, VC 13) join to:
Chung Wan (40, VC 12)

Wei Shu (252, BL 21) join to:
Pi Shu (251, BL 20)
Tsu San Li (178, ST 36)


Yang Kuan (25, VG 3)
Shen Shu (254, BL 23)
Ta Chung Shu (256, BL 25)


San Yin Chiao (304, SP 6)
Kuan Yuan (48, VC 4)
Shen Shu (254, BL 23)


Select one or two points for each treatment, then sterilize the areas routine­ly. Inject 0.5% procaine at points of entrance and exit. Next, make a small incision at the point of entrance with the tip of a scalpel, and using a medium-sized, curved needle threaded with catgut, puncture through the subcutaneous tissue and emerge at the point of exit. The catgut should be embedded at a depth of 1.0-1.5 cm around the selected point. The protru­ding ends of the catgut should be cut as close to the skin as possible (Fig. 53). The suture area is then covered with sterile gauze for a period of several days. Another technique is to suture catgut around the selected acupuncture point to form a subcutaneous “loop suture.”

Recently, lumbar puncture needles have been used to embed the catgut into the acupuncture point. This is simple to do, and the catgut can be embedded at whatever depth is appropriate for the point selected.


Cupping is one of the most ancient methods known for treating disease by creating a condition of localized congestion. This is accomplished by using small jars or cups in which a vacuum is created by heat and then attaching them by suction to the skin at the point selected for the treatment.
Cupping is indicated for low back pain, arthritis, soft tissue injury, sprains, pain or paralysis of the extremities, bronchitis, and asthma.

3 Great Smoothie Recipes…..

Recently I have been making more smoothies to start the day, they make for great breakfasts and are a great way to use up fruit and vegetables you have lying around. Plus these are things that would normally cost you big bucks at the smoothie places in big cities…..

Good Morning Smoothie

This is a basic smoothie to ahve when you wake up for a nice mixed meal with a little added kick.

  • Handful of Frozen Berries
  • 1 Cup of plain Yoghurt
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 1 Banana
  • Ice cubes
  • Dash of lemon juice

Also great for after workouts or when you need a quick breakfast and don’y have time to cook or prepare something else. The best thing about this one is that the instant coffee gives you  little boost while the yoghurt and banana will keep you filled up for a while.

Afternoon Summer Smoothie

For this one you will need 5 minutes prep but that’s alright as it is a smoothie for chilling. Basically you need to brew a bag of chamomile tea for 5-10 minutes before making it.

  • Chamomile tea infused water
  • 1 Orange
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Cup of Yoghurt

Give it all a whizz together for a really refreshing smoothie that will chill you out, thanks to the Chamomile tea. Great for a hot summer afternoon after a workout or after doing some yard work and for kids after school.

Apple Cinnamon Smoothie

This is a great combo for a smoothie as it provides a good anti-oxidant boost and tastes lilke apple crumble.

  • 1 Large Apple
  • 1 Cup Plain Yoghurt or Coconut Milk
  • 1 TSP Cinnamon
  • 1 spoon of oats
  • 1 Handful of Frozen Berries
  • Dash of Lemon Juice

Again whizz it all up for an alternative to the first smoothie, great in the morning or after a workout. In fact great at anytime of the day.

Possible Tweaks

With all of these feel free to add your own creative imprint, but these have all been tried and tested to taste good. As for tweaks I do like to add a handful of frozen spinach to my smoothies as it doesn’t taste and gives them an extra nutrient kick. As for the lemon juice in all the recipes it is to help preserve them so if you are taking them on the road or saving some for later in the day the lemon will work to keep them fresh. Also if you are an athlete and want the extra protein throwing in an extra scoop of whey protein is a great idea.

The main reason I wrote this post though is not for the recipes as they don’t take a mastermind to figure out. Rather to get people into the swing of making smoothies this summer. They are a cheap and easy way to get down nutrition for even the fussiest of eaters.

When they really come into their own though is for kids who love smoothies and normally would not eat such healthy foods in abundance. All you need is a cheap hand blender and you are good to go. Plus if you have any fruit in the house which is going off just chop the pieces up and throw them in the freezer and use for future smoothies it is a good way to reduce food waste which is an ever increasing problem. So if you are rushed for meals or have kids then give smoothies a try they are easily assimilated and nutritious.

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Where There’s a Will, There’s a Reason

Where there’s a will, there’s a deep seated reason for the “way”. For the will to be strong, the reason needs to be deep. An athlete in training will find a way to keep pressing through if their goal is to qualify for the Olympics and they are close to reaching their lifelong dream. Someone newly diagnosed with Type II Diabetes will find a way to balance their eating and their blood sugars if their desire to feel good, not decline rapidly in health or even lose limbs or organ function is reason enough. A nursing mom like myself will find a way to not eat a trace of dairy if her baby is struggling with digesting it and is hurting all day. A family will change the way they eat if it helps their little brother not have seizures any longer.

Willpower is a highly used word that often insinuates a unique discipline for a small amount of the population. I beg to differ. We all have the power available to will something into place. We all have weaknesses tugging at our heels that could cause us to trip. Where you get the power to overcome the weakness biting at your feet has a lot to do with the reason WHY you are drumming up the will to do something in the first place. If you are looking to lose weight, find your reason WHY you want to lose weight to drive your will. Write down your reason and then write down the emotional response to how you will feel when the goal is reached and how you will feel if nothing changes. Even marketers know this trick. Play on the natural emotional response to kick the will into gear.

If you’ve been there and done that, you may have to ask yourself the question of why you don’t place value on your personal goals as high as you would if it affected someone else. You may have to contemplate how reaching your goals DOES affect others. You may have to solidify more belief in your worth. Your health is worth it because you are worth it. Where there is strong will, there is a strong reason driven by a deep belief in the value of the goal and a validity in your dreams and desires.

The take away thoughts:
1. What do you want?
2. Why do you want it?
3. How will you feel if you get it or don’t get it?
4. How will reaching that goal affect those that you care about?
5. Do you believe you’re worth it?

U.S. Sees Increase In Home Births

The March issue of CDC’s NCHS Data Brief published a report that the U.S. has seen a lot more women giving birth outside of a hospital in the past decade. The 56% increase is due to higher safety standards, better midwives and increased popularity in the method.

Lynn Johnson, a midwife and administrator of Women’s and Children’s Services in Huntington Hospital in New York mentioned, “More people are talking about midwifery birth and having their experience as they would like to have it.”

The increased popularity of this method can also be attributed to the fact that midwives now work with doctors to coordinate a home delivery and that many feel that the delivery process can happen in a slower and more controlled way.

The coordination between midwives and hospitals is what has really decreased the risk profiles of home births as the possibility of complications during delivery can always happen.

The report also noted that teen births or women facing potential have complications still go to a hospital for delivery due to the possibility of needing medical equipment.

(via WebMD)