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Showing posts from June, 2014

I HEART LENTILS

It is no secret that legumes are highly nutritious foods. They have nutrient indices much higher than the other high-protein staples - meat, eggs dairy. Indeed as a class beans, peas, and lentils rank higher in nutrition than grains and nuts and are as good for you as many fruits and even certain vegetables.
Of the legumes, the most nutritionally superior is the lovely lentil. Lentils are our personal favorite legume, not only because of the high amounts of molybdenum, fiber - tons of fiber! - as well as copper, phosphorus, manganese, iron, protein, zinc and many B-vitamins they contain, and not only because of all the legumes lentils are the easiest to digest (say bye to bloat!), but also because they are so easy to prepare!

Unlike beans, lentils require no soaking, which is one less step. Not only that, they can be cooked in a fraction of the time it takes to whip up some pintos or kidneys. Most beans take a good hour to 90 minutes to boil. Not so with lentils. The green variety u…

THE BAREFOOT EXPERIMENT

Like so many others I happened upon barefoot running in the pages of the momentous Born to Run. It was in that book that I read about the Tarahumarans and their epic runs and their huaraches. I paid careful heed as the author, Chris McDougall, listed the many risks associated with running in shoes, especially the bulky modern ones with fancy names like motion control and pronator support and extreme stability etc. If nothing else there is the issue of weight.

Consider that the lightest racing flats weigh about 8 ounces per pair. That’s half a pound. Now consider that a runner takes 160 or so steps per minute, and that comes to 40 pounds a minute of added weight you can do away with simply by running in your birthday shoes.The conclusion seemed pretty clear: Running without shoes had to be easier than running with shoes. I was intrigued. This was in 2010.

Wait, no, let me take a step back. My real first exposure to barefoot running came when I ran barefoot. The first time I ran barefo…

10K TODAY

We've been watching tons of World Cup this year and they've added a feature that calculates how many miles each athlete covers over the course of a game. The average is around 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles. Over 90 minutes this is a sluggish 15-minute mile pace, which even a couch-potato can manage. While some of the time is spent walking or jogging, there are stretches of 10 to 200 meters when an athlete is in an all-out sprint. And the soccer player's body - lean, with a ripped torso, and muscular thighs - attests to the benefits of sprints and intervals, which every runner should do, from casual jogger to accomplished athlete. Here are three workouts to make you the next Pele.


SHORT
From 150 to 300 meters, the goal here being to move legs quickly. Do a run of four to six miles, then finish with 5 x 300 meters on the track with 90 seconds rest.

SHORTER
80 to 150 meters. When you speed up, your body automatically adjusts to sprint more efficiently. This should be at around…

TRAIN LIKE A TRIATHLETE

The human brain craves routine, and many of us pick a discipline – whether running, biking, swimming, or weights – and stick to it with fierce loyalty. By doing so, it’s easy to get stuck on automatic pilot. Adding other forms of exercise can complement your existing routine. For example, bike riding builds the fast-twitch power muscles of the glutes and thighs, making them more injury resistant, and because biking is zero impact, it spares the joints the pounding that occurs when you cover all your training distance on foot. Many triathletes believe that the fitness gains made on the bike carry over to running, that by building stronger legs and lungs, cycling actually makes for a swifter run. And race times prove this. Consider that in a recent Ironman 70.3 win in Spain, professional triathlete Javier Gomez ran a blazingly fast 1:11:49 half marathon, after a 1.2 mile swim and a 56-mile bike. And many Ironmen are known to run 2:40-ish marathons in the heat after a 2.4 mile swim and 1…

INJECT A FRESH PERSPECTIVE

Getting fitter, faster, and stronger ranks high on any athlete’s wish list, and yet en route to the fulfillment of this noble goal it can be easy to get caught up on markers such as mileage and time. But getting bogged down in quantifiables can quickly make exercise seem stale. More is not always better, as a volume-centered approach can lead to overtraining and injury. By limiting yourself to one particular discipline, it is easy to overdo it, lose perspective, even abandon a training plan altogether. Workouts should be fun, and in order to maximize the good times quotient, it helps to focus on quality over quantity, and add some variety into the mix.Whatever your goal, whether to lose weight, run your first race, or even notch a PR, injecting a fresh perspective into your training plan makes your aim easier to achieve.

A Focused Approach
The consensus among running coaches until recently has been that in order to run a sub-3:00 marathon you need to average 50 miles per week at the ver…

SOUL FOOD

Just talked with a friend (thanks, Sarah) about the manifold benefits of a phytocentric (plant-centered) diet, not just for individual health but for the health of the planet and the welfare of other earthlings. But even these all-pervasive benefits neglect what is perhaps the single biggest plus that plants bring to one's life, which is spiritual.

The ancients say that eating animal foods increases animal tendencies, which tendencies (lust, greed, anger) then increase cravings for animal food. The mystery is, how to stop this vicious cycle - is it by changing a person's diet so their cravings will change, or does what need to change first is a person's consciousness? That's an awkward sentence for a confounding issue.

On the spiritual path (and all humans are or should be on that path, as self-realization is the ultimate purpose of life) vegetarianism is absolutely essential, so whatever gets a person there (looking better, feeling better, more energy, etc.) is well w…

SPEED PLAY

In order to run faster it is necessary to…run faster. Elite athletes will tell you that they are able to compete at the highest level only by training at or near maximal capacity. Enter interval training, known alternatively as sprinting, repeats, or my personal favorite, speed play (from the Swedish word “fartlek”). And indeed studies have shown that speed play can benefit every type of athlete, from recreational runners to committed fitness enthusiasts, and in a fraction of the time required by training at a lower intensity. In fact, as shown by a recent study, just fifteen minutes of intense exercise three times a week provides a host of benefits over more casual workouts, from lowering your blood pressure and blood sugar to reducing both body fat and cholesterol. Speed play also increases VO2 max, which measures your body’s maximal ability to take in and use oxygen. VO2 max is not only a measure of fitness: it is also a predictor of lifespan, as research undertaken at the Cooper I…

FRUCTOSE IN FRUIT

Some  fruit-loving friends have expressed concern over the fruit content of their favorite foods. Fructose is fine for most people if it’s in whole foods, and keep in mind that anything with sucrose, and that’s most carbohydrates including rice and wheat, has a good deal of fructose, since sucrose is a disaccharide composed of one part glucose and one part fructose. Grains also contain free fructose. Sadly fruits get the bad rap when refined grains and sodas, especially HFCS, are the real culprit.

For the sake of argument, this is from an article by Dr. Mercola who is opposed to even modest fructose consumption. Even he had to concede the following: “So it appears as though whole fruits, even though they contain fructose, may not be nearly as problematic as fructose from added sugars. One of the reasons for this is believed to be because whole fruits contain high amounts of natural antioxidants, as well as other synergistic compounds that may help counter the detrimental effects of fru…

BREATHING LESSONS

The title is not a tribute to the Anne Tyler novel, although we loved reading it as part of senior year reading list, thank you Ms. Beatty. It is to address the oft-neglected and sorely underestimated essential bodily function called respiration.
Your lungs respire between 12 and 18 times per minute, most of breathing going on entirely unnoticed. Which is a blessing - one less thing to focus on - but can also be a problem. Humans tend to hold their breath or respire shallowly when nervous or tense, and since more and more time in modern civilization is spent in the tense/nervous state, this breath-holding can result in a condition known as hypoxia.

The other medical residents and I used to play a game in the hospital when not seeing patients (which was rare but did occur). We'd get our hands on one of the readily available pulse oximetry monitors. These devices determine your blood oxygen saturation within seconds of being applied to your finger. 


We'd attach the pulse ox and hol…