How are you different and why does it matter?

Getting fit can mean something different for everyone

How many people have a New Year’s Resolution to get fit or lose weight?

What does that mean? Since we are all different, it should mean something a little different for everyone. First of all, you need to set some reasonable doable goals and second you need to create some metrics and activities to hold yourself accountable and to measure your success.

Lets start with fitness or getting fit. Get fit for what? To run a marathon, to walk up and down the stairs in you house or to keep up with your kids or grandkids on the sledding hill.  This could be anything from lowering your PR in that marathon to not having to stop on the stairs to catch your breath on the way up.  If you reach the goal early, just set another one. Make them reasonable and measurable.

If you don’t think you can do it because your too old or too broken, think again. Jere’ Longman recently profiled, Ed Whitlock in the NY Times. Ed is an 85 year old runner who recently ran a marathon in under 4 hours. In fact, Ed was the first person older than 70 to have run a marathon under 3 hours. This is amazing and should be sufficient to get you off the couch no matter how old you are.

Now on to weight loss. Is weight loss your actual goal or are you more interested in how you feel or how you look in clothes. Again everyone is different. If you work out enough and eat right you could gain muscle and lose fat but not lose any weight as muscle weighs more than fat. So perhaps the right metric isn’t the scale but perhaps it is a measuring tape or your favorite pants that don’t fit anymore. If your doctor told you to lose weight, ask why? Is it to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure? You can probably do both of those things using nutrition and exercise without necessarily losing weight.

The final question is what do you mean by eat right or proper nutrition. Again, everyone is different. Some people are Vegans or vegetarians, others will never stop eating meat. One thing it seems everyone can agree on though is to eat less added sugar and processed foods. Start there and see how it works. Add it 3-4 times a week of exercise at some level and then just continue to add on as you improve or get bored. Good Luck!

Comment below on what your resolutions are for 2017?

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Could Five Minutes Change Your Life?

office-walking

Many of us work all day at an office and sit down for most of that time. Recently, we have heard that sitting is the new smoking and that we need to stand up all day, maybe even buy a standing desk.

Full disclosure: I use a standing desk and find it to be worthwhile. You can find out more about that HERE. A new study, however, has found that you might not need to go that far.

According to a study cited in a recent NY Times article by Gretchen Reynolds, “standing up and walking around for five minutes every hour during the workday could lift your mood, combat lethargy without reducing focus and attention, and even dull hunger pangs”.

“The study, which also found that frequent, brief walking breaks were more effective at improving well-being than a single, longer walk before work, could provide the basis for a simple, realistic New Year’s exercise resolution for those of us bound to our desks all day.”

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How Do You Stay Fast After 50?

Advice from Legendary Coach Joe Friel

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-3-02-03-pmIs it possible to stay fast or even increase your speed or fitness after turning 50? America’s leading endurance coach, Joe Friel, has a book out that answers that question with a resounding yes. The way you go about it though may surprise you.

Drawing from the most current research on aging and sports performance, Friel shows how athletes can race strong and stay healthy well past age 50.

Friel’s latest book, Fast After 50: How to Race Strong for the Rest of Your Life, synthesis what Friel has learned over the past 50+ years as an athlete and a coach. “The book came out of my personal experience. It was me trying to give myself a birthday present, trying to understand what happens when you turn 50 or more, what happens in your life athletically. So the book was a birthday present to me and ended up being, as far as I know, the only book written on this topic based on the research.”

The book, published by VeloPress, presents guidelines for high-intensity workouts, focused strength training, recovery, cross-training, and nutrition for high performance:

  • How the body’s response to training changes with age
  • How to adapt your training plan and avoid overtraining
  • How to shed body fat and regain muscle density
  • How to create a progressive plan for training, recovery and competition
  • Workout guidelines, field tests, and intensity measurement

More Recovery

“Probably the first thing the aging athlete discovers is the fact that they don’t recover as fast as they did when they were younger. There is something about my body that is not responding like it did a few years ago. So, that’s the starting point for most athletes in understanding that they are becoming old is they just don’t bounce back anymore.”

“The older you get the more you have to focus your whole concept of training around recovery instead of focusing more on high quality workouts which is going to be done anyway. You need to give a lot of thought on how am I going to make sure I will recover so that I can do the next hard work out after this one. In the book I offer suggestions for the athlete to start including more recovery days between hard workouts as opposed to just one.”

More Sleep

“Another one of the key issues that I had with my clients was that typically none were getting enough sleep. How I determine if you get enough sleep is if you use an alarm to wake up in the morning. It’s an artificial waking mechanism which means you just interrupted your sleep and we need to get to the point where you don’t have alarms. The key point is when you go to bed not when you wake up. Sleep is recovery so as you get older sleep becomes more and more important.”

What Do You Eat

“Nutrition can become somewhat like religion. We have these strong beliefs because it has been beaten in to us since late 1970s that you need to eat a high carbohydrate diet. Otherwise you you won’t be able to train hard and are going to die of heart disease and cancer and all these other problems. That’s just the way we’re supposed to do it.  It is kind of ordained that we are supposed to eat a high carb diet.”

“Only in the last, 5 or 8 years has it been questioned, so now we’re starting to see more research on the topic. We’re starting to see good athletes who are abandoning the concept of eating constant carbohydrates and are depending more on fat and protein. If you’re in your 50’s and you weigh more than you think you should weigh or want to weigh, its likely you have some insulin resistance and if you do have that then you probably shouldn’t be eating many carbs.”

Friel actually wrote a book about this with Professor Loren Cordain called The Paleo Diet for Athletes. There is also more information on this in an earlier post called Why Do We Get Fat As We Get Older?

Less Time Off

Finally, between finishing the book and the publication at age 70, Joe had a nasty training accident. Joe was not able to train for an extended period of time and learned a new lesson: “What I discovered was basically that the older you are the less you can afford to miss training for long periods of time. You lose fitness very rapidly at this age and take much longer to come back.”

Joe Friel

Joe Friel has trained endurance athletes since 1980. His clients are elite amateur and professional road cyclists, mountain bikers, triathletes, and duathletes. They come from all corners of the globe and include American and foreign national champions, world championship competitors, and an Olympian. Friel is also still a competitive age-group athlete in his 70s.

He is the author of ten books on training for endurance athletes including the popular and best-selling Training Bible book series. He holds a masters degree in exercise science, is a USA Triathlon and USA Cycling certified Elite-level coach, and is a founder and past Chairman of the USA Triathlon National Coaching Commission.

Friel has also been active in business as a founder of Training Peaks (www.trainingpeaks.com), a web-based software company, and TrainingBible Coaching (www.trainingbible.com)

What’s Next for Joe?

“I’m still writing, I just finished totally rewriting one of the first books I wrote back in the nineties which was called “The Triathletes Training Bible.” I came to realize that in the 17 years since I wrote that book it has become outdated. I threw the entire manuscript away and just rewrote the entire book from scratch and that will be out this fall (2016).”

Boomerangfit interviewed Joe Friel via Skype from his home in the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, AZ.

Drop 35 Pounds in 4 Months

And be better at your job too

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.11.27 AM

Keith Krach (via Business Insider)

Losing 35 pounds in 4 months is pretty impressive. It sounds like it could be the title of a late night infomercial, but it isn’t.

This great feat was accomplished by Keith Krach, the CEO of tech company Docusign, and was highlighted recently in an article in Business Insider – Why the CEO of this $3 billion startup just dropped 35 points in 4 months.

What was more interesting is why he did it. “Krach says there wasn’t any clear motivation aside from an open-ended commitment he’d made with his two sons that he’d get in his best physical shape since college before the age of 60.”

This is a commitment we should all be making and is the commitment that is essentially at the crux of BoomerangFit. Lets all commit to ourselves, our families and our friends to get in the best physical shape that we have been in since college before we turn 60 or just pick and age that works for you. This is a fabulous goal and is more doable than most people think.

“Krach’s weight-loss regimen comprised of a strict low-carb/high-protein diet and a daily workout program that involved heavy lifting.”

After losing the weight Krach said that he could “narrow down the benefits to the following three reasons: high energy level, better sleep, and an improved clarity of thinking.”

What commitment will you make to yourself?

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Please consider sponsoring BoomerangFit’s climb of Mt Baker to raise money for the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund by clicking HERE. Since its founding, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has contributed more than $38,000,000 to research, and its funded initiatives have been responsible for a number of key breakthroughs. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund supports some of the best scientific minds in the field of Alzheimer’s research. Fully 100 percent of funds raised by Cure Alzheimer’s Fund go directly to research—the Board of Directors covers all overhead expenses.

Guaranteed Way to Succeed

It is simple but not easy!

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 10.28.14 AMThere is a Japanese proverb that states “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”

To me this probably the key to accomplishing anything. Some people might use a different saying such as “If at first, you don’t succeed, try try again.”

Either way, the point is don’t give up. The problem here is that this is a lot harder than it looks for two main reasons in my view:

One: giving up is harder than not giving up. Not giving up requires gumption or stick-to-itiveness or sisu (if you are Finnish) or Grit or whatever you want to call it. There is a great book out on this subject called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth that is definitely worth a read or a listen if you want to understand how to get better at not giving up.

Two: the other aspect of giving up refers to what you are not giving up on. At some point it might be worth giving up on a secondary goal or a “means” goal in order to continue being focused on a primary goal or an “end” goal. For example, if my end goal is to travel more, I could get there in many different ways. I could become a travel agent. I could create a job for myself that allows me to be paid to travel like a travel writer or I could build something and sell it for a great value and then travel whenever I want. Each of these means goals gets me to the same end of traveling more. However, I may want to give up on becoming a travel agent someday if I come across a great opportunity to be a travel writer now but I would never give up on the goal of traveling more. Does this make sense? It is also very important to pick the right end goals based on your own vision. There is a great book that walks you through this process called The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms by Vishen Lakhiani.

So, what do you need to know to succeed at any goal.

  1. Pick an End Goal that is meaningful and aligned with your passion, principles and vision and never give up on this.
  2. Pick a Means Goal to get you to the End goal. These can change based on experience and circumstances.
  3. Figure out what you need to do every day to reach the above goals.
  4. Do these things every day.
  5. Don’t stop!

What kind of experiences have you have with goals and not giving up?

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Please consider sponsoring BoomerangFit’s climb of Mt Baker to raise money for the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund by clicking HERE. Since its founding, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has contributed more than $38,000,000 to research, and its funded initiatives have been responsible for a number of key breakthroughs. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund supports some of the best scientific minds in the field of Alzheimer’s research. Fully 100 percent of funds raised by Cure Alzheimer’s Fund go directly to research—the Board of Directors covers all overhead expenses.

 

 

 

 

Why MyFitnessPal drives me crazy

While I am not a big fan of food diaries as a long term tool, they can be useful for a number of reasons in the short term.  For example, if you are trying to build a new habit say of eating fewer carbs, tracking your intake for awhile can be useful. Or, if you are training for an event like I am training to climb a mountain in July, you can ensure that you are getting enough protein and carbs to support continued progress while ramping up training. The food diary I have been using is called MyFitnessPal. It has a great iPhone app, is now owned by Under Armour and it integrates with a number of exercise and fitness trackers.

Why a warning for Saturated Fat and not Sugar?

Why a warning for Saturated Fat and not Sugar?

What I don’t understand about MyFitnessPal, however, is their notification or warning system.

Selective Warnings

If I add a tablespoon of Coconut Oil to my daily food diary, I will get a warning notification that says: “This Food is High in Saturated Fat” with no explanation (see photo). A tablespoon of Coconut Oil has about 14 grams of Fat, mostly saturated, and 130 calories according to MyFitnessPal. If however, I add a Snickers Bar to my daily food diary, I get no yellow notification regarding Saturated Fat even though the amount of Saturated Fat is similar. What’s the difference?

Why No Warning for Sugar?

Additionally, a Snickers Bar contains 33 grams or 132 calories of sugar. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reduced its recommended daily intake of sugar for a normal weight adult to 25 grams of sugar (this is per day remember). The Snickers Bar represents 132% of the recommended daily intake of sugar in one bar but there is no warning that says “This Food is High in Sugar”. Why not?

Is Saturated Fat Really A Problem

The next question is why does MyFitnessPal even have warnings for Saturated Fat when recent studies have shown that it is not as harmful as once thought and apparently doesn’t increase the incidence of heart disease. According to a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease, there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD (Coronary Hearth Disease) or CVD (Cardiovascular Disease). Additionally, where the Saturated Fat comes from can be very important. Does it come from industrial beef or grass fed beef, industrial pork or organic coconut oil? There is no difference according to MyFitnessPal. More on eating meat HERE.

Sugar is Really the Problem

Meanwhile, good old sugar is where the problem really lies but MyFitnessPal doesn’t deem it worthy of any warning or notification.  According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, “most US adults consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet” and “we observed a significant relationship between added sugar consumption and increased risk for CVD (Cardiovascular Disease) mortality.

MyFitnessPal Needs to Get with the Times

According to the latest research, Saturated Fat is not as bad as we once thought especially when it comes from a clean natural source such as Coconut Oil or Grass Fed Beef. Additionally, sugar is emerging as the true villain when it comes to obesity, metabolic syndrome and various diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease, Heart Disease and Cancer. So lets get with the program MyFitnessPal and start focusing more on guiding people away from sugar and less on fat that it turns out wasn’t so bad after all.

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Please consider sponsoring BoomerangFit’s climb of Mt Baker to raise money for the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund by clicking HERE. Since its founding, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has contributed more than $38,000,000 to research, and its funded initiatives have been responsible for a number of key breakthroughs. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund supports some of the best scientific minds in the field of Alzheimer’s research. Fully 100 percent of funds raised by Cure Alzheimer’s Fund go directly to research—the Board of Directors covers all overhead expenses.

Can eating processed meat cause cancer?

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 8.50.35 AMFor anyone reading or watching the news this past week or so, the headline above probably came up. If you are someone who regularly consumes meat it may even have worried you.

So, what is really going on?

The news isn’t always right
First, be aware that this headline is appearing in places that make their money selling subscriptions or advertising. They are in the business of getting your attention. This is already a bit of a conflict of interest. Be aware.

The rumors have been greatly exaggerated
Second, what is really going on here. If you read the articles carefully and maybe even jump over to the study that is cited, you will see that the argument is that processed meat can raise your likelihood of getting colon cancer by about 17%. From what I read, the likelihood of getting colon cancer across the population is about 2%. If high school math serves me, eating processed meat raises my probability for getting colon cancer from 2% to about 2.3%. Is that bad? Well, colon cancer sucks anyway you look at it but this increase is not exactly significant. There are other major risk factors for colon cancer as well and if you are over 50 like me please go and get screened now if you haven’t.

Further this study was a meta-analysis or study of some 800 other studies. This was not a bunch of doctors looking at people under microscopes. It was people looking at other researchers’ studies. And, these other studies were done using the observation of behavior. This means that the subjects of the study had to self report what they were eating, when and how much. For anyone who has tried to keep a food log, you know this is not very accurate.

Is meat really just meat?
Third, is red meat just red meat? Not really. Lets look at three very unscientific categories that I have created for this discussion.

1) Processed meat – This category is made up of products like hot dogs, beef jerky, etc. Meat that is combined with a lot of things that aren’t meat including chemicals and then at the end you get a “product” that may resemble meat. Is it any surprise at all that this bucket of meat products could increase the likelihood of getting cancer? Not at all. Frankly I am surprised the increase is as low as reported above. Everyone should eliminate or limit the intake of any processed foods including processed meats. If you have a high probability for colon cancer due to other risk factors, it is probably smart to eliminate this category altogether.

2) Just plain red meat – The next category would be the hamburger or steak that you eat. Most meat in this category that people consume would be considered commercial or industrial beef. This comes from cows that spend their lives packed into a corral like sardines waddling around in their own feces that require a regular intake of antibiotics just to survive. Additionally, these cows are fed things like grain and scraps of crap that are not in their normal diet. So, what happens when you feed an animal something that it isn’t supposed to eat and make it stand in a crowd in its own shit? It becomes very unhealthy. Again, I ask, is it any surprise that eating some or even a lot of this kind of red meat can increase the risk of cancer? For a double whammy of trouble, the processed meat in the category above will typically come from this commercial, industrial beef.

3) Grass fed organic beef – The last category contains the beef that comes from cattle that have lived in a natural open environment and that have been fed the very diet they evolved to eat: grass. These animals are healthy and active. The beef that comes from these cows is much different than the commercial meat in the category above. To me at least, there is a place for eating grass fed meat or butter or yogurt that comes from grass fed cows fairly regularly in a healthy diet.

Ethical issues are different
Beyond these categories, there are people who avoid meat altogether due to ethical concerns about killing animals, how they are treated or the sustainability of the practice of supplying meat. These are personal decisions and have nothing to do with the health factors above.

What about saturated fat?
Another concern about meat is the intake of saturated fat. Saturated fat has been demonized for years mostly incorrectly. And, now the pendulum is starting to swing the other way. HERE is an article on WebMD on the subject. The bottom line is that eating sugar and processed foods are a lot more dangerous so once you get rid off all of that you can read more carefully about saturated fat and decide what to do. Here is a thought in the meantime. Breast milk (by and large) and our own body fat are forms of saturated fat so I have trouble thinking that it is all bad.

Cooking also matters
One additional thing to think about is cooking. Burning meat or eating it well done can also potentially increase your risk of cancer. Eating it rare, or reducing the amount of crunchy crust on your meat can reduce this risk as can eating a lot of vegetables with your meat. This study doesn’t seem to address how the meat was cooked.

Now what?
So, what do we do? To me you 1) eat as little as possible of the processed meat in bucket number 1 and if you do eat something like bacon or jerky try to make it organic and/or from grass fed cows. 2) Reduce bucket #2 as well when you can and finally 3) Switch your beef intake as much as possible to bucket #3 but still eat in moderation: think 3 times a week not 3 times a day.

If you want more information on this subject and more detail than I am qualified to provide, there is a great discussion in a recent Ben Greenfield podcast HERE.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Worse I was an English Major in college. I did go to a college in the Midwest though where there were many cows around. Seriously though, I urge you to take your health more seriously. Read about your health. Question authority. Everyone is different and what works for the “experts” might not work for you.

Exercise is a bad way to lose weight!

Exercise is a bad way to lose weightThis may sound controversial but it is true. Exercise is a bad way to lose weight. It is a great way to condition your heart and body, to strengthen your bones and improve your brain and potentially lengthen your life, but it is not a good way to lose weight. Why? And, if so, why do so many weight loss ads, systems, tv shows, video workouts, etc. seem to say that it is a great, easy and quick way to lose weight.

But I see on TV that exercise does help me lose weight?

Are they all just lying? Not really. The secret to most of these weight loss schemes is, as you would guess, in the small print. Every one of these ads I have seen or read or heard always sneak in the additional information that you also need to follow the recommended nutrition/diet/food list that comes with the system in order to see results. What they don’t tell you is that you don’t actually need the exercise part to see weight loss results, you just need to eat right.

According to the British Guardian back in April: “Being dangerously overweight is all down to bad diet rather than a lack of exercise, according to a trio of doctors who have reopened the debate about whether food, sedentary lifestyles or both are responsible for the obesity epidemic. In an article for a leading health journal, the authors – who include British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, an outspoken critic of the food industry – accuse food and drink firms such as Coca-Cola of having wrongly emphasized how physical activity and sport can help prevent people becoming very overweight. The truth, they say, is that while physical activity is useful in reducing the risk of developing heart disease, dementia and other conditions, it “does not promote weight loss”.

Six-pack Abs are made in the kitchen

If it isn’t the gym that drives weight loss than what is it. The answer is simply what you put in your mouth. But it isn’t as we have always heard a “calorie is a calorie”. Weight loss and gain are controlled by hormones like insulin and these hormones are controlled not as much by the number of calories you eat but more by the type of calories you eat. If you eat a lot of carbohydrates, especially highly processed carbs and sugar, your body will constantly be secreting insulin to move this sugar out of the bloodstream. If you aren’t using the energy, the insulin quickly stores it as fat. Also, while Insulin is out running around doing its job, it literally closes the door on using your own fat for energy and thus you are stuck hungry and looking for that next sugar rush instead of burning fat. And, if you run this cycle over and over again for too long your body becomes less sensitive to insulin and thus needs more and more to get rid of the sugar. And, then what? Diabetes.

So what do you do? Well everyone is a little different so you first need to explore sensitivities to things like gluten and dairy, but in general eat fewer processed foods and less added sugar. Check the labels as food companies tend to hide a lot of sugar in everything from Salad Dressing, to Ketchup and Steak Sauce. Better yet if there is a label look at don’t eat it.

What have you found that works for weight loss?

For more great information on this subject, read Fitness Confidential by Vinnie Tortorich, a personal trainer and podcaster. And, Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It by Gary Taubes, a science journalist.

Stop. Rethink Your Drink. Go On Green

Drinks stoplightThis poster was near the checkout at Shaw’s on Ring Road in Boston. It is great that the City of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission are trying to get people to eat healthier but they didn’t quite get this one right.

Definitely agree with avoiding the Red light drinks of Soda, Energy and Sport Drinks and Fruit Drinks but what about the Yellow and Green.

Let’s look at Yellow. Diet Soda. Should people drink Diet Soda occasionally? The Mayo Clinic website says that a reasonable amount of diet soda a day – like 2 cans – is okay.  However, the Washington Post in March of this year quotes a study that says diet soda can make you fat as you grow older. Uh Oh. So what do you do? When in doubt, you probably should avoid it and not have it occasionally.

What about 100% Juice? Is that okay occasionally? Well, Dr. Robert Lustig, from the University of California San Francisco and a reknowned expert on obesity and more specifically childhood obesity,  says that fruit juice is just a glass full of sugar and is essentially poison and may be worse for you than soda. This one seems clear. Fruit juice needs to be up with the Red Lights.  Eating fruit however is not a problem as all of the fiber you get in the fruit reduces the impact of all of the sugar.

So finally to the Green Light drinks of water and Skim or 1% Milk?  Can’t argue with water but what about that Milk. It turns out that when you take the fat out of milk you leave behind more and more concentrations of sugar. So Skim Milk is also approaching just another glass of sugar like the fruit juice above.  Dr. Frank Lipman over at the Voice of Sustainable Wellness says to avoid Skim Milk completely for this reason and more.

Thanks to the Boston Public Health Commission for taking a shot here but perhaps an update to more accurately reflect the research and realities around these beverages.