Alzheimer’s Can Happen to Anyone

Triathlon Cofounder Jack Johnstone Dies of Alzheimer's

All America Swimmer and co-founder of the Triathlon

All America Swimmer and co-founder of the Triathlon, Jack Johnstone

The world’s of triathlon and Alzheimer’s came crashing together yesterday when Jack Johnstone, the co-founder of the triathlon, died after battling Alzheimer’s since 2013.

An All-American swimmer, Johnstone took up running later in life and, in San Diego in 1977 with his friend Don Shanahan, started the sport of Triathlon. Now nearly 40 years later, triathlon has millions of participants in the U.S. alone and is an Olympic sport.

Today, 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, up to 16 million will have the disease.  Payments for care in 2012 were estimated to be $200 billion. Without a cure, these figures will nearly triple by the year 2050.  Aside from the horror of living with this disease or caring for people with it, we simply can’t afford this disease to continue to grow. Our healthcare system will go bankrupt.

If you are an athlete contemplating your 2016 goals and challenges, I urge you to consider combining these activities with raising money to cure Alzheimer’s. I lost my grandmother and my mother to this disease and my Aunt is now struggling with it as well. My brother and I are currently planning to climb Mt Baker in 2016 to raise money for CureAlzheimer’s. This mountain, out in the Northern Cascades in Washington state stands 10,781 feet tall so our fundraising goal will be $10,781.  If you would like to raise money through your active efforts this year or simply donate to our efforts, please click HERE

Book Review: The Natural Method Translated by Philippe Til

Georges Hébert's Practical Guide to Physical Education

“Being Strong to Be Useful.”

The Natural Method

This is the motto of Georges Hébert. Hébert was a French Naval Officer before the First World War. In 1902, he was stationed in St. Pierre, Martinique when the island was hit by a disastrous volcanic eruption. Although Hébert managed to help hundreds of people survive, he was struck by how many people died needlessly because they were not physically fit enough to escape. 

Upon returning to France, Hébert convinced the French Navy the allow him to teach French recruits a more natural method of physical fitness so that they could be more fit for the purpose of their jobs. Hébert later wrote down his Natural Method. For those of us who don’t read French, these writings have been translated by Philippe Til, a French personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur based in Los Angeles as The Natural Method, George’s Hébert’s Practical Guide to Physical Education.  

Hébert has also been very influential on more modern training modalities such as Parkour and Erwin Le Corre’s MovNat.  One could also argue that the recent sport of Obstacle Course Racing like Spartan Race is based on the teachings of Hébert.  Hébert is also mentioned in Christopher McDougall’s new book Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance. This book is also worth a read and will be reviewed here soon. 

Get Off the Couch and Move

The gist of of the book is that the due to the “advent of technological comforts, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle resulting in a regression of our physical fitness paired with the removal of humans from the food chain, the need for fitness on a daily basis is gone.” Scary considering that this was written 100 years ago and the problems seem the same. Hébert basically goes on to say that you don’t need to join a gym or buy a device or DVD from a TV commercial to get fit. You just need to move naturally, walk, run, swim, climb, throw things, lift heavy things occasionally and learn how to defend yourself. 

The Fitness Pyramid

Fitness is a essentially a pyramid. At the base is breathing and circulation. Hébert refers to the Hygienic Effect that is “produced more specifically by the exercises that activate breathing and circulation.” This seems to be similar to the focus on breathing in many fitness systems such as yoga and kettle bell programs such as StrongFirst

The next level of the pyramid is the “Aesthetic Effect…produced by the exercises that develop the muscular system, which remedy poor shoulder position, expand the rib cage and bring the spinal curve back to its optimal alignment.” This is essentially a focus on what we might call mobility and alignment and is in response to all of the time modern man spends sitting on their butts. This is where the Functional Movement System (FMS) would play today. On this level, you focus on basic body movements such as the movements that can be found in Original Strength, as well as balance and hanging. 

The next level up on the pyramid would be the Functional Aspect where the functional movements of marching, walking, running, swimming, climbing, lifting, throwing and defensive tactics come into play.  You don’t need to go to the gym however. Go for a run or walk, do body weight exercises like push ups, pull ups, burpees, lunges and squats. Jump up onto things. Hang from bars on the local playground. Get out of the gym with their machines and limited movement and return to the movement your body has always been programmed to enjoy. 

Lastly, in the pyramid of fitness comes sports specific movements such as baseball, football, soccer, ultimate frisbee or whatever strikes your fancy.  These movements are now learned on top of the base of breathing, circulation, mobility and alignment and functional strength. This means that you will be much more efficient in your sports movements and much less likely to get hurt. 

Get Outside and Enjoy

So, in the spirit of Hébert, go out for a run or a walk, jump up onto something, hang from something or lift something heavy or at least read what he has to say. Reclaim the fitness and health that you were designed to enjoy. 

Do you belong to a gym or do you find ways to exercise outside and using your body the way it was meant to work?

 

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.

Team BoomerangFit Raising Funds for Charity

Doing Spartan Trifecta for the Cure Alzheimers Fund

CureAlzMy mother and grandmother both died of Alzheimer’s Disease and I witnessed what a horrible fate this can be for a person, their family and friends. Today, 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, up to 16 million will have the disease. Payments for care in 2012 were estimated to be $200 billion. Without a cure, these figures will nearly triple by the year 2050.

Since my mother passed away I have been raising funds to cure Alzheimer’s. My brother and I have recently formed a team of Baby Boomers called Team BoomerangFit. We are all trying to improve our health and fitness, reduce the likelihood of diseases like Alzheimer’s affecting our own lives as well as raising money for the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. Our current challenge is a Spartan Trifecta – or three races with one of each the three distances – short, medium and long – in one year. Our third race will be the Spartan Beast (13 miles) in Killington, VT on September 19-20.

Since its founding, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has contributed more than $28,300,000 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.

Have you had any experience with Alzheimer’s Disease in your life?

Click HERE if you would like to support this great cause.

Subscribe Here to BoomerangFit if you want to commit to getting back your health and fitness!

What is BoomerangFit?

How to get back to when you once were strong

BFit_Logo

Why did I start a blog and why did I call it BoomerangFit?

In March of 2013 I turned 50 years old. I felt like crap. I was overweight. And, I just wasn’t very happy with myself. So, was hitting 50 the beginning of the end or could I try to get back to the fitness and health that I had enjoyed before in my twenties or even thirties? Could I get to peak fitness in my 50s and continue to push myself in mind and body or should I acquiesce to what most people see as the inevitable?

Wikipedia (I know it isn’t always right but close enough for this) says that the post World II baby boom in the United States lasted from approximately 1946 to 1964. I was born in 1963, so I guess I qualify even if only barely. This means that I represent the end of the boom, the last of the so-called Baby Boomers to enter the 5th decade of life while the first boomers are nearing 70. So has the huge population bubble worked its way through the world like a giant bump in the belly of a snake that is now nearing the end of the track or is it possible for us to still have an impact and reach new heights and goals. I have decided that it is possible to continue to succeed and continue to drive towards new accomplishments. Later, when I decided to start a blog because so many people were asking me what I was doing to lose weight, get fit, etc. it occurred to me that Baby Boomers could, like a boomerang, return to the health and fitness they had enjoyed earlier in life so what better name for the blog than BoomerangFit or Boomerangfit.com.

To start this journey, I read a lot of books and tried many diet and fitness fads, advice, etc without much success. Many of the blogs, podcasts and books that I consumed were focused on younger people, more athletic people, women only, etc. None of them really spoke to me. Finally, I came across a book by Rich Roll called Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself. Rich was a great high school and college swimmer who came on tough times with addiction and depression. Rich then hit bottom and worked his way back up to a new life through diet, lifestyle and triathlon. Rich also goes on to become a Vegan. Finding Ultra is a great inspirational read and reading it was the beginning of getting back to when I was strong. Actually, I listened to the audio book that was read by Rich himself. Coming off the high of the book, I started experimenting with becoming a Vegan and started training less in the gym and doing more cycling and running. Unfortunately, the Vegan diet wasn’t working for me. I lost some weight but didn’t feel that great. So I moved on. Also if your note listening to audio books or podcasts when you have down time like driving or exercising, you should try it.

Desperate for more information on how to improve my life, I started to listen to Rich Roll’s podcast as well. Rich has a great podcast that I recommend and it is called appropriately the Rich Roll Podcast. One day, Rich interviewed his neighbor and fellow ultra-sports enthusiast, Vinnie Tortorich. Vinnie is a personal trainer to the stars and quite a character in his own right. He has conquered cancer and has followed a somewhat different path to a new life than Rich. Vinnie’s mantra is No Sugar No Grains or NSNG. For a long list of reasons, he chose to cut out added sugar and grains from his diet and found that he easily lost weight while still maintaining his energy. I tried this approach and also easily lost 20 lbs (I still have more to go) and continue with this approach today. To me, Vinnie’s approach is very reasonable as it focuses on some key points i.e. sugar is bad and grains turn into sugar but then from there it can be very customizable by each individual. Although his this new nutrition approach seemed to work, however, the long distance ultra-athlete lifestyle wasn’t for me. I didn’t really have the time or the correct body type to excel in this area.

Vinnie also has a podcast that spends a lot of time talking about this lifestyle approach. Take note that Vinnie and his podcast co-host Anna Vocino also engage in a lot of explicit and raucous humor mixed in with the nutrition and exercise advice. Additionally, Vinnie has just published his own book with Dean Lorey called Fitness Confidential that is a great overview of this approach as well as some inspirational stories from his life.

It turns out, believe it or not, that all people are different. Some people react to sugar, wheat, dairy, peanuts, soy, corn in many different ways. Some people are allergic to these types of substances, others react with digestive problems or energy loss and others have no issues. So, why not customize how you eat and by extension how you live based on who you are and not based on what some guru, author, neighbor or in-law have done. The problem is that it can cost a lot of money to generate somewhat questionable results with fancy tests on what you can and cannot tolerate. Also, this journey is about more than just what you eat, it is also about how you think and feel, how you exercise and maybe, most importantly, how you sleep. And, throw in on top of it all that the 50+ year old body is just different, you have quite the challenge to get back what you had. Luckily there is another cheaper and easier way to get started and that is the path that I have chosen. Please stay tuned to this space for more information on how you too can Get Back To When You Once Were Strong.

What has your experience been with fitness, health and energy as you have entered your 50s and beyond? Have you found ways to avoid the symptoms of what is commonly thought of as aging?