Author Archives: boomerangfit

More Evidence that Exercise Keeps You Younger

In a recent article in the NY Times entitled “How Exercise Can Keep Aging Muscles and Immune Systems Young”, the author Gretchen Reynolds, makes a very interesting statement:

“Together, the experiments [referenced in this article] add to growing evidence that some of our assumptions about aging may be outdated and we might have more control over the process than we think.”

What this means to me is that more and more evidence points to the fact that age is just a number and that if we optimize our nutrition and exercise we can postpone or reverse what we typically identify as inevitable aspects of aging.

What are you doing to keep aging at bay?

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Is our health the nation’s biggest problem?

Almost half of Americans in a new Associated Press-NORC poll say health care is their top concern going into 2018. Health care outpaced other issues, like taxes, immigration and climate change, by more than 15 percentage points, according to an article in AXIOS.

Why it matters: Congress and President Trump rushed to pass an overhaul of the tax system after failing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Although Republicans may not spend more political capital on health care next year, the issue won’t go away as the public continues to grapple with high health care costs.

In other words, while the government and its opponents are going back and forth on taxes, the economy, the environment, and other important issues, preventable diseases driven mostly by our poor nutrition and lack of exercise are killing us.

According to the Global Wellness Institute and its new Wellness Moonshot focused on creating a world free of preventable disease: 

  • 69% of all deaths globally each year are a result of preventable diseases. Centers for Disease Control, 2017
  • More than 1 in 3 adults aged over 18 years is now overweight. World Health Organization, 2014
  • The global cost of largely preventable chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental health) could reach $47 trillion by 2030. World Economic Forum, 2017.

One single potentially preventable disease, Alzheimer’s could bankrupt our healthcare system. Payments for care of Alzheimers in 2012 were estimated to be $226 billion (with a B) —and more than 15 million Americans provided unpaid care for persons with Alzheimer’s. Without a cure, these figures will nearly triple by the year 2050 (CureAlzheimer’s Fund).

The question then is if our government is not focused on it, how can we make an impact. The answer is simply that we each need to take responsibility for our own health and wellness by improving our diet and adding exercise wherever we can.

Are you too old for CrossFit?

Arguably you are never too old for anything. However some people are intimidated by seemingly extreme fitness modalities like CrossFit at any age and especially over 50.

CrossFit can be a useful tool for anyone to get fit though. At CrossFit South Brooklyn, there is a special group of people over 55 who are doing really well as you can see in the video below. As long as your trainers are working with you to assess and improve mobility and form and not just beating you to death, you should be fine. And, of course always consult your doctor before any intense fitness regime. My trainer, Angelo Gala from EDX CrossFit in Lafayette, CO, also integrates yoga, kettlebells, endurance and other modalities to keep things fresh and allow me to recover from day to day.

If you want help and motivation to get and stay fit over fifty, join register for Boomerangfit by clicking HERE.

 

Unbreakable Runner – What is CrossFit Endurance?

At 54 years old, I still run, work out, hike, paddle board, play ultimate frisbee and climb. I also compete periodically in events such as my upcoming StoneCat Trail Marathon to test myself and to raise money for charities such as The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. The problem of course is how do you the find the time.

After reading two books, I think I have figured it out to a large extent.

The first book is called Fit After Fifty by legendary coach Joe Friel.  Coach Friel’s primary advice is to focus on more intensity less often and more recovery. The BoomerangFit blog has a lengthy review of the book HERE. 

The second book is called the Unbreakable Runner: Unleash the Power of Strength & Conditioning for a Lifetime of Running Strong.  This book is by Brian MacKenzie and TJ Murphy. For those of you who haven’t heard of Brian, he is a well know strength and conditioning expert who came up with an innovate system called Cross Fit Endurance. Again the premise here is that endurance training, in this case for all ages, needs to focus on form, cadence, strength and stamina and not just on the long slow distance that is still so popular with most people. Running long regularly especially without the proper form or core and leg strength is a recipe for injury. 

With CrossFit Endurance, I am focusing a lot of form and cadence while running. Intuitively I know that I need to have a faster turnover and to strike the ground with my forefoot. However, with practice and strength improvement, I can’t keep that up over a long run. I am constantly reminding myself to forefoot strike only to go back to heel strike when my attention wanders. It has to be subconscious or built into a patter over time through repetition. And, this pattern needs to be supported by the strength primarily in the feet or lower legs necessary to do it correctly at scale.

Additionally, I am spending a lot more time focusing on functional fitness than I ever have for running. The book, as you might guess, recommends CrossFit like workouts but I find I can do other things as well such as kettlebells or just doing burpees and carrying heavy things around the yard.

Can you work out too hard?

Yes. You can work out too hard for a whole slew of reasons.

The NY Times focuses on one of these reasons in an article entitled: “As Workouts Intensify, a Harmful Side Effect Grows More Common“. One woman highlighted in the article suffered some serious consequences from what should have been just a hard day at the spin studio.

“Over the next two days, her legs throbbed with excruciating pain, her urine turned a dark shade of brown, and she felt nauseated. Eventually she went to a hospital, where she was told she had rhabdomyolysis, a rare but life-threatening condition often caused by extreme exercise. It occurs when overworked muscles begin to die and leak their contents into the bloodstream, straining the kidneys and causing severe pain.” Ouch. This does not sound good.

So were you right all along and all of this workout nonsense was a lie? Is sitting on the couch safer? Not really. You should “workout” or exercise everyday if possible. You just need to remember two things first:

1) Fitness – what am I trying to get fit for? Do I want to play with my kids/grandkids without huffing and puffing? Do I want to ride my bike in the summer charity ride each year? Do I want to do better in summer ultimate or do I want to win my age category and some fitness-related sporting event. Have a serious chat with yourself to figure out where you should start your journey back to fitness. If you are looking to compete at a high level no matter what your age, consider getting a coach to help you build a plan and recognize problems and injuries.

2) Adapt – take your time getting into your new regime. Work your way up slowly, perhaps adding 10% or less of weight, resistance, time etc to your work outs each week. Take at least a day off a week to recover with some walking or yoga. Listen to your body and cut back when you are aware of over training symptoms such as elevated heart rate while working out (higher than usual), elevated heart rate when you wake up in the morning (take it every morning for a week to get a baseline) or are you having trouble sleeping? More ornery than usual? (Be honest).

So workout good. Workout too much and too soon less good.

If you are interested in more content like this to motivate you to get back to the fitness you once had,  Click HERE to sign up for their newsletter.

Titus Unlimited – Ripped Over 50

Fit over 50

“In order to be alive you have to constantly challenge yourself. You have to constantly grow.” says Jean Titus from Titus Unlimited in a profile on the website Metro. He is over 50 and is about as ripped as they come. The video in the Metro site is pretty motivational as well.

You don’t have to be this ripped to function in your life and be happy but you certainly need to follow his advice above. If you are moving, your dying. Exercise, whether it is going to the gym or hiking in the woods with your dog, is going to make you feel and look younger as well as helping you avoid diseases like Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and Heart Disease.

The biggest excuse for not taking your health seriously is that you don’t have time. But the truth really is that you always have time, what haven’t done is prioritized yourself above something else like television or video games or whatever else you do when you aren’t working or sleeping. So take the first step whatever is appropriate for you. Go for a walk or a run. Go back to the gym you have been avoiding. Or just start by eating less sugar and processed food. Whatever works for you but pick a primary goal and then stick to it.

If you would like more information on Jean Titus who is now a personal trainer, life coach and motivational speaker, you can find him HERE at Titus Unlimited.

If would you like to join our group or just want to get our newsletter and see what crazy things we are up to, how we eat, how we work out and how we drive ourselves to be better even at our age, then click HERE to register for the mailing list.

Why I came back to New Balance

I started running seriously in about 1975. When I say running seriously, I mean not just running away from something like my friends or my brother, but running towards something, in my case I was trying to lose weight and wanted to eventually compete in high school cross country.

Back in that day there were many different running shoes to choose from, however the shoe of choice on my cross country team at the time was New Balance. I don’t remember the name or number of the style and if I remember correctly they only had one anyway. It was pretty cool looking for the time and they worked well. I felt fast. This was also back in the time when if your shoe soles wore out, you just loaded on some Shoe Goo and kept going. Do they still make that stuff? We wouldn’t have dreamed – or been able to afford – replacing shoes more than maybe once a year.

Later in the 80s while going through college and the inevitable post college “I never weighed this much before so I better get back to running” phase, my commitment and nostalgia for New Balance wavered and I tried other shoes like Nikes, Saucony’s and even ASICS. I regularly tried new brands and new models but never found what I was looking for elsewhere.

Now that I have returned to the fitness fold and have again become “serious” about fitness, I have returned to my home with New Balance. It doesn’t hurt that they are a local company where I live near Boston. The real reason however is that they have a number of models that are just very comfortable at a reasonable price and that fit well with my focus on running, hiking, functional fitness and climbing.

I started with the New Balance Minimus for functional training. I do a lot of kettlebells, deadlifts, carrying things, crawling, burpees, etc. And it is important to have a small or zero drop to keep my body aligned and the Minimus works really well for this. It is also lightweight and pretty sturdy.

Next I decided to get back to running. To avoid injury, I wanted a lot of padding but I also didn’t want something that was unstable and mushy. I tried a few other shoes but ended up trying the New Balance Vazee Pace 2. This shoe had amazing padding but somehow without the bulk of the other shoes. I have two pair now one for crappy weather and one for nice weather.

As a former cross country runner, after I had gotten back into running, I started to crave the trails. So I went back to New Balance and came up with the Vazee Summit Trail V2. These shoes have some great traction and great padding but still have great stability.  This November I will be running the StoneCat Trail Marathon and these will be my go to shoe.

Finally, I have started climbing mountains as well to raise money for the CureAlzeimer’s Fund. In order to train for the mountains, I started doing some very vertical hikes carrying a lot of weight. For this I chose the New Balance Leadville.  The Leadville is also a trail running shoe but I found it to be substantial enough for hiking as well even with a heavy backpack. As a matter of fact, I hiked to base camp at 7000 ft on Mt Baker with about a 75 lbs pack using just the Leadvilles.

What shoes do you use and why?

Disclaimer – I do not receive any compensation from New Balance.  

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Are you a Carboholic?

Sugar is addictive, perhaps more addictive than cocaine. And, the actions it produces in our bodies such as releasing insulin are wreaking havoc on our systems, driving the obesity epidemic and the plague that is known as metabolic syndrome: a pernicious cocktail of high blood pressure and high blood sugar that can lead to stroke, heart disease, diabetes and dementia.

According to an article in the NY Times: “Sugar stimulates brain pathways just as an opioid would, and sugar has been found to be habit-forming in people. Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine. And although other food components may also be pleasurable, sugar may be uniquely addictive in the food world.”

The article continues: “Today added sugar is everywhere, used in approximately 75 percent of packaged foods purchased in the United States. The average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day. If you consider that the added sugar in a single can of soda might be more than most people would have consumed in an entire year, just a few hundred years ago, you get a sense of how dramatically our environment has changed. The sweet craving that once offered a survival advantage now works against us.”

In another article in the NY Times by renowned science writer Gary Taubes, it states “Since insulin levels after meals are determined largely by the carbohydrates we eat — particularly easily digestible grains and starches, known as high glycemic index carbohydrates, as well as sugars like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup — diets based on this approach specifically target these carbohydrates. If we don’t want to stay fat or get fatter, we don’t eat them.”

“This effect of insulin on fat and carbohydrate metabolism offers an explanation for why these same carbohydrates, as Dr. Ludwig says, are typically the foods we crave most; why a little “slip,” as addiction specialists would call it, could so easily lead to a binge.”

So what do we carboholics do? The easiest thing to say is to just stop eating sugar. But unfortunately this is as difficult or more as quitting smoking or worse. You can’t just stop eating sugar. You need to start doing other healthier things in return like eating more healthy natural foods: fats and proteins to reduce the cravings and put you back in charge of your life.

For motivation and information from BoomerangFit, click HERE to sign up for their newsletter.

Stress is making you older. But what can you do about it?

“Stressful events in life, such as the death of a child, divorce or being fired, can age the brain by at least four years as reported by the BBC this week.

Don’t we have enough trouble already these days? Politics, global warming, health care, our kids coming back home to live with us and now we can’t just enjoy a little stress?

The study, reported at the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London, looked at performance in memory and thinking tests of 1,300 people in their 50s to gauge brain health.

“Although the research could not establish any direct link between stress and an increased risk of dementia, stressful experiences are known to have an impact on brain function, which could then lead to dementia in the longer term.”

Brain age and dementia could be linked but just as important we don’t want our brains to age prematurely any more than we want our muscles to atrophy and our mobility to be impaired. The idea is to not just increase lifespan but also to increase your “healthspan” – how long you can live while doing that which you enjoy whatever it is.

Stressful experiences across all groups included educational difficulties, financial insecurity, serious health problems and psychological trauma. The thinking goes that stress increases inflammation and that inflammation can cause premature aging of the brain. Inflammation is also probably a key factor in other major problems like cancer and heart disease.

So, now what? The most obvious thing to do is to reduce stress, right?  Good luck. Most people can’t just decide to reduce the stress in their lives. But if you can certainly try. Maybe kick that millennial kid out of the house. But what else can we do? The next best thing to reducing stress is to improve how your body reacts to it and two great ways to do that are meditation and exercise.

What strategies have you used to reduce stress?

For more information on how to stay motivated and to get back to the fitness for what you want to do to enjoy your life, REGISTER HERE for our newsletter.

What does a Stone Cat have to do with Alzheimer’s?

The Stone Cat Marathon and 50 mile trail races take place at Willowdale State Forest in Ipswich, MA. This year it happens on November 4th.  The name seems to have come from a brand of beer that might have originally sponsored the event or at least been imbibed afterwards. There is also a myth about a “stoned” cat that may or may not have been found wandering around the course at some point. This raises the question of how a cat gets stoned? Cat nip?

Either way, this year Team BoomerangFit will be participating this year in the Stone Cat Trail Marathon (26.2 miles) in order to raise money for the CureAlzeimer’s Fund.  If you want to join us in the run to raise money, you can register HERE. Registration is limited however so decide quick and let us know.

Alzheimer’s disease is a horrific fate for anyone, and I know this first hand because my grandmother, my mother, my aunt as well as several neighbors and friends have either died from or are now suffering from this horrible disease.

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 and most likely bankrupt the healthcare system as we know it.

Since its founding, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has contributed more than $56,000,000 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.

If you have been touched by Alzheimer’s Disease or simply want to help defeat this awful disease, please click HERE to donate.