Many of the principles I teach are pretty much opposite from what mainstream health and fitness espouses. The reasons for that are myriad, but don’t get me started because that could be another whole big, long post itself.
Here’s the bottom line. We need sunlight and every one if its wonderful, beneficial wavelengths to get inside our eyes and to hit our skin for optimal health. It’s really quite simple: We were designed for sunlight and if we don’t get it, we become unhealthy.
Sure, too much sunlight is bad for you, especially if you let your skin burn. Too much direct sunlight in your eyeballs can blind you too, but this doesn’t mean the sun deserves the bad rap it’s been given by mainstream “health” information.
Vitamin D is vital to your health. In fact, most progressive health practitioners have deemed it the most important vitamin. Some experts even claim that it should be reclassified as a hormone because of how important it is to our health and biological functions. Recently it has been shown to prevent multiple sclerosis, depression and especially skin cancer! Surprised? I’m not.
Taking vitamin D as a supplement is all fine and dandy, but there’s no more bioavailable source of this vital nutrient than the kind manufactured by your own skin. Since the skin can only manufacture vitamin D when sunlight hits it, it makes sense to get some amount of sun as often as you can. How much is enough? It doesn’t take much. In fact, for most skin types, 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight 3-4 times a week on the skin is enough. How much skin? About as much as would be exposed on your face, neck and arms if you were wearing short sleeves.
Most of the cells in your body have light sensors and when those light sensors get a dose of sunlight, with all its various beneficial wavelengths, they get happy, increase activity, promote healing, reduce inflammation and even change your mood and attitude. Letting sun hit your skin, the photoreceptors in your cells, and the receptors in your eyes also help improve your sleep quality because that type of light is a big part of setting your natural circadian rhythms. When you get quality sleep, you are better able to burn off body fat and build muscle, so it also contributes to being fit and lean.
As I said above though, too much can be a bad thing, so if you are out in the sun long enough to get a burn (even a slight pink color), by all means, use shade and sunscreen to prevent that.
This brings us to another important topic: Sunscreen. Most sunscreens are highly toxic and the higher the SPF, the more poisonous chemicals it contains. These toxins have been found to increase the chances of cancer, so doesn’t that seem like the purposes being defeated? Besides, sunscreens with a higher SPF are a waste of money anyways. SPF 8 block 87% of UVB rays (the ones that burn your skin). SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93%. SPF 30 blocks 97%. SPF 100 sunscreens block 99%. And despite that high SPF, you’re still not protected against UVA rays, which reach deeper levels of skin and increase your risk of developing certain types of skin cancer.
With my skin type, I typically start to get pink within about 45 minutes at my current latitude in Seattle Washington, but when I’m in the tropics, I start to pink up in about half that time. Because I know this, I am great at finding shade when I need it, but I also use organic sunscreens. They work just as well, if not better, but without the poisons. You can find organic sunscreens at places like Whole Foods, PCC and other natural food stores. You can also easily order it on Amazon or through high quality health sites like Mercola.com. Yes, orgainc sunscreen about twice as expensive as the mainstream brands, but I hear getting a major disease is REALLY expensive…
Lastly, the latitude you live in makes a big difference. If you are close enough to the equator where the seasons and lengths of daylight don’t change more than a couple hours, then you will get enough quality sunlight all year round. If you are in a higher latitude like I am, you won’t be able to get enough quality sunlight for optimal health benefits about half the year, namely, from the end of October to the end of April. During those months, vitamin D3 supplement with vitamin K2 is vital and necessary.
Bottom line: The worst thing you could do is to be afraid of the sun and keep yourself out of it. Doing that will increase your chances for many different kinds of disease and depression. So my recommendation is to seek out the sun and enjoy it as often as you can but know your limits.
Did you have a faster metabolism when you were younger? Do you know people who seem to be able to “eat anything” and never gain weight? Would you like to crank up your metabolism or turn back your metabolic clock? Here are my 7 favorite personal methods that keep my body fat percentage in the single digits 24/7/365.
1.) Detox/Eat clean. Eating clean is actually a detox of sorts, but even clean eating, militant Nazis like me still need to detox from time to time. There are simply too many environmental toxins nowadays and the body’s natural detox ability just can’t keep up with all of them. There are some effective, organic detox kits you can get at your local supplement store, but that’s only the half of it. The other half is getting those toxins out of you, once the detox kit has released them from your cells.
The best way to do that is through colon hydrotherapy, but most people would rather not go down that road, so the next best way is through sweating it out. Just make sure you are doing both at the same time, because using a detox kit without a way to get those toxins out will just make you feel crappy and then those toxins will mostly get reabsorbed back into the tissues they came from. Eating clean is the biggest part though because most people think they can detox and then get away with the standard American diet, but that’s just not the case because the standard American diet introduces even more toxins into your body than the environment.
2.) Drink enough filtered water. How much is enough? Just take your body weight in pounds, divide that by two and that’s how many ounces you should be drinking per day (as long as you weigh between 100 – 250 lbs.). The liver has over 500 huge metabolic functions, so it has to be happy and healthy in order to do all of those huge metabolic jobs for you. When you’re dehydrated, it’s not happy or healthy because it has to help out your kidneys, which is an even bigger job, so while it’s doing that, guess what it’s not doing?
The reason for drinking filtered water is to avoid drinking tap water, which can be fattening, due to all the chemicals and toxins it contains. The best filters I have found are the Zero brand filter and the Berkey filter. I actually have both because I use the Berkey filter first (with the fluoride filter canisters) and then I pour that water through the Zero filter in my fridge for the taste I enjoy.
3.) Mind your mitochondria. The more mitochondria you have, the higher your metabolism will be. The mitochondria are the little energy engines and your cells and the best way to increase their number is with exercise, namely HIT like we do at the X Gym.
4.) Get up off your butt. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that, “sitting is the new smoking” as far as your health is concerned, but it’s also true in regards to your metabolic rate. Just changing from a sitting desk to a standing desk can raise your metabolism by at least 10%, so you would be remiss to not consider a stand up desk! I have one at home and both X Gyms. I even have a treadmill underneath my standup desk at the Alki X Gym, so I can walk at 1 mph while I work, which can boost my metabolism another 30%!
5.) Eat your fat, veggies and protein (in that order). If you’re eating clean, organic food, you won’t really have to worry much about what kind of fat, veggies and protein you’re eating, just that you do and that you eat enough – especially fat. If you’re still eating a low fat diet, you’re still misinformed and that’s why you’re having a hard time with your metabolism. 70% of my calories every day come from fat, mostly in the form of coconut oil, butter from grass fed cows and avocados. Most of the coconut oil I eat is from my fitness chocolate recipe, as I eat about half a pound every day!
6.) Check your attitude. If you believe you can and will increase your metabolism, you will be more likely to make the big and small changes necessary to make that happen (conscious and unconscious). If you don’t, or your are doubtful, your subconscious will sabotage you and make failure your reality instead. It’s actually this simple: If you can’t believe it, you won’t achieve it!
The quickest way to improving your attitude is to practice gratitude. This also helps get you out of chronic stress states, which when left unchecked, increase levels of a hormone called cortisol. That hormone is just too powerful to fight and it’s the primary fat-storing hormone, so reducing its levels in your body will go a long way towards boosting your metabolism and increasing your ability to burn body fat.
7.) Get quality sleep. Sleep deprivation, or simply just not getting enough sleep (because of poor lifestyle habits or choices) will sabotage your metabolism every time because of the buildup of cortisol in your system. Other fattening hormones and chemicals will also contribute to reducing your metabolic rate as you deprive yourself of valuable sleep, but cortisol is certainly the biggest problem. Most people need 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night. Getting a sleep app to track the quality of sleep can also be quite helpful because that will show you the effect of adjusting factors like light, EMFs, etc. to maximize your sleep time and quality.
If part of your body seem to be “hanging out” of places more than usual, it could be your weekend that is the cause. Many people tend to relax their healthy habits on the weekends as their routines are disrupted from the normal weekly schedules.
Research shows that “lazy weekends” may boost body fat and reduce overall health even faster than sedentary habits during the week. “We know that, on average, people consume less or eat healthier diets on weekdays,” explained study author Clemens Drenowatz, an assistant professor of exercise science at University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. “So, they may be able to get by with less activity on weekdays because their diet makes up for it. On weekends, they’re eating more, which requires more activity or less sedentary behavior to offset,” Drenowatz said.
Researchers found that adding just 20 minutes of activity to the weekend has significant benefits to body fat and health, as well as inspiration for more activity beyond that 20 minutes. It seems that once the “lazy weekend” cycle has started, it tends to snowball unless interrupted with some purposeful activity.
Did you know that over 90% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions fail? It’s actually more like 95%, but about 5% of the ones counted in the “success group” are lying about it because they are too ashamed to come to grips with the fact that they failed, or they “tweaked” their original resolution along the way to make it more achievable. I call the 95% who fail, “Resolutionaries” because they tend to make the same unrealistic resolution over and over, year after year and keep failing. Maybe this is where Ben Franklin’s quote came from: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Are you tired of being a Resolutionary? Are you ready to revolutionize your resolutions and try something new, instead of that same old thing that hasn’t been working for you? (more…)
People often use age as an excuse for why they aren’t as fit as they were in their 20s, but did you know that from a purely physiological standpoint, your metabolism shouldn’t slow down more than 3% per decade after turning 30 years old? This means that when you’re 40, your metabolism should still be 97% of what it was when you were 30. When you’re 70, it should still be 89% of what it was when you were 30.
Why is the decline usually faster than that? The answer is simple: We become more sedentary and/or exercise wrong.
Most people also think that muscle is harder to acquire as we age, but that’s not the case either. Numerous studies have shown that people who keep exercising, lose little to no muscle past the age of 40, even up to the age of 80! Hard to believe, right? Don’t take my word for it. Google it for yourself. It’s astonishing.
People who want to be fit past 40 should however, change some of the ways they are exercising. There are certain things people can get away with in their 20s that aren’t such good ideas past 40, like long-duration cardio for instance, or heavy, ballistic weight training. Instead of long-duration cardio (like running) that is usually high-impact and breaks down joints over time, shorter duration High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great alternative and also saves a ton of time, which is another important factor for people past 40. Instead of heavy, ballistic weight training, methods like those found at the X Gym are ideal because they are much safer, yet even more effective at building strength and muscle tone than traditional strength training.
Cardio may fight fat in younger years, but it can have the opposite effect as we age, especially as we acquire more and more stress in our lives with more responsibilities and more pressures in our careers. Yes, I said it: Cardio can actually turn into a fattening activity as we age, due to its unique ability to increase cortisol and other hormones, in addition to a high-stress life. IT can even shrink muscle mass and speed aging! The HIIT training I mentioned above and strength training (especially X Gym style) is particularly effective at reducing stress and belly fat, increasing strength, endurance and the metabolism.
Strength training is especially important for people past 40, because they are generally less active as they are more involved in the sedentary workforce than they were when they were younger. People passed 40 also are more prone to accumulating visceral fat (belly fat), which is the most dangerous type of fat. Strength training is particularly effective at keeping visceral fat in check.
Sure, there are certainly hormonal shifts that take place in the body as we age, along with other changes that warrant modifications in the way we exercise and the X Gym workout is already perfectly suited for all those changes.
You can see Herschel Walker at 53 years old in the picture top left, who is in better shape than 99.9% of the 20 year olds out there. Sure, he’s genetically gifted too, but he also doesn’t touch heavy weights or long duration cardio. And then there’s Rachel McLish, who many people think looks even better over 40 than she did in her “prime” in her 20’s as you can see pictured right. And she doesn’t touch heavy weights or long duration cardio either. It’s not just Rachel either. Heck, if I had a dime for every woman who told me they want “Madonna arms,” who showed off her best guns after she turned 40…