Icelandic Fitness

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Minding Your P’s and Double Q’s

By now, you’ve probably heard of COQ-10 and what the supplement can do- boosting energy, speeding recovery, and helping to reduce the effects of certain medicines on your heart, muscles, and other organs. Well, one of the newer supplements on the block is PQQ-10, which some consider the “fountain of youth” for your cells.

pqqsupplement

PQQ-10 – its scientific name, Pyrroloquinoline quinone – is actually a compound found in plant foods. And, while it’s not currently thought of as a vitamin, some experts believe it could be considered an essential nutrient in the not too distant future.

 

So, what does it do? PQQ helps grow and develop cells and is an extremely powerful

antioxidant. Research shows that it plays a critical role in nutrition. And, when it’s deliberately omitted from diets in mammals, it impairs growth, compromises immune systems and interferes with the ability to reproduce.

 

But, what’s considered the most important function of PQQ is what it does to key enzymes involved in producing energy in our cells – called the mitochondria. PQQ not only improves energy production, it promotes the spontaneous generation of new mitochondria within aging cells – and that’s where it gets credit as being a “fountain of youth” – at least, for your cells.

energy_mitochondria

The benefits of PQQ revolve around what it can potentially do for (or block) what happens to us as we age- Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and many other chronic degenerative illnesses. The current research on PQQ has mostly focused on its ability to protect memory and cognition in both aging animals and humans.

 

In animal studies, PQQ has been shown to:

  • reverse cognitive impairment caused by chronic stress and improve performance on memory tests
  • protect brain cells against damage
  • protect against the likelihood of severe stroke
  • prevent the development of a protein associated with Parkinson’s disease
  • protect nerve cells from a protein linked with Alzheimer’s disease

 

PQQ is sort of anti-aging armor for our most energy-intensive organs – the brain and the heart. And, it’s been shown to optimize health and function of the entire central nervous system.

 

So how much and how often? Well- the current recommendation of 10 to 20 mg of PQQ daily is mostly based on what researchers have seen in animal studies. For humans, studies have shown that 20 mg per day of PQQ resulted in improvements on tests of higher cognitive function in a group of middle-aged and elderly people. But, get this – the effects were even more significant when the test subjects also took 300 mg per day of CoQ10.

 

So, the bottom-line? Minding your P’s and Q’s may just help you (and your cells) have a longer and more productive life.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Bryson DeChambeau: the most interesting man in golf

Bryson DeChambeau: Slack lining, but definitely not a slacker

 

He’s a weird mix of throw back (that hat and those pants!) and a kind of new age, scientific thinker (he majored in physics) who’s definitely got the golf world wondering what he’ll do next. Bryson DeChambeau turned pro in mid-April, won $260,000 in his first professional outing and chartered a private jet to get home.

 

That last minute plane ride might seem a bit out of character for a 22-year-old who is a stickler for preparation. He’s obsessed with it. DeChambeau is known for soaking his golf balls in Epsom salt to determine if they’re out of balance. In the lead up to this year’s Masters, he played Augusta 10 times in four and a half months, studying hole locations and putting surfaces. Trying to figure out how he could win the course.

 

At times, he seems like a nerd, but he’s certainly not a stereotype. While he approaches the game scientifically, he’s not afraid to use his inquisitive mind to work out solutions to problems, whether that’s on the course or off. That mind has also pushed him to challenge himself with a fitness routine that’s anything but.

 

You won’t see many other golfers embracing the strange acrobatics of what’s called a “slack line.” It’s like a tightrope, suspended off the ground, but with a wider surface and more loosely strung. DeChambeau has posted videos on his popular Instagram account, showing him walking a slack line and catching balls while trying to keep his balance. It’s an exercise that forces the body to engage several muscle groups at once, but puts much of the focus on the core. A strong core is key to a good golf swing. And, he’s proving that his swing is one of the best and most consistent.

 

DeChambeau stays consistent and produces the same swing over and over again, because his clubs are all the same length. And, that might have the potential to transform the game by putting less stress on the lower back, resulting in fewer injuries and longer careers.

 

Most golfers play with variable-length irons. With each club, your body has to change posture and readjust. It’s only a slight change, but, to complete the swing, your muscles have to move in different ways, putting your body and specifically the lower back, at more risk for injury.

 

In fact, back problems affect a good number of golfers, professional and amateur. This year, back injuries kept both Tiger Woods and Fred Couples out of the Masters.

When he was 19-years-old, Rory McIlroy had back problems, but committed himself to a workout routine that’s made him one of the fittest golfers on the PGA and European Tours.

 

For golf’s new stars – players like McIlroy and DeChambeau, the game has evolved. There is more emphasis on preparation and some of that is a bit unconventional to say the least. But, they’re finding that it pays to keep in shape, both physically and mentally. That’s how you get to the top of the leader board.

 

 

Coconut Oil: The New Superfood

Coconut Oil: The New Super Food?

coconut oil

It’s become one of the most talked about foods on the Internet, with some calling it a “super food.” Coconut oil is said to slow aging, help your heart and thyroid, protect against disease and assist you in losing weight. Still, organizations such as the American Heart Association continue to caution consumers against all tropical oils, including coconut oil. So what’s the real story?

 

For most Americans, coconut oil was something we never heard of. Now, it’s becoming more of a staple cooking oil in many homes. The reason is that its unique combination of fatty acids has been found to have positive effects on health. Plus, coconut oil contains antioxidants, known to protect us from cell damage, aging and disease.

 

This might sound scary – coconut oil is mostly saturated fat. We’ve all been told to avoid saturated fat. However, the saturated fat in coconut oil is not the average run-of-the-mill saturated fat that you would find in cheese or steak. The fat in coconut oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length.

 

So, what does that mean? Well, medium-chain fatty acids are metabolized differently. They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they’re used as a quick source of energy.  Which can help you burn fat and lose weight.

 

Of course, it may sound a little strange that weight loss can come from eating something that’s pretty high in calories. One tablespoon of coconut oil contains an average of 117 calories and 13 grams of fat. But, what you weigh is not just a matter of calories; it’s the quality and the source of those calories. It’s a fact that different foods affect our bodies and hormones in different ways. The bottom line- a calorie is not a calorie.

 

And, body fat is not just body fat. Coconut oil appears to be especially effective in reducing abdominal fat, which makes itself at home in the abdominal cavity and crowds around organs. Abdominal fat is thought to be the most dangerous fat of all and is associated with many diseases, like diabetes. Two studies, one with 40 women, another with 20 obese men, found that including an ounce of coconut oil in their diet each day led to a pretty significant reduction in abdominal fat. And the test subjects did not change their eating or exercise habits. They just added in coconut oil.

 

So what about the cautions from the American Heart Association? Well, it’s mostly about moderation; the Association would like you to limit your saturated fat intake to no more than 16 grams a day. And, like any oil, you should use coconut oil in moderation.

 

However, not all coconut oil is created equal. Avoid the refined coconut oil; go for the organic virgin coconut oil. It’s probably sitting right there on your grocery store shelf. There are a variety of brands with a range of prices.

 

And, once you try it, you might want to look into all the other uses for coconut oil. Like, hair conditioner, toothpaste, moisturizer, makeup remover; the list goes on. For some people, coconut oil is a “miracle” they can’t live without.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

 

Turn to the light: Infrared sauna has recovery, health benefits

You get sweaty enough working out, so why would you want to close yourself up in a little room and turn up the heat to sweat some more? The answer? To feel better and get stronger.

The benefits of saunas have been known for centuries. In some countries, like Finland and Japan, there’s a whole culture built around them and every member of the family takes part. Saunas can help you relax, relieve stress, and, be healthier – no matter your fitness level.

There are two types of saunas – traditional and infrared. And, while the traditional sauna is beneficial, the infrared sauna is what’s now being recommended by physical therapists as treatment for muscle aches and pains and to aid in recovery. Some doctors and researchers also believe infrared therapy can help you overcome a wide variety of illnesses.

Here’s why: the heat from a traditional sauna will only penetrate your skin by a few millimeters. Infrared heat penetrates by 1½ inches or more. That more efficiently targets what ails you. By heating up your body, there’s increased blood flow, which is great in reducing muscle spasms and joint stiffness. There’s also evidence that when used 24 to 48 hours post injury, infrared energy can reduce the time it takes for your body to heal sprains and strains.

 

Infrared saunas have many other health benefits, including detoxing heavy metals and chemicals. When you sweat, you excrete toxins through your pores. And doctors with NASA and the Medical College of Wisconsin found that infrared light significantly promotes faster cell regeneration, wound healing and human tissue growth.

 

Infrared saunas work by producing light rays that mimic those of the sun, but there’s no chance of burning. The light rays heat up your body, producing an elevated heart rate and of course, sweat. Basically, being in a sauna is like having a low-grade fever. And when you get warm, your body can kill off bacteria, fungi, yeast infection, parasites, viruses and other chronic infections.

 

There have been hundreds of clinical trials with infrared saunas, many reporting that the therapy is successful in treating a wide variety of conditions. Some patients experienced a great deal of relief with these and other problems:

  • Asthma, Bronchitis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Circulation problems like cold hands and feet
  • High Blood pressure
  • Leg ulcers
  • Acne and other skins problems
  • Pain Relief
Inferred Sauna

                    Infrared Sauna

How to get started? Well, even though you aren’t actually working out, a sauna is like exercise in that, your body heats up and your heart rate elevates. So, consider infrared sauna use to be like a form of exercise.

 

Start slow, with sessions that last 10-15 minutes, then build up to 30-40 minutes over one to two months. It all depends on what kind of condition you’re in when you start.

 

Infrared saunas are now a matter of course, built into the conditioning plan for many NFL players and other professional athletes. What’s good for them can be very good for you.

 

 

Getting Ready for Ski and Board Season

The leaves have turned and there’s already been a dusting of snow on Colorado’s highest peaks. That means ski and snowboard season is just a few weeks away.

 

Unlike other sports, it’s hard to practice the elements of skiing or snowboarding unless you’re actually on the run at the resort. And, since snow sports can be a bit expensive, most of us only ski or board a few times a year. So, conditioning for it can be problematic.

 

But, you need to get ready to avoid injury and the misery of sore muscles and possibly a few bumps and bruises. If you’re not currently working out, it’s not too late to get started so you can enjoy ski season this year. If you are regularly working out, all you need to do is to add a few tweaks to your program.

 

One of the biggest things is simply endurance. Cardio endurance. If you’re not doing cardio now, just think about how you might be feeling after skiing or boarding all day with that expensive lift ticket. Sure, the lift gets you to the top. But, you have to get to the bottom. Without cardio conditioning, your legs are going to feel like Jell-O, you’ll be tired and those two added together equal an increased risk of accidents.

 

To get your heart and body ready for all day skiing or boarding, your cardio program should include at least three to five days a week of running, the Stairmaster or the elliptical trainer. Workout from 20 to 45 minutes, and one day a week, do it for a complete hour.

 

One of the great things about skiing and boarding is that they use quite a few muscle groups- they’re pretty much full body exercise. However, some muscles are used more than others. Those are the ones you want to concentrate on in your workouts.

 

  • Quadriceps. They’re probably the most used muscle. Quads help hold you in position as you glide down the slope. Simple squats and lunges, with or without weights, are probably the best quad exercises.
  • Hamstrings and Glutes. When going downhill, you hold your body (lower body) in a flexed position, with knees bent. Hamstrings and Glutes help stabilize you. Work these muscles with dead lifts, step-ups and hamstring curls.
  • Inner and Outer Thighs. If you ski, your inner thighs have to work to keep your skis together. You use your outer thighs to stay stable and steer. Work these muscles with side lunges, inner thigh leg lifts, inner thigh squeezes, side step squats and leg lifts.
  • Because you’re keeping your knees bent, your calves have to work to keep you on your skis or board. Do standing calf raises or machine calf raises to strengthen these muscles.
  • Abs and Back. Because you’re in a flexed position, your back and abs have to also work to keep you stable and keep your body in that position. Work these muscles with exercises like back extensions, dumbbell rows, and pain old sit-ups.
  • What happens when you get stuck in powder or you slow down a bit too much to make the turn to get back on the lift? If you’re a skier, that means you have to use your poles to get where you’re going. So, work your biceps and triceps along with the rest of your body.

 

Getting ready for ski and board season is not that hard. And, it pays huge dividends because you’re more able to enjoy the sport and you’re less likely to get injured. If you’re lucky enough to be able to hit the slopes this winter, you’ll have a much better and safer time if you’re prepared.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Expired Supplements: Throw them out or keep them?

In the midst of doing some spring-cleaning, I found a half-empty economy size bottle of multi-vitamins in the medicine cabinet. According to the label, they expired just a few weeks ago. The question- keep them or throw them out?

 

I really didn’t want to throw them out- it seemed pretty wasteful. So, I did a little research to answer a couple of questions- are expired supplements harmful? And, if not- are they still beneficial?

 

What I found answered both questions, and I decided to keep the vitamins. Let me share the details with you.

 

First, let’s start with the expiration date. The expiration date is the last day (or month) an item will be at its highest level of potency. This is essentially an assurance from the manufacturer that the quality and strength of their product is guaranteed up until the expiration date. That doesn’t mean that the product loses any benefit or becomes harmful the day after it “expires.”

 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require supplements to have expiration dates. But, most manufacturers voluntarily list dates partially because it gives their consumers some piece of mind.

 

Most expiration dates are conservative, whether you’re dealing with supplements or prescription medication. Both start breaking down the day after they’re manufactured, so the fact that the product has “expired” mainly means that its lost strength, and may not have the same affect that it did when it was fresh.

 

Vitamins deteriorate at different rates, so manufacturers often times “beef up” the strength of some vitamins that deteriorate faster, in order to assure that they will be at the listed strength at the time of expiration.

 

One thing you should take a look at is they way you store your vitamins. It can have a big impact on how long your supplements will retain their strength. Be sure to check the label to see what the manufacturer advises on storage. Some folks keep their vitamins in the refrigerator, but you shouldn’t do that unless the instructions say so.

 

Most likely, the manufacturer will suggest that you keep your vitamins in a cool, dry, dark place and in their original containers. Some vitamins come in dark glass bottles or opaque containers to help preserve their potency. You should also store them away from heat and humidity, which makes the medicine cabinet one of the worst places for storage. I’ll be moving my supplements to the hall linen closet and putting them on a high shelf to keep them away from the kids.

If you store them properly, vitamins can last four or five years. And, taking “expired” vitamins is generally safe- they just won’t be as potent. It will take me about two more months to finish off this bottle of multi-vitamins, which means I’ll take the last few around three months after they “expired.” Perfectly safe.

 

Next time, though, I’ll be keeping better track of where I store my supplements so I can be sure to take them everyday. That’s how I ended up with this half empty bottle in the first place.

 

Jason Stone

Performance Coach, Icelandic Fitness, Denver, Colorado

Crack of dawn, or after dark? The best time to workout

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Quite a few of my clients lately have been asking me- when is the best time during the day to work out? Some like to get up before dawn for a run. Others could never bring themselves to break a sweat before noon. The truth is that while there could be some calorie burning advantages to working out in the early morning- it’s certainly not for every one.

 

Why? Well, I like to work out early, but my body clock is probably not the same as yours. Your body’s circadian rhythm determines whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, and there’s not much you can do to change that.

 

The earth’s 24-hour rotation governs your circadian rhythm. The rhythms influence pretty much everything about your body- blood pressure, body temperature, hormone levels and heart rate. All of that plays an important role in whether you’re ready to exercise or not. Of course, most of us also have to take into account our work schedules and family obligations.

 

Bottom line- the most important thing you can do it to choose a time of day you can stick with, so that exercise becomes a habit.

 

Why early morning? That could be best, especially if you have problems with consistency. Get your exercise in before other pressures interfere- like work and family.

 

Of course, to feel like exercising in the morning, you need to have a good night’s sleep. Good, regular bedtime habits help get your body ready for rest so you can get your eight hours. Late night physical activity or eating late can sabotage your body’s urge to sleep.

 

For some people, lunchtime is the best time to exercise, especially if they enjoy company, like co-workers who are willing to hit the gym or take a run or a walk. One thing to keep in mind- eat after you work out, not before. If you eat before, the blood that needs to go to your muscles is going instead to your digestive tract to help you break down that meal. Remember what your mom told you about swimming? Wait 90 minutes after a heavy meal to work out.

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You don’t have to be an expert on circadian rhythms to determine the best time to exercise. Simply try different times of the day. Work out in the morning for a few weeks, and then try lunchtime, then early evening. Discover which time you enjoy most and which makes you feel the best? Then, make every effort to keep that appointment with yourself.

 

Most importantly is to find a time that makes working out a consistent part of your life.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Lose weight, clean out your refrigerator

stateofslim

One of my clients is trying to lose 15 pounds by May for her trip to the Kentucky Derby with the Colorado Diet. She cleaned out her fridge this week and gave me all her temptations. That’s one way to rid yourself of temptation.

What’s the Colorado Diet? It’s an easy to follow program that’s aimed at resetting your metabolism.

The diet is outlined in the book “State of Slim,” written by two doctors at the CU Medical Center. The plan is pretty simple- eat healthy and exercise more. It’s a sixteen-week program that promises to help you lose around 20 pounds.

The book includes recipes, sample menus and an exercise plan that will have you exercising 70 minutes a day by the end of the four months. If you’re just starting out, that might sound like a lot of activity, but the plan slowly ramps up the time you spend working out.

The authors don’t really want to describe the Colorado Diet as a diet, but a lifestyle change. Colorado is the leanest states in the nation. And, it’s not necessarily because we eat better (at least not all the time), but we hike, bike, swim, run, ski- we move. The mountains and our open spaces are great incentives to get outdoors almost any month of the year.

Still- what you put in your mouth matters. That’s why my client cleaned out her fridge. The Colorado Diet advocates what I’ve been telling the clients I work with for years- eat smaller meals more often, eat breakfast within an hour of waking up and have the right carb and protein mix at every meal.

Whenever I work with someone new, I always ask them to keep a food diary for a few days so they (and I) can see exactly what they’re eating. Making a few small adjustments, such as, high-protein Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt, will make a difference.

The bottom line, with diet or exercise, it’s better to start out slowly than to try and make all the changes all at once. That’s a recipe for failure.

You can check out the Colorado Diet here: http://www.stateofslim.com

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Step Away from the Juicier, Grab Some Bone Broth

It’s the newest thing in healthy eating, but your grandmother probably knew all about it. She most likely had a full pot simmering on the back burner.

Bone broth- some folks call it stock- is the first new big health craze of 2015. The trend has been quickly gaining traction all over the world, and is now right here in Colorado.

What is it? Exactly what it sounds like. Broth made from animal bones. Used as stock in soups and stews and other recipes, you can buy it ready made at some grocery stores, online, or at Denver area restaurants. And yes, you can make it at home.

What can bone broth do?

• Reduce joint pain and inflammation. The glucosamine and chondroitin in bone broth can encourage the growth of new collagen, help repair damaged joints, and reduce pain and inflammation.
• Help with bone formation. You’re drinking (or eating) what’s basically bone in liquid form. Calcium, magnesium, collagen, and phosphorus. They all help bones to grow and repair and are the perfect way to fight osteoporosis.
• Support skin, hair and nail growth. The collagen and gelatin in bone broth support hair growth and help to keep nails strong.
• Relieve stress. Amino acids in bone broth can be very calming. (and can help you sleep).

Three Boulder fooderies- Fresh Thymes, Blackbelly and Cured- have jumped on the bone broth bandwagon are preparing and selling broth by the bowl or cup or by the quart.

http://denver.eater.com/2015/1/21/7861995/bone-broth-trend-crashes-into-boulder-with-three-new-options

You can make your own bone broth at home- it’s pretty simple. Even though it has to simmer for hours, it only takes a few minutes to get it started.

The most important thing is to get high quality bones. Wild, grass fed, organic, or at least all natural chicken, beef, pork or fish bones. Remove the meat and put the bones in the pot, cover with fresh water, add a splash of apple cider vinegar (to help extract the minerals from the bone). Now simmer for 3-24 hours. Or, put it in a slow cooker.

Make it better by adding any or all of the following: garlic, onions, vegetables like carrot and celery and herbs. When it’s done, strain out the bones and vegetables and divide the broth into usable potions. It will stay good in the fridge for about 5 days and in the freezer for months.

Here’s a how to guide: http://wellnessmama.com/5888/how-to-make-bone-broth/
And, a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fmSfaORNq0

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Staying in shape with an office job

Staying in shape with an office job

When you spend most of your day sitting in a chair, hunched over a computer screen, it’s not hard to see why you may be a few pounds (or more) overweight.

Office jobs encourage less activity and more snacking, what with all the treats co-workers tend to bring to work.

What you may not know is that all of that sitting around is slowly killing you. One study showed that men who sit for more than six hours a day had a 20% higher death rate than those who sat for three hours or less. For women, the death rate was 40% higher.So what can you do?

Stay active throughout the day. The good news is that you can find ways to sneak some exercise into your work routine so you can be around to see your grandkids.

  1. Make Getting to Your Office a Challenge
    Don’t park in the closest spot. Drive to the far end of the lot so you have to walk further to get into the building.
  2. Once you’re inside, take the stairs.
    Walk at first, then work your way up to a full sprint. Don’t worry about becoming the subject of office gossip. None of your co-workers will see you. They’re taking the elevator.
  3. Sit up straight!
    Slumped shoulders come from leaning forward to see your computer screen.
    Make the effort to practice good posture throughout the day. Yes, it’s hard at first, but practicing good posture while sitting and standing can reduce tension in your neck, shoulders and back and strengthen your core.
  4. Get up and move every 45 minutes
    Work hard for 45 minutes, then, get up and walk outside (if the weather permits) or move around the office for 15 minutes.
    Taking frequent breaks is good for both your body and your brain.

5.  Do the Grok

Also known as the Asian Squat, the Grok Squat can help relieve the back, groin, and hip tightness that come from sitting in a chair all day.

The Grok is a lot like a catcher’s stance in baseball. Simply squat down until your butt touches your ankles. Keep your heels on the ground and your back straight. Hold that position for 30 seconds to a minute.The Grok will help you stretch your hamstrings, quads, Achilles tendons, lower back, and groin. If you’re really tight, it may take a few days for you to be able to master the Grok. Keep at it.

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness