LIVE LIFE WELL

December 22, 2016

The Benefits of Exercising on an Empty Stomach

To eat pre-workout or not to eat pre-workout? This is a hotly debated question in the fitness world and has been for some time. We live in an age when every new fitness and diet regime swears it will be the one that helps you lose those last few pounds and give you superhero abs. So, needless to say, there are very different schools of thought when it comes to not eating before you sweat. Instead of debating on opinion, let’s look at the science behind not eating before a workout.


kettlebells
How Your Body Burns Fat

Our bodies are optimized for survival. They want to take the shortest route from A to B and burn calories in the most economical way possible. Which means that when you exercise, your body will burn through carbohydrate stores before it starts to burn through fat. Carbohydrates are a source of fast energy that require less effort for your body to process than fats and proteins. Which makes sense; you are more likely to experience hunger sooner after eating carbohydrates than if you ate more filling proteins or fats. So in order for your body to burn fat, you need to burn off carbs first.

The Results are Coming In

The Journal of Physiology (Impact Factor 4.5) published a 2010 study that looked at the fat-burning effects of eating before and after a workout in a group of healthy, active young men. The results showed that the group that exercised before eating breakfast burned fat more efficiently. They did not gain weight—despite the high-fat diet they were fed—and did not develop a resistance to insulin. The British Journal of Nutrition (Impact Factor 3.3) published 2013 study that showed, “Healthy men who ran on the treadmill for 60 minutes at a moderate intensity before eating breakfast burned 20-percent more body fat afterward than when they ran the same distance two hours after eating a morning meal.” So is it safe to say that not eating before a workout is the best way to burn fat?

But more Research is Needed

While these studies demonstrated that there is a correlation between not eating before a workout and fat-burning, there is still much more research that needs to be done. The studies mentioned used only a small group of young men who were exercising in the morning before breakfast. The studies also focused solely on aerobic/cardio activities and not strength building exercises so there may be different effects in the case of not eating before weight training. Everybody is different and some people may experience a greater feeling of muscle fatigue if they don’t eat before they train.

My Personal Experience

I used to eat big breakfasts for years, despite there being no scientific evidence to back up the myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Then, two years ago, I started intermittent fasting—8 hours of eating followed by 16 hours of fasting each day—which meant I started having breakfast later so I could have dinner at a later time. There was a bit of an adjustment period when I first started but after a while, my stomach shrank and I no longer felt the need to eat first thing in the morning. I also got over my fear of being hungry, something I used to be preemptively worried about. I did notice a drop in strength when I worked out on an empty stomach and science supports eating a light snack 30 minutes before training if you are trying to bulk. All in all, I have experienced an increase in energy and mental clarity and will continue to skip breakfast before I work out.

The best way to figure out if your body will benefit from not eating before a workout is to try it out. To make the transition easier, eat protein before going to bed so you don’t wake up hungry. If you are new to not eating pre-workout, you may find your body needs some time to adjust to your new routine. If, however, you find you need that pre-workout boost, have a small snack before you get moving. The key is to keep it small—such as half a banana—so that your body can get to burning fat faster. You can have a proper breakfast once you’ve had a good sweat. Not to worry about overeating it either; the men in the 2013 study who ran on an empty stomach didn’t consume extra calories at breakfast time, and my own experience is consistent


October 25, 2016

Cliff Hodges: Forging his own path

Cliff bow hunting

Cliff Hodges is a Wilderness Survival Instructor, Outdoor Adventure Guide, and Environmental Advocate. He is the Founder & CEO of Adventure Out, California’s largest outdoor school and guide service, and former host of the hit TV show from the National Geographic Channel, Remote Survival. Cliff holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees from MIT; he is an accomplished entrepreneur and outdoor guide; traveling the world to climb mountains, surf big waves, study with indigenous tribes, and lead groups of clients ranging from school groups to corporate executives to tap in to their true potential through wilderness adventures. Hodges also sits on the board for several nonprofit organizations and is the founder and former owner of CrossFit West and CrossFit Watsonville. Hodges has been featured in international publications such as Outside Magazine and Popular Mechanics, and also starred as a survival instructor on MTV’s television show MADE in 2010.

What drove you to become an outdoor entrepreneur?

More than anything, I wanted to do something I was passionate about. I wanted to wake up and go to work each day and be utterly excited about what I do, as well as feel like it was meaningful. I help people fall back in love with nature – what could be cooler than that?

Was it difficult leaving your corporate job? I imagine it was a very posh gig.

To be perfectly honest, no, it wasn’t. I was either lucky enough, or smart enough (maybe both) to make the decision to become self-employed at a young age (24 to be exact). I didn’t have a family, mortgage, or anything like that to worry about. I started with nothing, so I figured the worst-case-scenario would be to end up right back there in the same place, with nothing.

Can you tell us about the first 12 months of your entrepreneurship? What was the most unexpected and difficult challenge? How did you get going?

That’s a tough one – it was over 12 years ago now! …sometimes I can’t even believe I’ve been an adult for 12 years… But I would say the most difficult part in the beginning was to learn good work habits. With no office to go to, no co-workers, no boss, there were really none of those external forces to make me sit down and do work. I think it’s extremely important for young entrepreneurs to figure out how to create time and space in their daily routine for good solid work output.

What part of your business are you most proud of?

In addition to just the fact that we’ve made it this far, worked with tens-of-thousands of people, and grown so much, I am actually most proud of our Guide Training & Affiliation program. I started this about 1.5-2 years ago – with the day-to-day operation of Adventure Out being well handled by my employees, I launched this program to help other people that are interested in going down a similar path that I did. In short: I’ve taken our inner workings open-source. I offer a 2-day workshop for people to come spend the weekend with me, at my property in the Santa Cruz Mountains and learn about the nuts and bolts of how to start and operate your own outdoor business. Many of the attendees choose to then affiliate with us and license the Adventure Out brand to run their own program elsewhere. I get to share my experience, and through all of these young entrepreneurs, I get to experience the start-up phase all over again (without the stress! Haha).

Cliff Hodges


As a survival instructor, you must see a lot of people encountering completely foreign challenges. What do you think is the standout character that allows some people to excel while others don't?

I would say people that are “comfortable with being uncomfortable”. In the realm of survival/outdoor education, it’s the people that can stick to an activity or project even though it’s 100 degrees out and they’re sweating, or it’s snowing and the sun is going down. People that can control that inner voice that might be saying “this is uncomfortable, lets quit” and can push that physical discomfort out of their mind are always so successful. And I think it really applies to so many other parts of life – at the core, it is the ability to push through adversity.

Do you think your engineering background helps you excel in your current profession? If so, how?

Absolutely. A degree in engineering is a degree in problem solving, it’s as simple as that. I still don’t think I’ve ever done anything as difficult as graduating from MIT. Without intending to sound cavalier about it: life has just been easier after that. My engineering degree taught me how to look at entire systems, how to troubleshoot, and how to break things down in to smaller pieces. It’s an invaluable skillset in any realm – business, technology, and even in the outdoors.

How do you manage stress?

I go surfing. There’s nothing in my life that forces me to be more present than the ocean. The rhythm and flow of it, the peace and solitude, and when it’s big, even the thrill/adrenaline part of it. It all helps me remove myself from daily stresses of work, employees, running a business, etc and just be there in the moment with the ocean.

What is one trait that you most respect in people and why?

Generosity. I admit this is one that took me a while to get. When I was younger I don’t think I was great at giving. Now it’s my favorite thing to do. Whether it’s are large corporate donations we do every year to environmental nonprofits, or something as simple as buying dinner for a friend. Life got a lot more fun when I realized that money and “things” are a lot more fun to share and give-away than to just keep for yourself.

What are you most afraid of?

Long interviews.

Got ya. I'll wrap it up with just one more question. What is one thing you will not compromise on?

My time. When I was 18, a good family friend told me “time is our only true asset”. If I ever feel like I’m just trading my time for money, it’s time to find a new career.

 

Cliff Hodges

August 10, 2016

Fight forgetfulness

Have you noticed that you're increasingly becoming forgetful?  Yes, it is frustrating. However, there are things you can do to help keep your memory in tip-top shape.

 

Get organized

Follow simple routines, such as leaving your car keys, glasses, and cell phone in the same place every day so that finding them becomes a “no-brainer.”
Cut down on distractions

 

Kill distractions

Avoid distracting or noisy environments and multi-tasking, which are major memory busters in today’s modern fast-paced society.  Multi-tasking is terrible for you, and that's a whole series of topic just on that.


Slow down

Take a pause here and there throughout the day.  Look away from monitors and cellphones.  Take deep, slow breaths to let your mind and body relax.  Slow down and take a note of your day give your brain’s memory systems enough time to create an enduring memory.


Let your body and brain recover

Get sleep and reduce stress.  OK, easier said than done.  We will have many discussions on these topics later.  But it all starts with the recognition that if you're not serious about recovery and maintenance, then you will also never function at the peak performance level.

 

July 06, 2016

Meditate to turbocharge your mind and body

There’s more to heart attack and stroke prevention than medications, exercise, and diet. The latest research confirms that people who practice meditation are significantly less likely to have a heart attack or stroke or die within five years.

 

Benefits of meditation

Meditation can be a useful part of cardiovascular risk reduction. Along with diet and exercise, it can also help decrease the sense of stress and anxiety.
Meditation appears to produce changes in brain activity. It also can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, adrenaline levels, and levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress.

 

Types of meditation

There are many types of meditation that can result in physiological benefits. Here are some of the major types:

  • Guided meditation – which uses mental images to help you relax.
  • Transcendental meditation – which uses a repeated sound or phrase to help you empty your mind.
  • Mindfulness meditation – which focuses on the present moment and helps you to accept it without judgment. 

Quick easy way to start meditation

Getting started is easy. Just 10 minutes a day can potentially produce physiological benefits.

  1. Sit quietly and close your eyes. Breathe slowly.
  2. Relax all of your muscles, starting with your feet, legs, and thighs. Shrug your shoulders, roll your neck to the left and right. 
  3. On each “out” breath, say the word “peace.” 
  4. When thoughts come to mind, decide to come back to them later, and repeat the word “peace.” 
  5. Continue the exercise for at least 10 minutes. Repeat daily.
June 14, 2016

Foods to keep healthy and sharp mind

Sharp Mind

Science on healthy brain diets is growing

The science supporting healthy brain diets is growing every year. Researchers from around the world have provided the scientific community with new data that help explain why a Mediterranean diet is good for brain health. While there is no single ingredient that is sure to boost your mood or keep you sharp well into your old age, the correlation between mental well-being and a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and olive oil gets stronger every year.

Here are some foods that can help keep your mind sharp

  • Fish and other foods with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids may fight depression.

  • Fermented foods such as pickles and sauerkraut may decrease anxiety.

  • Antioxidant-rich fruits and green tea may prevent dementia.

Mediterranean diet is good for the brain

One of the newest studies in the field of brain health shows why Western diets (typically higher in sugar and fatty meat than a Mediterranean diet) can be bad for the brain. A nutritional psychiatry researcher and team recently discovered that Western diets can literally shrink your brain.

They studied a group of adults and determined through MRI scans that after eating a Western diet for four years they had a significantly smaller left hippocampus, a part of the brain that is essential for memory formation. The subjects also experienced higher levels of mood disorders.

Data showed that the main constituents of a healthy brain diet include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish, lean meats, and healthy fats such as olive oil, which are more related to a Mediterranean diet than a typical Western diet.

Also, a nutritional epidemiologist found that combining the Mediterranean diet with a high-nutrient, low-salt diet designed to help avoid hypertension may delay cognitive decline and prevent Alzheimer's. Their research tested the cognitive ability of nearly 1,000 adults and discovered that those who had followed the combination diet had the same cognitive scores of people who were seven years younger.

May 10, 2016

Coffee can improve your health

Coffee is part of many people’s daily routine across the world.  And it’s nothing new, many people feel that they cannot function properly without a cup of coffee.  Fortunately for coffee lovers, the benefits of coffee are beginning to be better known.

     
Coffe Coffee Coffee

 

Lot of benefits

Coffee comes from the seeds or beens of cherries that grow on the coffee tree. When you pour hot water over dried, roasted, ground coffee beans, you get the flavorful brown brew that so many people love and drink daily.

Aside from being tasty, these little beans have small amounts of magnesium, potassium, and niacin. In addition, they contain caffeine, which can reduce fatigue and improve alertness and concentration. Perhaps best of all, they are loaded with potent compounds such as chlorogenic acid and polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties that help prevent damage to your cells.

Medical researchers believe the combination of these compounds may delay the absorption of blood sugar, help cells draw sugar from the blood, increase metabolic rate, and help blood vessels contract and relax. Those actions, they suspect, account for why coffee is associated with lower blood pressure, slower rate of weight gain with age, and reduced risks for developing type 2 diabetes or dying from cardiovascular disease or neurological diseases.

 

But also risks

Health benefits are associated with an intake of one to five cups of coffee per day, and for many health conditions, it doesn’t matter much if the coffee has caffeine or not. However, in some people, too much caffeine—more than 300 milligrams per day—may lead to insomnia, nervousness, heart palpitations, and the jitters. Caffeine taken in after noontime is particularly likely to interfere with sleep. Too much caffeine may also raise blood pressure. The negative effects of caffeine go away when you stop consuming it.

Coffee’s other risks are oily substances called diterpenes, such as cafestol and kahweol. They make it into your cup if you don’t use a coffee filter. So, some caution should be exercised with drinking of unfiltered coffee, since they can raise “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.

One of the largest risks of coffee come from what you may add to it: cream, sugar, or sugary syrup. These add saturated fat and empty calories to your diet, boost your blood sugar, and promote weight gain. So be careful about what you put into your coffee cup.

Finally, keep your coffee habit in check. Stick to no more than five cups per day to keep your coffee intake at a safe level.  And if you need more than five cups a day to function, then what you really need is more and better sleep!

 

March 28, 2016

Do not make this mistake when eating yogurt

Yogurt is one of the healthiest snacks available, but you might be making a common mistake that turns a healthy snack into a sugar-laden junk food.

 

Healthy yogurt

 

French researchers from AgroParisTech invited 199 volunteers and gave each person a small serving of plain yogurt (4.4 ounces). They were allowed to sweeten the yogurt with a usual assortment of sweeteners: table sugar, honey, or jam. After finishing yogurt, the participants were asked to report how much sweetener they believed they added to their plain yogurt.

Overall, participants grossly underestimated how much sweetener they added on their yogurt. Researchers found the participants served themselves nearly twice as much sugar toppings as they thought they did, mounting up to an average of 13.6 grams of sugar.

The lesson here is simple: if you're not precisely measuring your food intake the chances are that you're eating more than you think. And that when you do eat something healthy, you could very well be using that occasion as an excuse to add unhealthy indulgence. When you take something healthy and add junk, the result is still junk food.

If you eat plain yogurt (and you should) but find the sour taste unpalatable, then we recommend just a small drizzle of Manuka honey, slices of banana or whole berries. Healthy granola with low added sugar and high fiber is also a good topping choice that would keep you full.

 

March 24, 2016

How to avoid making haphazard decisions

We cannot completely control outcomes of our actions, but we can strive to make thoughtful decisions that would maximize our chances for success. A recent study from University of Cincinnati casts light on how we might fall into a pattern of making haphazard decisions, and based on those findings we can figure out ways to improve our decision making.

Chaos vs Order

 For the study, researchers recruited college students to participate in sentence completion tasks. The students were split into two groups, where one group was given 15 minutes to formulate a sentence using unstructured words, like "chaotic, random, chance, and haphazard," and the second group was given words like "systematic, pattern, and order." When given a choice of activities afterward, such as checking email or doing school work, students in the structured second group thought more about their decision than students in the unstructured group.

Researchers then conducted a second experiment in which two groups of college students read stories about trees. One group's story explained trees grow in a patterned and orderly way, while the second group's story said trees grow without any definitive patterns.

After the students read their assigned stories, they were asked to choose a small gift out of six options, such as a keychain, voice recorder, FM tuner pen, quick-release keychain, voice recorder pen, super-bright chip light, or a multi-tool kit; then, they were asked how much thought they put into their selection. The result showed students who read the story about trees growing in a systematic pattern put more thought into their gift than the group that read about trees growing in a randomized pattern.

The insinuation that the world is orderless influences one to believe that deliberating about a decision is useless, which leads to making decisions that aren't well thought through.

Improve your decision making process by putting yourself in a clean, quiet and organized environment. Take a deep breath. Go for a hike. Heck, go hang out at an apple store. We do some of our best thinking while hiking (phones turned off, nothing but just the nature and us), and we maintain minimalistic office with a no-clutter policy.

The very first step to getting yourself motivated is to believe that your actions will affect specific outcomes. Without that belief, why would anyone try? If the world is random, then there is no sense in thinking; just roll the dice. Help yourself getting in the right frame of mind by minimizing chaotic elements in your life.

March 21, 2016

Exfoliation is great for health and not just for your skin

We emphasize regularly shedding old dead cells from skin surface as an important aspect of your face care routine. Clearing out the old is the necessary precursor to letting new cells grow. Now, there are more researches indicating that regular purging of dead cells from your body could have a much larger overall health impact.

Cell Division

 

Mayo Clinic researchers have found that a buildup of dead cells (cells that have stopped dividing, also called senescent) can negatively impact health, and even shorten the lifespan of healthy mice by as much as 35 percent. Therefore, clearing out these “zombie” cells is beneficial because it delays tumor formation, preserves organ and tissue function, and extends lifespan while keeping the organism healthier.

The immune system is supposed to clear out these dead cells naturally and on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this process becomes less effective as time passes, and makes the organism vulnerable to the senescent cells. These senescent cells can unleash a torrent of problems that damage adjacent cells and cause chronic inflammation, a common theme among age-related diseases.

The Mayo Clinic researchers are developing methods to clean up these senescent cells which would be useful for fighting against age-related diseases or conditions. Looks like more medical breakthroughs are just around the corner; we just have to find ways to maintain good health for 30 more years (then we can live forever? Haha).

Our skin is unique because it’s the one major organ which we can access directly. As we age, our natural ability to regularly shed the outermost skin layer diminishes, which results in dull, dried out complexion. Regular exfoliation is key, so use alphahydroxy-acids (ingredients in WASH) daily. They’re like prune juice for your skin.

March 18, 2016

Stop saying you're sorry

Great communication will help you get what you want. Sure, some people are just naturally charismatic just as some are just naturally superior athletes, but we can all become excellent communicators by continually tweaking small things.

SORRY

Here is something you should not say often : I am sorry.  Often we use "sorry" as a filler word to wiggle out of uncomfortable situations (for example, "Sorry, do you have a minute?"), and it's about as insincere as "how are you doing." What's particularly insidious about "sorry" is that it's easy to become a habit. Here is why you don't want that:

As soon as you start off with "sorry" you set yourself up at a disadvantage. How do you react as soon as someone tells you "Sorry..."? You're already bracing for something unpleasant to come at you. By leading with "sorry" you're staging the conversation on a negative tilt.

It makes you seem uncomfortable and lacking in confidence. If you believe in what you're doing, then you don't need to apologize. Own up to it and be cool.

If you seem weak, people are less likely to believe in you, which in turn means you're less likely to get what you want. When you don't get what you go for, you become discouraged, your confidence suffers, and you become even more timid, then people trust you even less. A little bit of a negative habit will add up to a huge impact over time.

Instead, think like this: in your mind replace "sorry" with "I apologize" and see if that sounds OK to you. "I apologize. Can I borrow you for a minute?" sounds plain weird; don't say "sorry" there. "I apologize for running 10 minutes late" sounds perfectly reasonable; in that case, say that you're sorry. People would appreciate you owning up to something you shoud be genuinely sorry about. That's confidence. But even better yet - just don't do things you'd be sorry about in the first place.