Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Food Swaping: Choosing The Lesser of Two Evils

For fun, I picked up Eat This, Not That from a used bookstore recently. It made sense to encourage choosing healthy foods for unhealthy ones, and I wanted to see what kinds of suggestions they offered in this self-professed "no-diet diet."

I was surprised to see the editors steering people not to what's healthy, but what's less unhealthy, based on changing criteria.

Let me give you an example:
Don't eat Lay's Classic Potato Chips. Eat fried pork skins instead.

I kid you not.

The rationale for eating three extra grams of saturated fat and more than triple the sodium? Why waste calories on nutritionally void chips when you can get 16 extra grams of protein for the same amount of calories?

Some of the suggestions were not as jaw-dropping as this, but they weren't much better: one trail mix has "less chocolate," go for the smaller, baked cracker — oh, and try the pastry with less pudding crammed into it.

I understand the philosophy: swapping out "better" food with little effort chips away at bad eating habits. Next thing you know, you're eating fried pork skins and Goldfish every time you stop for snack food at the gas station.  And that's not a bad thing.

While that kind of life change isn't a bad thing, it isn't the best thing.

We live in a land where processed food is cheap and plentiful and requires no thought at all, where every day is a splurge. Swapping a pudding pie for a cake may be a good choice, but it's not the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.

Maybe if we put more thought into what we put in our mouths, we can eat better and feel better. String cheese may be available at that same convenience store. Sunflower seeds, sugar-free juice, even an apple or banana are available at convenience stores these days.

In a world where our entire lives are splurges, let's choose to splurge less, so our decisions are easier to make.

— Chris

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Video: Train Like MMA Fighter

Mixed martial arts is a popular sport, and it can provide great fitness. Here is an A.C.E. video, "How to Train like a Mixed Martial Arts Fighter."

Do you plan to try any of Doug's favorite exercises? I do.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Do it Right: Lunges With Knees Over The Toes

Many health professionals advise to not have the knees extend over the toes while exercising. Lunges are a prime example of this position.

From a kinetic standpoint, the knee is a hinge joint (just as the elbow is a hinge joint). They both are designed to flex past 90 degrees (knee flexion 0-130 degrees, elbow flexion 0-160 degrees).

If the knee has 130 degrees of flexibility, why, then, are we told to keep it at 90 degrees or less?
Logically, this would mean bicep curls should not go past 120 degrees, or that we should not touch our shoulders.

Let's look at this from an athletic point of view: whenever we jog, run, bike or climb stairs, our knees extend beyond our toes. This is a natural movement for the knee.

This position is not what causes injury. In most cases, what causes injury is a deceleration with a change of direction.

If I stop short with one knee over my toes and attempt to turn, the ACL experiences extra force from the pressure of the leg trying to slow movement. Then the knee attempts to turn as I change direction.  If the knee turns either before or after the foot, the ACL can become damaged.

Ideally, the foot, knee and hip should rotate in unison to avoid injury.

In order to do proper lunges with more range of motion and less risk, follow this procedure:

  1. Take a large step forward with your front leg just slightly bent.  (Do not step into a deep lunge position, as this will cause a deceleration. If your balance is off, the resulting change of direction can cause injury.)
  2. Make sure your balance is secure and your feet are firm on the ground.
  3. Drop down so your back knee is at 90 degrees. This will put your front knee over the toes.
  4. Straighten the legs and repeat to the other side.

Let me know what you think: comment below or visit my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/GetInShapeWithDavid. (Be sure to "like" me while on Facebook!)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cross-Training: Take it Outside

Now that spring and summer are here it is much easier to cross-train. Take your workouts outside.

Good cross-training exercises include beach volleyball, swimming, baseball and the like.

Cross training lessens the chance of injury, gives better post workout calorie burn and increases vitamin D intake from being outside.

Make sure to remember that being fit can be fun, too.