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Saturday
Oct302010

Therapeutic Massage Is Saving Me

As an older (or at least middle-aged) athlete, my body has absorbed a couple of lifetimes of exercise and injury. Working full-time as a personal trainer means I’m on my feet many hours, slowly lifting weights for others as I rack and un-rack machines and bars. Couple that with my own workout sessions and bike rides, and I find myself walking around in a body that hurts somewhere each day.

Over the years I’ve utilized Active Release Therapy to assist me in healing a ruptured rotator cuff without surgery. That was terrific (Mary at Iola Family Chiropractic). Several chiropractors have worked on my body over the years, and here and there I’ve enjoyed massages. A few years ago I bought a “deep tissue” massage, but that turned out to hurt like hell and seemed to damage me, not heal my sore muscles.


Imagine how happy I was to meet Inna Mazur, owner of The Massage Factory, at Gold’s Gym. She convinced me I would benefit from her knowledge and experience, especially someone who works out as often and as intensely as I do (and is as old as I am!). 

I cannot over-emphasize how happy and amazed I am with her work. Inna has treated my recurring rotator cuff pain, my bulging disc and IT band issues, and general tightness and small, accumulated damages to my structure. Having enjoyed four injections into my spine early this year thanks to my bulging disc, I’m learning how to utilize therapy, stretching and foam roller work to keep me from the surgeon. 

Inna is instrumental in the process. She is certified in more therapies than fits on her office wall, and has become integral to my ongoing health and fitness education. I cannot recommend Inna Mazur highly enough for massage therapy, whether you have pain, need stress reduction, desire deep tissue work, or suffer from migraines or pain elsewhere.

(920) 450-2142

www.themassagefactory.com

Saturday
Oct302010

Muscle Gauge Protein Powder

Having dumped every protein powder in the world into a blender at one time or another, I’m always happy when a new product mixes well, tastes great and happens to be high-quality. Muscle Gauge Premium Blend fits this description nicely.

Recently I sampled their Ice Cream Sandwich, Vanilla, Chocolate Mint and Cinnamon Bun flavors. It was no surprise to me that I enjoyed Chocolate Mint, ‘cause I always like that combo, whether protein powder or ice cream! Oddly enough in my experience, the Cinnamon Bun was good, too. Initially I considered that a weird flavor, a novelty, but I liked it ok.  


But, how did they mix and blend? Absolutely fine. I tried the powder with water, mixed with a spoon, and also in combo with oatmeal and fruit in a blender. No lumping, no sticking to the side of the blender. I experienced no “why did I just drink that and what’s that aftertaste” with this protein. Flavor is fine.

Muscle Gauge Premium Blend is produced utilizing cold processing, so there’s little degradation during manufacturing. I like the ratio of 22 grams of protein to 1 little gram of carbs, too. In fact, I like that a great deal. This would be wonderful on a ketogenic or Atkins diet.  www.musclegauge.com


Sunday
Oct242010

I no longer buy CDs!

Today I was visiting an old friend of mine, Rick Laev. We met about 25 years ago at a record show, and have spent countless hours together looking at and buying records and CDs and music DVDs. I've collected recorded music since the early '60s. Rick still avidly buys CDs, and was a bit surprised to hear that I don't. My last CD purchase was two or three Bob Dylan releases ago. In fact, I own only a handful of the shiny discs any longer. Needless to say, the few vinyl albums i own were issued by old friends like Cub Koda. They mean a great deal to me. But there are more than 32,000 songs in my iTunes library, living on external drives and in the cloud (thanks to Carbonite backup). I have songs, albums and playlists in iPods and my iPhone. A Bose iPod player is my primary sound system at home. Years ago I got tired of the clutter, the stuff. In the early '80s I owned tens of thousands of records. At one time I had many thousand CDs. Now I believe if Steve Jobs hadn't developed the products and culture he did with Apple Computers, I'm afraid by now an episode of "Hoarders" would have included myself! Am I untrue to my record collecting roots, or living in today's world and enjoying technological advantages? I sure don't miss all the crates and boxes; I certainly lament the loss of cover art and liner notes I can read. But I love my iPod and MacBook. And most of all, I will always love and appreciate passionate music! Several generations don't collect the stuff of music; they collect music. I believe they feel as strongly about their musical favorites as I ever did. How do you feel about this? Still a collector? Still a music fan? Bob Dylan said the times are 'changing. Indeed they are.
Thursday
Oct212010

Food Rants and Likes 9-28-10

It's About Time I Got Back To Publishing!

Many of you have asked why I’ve issued no newsletters all summer, or have wondered why I removed you from my mailing list. Frankly, I’ve been too busy bicycling, camping, traveling, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors to come inside on a nice weekend and park my butt at a computer! Unlike past summers, my workload at Gold’s didn’t lessen, so I’ve continued training long hours. Now days are shorter, the weather is erratic, I’ve become a warm-weather cyclist, so you’ll be hearing me rant and rave on a regular basis now about Stuff I Like and Stuff I Laugh At!



Shocking News: Bacon, Hot Dogs, Sausage, Lunch Meat are Crap!

The link between heart disease and diabetes appears to really be about processed meats, not fresh red meat. Confirmation once again that all that handy, already-sliced product in the deli case is bad for your heart. Just walk away and buy some lean ground sirloin or turkey breast.

 “Healthy people who tended to eat a lot of preserved meats like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and cold cuts were much more likely than those who rarely touch the stuff to go on to develop heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. The more they ate, the higher the risk,” says Deborah Franklin, one of the researchers, writing at NPR.com.

Eating unprocessed red meat with the same amount of fat — steaks, hamburgers, lamb chops and the like — showed no such effect,” she added.

Scientists are trying to figure out just why these processed meat products are so unhealthy. It could be the extra salt, the nitrates and other preservatives, the way it’s cooked, or something else yet to be determined. 

Read the study in the American Heart Journal 

So You Think You Eat Well?

I constantly talk about how nutrition is more important than training. Eat the best food you can get your hands on. The quality of your nutrition is more important than the quantity. In my opinion, very few of those who think they eat healthily actually do.

Brian St. Pierre, a nutritionist with Cressey Performance, feels just as strongly about this. Writing in TMuscle.com, he says that consistently making good food choices “is the true linchpin to body composition success.” Here are five foods he says will quickly add to the quality of your calories and help you transform your physique. 

Sprouted grains, rather than “whole grains.” Quoting St. Pierre, 

“most whole-grain breads in supermarkets today are complete crap.” 

Without going into a rant about sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, let me say I agree. Sprouted grain-based breads, such as Ezekiel Bread, have much higher vitamin content, very nice fiber levels, complete protein, and little affect on your blood sugar. You’ll find Ezekiel Bread in the freezer case in the health food areas of Copps, Festival and Woodmans. This is the only bread in my house; well actually, in the freezer or fridge, as it contains no preservatives, you must keep it refrigerated. Toast it before eating. Smeared with some natural peanut butter, accompanied by a strong cup of coffee, it’s wonderful!


Pasture Butter. Yeah, this is a new one to me, also. Turns out to simply be butter from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows. It’s high in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2, and contains a high concentration of the short-chain fatty acid butyrate. Studies are showing butyrate to actually help reverse the effect of metabolic syndrome (in other words, lose bodyweight, decrease cholesterol, fasting insulin and triglyceride levels and at the same time increase insulin sensitivity). As if this isn’t enough good news, pasture butter contains a good amount of omega-3 and CLA (anti-cancer).


Coconut Oil is next in this listing of Super Foods. I’ve not used coconut oil myself, yet, but have long been aware of it’s health benefits. St. Pierre says it’s critical to find unrefined, organic, extra-virgin oil. This oil is high in saturated fat, but this fat is MCT, or medium-chain triglycerides. MCT’s have legendary properties. They digest without bile, are absorbed intact, without breaking down, and perhaps the best news, your body wants to use them as fuel rather than store them as bodyfat. I used MCT oil in the 1970s and ‘80s, when it was popular in the bodybuilding world. At the time I didn’t know too much about the health benefits; I was using it to help me lost body fat.


Chia Seeds are on the list. These have been around since the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans, who used them daily. Chia have more soluble fiber, more antioxidants, and about the same omega-3 content as flax. These seeds absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, helping you become full quickly and developing long-term energy. Research shows that chia seeds are  good for diabetics, those with celiac disease, and they can lower cholesterol. You can sprinkle them in your yogurt or oatmeal.

Cacao Nibs are last on the list. This is hardcore dark chocolate, 100% cacao. Two tablespoons contains nearly 5 grams of fiber, similar to flax. But the antioxidant content is why Cacao nibs are on this list; they are rich in catechins and polyphenols. These two components are a big part of the reason red wine and tea are always touted as health-inducing drinks. 

“These antioxidants help cacao to lower LDL cholesterol, decrease blood pressure, improve vascular and platelet function, and decrease the risk of heart disease,” writes St. Pierre.

Add to Greek yogurt or your protein shakes. Cacao is a little bitter, so it’s not really suitable to eating like a candy bar, but you owe it to yourself to add it to your smoothies.

Read the entire article at tmuscle.com

   Steger Nutrition on Northland Ave., in Appleton, sells Organic Valley Pasture Butter, and various brands of Chia Seeds, Cacao Nibs and Coconut Oil. Owner Mark Steger is passionate about health and helping his customers become more knowledgeable about these foods. I encourage you to shop there, and ask questions of his staff. 297 W. Northland Ave., (920) 739-1042.

Books About Food I Like

 I’m going to play catchup and tell you about some worthy books published this summer.  You owe it to yourself and your health to be proactive and learn what makes your body work properly; some of these books will help you. Use the information to stay a step ahead of the food marketers who don’t care about your health, only about your money.

   “The Face On Your Plate: The Truth About Food” is written from the perspective of a former Freudian psychoanalyst who is now a vegan. You’re wondering how I can relate to author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson - I know you are. But I enjoy how he presents his wide-ranging views. Masson has fresh takes on meat-eating, being a vegan, and how we think and feel about food. It’s a bit touchy-feely for me, but I like his style. 

I appreciate his saying “We want the steak but don’t want to hear about the slaughterhouse.” On my plate, I indeed want the steak. 

 

A scary allergic reaction on the part of her daughter  started Robyn O’Brien on her crusade to unearth the truth about the relationship between what she terms Big Food and Big Money. Her book “The Unhealthy Truth” comes from her experiences since then. She has strong opinions about food allergies and why they are on the rise,  and O’Brien shares my disdain for soy, milk and corn! This concerned parent is unafraid to take on the medical community, the food industry and government regulators. 

Helping make “The Unhealthy Truth” more than a shrill expose of our corrupt food supply are the chapters in which O’Brien presents answers and solutions, from food choices and menu decisions to tools for change. “The Unhealthy Truth” provides valuable information.


Cookbooks appeal to me, yet I barely cook! I love food, but don’t include enough variety in my diet. However, a good cookbook is inspiring, and “Earth To Table” is one. Authors Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann talk about utilizing locally-grown foods, in season, in your kitchen. They embrace the cause of “slow food”, explaining why locally grown and sustainable organic food supplies should be a goal for all of us. Their recipes are logical and easy to understand; the book reads like a novel. Even better, “Earth To Table” is a beauty to read and hold. 


How’s this for a book’s opening line:  “What do obesity, heart disease, depression, diabetes and fibromyalgia have in common? The answer is vitamin D deficiency.”

In “The Vitamin D Solution,” a strong case is presented that vitamin D goes far beyond supporting bone health, and that increasing intake can treat, prevent and even reverse daily ailments, from high blood pressure to back pain, can lessen the symptoms of diabetes and arthritis, and actually fight cancer, H1N1 and tuberculosis. Dr. Michael Holick, the author, even goes so far as to give vitamin D credit for helping improve fertility, weight control, memory and mood.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? My first thought was, ‘if this is right, why isn’t vitamin D on the front page of every magazine and newspaper in the world?’ I cannot answer that, but reading this book certainly sent me out to buy some Vitamin D!


Earth To Table by Jeff Crump and Betting Schormann, Ecco Press, $34.99

The Vitamin D Solution by Dr. Michael Holick, Hudson Street Press, $25.95

The Face On Your Plate: The Truth About Food by Jeffrey Joussaieff Masson, WW Norton, $14.95

The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother’s Shocking Investigation into the Dangers of America’s Food Supply - And What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itself by Robyn O’Brien, Broadway Books, $14.99

Contact John Koenig at john.koenig3@gmail.com

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