Anti Inflammatory Diet-Week 4 (Wrap Up)

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I made it!

This week marks 4 weeks of an anti inflammatory diet program. Please take a look at previous weeks to see meals, benefits noted, challenges, tips, and exercise log:

Intro-Anti Inflammatory Diet

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Let’s Talk About It [Video]

Before and After Comparisons




Before: 201.6 lbs

After: 196.2 lbs

Photos and weight taken after a morning run, same conditions for before and after, 4 weeks in between.

Best Run

Before: Around 4.9 miles, around 53 minutes, no walk breaks

After: Around 4.9 miles, 48:12, no walk breaks.

Important to note that I’ve been running the same loop Friday morning since Whole 30, my phone tells me it’s 4.9 miles. I wanted to give that disclaimer in case anyone is a runner and my times seems off (because I have no idea). I will keep running the same loop, so regardless of distance, improvement is improvement.

Best Deadlift

Before: 255x 2,2,2,1 (best 4 sets in a workout), total volume (weight x reps) 1,785 lbs

After: 225 x 5,5,5; 255 x3 (best 4 sets in a workout), total volume (weight x reps) 4,140 lbs

Best Pull up set

Before: 5,5,5,5

After: 6,6,5,5,5

Best Push up set

Before: 10,10,10,10

After: 12,12,11,12,12

Overall Benefits Noted

Feeling leaner and lighter as compared before and after has been a great benefit to note (reflected in photos and on the scale as well). I have also noticed some improvements in sleep while completing this program; I would not necessarily say that sleep improvements are as a result of the diet, since I have been more actively focusing on my sleep and trying new routines and methods.

One benefit I was surprised at was the disappearance of chronic paid in my left shoulder during this anti-inflammatory diet time period. Similar to sleep, I would not say this is 100% attributable to the diet, because I have been incorporating stretching and therapy for the shoulder as well.

An overarching benefit has been adherence to eating real food, and avoiding processed food during this 4 week period. The framework of the diet plan kept real food in the forefront of my mind, and made food and drink choices easier during the program. I also consider not counting calories or macros, while still feeling good and making progress, to be a beneficial aspect of the past month.

Lifestyle Changes to Maintain

One lifestyle/dietary change I will certainly maintain is incorporation of fresh ginger into food and drinks, for health benefits and taste! I will also continue to focus on sleep quality for overall health maintenance and improvement. I will commit to at least another 30 days of no Sugar, Grain, Legumes, or Alcohol as I try out the Keto Diet next.

Favorite Meals and Drinks

Ginger Cocktails!
Anti-Inflammatory Coleslaw!
Fresh Tomato Slices!
Bunless Burger!

Overall Compliance Grade

I give myself a solid 99% total compliance for the Anti-Inflammatory guidelines I set up at the start:

  1. Eliminate Foods which tend to be inflammatory/contribute to chronic inflammation.
  2. Consume at least 4 servings daily of food and drink shown to be anti inflammatory.

I found the most success incorporating anti inflammatory ingredients by creating food and drinks which stacked 2 or more anti inflammatory ingredients into 1 meal/beverage.

What Now? The Keto Diet

For my next dietary adventure, I will be embarking on a 4 week journey following the Keto Diet. The Ketogenic Diet is high fat, moderate protein and very low carbohydrate as the framework.

The “why” behind the Keto Diet is to condition your body to use fat as the primary fuel source in the form of blood ketones (hence Keto), rather than blood glucose (sugar). Unlike the Whole 30 and Anti Inflammatory diets I have recently blogged about, I will need to do some macro-nutrient counting on Keto, mostly to make sure I am keeping carbohydrate intake very low. Can I do it? Tune in next week to find out, and get some great tips!

Sitting: It Takes Your Breath Away…

Worse For Breathing, Smoking or Sitting?

This blog post is continuing on the topic of potential health implications of sitting, and today we are talking about breathing. This topic is very applicable to the overall theme of “sitting is the new smoking”, since breathing is impacted by both of the above.

Breathing, like circulation, will happen on its own, whether you think about it or not. But, unlike circulation, you can actively change your breathing patterns moment to moment. For example, you can actively take a deep, relaxing breath; you cannot however consciously reduce or increase your hearth rate on a moments notice. This distinction is important to take advantage of, especially when sitting for long periods of time.

What is a Deep Breath?

First, lets define what a full, deep breath looks and feels like. Stand up, place your hands over your stomach, and breath in through your nose. While doing this, you should be actively breathing into your belly and feeling your hands move due to the expansion. Breath out through your mouth. Try this again, and release any tension you may notice in your shoulders or chest.

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Since our lungs are physically located in our chest/behind our ribs, the common misconception is that your chest should be the area that expands and contracts when you breath. “Chest breathing” results in shallow breaths, which are not as efficient and require you to take more of them. If you can think of your body’s response to panic, part of this involves rapid, shallow breaths. Contrast this to what you just felt with the “belly breathing” which was intentional, and relaxed.

Posture and Breathing

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Now, try this: sit down, up tall, shoulders back (good posture), place your hands on your stomach, and try to take that nice deep breath we walked through before. Feels different, right? More restricted, not as natural. Think about how a seated posture like the one pictured above impacts your breathing hour after hour, day after day.

Sitting compresses your abdominal cavity and rib cage, which naturally lends itself to more shallow breaths. The only way to counter the impacts of this posture is to take breaks, stand up, and spend some intentional time on your breathing.

Breathing and Mobility

Recently, while listening to The Maximus Podcast, I heard an interview with Dana Santas. One of Dana’s main areas of focus is the connection between breathing and mobility, and she has used these concepts to successfully training.

The basic idea focuses around mobility of your ribcage, and the relationship to breathing. Dana does a much better job explaining this, so I am going to directly quote her and link to the interview I found:

“Your ribcage position is dictated almost entirely by the quality of your breathing—essentially your ability to properly move your ribs during respiration to accommodate and facilitate diaphragm function. Your scapulae (shoulder blades) ride on your ribcage, so their position and your shoulder girdle function is also influenced by your breathing quality. If your breathing is consistently chest-oriented, your ribcage will be lifted and malpositioned, taking your scapulae with it. Muscles in your chest, neck, and upper back will be dysfunctionally recruited out of their primary roles/kinetic chains to hold your repositioned ribcage and scapulae in place, while assisting as accessory breathing muscles (since your diaphragm won’t be able to function properly).

This, of course, causes chronic tension, pain, and limitations in neck, back and shoulder mobility, while making you more susceptible to injury. All because of poor breathing! You can stretch out all of those muscles for temporary relief, BUT if you don’t permanently correct breathing mechanics, the pain and mobility limitations will remain chronic. This is why I work on breathing mechanics first and foremost. Instead of stretching those tight muscles (which would only give temporary relief, or worse, exacerbate injury risk), I can spend just two minutes working on breathing mechanics and immediately, significantly restore mobility.”

(Santas, 2017, Yoga Journal)

The thing that really blew my mind from Dana’s podcast interview was the most efficient position to take a deep breath. Take a look at my video overview of this topic to find out (you can skip to 5:10 if you just want to see this part)

Breathing and Sitting, What To Do About It

There is a common theme among all of these sitting posts, you need to take breaks from sitting. Here are some ideas to help facilitate deep breathing, every day and counter the impacts of sitting:

  1. Take a break at least every 30 minutes from sitting.
  2. During your breaks, take at least 5, deep belly breaths.
  3. Take a mental inventory of your shoulders and chest during these breaks, actively release any tension while taking deep breaths.
  4. Sit with good posture, this will result in better breathing than hunching over your computer.

Thanks for the read, please share with someone who needs it!

Sitting and Circulation

How Sitting Impacts your Circulation, and What to Do About It

One of the basic functions vital to life is circulation, and it happens automatically without us even thinking about it. You do not have to remind your heart to pump blood through your body and carry oxygen and vital nutrients, it just happens. For this reason, we may not spend a lot of time thinking about our circulatory system, and how sitting for long periods of time may have a negative impact.

Circulation 101

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Here are the basics of your circulatory system: your heart pumps oxygen rich blood away from your heart, carrying oxygen and nutrients to your brain, other vital organs, and tissues. The pressure created by your heart pumping carries the oxygen rich blood to its destination, but then it needs to return. Blood completes its loop through veins, which bring blood back to the heart and lungs for more oxygen and re-circulation.

Although your heart acts as a pump and helps move your blood through arteries and veins, veins also rely on movement and muscle contraction to complete the cycle. Veins are further away from the heart’s pressure, and therefor need a little bit of help in the form of basic movement.

How Sitting Impacts Blood Circulation

A garden hose works at its best with a steady supply of pressure, and no kinks. Kinks in a hose inhibit flow, inhibit efficiency, and can even stop flow all together if severe enough. Apply this principle to sitting, and think about how this posture can create natural bends and barriers for your circulation.

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In addition to the posture of sitting, there is an inherit lack of movement which accompanies prolonged periods of sitting. During this period of time, your veins are not getting the assistance they need to help complete the process of circulating your blood. Thinking of the garden hose example, operating a kinked hose will have stressful impacts on the hose, spigot, and other components of the system because it is not working efficiently.

Lets Talk About It

Here is a quick video with visual examples of how sitting impacts circulation, and what we can do about it. This video includes discussion of another area of circulation, your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system is part of your immune system, and has vessels, organs, and lymph fluid. Unlike your blood and system of vessels, the lymphatic system does not have a pump, and relies exclusively on movement and muscle contraction for circulation.

What Can We Do About It?

There are simple solutions to combating the negative impacts of sitting. If you have a sedentary job, you need to get up and move every 30 minutes; stand up, go for a walk up the hallway, go to your co worker’s office, just do some type of movement. If you have a physical job, your work is not as much of a challenge in this area. However, we all need to mindful of this when we travel for long periods of time, whether the mode be Planes, Trainers, or Automobiles. Always build in stretch breaks when you travel.

Please share this information with someone who needs it!

Sitting is The New Smoking?

A Series of blog posts all about why sitting is problematic, and what to do about it.

This is a longer post with lots of helpful video tutorials, here is a guide to breaking it up into sections:

  1. Understanding the Problem: Read the post and watch the video intro about issues sitting can cause for posture.
  2. Review video tutorials on stretching impacted muscle groups.
  3. Review video tutorials on strengthening and activating impacted muscle groups.

Have you found yourself sitting more than ever before?

If you have a sedentary, office job, or you have been working remotely, chances are you spend most of your day sitting. What do you do when you commute to work? Sitting. When you get some at the end of a long day? Probably sitting to eat dinner, watch TV, read a good book.

It has been said that “sitting is the new smoking” based on some of the negative health impacts that prolonged periods of sitting can lead to. My inspiration for writing this post is hearing from some of my co-workers during this remote work period. Common issues I hear are: its harder to find time/space to exercise, my back is stiff and sore…

If you have been staying home or working from home during the pandemic, chances are you will be sitting more than ever before. Even if you have an office job, most likely you get up to go to a break room, visit other offices or cubicles for meetings, walk to get lunch, walk to your car/transportation…not anymore.

Is Sitting The New Smoking?

Personally, I am not going as far as to say sitting is the new smoking. If you tell me I have to sit for 8 hours per day, I can think of a lot of strategies to counter the negative impacts. Tell me I have to smoke 2 packs per day, well, I’m not as confident about countering negative impacts (the science is settled, smoking is bad for you).

Lets Talk Sitting (Video Intro)

Issue #1: Stiff, Sore Back

In my video, I talk through the most commonly noticed issue of prolonged sitting, a stiff, sore back. A reason for this could be muscular imbalance (not medical advice, see my blog disclaimer). The posture of sitting causes certain muscle groups to become shorter, and tighter, and other muscle groups to become lengthened, and inactive.

Impact On Posture

Are You Really Standing Up Straight?

When you look in a mirror, can you draw a imaginary straight line through your head, shoulders, hips, knees, feet, down to the floor? Or does the line zig zag a little? Be honest now. We’re going to explore why sitting may be impacting your posture, even when you finally stand up.

The posture of sitting can lead to tightness in the following major muscle groups, due to time spent in a flexed (shortened) position:

  1. Hip Flexors
  2. Hamstrings
  3. Chest/Shoulders

On the other side of the equation, there are muscle groups that become lengthened, and/or inactive due to sitting:

  1. Quadriceps
  2. Glutes
  3. Abdominal Muscles
  4. Upper Back

What Does This Mean for Your Back?

Standing up straight requires mobility in the first group of muscles listed, and strength/activation from the second group of muscles. When you have an imbalance from prolonged sitting, the muscles in your lower back need to activate to hold you upright and fight against the imbalance. Essentially, the muscles in your lower back may be working double time due to the imbalances of the bigger, stronger muscles groups impacted by sitting (I’d be sore and tired too).

What To Do About It? Step 1: Stretching

It is important to understand the problem, before we jump right into solutions. Below are video tutorials on how to stretch the muscle groups impacted by sitting, take a look:

Step 2: Strengthen and Activate Your Abs, Glutes, Quads, Upper Back

Check out my post on the squat to learn about activating your quads and glutes.

The Deadlift-Your One Stop Shop for Strengthening/Activating Abs, Glutes, Quads, Upper back

Thanks for checking this post out, please share with someone who needs it!

5 Exercise Routine Tips for Busy People

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Busy Busy Busy!

If you work full time, have many part time jobs, own a business, are a parent, or many of the above…chances are you are a busy person! Busy people still need to prioritize health and fitness, because you can’t burn a candle at both ends and sustain your success. But, how to do it?

Tip 1-Assess Your Schedule

Take an inventory of your daily, and weekly schedule and routine.

  • When do you wake up?
  • What is your morning routine, how much time does it take?
  • When do you leave for work/start work from home?
  • How long is your commute?
  • How long is your lunch  break?
  • What time do you end work/get home?
  • What time is dinner?
  • What time is bed time?

This will show you how you are currently using your time, and potential areas for opportunity. Here is a great resource to help you assess your schedule and manage your time.

Tip 2- Make a Morning Routine!

If you don’t have a set routine every morning to get ready for the day, make one! If you are not into exercise in the morning, that’s ok. Morning routines will set you up for success each and every day, here are some examples of what you could include in yours:

  • The time you wake up is the same every day, no snooze bars!
  • Before you do anything, think of one or two things you are grateful for
  • Think about a few things you will accomplish today, see them as wins!
  • Find something nutritious that you can eat or drink in the morning, make it part of the routine
  • Exercise, stretch, or do some reading for a personal development topic!

The first part of your morning routine should not be looking at your texts, emails, social media, the news, etc. Why not?? This will start your day off being influenced by priorities, options, concerns, questions of other people. If you build a routine which starts you off in a positive frame of mind (and body) each day, you are set up to be successful and healthy!

For tips to help you customize a morning routine just for you, check this out!

Tip 3- Find Time To Exercise!

Ok, so remember that inventory you did of your schedule and routine in step 1? Let’s take a look and find time to exercise! Ask yourself a few questions before we hunt around for ideal times in your day:

  1. Are you a morning person, or can you be after a cup of coffee?
  2. Is your peak energy in the afternoon, what about evening?
  3. Do you have an hour for lunch break?
  4. Do you have a fitness center at work? Or stairs, area to walk nearby, park nearby?
  5. Do you have a Gym Membership?
  6. What could you do for exercise at home?

Morning people, make a commitment and carve some time out in the morning to exercise. If you have a gym membership, go to the gym before work! If no membership, learn about bodyweight exercise, stretching, walk/job, find some things you can do without leaving home!

Here are some examples of body weight exercise, no Gym required!

Not a morning person? That’s ok,  lets figure out what’s best for you! If you have an hour lunch break at work, this is an untapped resource in your available time every work day. If your employer has a fitness center, that is awesome, use it! A lot of people do not have this resource, but please consider the following:

  • Stair Climbing
  • Areas to Walk/Jog Outside Work
  • Parks
  • Fitness Center Close to Work

Chances are, there is something you can do as physical activity, at or nearby work. Figure out what that could be for you, and build it into your routine!

If lunch is half an hour, or exercise is not realistic for you based on demands at work, consider late afternoon/evening options. Could you:

  • Stop at the Gym on your way home from work?
  • Exercise at Home after work?
  • Exercise after Dinner?

Tip 4- Start Small!

When you are making a commitment to find time to exercise, be realistic with yourself. Instead of committing to 5 days per week right away, maybe start with 2 days per week, and hold yourself accountable until that becomes a habit for you. Once you hold a routine and start seeing results, that is a great time to add more days of the week, different exercises, or higher intensity.

Here are some quick tips on where to start building your exercise routine.

Tip 5-Track Your Progress!

Make sure that you keep a record of your exercise routine, either write it down or track digitally. Start by making a plan each week, and then make a record on how you did as you go through the week day by day. This system will help hold you accountable to your plan, and also show your progress, providing motivation!

In Summary

The first thing we all need to do is make the decision to stop using busy as an excuse to not prioritize health and fitness. Once we make this commitment to ourselves, we can:

  1. Track How Time is Currently Managed
  2. Make a Morning Routine (Even if Not Exercise)
  3. Find Time to Exercise
  4. Make a Plan-Start Small
  5. Track Progress

Time to get out there and make it happen!

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