Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Flip the switch.

                   Motivation is a very interesting and a unique emotion, in fact I would say that it is almost a phenomenon. Some people seem to be born with it while others only seem to have it for select moments in time. It’s something that’s hard to find and easy to loose and for some it can only be found in groups. It is something that can be tied to emotions, confidence and above all else aspiration and strength.

                  Motivation reminds me of money in some ways. You see motivation can be a real source of pleasure or pain. It can help us achieve great things or sometimes it can make us feel worse than when we started. It is important to be motivated, but the biggest problems occur when it comes to the inspiration of the motivation. If the wrong thing inspires you, it can lead you down the wrong path. For example say you are motivated to get active and the thing that inspires you to do it is to lose weight. That is all well in good for some, but for most people this will lead them down the wrong path.

                  I am sure most of us out there have fallen into this trap of eating well and exercising for a few months while weighing ourselves each week. It starts out great with slight loses in weight but eventually that stops and the very thing that originally inspired us to be motivated starts to bring us down. Off course most people will tell you that there are many changes that happen in your body when you are getting healthier and weight loss is never the biggest or most important change.

                Factors such as muscle gain can affect your weight. You may have still lost weight that week but because muscle weighs more than fat when you get on the scales or you see is negatives. When anyone is in that frame of mind other changes such as toning and loss of inch’s all seem to fall to the wayside. Now that is just one example of bad motivation I am sure there are many others out there.

               Now I should add that having a positive motivation doesn’t necessary guarantee you will succeed. It will set you up with a stable base but there are still many other obstacles that will come between you and your goal. Motivation is like flipping a switch, it works both ways. So weather you have flipped it to get healthier or improve at you particular sport they both generally require complete lifestyle shifts that can be hard to maintain.

               I know I may be repeating myself but I am very serious about this. The important thing to remember is that it’s not uncommon to not always feel like training, or eating clean. At times like this we all need to start saying “I’ve flipped the switch now I have to keep the light on”. I find the reason why people don’t do this is because they don’t hold themselves accountable. The excuse is always something got in the way or someone led me astray. Long story short nine times out of ten you can find a way past this. That`s when we come back to keeping the switch flipped.

              There are very simple ways to combat this kind of thinking. The first thing I would recommend when you flip on your switch is to write down your goals using the S.M.A.R.T acronym (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely). Specific relates to what is it you want to achieve and the more detail you use the more likely you will be to achieve the goal. Most people say to me,”I want to lose weight”, followed by my reply “can you be more specific?” really what they want is to reduce fat. I have a specific goal of lifting more than an 80kg snatch and 110 clean and jerk to go to nationals. You will want the goal to be measurable otherwise how will you know if you achieved it? I am measuring mine by kg`s. You might measure yours by cm/inches. Is it achievable this and realistic tie together well. I can realistically hit my goal this year within the time frame I set. If you’re an 80kg female setting a goal of losing 60kg this isn`t realistic or achievable without losing a limb or two. Timely is a favourite of mine because it can be hard on your own to set a time for something you aren’t 100% sure of. My goal is to be achieved by the 7th of October. Remember that you can have smaller goals tied into your overall goal in business sometime KPI`s is the buzz acronym, key performance indicators. I set smaller goals based on the above principles. So should you.

                Record things or situations that can get in the way of reaching those goals it is just as important as setting yourself a realistic goal. Writing these things down can provide perspective and you can brainstorm ways to overcome them. This goes a long to keeping the light switched on. It is so important to set yourself up for success. If you have even a small amount of motivation embrace it and focus on it and it will grow. Once you have the switch flipped keep the light on by using the two methods above. If you have any questions email us at therandomandthefit@hotmail.com

Monday, 14 April 2014

Life`s a garden dig it.

               On this blog I often talk about aspects of fitness and health. Eating is included in these broad categories. Do you know where your food comes from? I mean really have any idea? I have been worried when I hear children answer the question of “where does milk come from?” with “a carton”. People don`t know remotely where their food is coming from. Now to be fair I wouldn`t expect most people to know with absolute detail where all of their food comes from. But one sure fire way to at least build an appreciation for farming, food and get a little bit of exercise is to grow your own fruits, vegetables, herbs. Now I know that not everyone lives on some form of land with soil and space easily accessible. That though is no excuse, many options are available from pots/window gardens, community gardens or just using the ground that you live on.

                Gardening has a variety of benefits and yes the possibility of saving money is one of them. For my partner and I we like to get to grass roots in many different ways and gardening is one of them. We try to grow a variety of our own vegetables. For some reason growing your own food just seems to taste better and no I don`t mean the organic vs non organic debate. The reason the produce tastes better is the X factor flavour, I think that flavour should be called satisfaction. It is more satisfying to put in the work and have even a moderate payoff. Gardening also seems to be good for mental wellbeing and I think it relates to satisfaction of seeing something you have put the work into giving you something back.

                Gardening though isn`t all sunshine and butterfly`s it takes a bit of work. Working in the garden especially if you choose to use limited machines and chemicals can be a bit of hard work. I think though it is important to note many of the cultures of the planet that live the longest farm with some methods from the past. They still get out there and pull up their sleeves. As you will see below the picture is of our garden, not huge but it`s ours. You can see the before we have left it to over grow a little bit.

                The during shot is after I have taken a shovel and turned the soil to aerate it a little bit after pulling out all the old plants. I have also raked up the weeds and spread the soil a bit more even.

The final shot is after I have seeded the garden with peas and alfalfa. I have done this because both return nitrogen and other nutrients back to the soil. I will turn them into the soil again after the peas and alfalfa has grown. I then added horse manure and raked that evenly and then added sugarcane mulch to help protect the soil/seeds and slow weeds growing. This took me about 90 minutes in the rain. The important thing to remember is the preparation pays off with better harvests. Quality soils lead to quality produce. So get to it start a garden you will appreciate farmers and where your food comes from much more.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Breaking the habit.

            Recently I read a piece of information that I found interesting but unsurprising. Our days are affected by habits by up to 40%. This is according to New York times bestselling author Charles Duhigg. I am not overly surprised though, although I am not sure how he came to this conclusion and I haven’t read his book yet to find out yet. But it did get me thinking that`s nearly half of our day controlled without thinking. Habits can rule our lives and they can be for better or for worse. This relates really well to something I have working on. 

We need to understand that leading a healthy lifestyle often is based on habits. What we do, how we do it, why we do it. Now you notice that I say lifestyle not diet or exercise because I believe that to be healthier you need to let new habits reach every corner of your life. Not just diet and exercise but also during everyday activities. I bet some of you are reading this and are saying “Yeah I have a good diet and I have a healthy lifestyle sometimes”. Most people will share this opinion. When I talk to them about this they immediately begin to rattle off the foods they eat and list the exercise they do. I nod and listen and usually ask “what did you eat 3 days ago for dinner” often the person stops and thinks and says tentatively what they had or answer they don`t know. Humans have a remarkable way of remembering things differently to the way they actually happened. Be it a trait of the brain that doesn’t see reason to remember every detail, or possibly it’s a defence so you don’t remember exactly how bad it really was. Either way I find the only way to get a clear picture of you everyday life is to put some old fashion pen to paper. 

I tell everyone to track their food and exercise daily. Not only does it give you a clearer picture of your everyday lifestyle but it is also an integral part of creating good habits. Once you identify the bad habits you can change them to good ones or even remove them completely. A good habit could be anything as simple as carrying around a water bottle to get you into the habit of drinking more water. And habits like these cost you nothing and can be sustained long term. I have had many clients tell me they have read so many books and done so many “diets” but they never developed habits. When they hit an obstacle or lost motivation old habits rear their ugly heads. Which brings me to what I have been working on. 

                Weight loss and healthy living is not rocket science it should be simple providing that you haven’t got any medical complications. That is right ,simple I put that out there. Books and programs often are based on buying further products to make the company more money when what you really want is to be told how to do things right. You want steps to achieve an outcome. Well now I have developed a daily checklist for you. Things on this list are based on improving aspects that you may not be aware of. To give an example when you go to the shopping centre where do you park? I would bet you try to find the closet park to the door. Well in the checklist there is information to help you improve your N.E.A.T (non- exercise activity time) Doing things everyday like parking further away is a way to do this. By the way did I mention that this list is FREE. Yes FREE, I would like you to give it a go and see if you have some improvement in the way you feel, look, act and think. How do you get this list? Simply subscribe with your email and first name to the subscription box on the blog http://therandomandthefit.blogspot.com.au/ Go now get the list print it out and use it daily to create new better habits.  

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The doping crystal ball: A sporting performance future.

Not too long ago I was having a conversation with someone while we were doing some weightlifting. I was snatching that day and somehow we had come to the topic of drugs in sport. The person I was lifting with is an ironman and in the past I have worked with him to improve his nutrition and overall performance. As you may be aware performance enhancing substances are often linked with weightlifting and also since the outing of Lance (you know who I am talking about) the public is becoming aware of drugs in endurance based events. To be frank I don`t know of many sports where someone hasn`t tried something to get an advantage, golfers have had laser procedures to improve vision after all. During this conversation I told this person about the possible future of performance enhancement in sports and he seemed shocked. I told him I thought the future in performance enhancement is gene doping and about what potential things gene therapy could do. I thought it was worth sharing this information with all of you as well.

So first off what is gene doping? Gene doping is defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency as "the non-therapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic elements, or of the modulation of gene expression, having the capacity to improve athletic performance". Seems simple right? We also have to ask ourselves is it ethical and is it safe. I`ll leave these questions up to you to answer for yourself. 

So how do we detect and stop gene doping? Well I want to be clear about this the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and other agencies are trying to get ahead of the game here. It is well known that they had to play catch up with steroids and some other performance enhancing substances. Often I have heard through the sport grapevine that detecting for substances is done via changes in blood and urine and even now some drugs are hard to detect with current methods. Gene doping is introduced differently than these other enhancing methods.  Gene doping can be done in a number of ways these include direct injection of DNA into the muscle, insertion of genetically modified cells or utilising a virus to introduce the information. Right now you may be thinking that it sounds really far out. Gene therapy was created to help those with life threatening disease and I believe the future of medicine lies in stems cells and gene therapy. The problem exists for sporting agencies because these genes are from our genetic codes. In other words the changes that would appear seem like natural mutations in the body. For testing to be successful agencies will have to take a long term approach. Reference values may have to be established from the time an athlete starts competing. The reference values would have to take a far more comprehensive range of values and see if overall homeostasis is disturbed or altered in some shape or form.  That would include even lower levels of competition to track changes over time. This type of testing would also require tissue samples to test DNA which may have to be site specific.

It has been outlined in a basic fashion what gene doping is and how it can be administered, but how could it actually be used? Well gene doping started out in medicine to help save lives. The doping method is the same in both instances with only the outcome being different. The difference being that therapy is used for those that are very sick e.g. someone with severe anaemia requires more haemoglobin or red blood cells (RBC`s) to get oxygen around the body. In comparison a healthy athlete doesn`t require further RBC so when they dope they gain benefits which equates to an advantage i.e. getting extra capacity to carry more oxygen to muscles. There are drugs already in existence that can do something similar but they can easily be detected through testing. Another case that was brought to my attention was those born without the myostatin gene or receptors. Myostatin helps to regulate muscle growth. This happens in a number of species including humans resulting in large and powerful muscles. This is a natural mutation but since gene therapy came along for muscular dystrophy, people have turned their attention to using this for improving sporting performance.  Gene doping has even been hypothesised to be used in concert with these other changes to increase endorphins of the doping athlete to further the effects of the enhanced “abilities”.

Sounds great doesn`t it? How great would it be too be able to run all day and then lift a car and look like the Hulk. Well I want you to think about this saying  “there is no such thing as a free biological lunch” (I am not sure who said that version and if you do please tell me). Those that dope already have to weigh up the risk reward equation. Those that want to increase erythropoietin may be faced with thickening blood that may clot leading to a number of adverse outcomes. It may even come to a point that the heart may stop due to excess load. Athletes don`t seem to stop and think “what are some bigger muscle going to do to me?” There are repercussions for all doping, connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments face extra strain which may lead to sprains, strains and tearing of tendon insertions from the bone. There is also an increased metabolic cost the body having so much muscle.  These are by no means an extensive list but provide food for thought. The ultimate risk is not knowing what could happen to the rest of the body. Will those new genes affect other genes leading to a more complex adverse outcome? No one really knows the long term effects because all of this is relatively new. To me it seems crazy to even think of doing anything like this but in saying that I have always been against drugs in sport. 

So what does the future look like? Will there be hulking twelve year olds breaking weightlifting records or humans making ultra-marathons look like a walk on the beach? I can`t say. What I can say is the future is here and now. I am sure this is not the last of the discussion on gene doping and this will begin to be seen more in the public eye. Who knows maybe the future of sports will be dominated by the genetically doped and manufactured battling it out for our attention and money.  What do you think the future will look like? Post comments.

                     Filipp, F. (2007). Is science killing sport? Gene therapy and its possible abuse in doping.                                             NEMBO reports, 8(5), 433.

             Scherling, P. (2001, November). Gene doping, ISM. In UCL Conference on Genes in     Sport.

          Unal, M., & Unal, D. O. (2004). Gene doping in sports. Sports Medicine, 34(6), 357-362.