Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting emPOWERed, iPhone Nutrition Apps, and Fish Oil & Oxidation

Recently, I had decided that enough was enough:  I was sick of being all left, and not all RIGHT.  I definately haven't been all right in a while---I seem to be chronically plagued by "isolated" (I use that term sarcastically, because nothing is truly isolated) left sided injuries, such as:
  • Left shoulder pain, which lasted for a year, and which I threw the kitchen sink at
  • Recent left knee pain, which is probably due to
  • Chronic left hip pain, high glut med/min area.
  • Chronic left wrist pain
  • Re-occurring left Achilles pain post-running.
  • Recent left side mid-back strain while doing tempo 5/3/x/1 front squats at a light 175#.  This was, ironically, the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak.
It sounds like a nasty list; the back strain aside, I can honestly live with this stuff daily---I assume (regardless if you agree or not) that it comes with the territory.  But, after Tuesday's spasmodic debacle, enter John Power. 

John is a registered massage therapist with a specialty in Active Release Techniques; the easiest way I can describe this is deep tissue massage through a range of motion, with the goal of restoring proper mobility.  He operates a very successful Chiropractic/Massage/ART clinic aptly named Power Health.

For as much as I'm diligent about warming up and mobility work(uh, maybe not Tuesday.  Trying to jam in a 5x5 tempo front squat in 20 minutes with a quick 500m row warmup and a few leg swings is negligent.  Bad Coach K!  Bad!) there's times when you need to call in the experts.  Like K-Star of Cf San Fran and MWod fame, John has a wicked eye for dysfunctional movement and impaired mobility.  And my track record would seem to indicate some serious imbalance.

My first session on Thursday night involved assessing my squat, a la FMS-style; John already had a pretty good idea what my issues were, and the squat just confirmed it.  Needless to say after this, I had no choice but to jump on the pain train of active release.  John worked on:
  • My right iliacus
  • My left gastroc and soleus
  • My left psoas
  • My left Glut min (he didn't want to "Chase Pain", but he found it, and crushed it into oblivion)
  • My entire T-spine
Despite the uncomfortable treatment, it was worth it x1000; while my back was still extremely tight and spasmodic this morning, I was able to hit a few sets of moderate weight 20 rep high bar back squats.  I'll be going back regularly for while to get everything sorted out.  All of this leads me into my question, though:

Who do you have to treat, or prevent, training induced injury?  Anyone at all?  Post your thoughts to comments.

Just around Christmas, Santa ended up bringing me and my wife brand new shiny iPhone 4s. (How did he know??? Just how DID he know!?!?) ; I've been geeking out on it like a nerd at a World of Warcraft convention.  (For the record I don't play WoW, or any online games.  Or any games, for that matter.  I might be a geek, but I'm a cool geek, not a nerdy geek.)

Four of the apps I've tried out related to nutrition are FitDay Mobile, Lose It!, PaleoGoGo, and WOD

Fit Day is a well-known nutrition tracking application that has been around online for a while; I've used it myself over the past few years.  There's a free online version, a premium-pay version, and now, a free iPhone app.  It's accurate, breaks down food to macronutrients, easy to use, and you can add customized food.  The iPhone app works just as well as the PC version.  I've never used the premium, so I have no idea what it's about...or why you'd need it.  The basic version breaks down macros nicely, as my Jan 2nd intake was 2937cal, 181.8g Fat, 156.6g Carbs, 182.2g Pro

Lose It!  is another free daily-intake tracking application; it's similar to FitDay, and at first glance, appears to concentrate only on total calories---this is misleading, as it will track macros.  You actually have the option to turn on/off which macros you want to track, such as cholesterol, which is pointless (IMO).  My sample day from Jan came in at 2737 cal, 151.9g Fat, 133.8g Carb, and 204.6g Pro for a 50/20/30 breakdown. 

This is an excellent app on par with FitDay; both seem fairly accurate and give a person a good idea of what they are taking in.

PaleoGoGo is an interesting app that gives you paleo food options and various restaurant chains.  Type in the restaurant, the type of meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner), and three options pop up for you to choose.  For us Canucks, it can be hit-and-miss, as many of the large US chains aren't here, and vice versa.

While interesting, it sure ain't worth the $4.99.  Plus, why would you need an app to tell you HOW to pick a paleo meal.  If Meat, Veggies, Nuts, Seeds, Some Fruit, Little Starch, and No Sugar is problematic for you, then you need more than an app.

WOD is your basic Crossfit workout of the day (WOD) tracking app; it has all the famous "named" WODs, areas for records (PRs), movements (e.g., clean & jerk), and the ability to type in your own metcons.  I've been using it since Dec 26th, and I like it---I always have my phone with me, and I can quickly scan back to my last recorded WOD.  I've been popping in all my climbs, too, with added notes.  For $2.99, it doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but it does a nice job.

Free Radic Res. 2010 Sep;44(9):983-90.

The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA decrease plasma F(2)-isoprostanes: Results from two placebo-controlled interventions.

University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia.


Omega-3 (omega3) fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), protect against cardiovascular disease. Despite these benefits, concern remains that omega3 fatty acids may increase lipid peroxidation. It has previously been shown that urinary F(2)-isoprostanes (F(2)-IsoPs) were reduced following omega3 fatty acid supplementation in humans. It is now determined whether EPA or DHA supplementation affects plasma F(2)-IsoPs. In two 6-week placebo-controlled interventions, Study A: overweight, dyslipidaemic men; and Study B: treated-hypertensive Type 2 diabetic, patients were randomized to 4 g daily EPA, DHA. Post-intervention plasma F(2)-IsoPs were significantly reduced by EPA (24% in Study A, 19% in Study B) and by DHA (14% in Study A, 23% in Study B) relative to the olive oil group. The fall in plasma F(2)-IsoPs was not altered in analyses that corrected for changes in plasma arachidonic acid, which was reduced with EPA and DHA supplementation. Neither F(3)- nor F(4)-IsoPs were observed in plasma in both studies. These results show that in humans, EPA and DHA reduce in vivo oxidant stress as measured in human plasma and urine.
PMID: 20540666 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

My Thoughts:  Recently, there's been a bit of a back-pedaling in regards to thoughts on fish oil due to the "theorized" potential of INCREASING free radicals due to the the oxidation of supplemental fish oil.  Being  a PUFA (polyunsaturated fat), it IS more prone to oxidation than either a monounsaturated fatty acid or a very stable saturated fatty acid (gotta love the sat fats).  From an anecdotal perspective, I've only come across one person who could have had this reaction---and I take his word for it, since he's an elite athlete with a very strict and clean diet at sub-7% BF.  For the rest of us?  The records show nothing but positive improvements in body comp, recovery, cognition, and reduced cardiovascular risks secondary to shifts in VLDL and trigs.

And, it seem now, there's the science to back up the anecdotal evidence.  So pass me that bottle of freshly squeezed sardines!

Recent Training

Jan 13th, CFLA, 1PM
Push Press, 105#
Box Jump, 24"
3:59. Had the pleasure of doing this along side of JL, a CF games contender. I was on my 15s when he was done. I kid you not.

Jan 17th, Spirit In Motion, 7:30PM
Yoga x1.5hr.  Back at it since taking a break in Dec.

Jan 19th & 27th, U of L
Climb x 2hr.  Redpointed MD's 5.11b route, so once again, I'm onto another project.  Lovin' it.

Jan 20th, CFLA, 1PM
AMRAP in 20 Minutes:
5 Thrusters, 95#, 7 Pullups, 12 Box Jumps, 24", 15 Ball Slams, 20#
9 Rounds + 15.

Jan 21st, CFLA, 1PM
Power Clean 3-3-3-1-1-1
135#, 155#, 175#, 185#, 195#, 205#.  Couple of fails at 195# and 205#.  Been a while.

Jan 23rd, Fire Hall #1, 11AM
Run 8mph@2%grade x 25 min

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Goals, Everyday is NOT a PR Day, and Vitamin D and Testosterone

The Lamest List Ever.

Well Hello 2011.  And look at this---I'm ahead of schedule for my one-blog-post a month!  Ha!  Seeing as how everyone is, and should be focused on setting and achieving new goals, I thought I throw down my own personal thoughts on goal setting.

  • Actually Set Some Goals:  Seems pretty damn obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people flounder into the New Year with zero focus, from a fitness/nutrition/lifestyle angle.  And then I hear complaints that nothing has changed.  Positive change is self-initiated; there's always people around you to help, but YOU have to start the process.
  • Don't Set 'Em Low:  This is one of my bazillion peeves---setting extremely low goals that you know you can achieve, literally, the next day.  Pointless?  No, because a goal has been achieved, but it doesn't exactly instill consistency, work ethic, or a sense of achievement.
  • Don't Set 'Em Too High:  On the same frequency, don't set insane goals.  If your deadlift is 200lbs and you weigh 135#, setting a yearly goal of a 405# DL is a bit...excessive.  Goals should be damn tough to achieve (which is VERY subjective and individual), but achievable
  • Set Interval Check-Points:  All your goals do not (and should not) be for Dec 31st.  Set goals at 3 months, 4 months, and 6 month intervals.  Whoa!  Am I talking about PERIODIZATION?  Maybe.  But this also sets the bulls-eye within closer range---the target is closer, and the positive pressure to succeed is more palpable.
  • Quantify & Specify:  I despise goals of "Eat Better".  What the fuck does that even mean?  How about "I'm cutting out eating bread".  Along the same lines would be "Get More Sleep".  Fuck!  How about "I'm going to be IN bed AT 10PM every night".  Fitness related goals are usually number-specific, so I won't go there.
  • Re-Evaluate:  Once again, this isn't a Dec 31st dealio.  Do this at intervals.  Are you on track?  Are you behind?  Then re-set your goal date, and adjust your habits.  This is pretty common, as we don't know just how hard that path to the goal might be.
  • Accountability:  Tell your friends, tell your cat, tell your Mom, and most importantly, tell your Crossfit Coach your goals.  Make 'em public.  Also, tell yourself:  Write it down, and post it where you'll see it everyday.  But I don't recommend the goal of "Get laid more" being posted on your bathroom mirror
  • Goals NOT achieved are NOT failures:  This is so key I swear to Odin (because Norse Gods are cool and kick ass) I'm going to write this on the wall at the gym.  If you have a goal of dropping 30 lbs over the year, and by Dec 31st you've dropped 20, is that a failure?  Hell no, son!  Think about the groundwork you've laid, the habits you've created, and the health you've created.  Not to mention the 20 el-bees!!
 Not Everyday Is A PR Day.  Even With Those Shorts.

What I want to discuss, and it's a bit of a nice segue from Goals, is that Not Everyday Is A PR Day.  I've had this topic in mind for quite a while now; it's funny how similar topics seem to pop up from time to time, like there's a strong cohesive group thinking mentality.  Cryptic and weird, I know!  This topic, for me, started to come to fruition over the fall as I saw some of our best athletes succumb to chronic injuries and one, in particular, dove off the deep beyond overreaching and into serious over-training (and potentially adrenal fatigue).  

  I absolutely, 100% completely, fully back the opinion that Crossfit is to blame for this mentality.   No where else are people encouraged to to train to 100% capacity without periodization, peaking, and tapering.  Now, you might be asking:  "What the hell is wrong with giving 100% everyday?" Whoa there, hoss.  Let's get some clarity.  Recently, as I was mulling over this New Years Topic, Freddy Camacho of Crossfit One World posted up a very similar topic: (which was also wisely posted on the CFLA website)

   There are no competitors at any sport that train 100% effort at every workout. Training at 100% effort every workout can lead to loss of technique. Loss of technique during a high intensity workout (on a daily basis) eventually is gonna bite you in the ass.  
   So about right now you’re thinking, “Well how much effort should I give?”

Simple: Never mistake “100% effort” for HARD WORK.
Very wise words that make a ton of sense. For those of you in the Crossfit community for a few years now, you'll probably be familiar with Josh Everett; track star, Oly lifting machine, and all around insane ass kicker.  Top 3 in the2007/2008 games, S & C coach by trade.  Needless to say, this guy knows a few things about training---and recovery.  After his 35th placing in the 2009 games, Josh himself became a victim of serious over-training, which resulted in taking FOUR complete weeks off, and tapering back slowly.  One of my favorite quotes from one of his interviews comes from HIS old track coach, who stated:

"Everyone only has a certain number of max efforts per year; this is about 12, or one a month.  This should be saved for competition."

The reality of that hits home like a sledgehammer.  If we are trying to push max efforts 6 days out of seven, where will that eventually lead?  To overreaching--->over-training--->chronic injury--->adrenal fatigue--->depressed immunity--->decreased capacity.

The problem is that newbies have such awesome linear progression that they get used to "PR'ing all the time"---when in fact they are still learning technique and intensity.  Once an athlete has both down, then true max efforts are attainable.  But, but this time, unless quality coaching is adhered to, the mindset of "Every day is a PR day!" still dominates.  And this leads to the aforementioned issues.

The take home for this is train hard, but save those max effort days, and limit them over the year.

Horm Metab Res. 2010 Dec 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Testosterone Levels in Men.

Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Medical University of Graz, Austria.


The male reproductive tract has been identified as a target tissue for vitamin D, and previous data suggest an association of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] with testosterone levels in men. We therefore aimed to evaluate whether vitamin D supplementation influences testosterone levels in men. Healthy overweight men undergoing a weight reduction program who participated in a randomized controlled trial were analyzed for testosterone levels. The entire study included 200 nondiabetic subjects, of whom 165 participants (54 men) completed the trial. Participants received either 83 μg (3 332 IU) vitamin D daily for 1 year (n=31) or placebo (n=23). Initial 25(OH)D concentrations were in the deficiency range (<50 nmol/l) and testosterone values were at the lower end of the reference range (9.09-55.28 nmol/l for males aged 20-49 years) in both groups. Mean circulating 25(OH)D concentrations increased significantly by 53.5 nmol/l in the vitamin D group, but remained almost constant in the placebo group. Compared to baseline values, a significant increase in total testosterone levels (from 10. 7±3.9 nmol/l to 13.4±4.7 nmol/l; p<0.001), bioactive testosterone (from 5.21±1.87 nmol/l to 6.25±2.01 nmol/l; p=0.001), and free testosterone levels (from 0.222±0.080 nmol/l to 0.267±0.087 nmol/l; p=0.001) were observed in the vitamin D supplemented group. By contrast, there was no significant change in any testosterone measure in the placebo group. Our results suggest that vitamin D supplementation might increase testosterone levels. Further randomized controlled trials are warranted to confirm this hypothesis.
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.
PMID: 21154195 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]  

My Thoughts:  Vitamin D supplementation, for the past couple of years or so, has been Le Bonne Soupe De Jour, aka flavor of the month.  It seems to pop up in numerous studies per week.  While I had been planning a post on vitamin D, it's just too massive a topic.  This study caught my eye, though.  Why?  Because nearly every single person is more than likely vitamin D deficient.  Here's some reasons why:

-Our Northern Latitude:  We just don't get the direct sun at optimal angle for much of the year.
-Our Solar Phobia:  Dermatologist have caused a brutally unjustified fear of the sun.
-Our Modern Lifestyle:  Wake up in your house/get in your car/go to your office/go to the gym/go back into your house.  Sun?  What sun.

And that's just an ultra abbreviated version.   A few years back, after supplementing with 10,000 iu for 6 months, I tested my 25(OH)D levels, and they came back at 70ng/mL (Optimal, as per the Vitamin D Council and Dr Cannell is 50-90ng/mL); in hindsight, I should have tested before supplementation, but hindsight is always 20/20.  I now take 6000iu/day, and 4000iu in the summer.  It's always something I prescribe for every single client I do a nutritional consult on, for numerous reasons---disease prevention, optimal immunity, and optimal hormonal secretion.

How much do YOU take?

Various Training

December 26th, Sherwood Park, 10:30 AM
Run x25 minutes
Even though it was -15 Celsius, I was going nuts for some movement.  Plus, I had to test out my new Inov8 F-195s 
Result: They were sweet and I was fast.

Dec 30th, CFLA, 1PM
Hang Power Snatch
65x10, 85#x5, 105#x3, 115#x3, 125#x3, 135#x1,1,1
5 Rounds For Time:
5 Toes-To-Bar
10 DB Snatch 40# (5R/5L)
15 Pushups

Jan 4th, CFLA, 1PM
As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP) in 12 minutes:
3 Muscle Ups (regular grip, no false grip)
6 Box Jumps, 31"
9 GHD sit-ups
7+1 rounds

Jan 6th, CFLA, 1PM
Deadlift 3R, 75%/80%/85%, current 1RM 415#
135#x10, 225#x5, 285#x3, 311#x3, 335#x3, 355#x6
On my last rep, I heard, and felt, and audible "crunch" from my low back, in the sacral area.  Very uncool and scary.  Ice the hell outa it right away, and while it seems stable, hyperextension aggravates it.

Jan 11th, CFLA, 1PM
AMRAP in 14 min:
2 ManMakers, 40#DB (Pushup, row right, row left, squat clean to thruster)
10 Ball Slams, 20#
20 Jumping Lunges
9+1 round

Dec 29th/Jan 9th/Jan12th, U of L Climbing Wall
Indoor Rock Climbing
Still working on that 5.11b, and today I successfully redpointed it (climbed without falling).  While everyday is truly NOT a PR (personal record, PB, personal best), it's damn nice to hit goals.  MD just set a new route this morning, and after my redpoint, I jumped on it and was flailing and bailing like a newbie.  New project, yay!