Ah yes, I remember like it was yesterday. I'd step into the school cafeteria as hungry as an emaciated ox and detect this smell of "something" in the air. Interestingly, the smell was always the same, regardless of the food being prepared. Unless it was pizza, which had a definable aroma.
Since I was always ravenous before this most-anticipated meal of the day, I never thought twice about shoveling food in my mouth unconscionably. My only concern was to satisfy the hunger pain in my gut and boost my depleted energy levels. At this juncture in my life, I was very active and had a naturally high metabolism, so calories were not an issue or even a fragment of a thought for that matter. I burned through them faster than Pope John Paul burns through candles. Not to mention, when you're a young high school punk at the ripe old age of 15 or 16, you could care less about the calories in your Chinese chew. Your brain is more fixated on who you were going to ask to homecoming.
The series of events that ensued after lunch period was a common trend that occurred day after day after day. Like clockwork, I'd develop a rumblin in my tummy and it felt as if I was getting repeatedly punched in the stomach by someone who had a bowling ball for a hand, which resulted in severe to violent stomach cramps. It was not cool or fun to be doubled over at my desk for the next two periods of the day, but that was the nature of the beast. This cycle repeated itself from the time I was in grade one until I was a senior. Most kids who graduate are excited and thrilled about not having to deal with teachers, students, drama or piles of senseless, brainless homework, but it was altogether different for me. I was thrilled I would never have to be subjected to the smell, taste or sight of that toxic waste called the school lunch anymore. I could deal with the rest of the stuff.
During these days, I was on the cusp of the big turning point in the school lunch system. If you think back, you'll know what I'm talking about. The option for breakfast had just come out when I was in about grade 11 if memory serves me correct. I guess the school system figured, the kids aren't sick or fat enough, so let's offer another meal just to be on the safe side. It was endless... Not that I'm trying to sound like an elitist, but I never once indulged in the sugar-sweetened cereal, doughnuts, pastries, and disgusting, powdered instant eggs that were offered up for sacrifice. Yuck! How on earth are students supposed to function mentally and physically, with the likes of this fare circulating through their bloodstreams?
Fast forward to today and things have taken a turn for the worse, which I didn't even think was possible. You now have a combination of horrible food, vending machines, breakfast options, and a childhood obesity epidemic that has arguably caused the entire world to shift on its axis. Couple this with the fact that PE class is nearly extinct from coast to coast, and you are left with a recipe for disaster.
In clinical terms, a series of medical disorders combined that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes is called metabolic syndrome. These disorders include high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol) and high blood glucose. Shockingly, adolescents are getting victimized with "Syndrome X" as it's commonly called, at a ferocious pace. This was unheard of 20-plus years ago. Do you think just maybe since kids spend over nine months a year of their lives in school, it could have something to do with it?
All of the above data I've collected over the course of time has led me to a few options to reverse the insanity. I wouldn't go as far as calling these concrete solutions, but I definitely think they can go a long way in reversing the nonsense that has become commonplace in the lunch line. How about the school lunch, breakfast, vending machines AND specialty snack bars are taken away completely?! Yeah, you heard me correct. The money saved on not buying the toxic waste can go directly toward fitness equipment for PE classes, such as climbing ropes, jump ropes, battle ropes, kettlebells, climbing walls, pullup bars and medicine balls. And, instead of rushing the kids through a 30-minute lunch break, they get 45 minutes instead. The first 30 are dedicated to lunch and the last 15 are dedicated to physical activity outside the cafeteria. Every bit of physical activity helps fight obesity and diseases that spawn from it. Additionally, the first period of the day will not be social studies, or world cultures, or algebra or astronomy; it will be Health Ed! There will be no droning and no dull moments. The kids will learn how to exercise, eat right, prepare meals on their own and also learn WHY it is important to stay and be fit. This will not be instructed by regular teachers, but fitness professionals who have the proper background and are funny, witty, engaging, caring and most importantly, in shape themselves! If you're going to talk to the talk, you're going to walk the walk. I'm sure Jack LaLanne would have wanted the same thing if he were still alive. I know you're probably thinking, "OK, Rail. You've got good points, but how will my kids eat?" That's easy. If you love your child and do not want them to get sick and heavy, pack them a healthy lunch and the problem is solved.
For the most part, a school lunch tray is filled to the brim with toxic waste. In similar fashion to fast food, I bet you could leave a school lunch out on a table for a year and it won't change shape, color or consistency. Food of that magnitude is dangerous my friends, and it is not welcome in the body.
Everyone loves to get into great shape at the speed of sound, but the extremes gym-goers are willing to endure need to be taken into serious consideration. Believe me, I’m as big of a fan of high-intensity exercise as anyone on the map, but you need to draw a line at what’s safe and just plain stupid. Forgive my abrasive language, but if I don’t give you the straight dope, you might not take me seriously. Speaking of serious, this is a good segue into what I want to cover—a SERIOUS condition known as Rhabdomyolysis. For the sake of ease, let’s just refer to it as “rhabdo.”
As defined by the National Institutes of Health, Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle fiber that leads to the release of a protein byproduct called myoglobin. Under normal circumstances, myoglobin is beneficial because it is a storage site for oxygen. Your muscles need oxygen to function properly. Once muscle starts to break down, myoglobin is released and transforms into toxic byproducts, which attack and destroy healthy cells in the kidneys. The end result is permanent kidney damage, which is pretty far from cool. And, the side effects of rhabdo don’t stop there. Joint pain, chronic muscle soreness, weakness, chronic fatigue and even seizures can result. High intensity exercise for prolonged periods of time is a major contributor to this severe condition.
I know the idea of getting shredded and losing weight quickly might excite you, but don’t sacrifice a long-term gain with a short-term fix. Know your limitations and listen to yoga instructors when they say check your ego at the door! As a rule of thumb, once your form starts breaking down with an exercise, it’s over. Place the weights down, walk away, ask someone out on a date, then do another set. As you get more fit, progressively decrease your rest breaks and/or progressively increase your reps and resistance. Do not rush anything. Your body has an amazing way of adapting to stresses placed upon it. Let it do its thing naturally and be patient with your training goals. The most important rule for weight loss, toning up and getting definition is not pumping out as many reps and sets you can in a certain period of time. It is geared toward how efficient you make your body at adapting to imposed demands.
When you play it safe, the gym is a wonderful place to be, and there is nothing wrong with turning up the intensity while inside. Just make sure to ALWAYS respect and honor your body because you only get one.
I'm sure you've all been to the gym and spotted someone perform a series of reps and stand idly by for a few minutes before doing another set. This is called passive recovery. Powerlifters and strongmen are most noted for taking these elongated breaks. When absolute strength gain is your objective, this is not that bad of a pattern to follow. However, if you are like a high percentage of the world who wants to get lean and lose weight quickly, there is better option. It is called "active" recovery or active rest breaks. As the name implies, you are active between sets instead of just standing there. Personally, I choose active recoveries over passive, unless I'm working out with someone, which is very seldom.
This does not need to be complicated or complex either. Stepping up and down on a BOSU, jumping rope, walking around the gym and doing jumping jacks are all simple things you can do. Speed is not a necessity either. A nice steady pace is all you need to achieve. Incorporating active recoveries into your training program will not only melt extra calories, but it will also improve your cardiovascular strength. This means you will be accomplishing two goals at the same time, and I'm all about expediting progress.
Doing balance tricks is another option. Sit or kneel on a stability ball without any contact to the ground, stand on either side of a BOSU with one foot, kneel on one knee on top of a BOSU or balance on your stomach across the ball. Any form of activity you do will boost your caloric expenditure and get you from point A to point B faster.
Have a great day,
Yes, you heard me correctly. The title is NEAT wave. The acronym "NEAT" stands for non-exercise activity thermogenisis. Simply put, this is activity you perform throughout the course of the day that is not specifically related to exercise. Wiggling your toes, raising your heels up and down and tapping your fingers on a table would be classified as NEAT. Why am I telling you about this? Well, it has now become common knowledge that sitting for long periods of time with no movement raises the risk for chronic conditions, regardless if you follow a regular exercise program or not.
The bottom line... Be as active as you can throughout the course of the day, even if confined to tight quarters. For example, if you sit at an office desk for long hours, tap your feet, stand while fielding phone calls, use a restroom that's on another floor and simply lift one foot off the ground and hold it there. Any time you contract a muscle, move a body part or bend a joint you contribute to your overall daily caloric expenditure. This not only spells good news for faster weight loss, but it also lends handy to better overall health. Never be afraid to move your body, and don't worry about looks you might get from bystanders. Just like mom used to say, "If they're laughing, you don't need them, because they're not good friends."
Have a great day,
No, I'm not talking about shufflin to the beat of your favorite dub-step tune. I'm talking about century-old training tools called Indian clubs. If you have not seen these in action, you are missing out! They resemble wooden bowling pins and range in length depending on the weight. Whirling clubs brings many benefits to the anatomy--most of which are felt in the upper body. Among the most notable are stronger rotator cuffs, improved shoulder flexibility, upper body muscular endurance, enhanced core strength, and reduction in injury risk for the rotator cuff. Clubs also bode well for people confined to a desk chair for long periods of time on a daily basis. This has a tendency to produce rounded shoulders. In this case, the clubs help return your upper body postural alignment to normal. As you can see, club use is a win win for everybody!
Once you master the five basic movements, you then progress to a series of variations. After you get good at these, you have nothing left to do but move in a smooth, graceful, fluidic motion that is truly a thing of beauty to watch. If you want to get going on the clubs, I'd be more than happy to facilitate the way.
Have a great day,