Hip Update

I’m almost 8 months post hip replacement.  I am relieved and grateful at my progress.  I have been able to do everything I wanted to do (bicycling, yoga, pilates, squats and lunges), except to run.  As a matter of fact, I do run a little bit.  Every so often during my daily walks I will break into an easy trot, maybe for a quarter of a mile.  It feels pretty good. No pain, just a little tweaked in my gait*.  What I do like is that when I stop running and start walking again I feel very loosened up and my walking feels effortless.  My surgeon has said that I am not to run, and I intend to basically stick by that.   I do think a little bit of running is a great enhancement to walking, helps to elevate my heart rate, and just feels great.  What do you think?

*My gait is still a little off.  I feel I am still not smooth on my right side.  I think this is something that I want to change, and know that with the right elements, I can re-program my brain and body to find a balance.  I discovered an amazing new type of work called “Anatomy in Motion”, or AIM.  The guy who does this work is called Gary Ward, and he basically loves feet.  He believes the feet are the secret to eliminating pain and imbalance throughout the body.  He will be here in San Francisco at the end of March.   Here is his link if you are interested in more information: http://www.anatomyinmotion.co.uk/

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A shift in thinking about diet

For many, many years, I have been able to eat pretty freely, indulging my sweet tooth with cupcakes after dinner, sugar in my coffee, candy when I felt low in energy in the afternoon.

Something started happening with me about 7 years ago.  I started getting more aches that stayed longer than the typical soreness after a workout.  My energy declined, and I was less able to work out without wondering if I would suffer unexplained soreness.  Doctors would tell me that it was the result of too much activity, and that I had basically worn my body out.   I have always believed that the body was made for movement, and actually “wore out” when not being used.   As I began to talk to more and more natural healers, conversation would always shift to my diet.   They would say that this is the most important area of concern when looking at your health.  In the past I have glossed this over, as I always thought I ate reasonably well.  I shop at Whole Foods and buy mostly organic.  I eat fruit and vegetables.  I rarely ate much processed bakery goods.    Now, my thinking has changed.  I was running around 30 miles a week, and lead a very active life.  Because of my activity level, I thought it gave me license to eat sweets like jelly beans or chocolate or cupcakes after every meal, because I felt that I burned several thousand calories a week in exercise, and I was swapping exercise for sweets.  Now I’m understanding that there was a penalty for this behavior.

In 1957, Dr. William Coda Martin tried to answer the question: When is a food a food and when is it a poison? His working definition of “poison” was: “Medically: Any substance applied to the body, ingested or developed within the body, which causes or may cause disease. Physically: Any substance which inhibits the activity of a catalyst which is a minor substance, chemical or enzyme that activates a reaction.”1 The dictionary gives an even broader definition for “poison”: “to exert a harmful influence on, or to pervert”.

Refined Sugar

Dr. Martin classified refined sugar as a poison because it has been depleted of its life forces, vitamins and minerals. “What is left consists of pure, refined carbohydrates. The body cannot utilize this refined starch and carbohydrate unless the depleted proteins, vitamins and minerals are present. Nature supplies these elements in each plant in quantities sufficient to metabolize the carbohydrate in that particular plant. There is no excess for other added carbohydrates. Incomplete carbohydrate metabolism results in the formation of ‘toxic metabolite’ such as pyruvic acid and abnormal sugars containing five carbon atoms. Pyruvic acid accumulates in the brain and nervous system and the abnormal sugars in the red blood cells. These toxic metabolites interfere with the respiration of the cells. They cannot get sufficient oxygen to survive and function normally. In time, some of the cells die. This interferes with the function of a part of the body and is the beginning of degenerative disease.”2

Refined sugar is lethal when ingested by humans because it provides only that which nutritionists describe as “empty” or “naked” calories. It lacks the natural minerals which are present in the sugar beet or cane.

In addition, sugar is worse than nothing because it drains and leaches the body of precious vitamins and minerals through the demand its digestion, detoxification and elimination makes upon one’s entire system. So essential is balance to our bodies that we have many ways to provide against the sudden shock of a heavy intake of sugar. Minerals such as sodium (from salt), potassium and magnesium (from vegetables), and calcium (from the bones) are mobilized and used in chemical transmutation; neutral acids are produced which attempt to return the acid-alkaline balance factor of the blood to a more normal state.

Sugar taken every day produces a continuously overacid condition, and more and more minerals are required from deep in the body in the attempt to rectify the imbalance. Finally, in order to protect the blood, so much calcium is taken from the bones and teeth that decay and general weakening begin. Excess sugar eventually affects every organ in the body. Initially, it is stored in the liver in the form of glucose (glycogen). Since the liver’s capacity is limited, a daily intake of refined sugar (above the required amount of natural sugar) soon makes the liver expand like a balloon. When the liver is filled to its maximum capacity, the excess glycogen is returned to the blood in the form of fatty acids. These are taken to every part of the body and stored in the most inactive areas: the belly, the buttocks, the breasts and the thigh.

This article is extracted and edited from the book, Sugar Blues, © 1975 by William Dufty. The book was first published by the Chilton Book Company, Padnor, PA, USA. Warner Books, Inc., NY, published an edition in 1976 and reissued it in April 1993.

Getting Ready For Hip Surgery

I don’t know what I expected to feel when I needed a new hip.   It certainly was not what I was feeling. Yes,  it didn’t feel good to run or jump rope, but I kept feeling that muscles were overworking,  and that there was compensation going on in my gait.  That’s what the various Physical Therapists and body workers were telling me. I did see an Orthopedic doctor at Kaiser, and according to the x-rays, it was only a matter of time before I would need a hip replacement.  That was in August of 2012.  I continued to see various chiropractors and therapists who I was honest with, and some still felt that because of my good range of motion in the hip, there was a possibility that I could avoid surgery.  I always felt better after the therapy, but the relief would only last from a day to two or three days.   I was slowly losing more function, and saw another Kaiser Ortho (and got an updated hip x-ray).   The doctor was kind and direct, saying that the x-ray showed much more deterioration in the hip, and surgery was recommended.   So, after a couple of years of doing many types of repairative work, I now have to wrap my head around the total hip replacement I have scheduled for June 13.

Getting Ready For Hip Replacement Surgery

From what people tell me who have gone through the surgery, I am going to be happy once the surgery is over, and the healing begins.  There have been so many things that I have not been able to do, or that have been painful to do.  Going out for walks, going up stairs and hills, carrying my dog, many yoga poses all have difficult or painful.  I became so  fearful of physical activity because I could not predict what would cause pain later that day, or the next.

These types of things should be a thing of the past, once surgery is complete.

It takes an act of faith to say that I am done trying to fix this myself, with alternative therapies, or avoiding activities.   When you have a structural problem, things are going to get worse, your body is going to compensate, and you could potentially cause damage to other joints.   There is a time to wait and a time to act.   Now I have to take a leap of faith and trust my doctor and his team to do their work.

Training for the NYC Marathon

On the morning or October 16, 2011 I went out for my long run of  the week, in preparation for the New York City Marathon on November 6.   It was to be 18 miles, and should have taken me about 2 1/2 hours.  I went to bed early, hydrated and take a couple of  Advil to reduce any inflammation and soreness.  Still, this morning, my body did not feel like going outside.  So, instead of leaving the house at 6, I dragged myself out at 7:30.  San Francisco was hosting the Nike Womens’ Marathon this morning, which was running along my usual path along the Embarcadero toward the Golden Gate Bridge.  I decided I wanted a more solitary run, so I went in the opposite direction,  south along third street, and toward SFO.  Almost right from the start, I felt heavy and slow.  The run was rolling up and down hills, and after a couple miles I got into a pattern, although it was slow, and my breathing erratic.  I made it to 8 miles, and decided to walk and get some Gatorade at a gas station in South City.  By the time I got to the station, I knew that I could not go another mile forward, and certainly couldn’t make it back.  I asked the attendant at the gas station if there was a pay phone, as I wanted to call my partner and ask him to take me home.  There was no pay phone, but she would let me use the store phone.  I left a message for Thomas, and within 2 minutes, he was calling me back. He was going south to San Mateo for his weekly tennis lessons, and would come around and pick me up, and I could watch him in his tennis lesson.  I was grateful to have a ride, and I guess I would just say that some days are harder than the next, and not to get upset or depressed about it, but be happy for the chance to be able to run.

A Little About Crossfit

I was working with a client yesterday, and she asked my opinion about Crossfit, so I gave a brief explanation based on what I have previously heard.  Although I have not personally experienced a Crossfit workout, I’ve taken some time to do a little research.   Crossfit, according to Wikepedia, is a strength and conditioning brand which  combines weightliftingsprinting, and gymnastics. CrossFit says that proficiency is required in each of ten fitness domains: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strengthflexibility, power, speedagilitybalance, coordination, and accuracy. It defines fitness as increased work capacity across all these domains and says its program achieves this by provoking neurologic and hormonal adaptations across all metabolic pathways. Crossfit is popular accross the US, as well as internationally, and is used by police and fire departments as a conditioning tool.

The CrossFit concept is simple:  CrossFit athletes run, row, jump rope, climb rope and carry odd objects.  They frequently move large loads quickly over short distances.   CrossFit pushes the boundaries in fitness by doing various exercises,  such as pushup or pullups or squat jumps as well as some unconventional exercises very quickly (you are timed to do as many as possible) .  I’m a personal trainer, and I do believe in pushing boundaries, this is how we develop strength, endurance and flexibility.   My concern with CrossFit is that exercises are often done with little or no attention to proper form, with quantity ranking above quality, and mindfulness.  They may talk about correct form, but once you throw in the time and competitive elements, form will take a back seat.   The following comes from another blog post that I think addresses some criticism of CrossFit:

“CrossFit gets people off the couch, and that is great.  But beyond that, it lacks in programming in one major significant way. The “WOD” (workout of the day) format does nothing to address any one individual’s specific needs, and that is my beef. Everyone’s structure is different, and the WOD format doesn’t address that Person A may lack proper hip mobility for overhead squats, and Person B may have poor scapular movement for overhead squats, yet this is ignored and both people do overhead squats in a timed “contest” because the WOD says so. It drives the responsibility for safety to the individual, and then undermines it by creating a competitive environment. Injuries rarely happen in one day, they are instead the result of many accumulated microtraumas over the span of months or even years”.

Officially, Crossfit has only existed in its’ current form for about 10 years, although it’s founder , Greg Glassman, had been developing it since the mid 1980’s.  Greg (who’s followers call him “Coach”), was a former high school gymnast living in Southern, California as a personal trainer.  In 1995, he established a gym in Santa  Cruz,  where he was hired to  provide a training program for the local police department.  A quote from a 2005 New York Times interview with Mr. Glassman regarding the popularity of Crossfit  gives you an idea of his philosophy:

“But for Mr. Glassman, dismissals of his extreme workouts merely help him weed out people he considers weak-willed. “If you find the notion of falling off the rings and breaking your neck so foreign to you, then we don’t want you in our ranks,” he said.”

CrossFit has its’ own certification process for trainers.  You take a 50 question multiple choice test after the 2 day program, and are requested, but not required to participate in the workouts during the sessions.   There are various levels of certification courses, with the objective to teach proper technique for the various Crossfit exercises.  After obtaining the certificate you are authorized to teach and train Crossfit exercises.

My advice?  If CrossFit appeals to you, find a local chapter and see how you feel after several workouts.  If you like the concept, and you can honestly say that you can do the exercises properly, and it feels good  in your body, then proceed, with caution. You could also go to the Level 1 certification course (this costs approximately $1,000, by the way) that people attend to become a certified CrossFit trainer.  That would give you more of a knowledge base and philosophy of Crossfit, which is always good. Know that it is ok to quit an exercise when you are ready to quit!  Quit exercising if you are experiencing sharp pain.  A good trainer should listen to their client, and if a client says some exercise causes pain, I listen to them and stop the exercise.  That is the bond I have with my clients and I believe it’s this trust that ultimately creates healthy change.  Quit exercising if you feel nauseous or dizzy.  Use common sense.  Communicate with the trainer about what you will and will not do.  If CrossFit can get you moving, and into a gym, great.  I admire their concept of  hard, concentrated work to achieve results   Perhaps it can serve as an entry way to a new, more dynamic life for yourself where you explore your physical limits, and make real, lasting positive change to your life.  Just remember that the cornerstone for all physical activities is that you do not harm yourself, or others, in what you do.

Combining Organic Healthy Diets with Exercise

I just got back from the 31st Eco Farm conference in Pacific Grove, California. I have been intrigued with farming, and now organic farming ever since I was a kid, when I grew flowers and vegetables around my house in Wisconsin. So, when I heard about this sustainable agriculture conference that is held each winter near Monterey, I just had to check it out. So here I was, a personal trainer from San Francisco among hippies and farmers and people who work very hard to grow high quality food.

I loved what I heard. There were seminars focusing on successful growers, giving tips for new farmers, seminars on attracting bees and other pollinators to your crops, composting, identifying beneficial insects…you name it. The people were generally in good shape, as organic farmers do alot more physical work keeping the crops weeded and generally doing everything without the benefit of pesticides and man made fertilizers, and maybe even heavy machinery.  People were gentle, well-spoken, and eager to share information about what they do.  I learned that community for these farmers are very important.  You want to foster relationships as a way to share information, as well as to share tools and labor, when needed.

This conference helped  me realize how interconnected the fitness industry and the sustainable food industry could and should be. Good health is a combination of what you put in your body, and how you move your body.   Knowing where your food comes from and knowing the benefits of organic food versus conventionally grown food leads to making conscious, healthy choices.    Organically grown food tastes better, has higher nutrient value because it is grown on healthier soils, and you are not ingesting harmful pesticide residues that are used on conventionally grown food.