Dandelion Greens are Great

I got some dandelion greens in my weekly CSA box, and came across this posting about uses and benefits.  If you have any other ideas or suggestions, let me know.



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.

A Better Sweetener

I found this piece on “Zen to Life” blog.  Blackstrap molasses is a great addition to our diet. Compared to  sugar or artificial sweeteners, molasses (non-sulfuric and organic) is a smart, nutrient-dense alternative.  There are several grades of molasses, which is made by boiling sugar cane one to three times.  What separates bootstrap molasses from mild or first molasses and second molasses?  Bootstrap is the third boiling, which removes most of the original sucrose, so there is a smaller amount of sugars remaining.  http://zentofitness.com/the-benefits-of-blackstrap-molasses/

What do you think?

“It isn’t in accomplishing something of greatness that you gain your worth; it’s in appreciating your true worth that imbues everything you do with great value.” – Michael Tamura

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.

From One Who Knew:

“The only way you can hurt the body is not use it. Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it’s never too late.” – Jack LaLanne (9/26/1914 – 1/23/2011)

Improving Hip Health and Mobility

This is a good post from todays’ the Zen To Fitness blog:


There is more and more evidence that our sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to our health.  There is an increase in obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes to name a few.  Tight hips and reduced mobility is another consideration. Our long bouts of continual sitting shorten our hamstrings and hip flexors, and can cause lower back pain, and reduced mobility.   The blog also talks about some helpful exercises to counter tight hips, such as hip raises, lunges and yoga.  I recommend incorporating breaks in our sitting during the day.  Every 30 minutes, get up from your chair and walk around for a few minutes.  Swing your legs, do some sit and stands from your chair.   The goal is to keep your muscles around your hips from getting short and tight.  Sitting too much is not good for our bodies!   Get up frequently from your desk and move . This stuff really works!