Living in the Moment

I was taking a look at LinkedIn the business social media website the other day and someone had posted a quote from the Dalai Lama:

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present: the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

I thought this was a pretty profound statement by one of the greatest spiritual leaders of our time. It made me consider my own behavior and motivations. It seems our future orientation, often with a fixation on acquiring wealth, position, power, and things prevents us from living in the present. I guess most of the time I can at least claim that I do not live in the past, but I am surely not fully living in the present. I seem to be fixated on what’s next, what do I need to achieve, the next thing I need to acquire (car, phone, home), how much more money I can earn, and the future sense of satisfaction that I will feel. This is really a fools game when you think about it. Have you ever recieved a large raise or cash windfall? How long was it before whatever sense of satisfaction you felt just faded away? For me it was a matter of days, maybe even less. All the time invested in this quest for material gratification only made me less accessible and less aware of what was happening around me. I truly lived in the future and was never very happy with the present.

past-future-present

What is really ironic about living with this future oriented mindset is that you go through life as quoted above anxious about the future and not enjoying the present. I’m sure much of this future orientation comes from our desire to judge our success in terms of wealth or how much we have acquired. So the more money I make, the larger my house, having an expensive car, and spending lavishly on vacations motivates us and we buy into the idea that this makes us happy. As future oriented people we are also driven by fear; this might be a fear of not having enough money to retire or the fear that we will lose our wealth or possessions. Goals are great, but to live in the present means that the motivation to achieve these goals must be something other than accumulating wealth or avoiding disaster. How will our life change if we start to focus on living in the present.  My assumption going forward is that when you really think about it is all you have is this very moment. All my elaborate plans go right out the window if I succumb to a stroke or die in a car accident going home today. If you can live with the notion that the most important time we have is now then let me take a stab at a few reasons why we should change our mindset:

Increased happiness – Instead of spending all your time thinking about the future and what your next acquisition will be you are focused on this very moment. You are not agonizing on future choices, what you need to achieve next, or something you need to prepare for. You are just focused on what is happening all around you, right at this moment. There is a sense of calm that happens when you are not thinking about what I need to do next, and your stress levels begin to diminish and your attitude starts to improve, you are starting to feel what some people call being happy.

Being connected – If I am always talking to you about what I am going to do in the future and how I need to work on this or that for some future reward, I’m probably not even listening to what you are saying and much worse I don’t really care because I am on a quest. Do you know people like this? Maybe a co-worker, a brother, a sister, a friend, a parent, a spouse. They are very busy people, but they are not connected to you in the moment. They may have feelings for you or care about you, but they don’t have time to show you or time to listen you, they are much to busy. Living in the present allows us to spend time with people and become available, to hear what they are saying, to show empathy, and to make a better connection.

Mastery – When you look around you at those people that have become masterful at something in their life, maybe it is music, sports, writing, or teaching you find that they invest in the present. I would suggest that a great pianist or violinist doesn’t spend their time thinking about how much money they will make or what material thing they will acquire next. Instead they are focused in the moment knowing that their focus will let them acquire something more than wealth or things, but it will result in mastery. Don’t get me wrong mastery can have material consequences, but it starts with living in the moment and focus. I would suggest the primary motivation is to get very good at something, to master it someday, and this alone creates happiness.

There are many other benefits to living in the moment, and we didn’t really make much headway on how you develop that mindset, but we can save that for some other time. It is Friday night and as much as I enjoy writing and posting I think I need to go spend a few moments with some special people.

Enjoy the weekend!

 

Advertisements

Fundamental Post Post Workout Supplements

When I refer to workout in the title of this post, I am specifically focused on strength training. There are many supplements you can take after a strength training workout, but I am going to focus on 5 that can help boost your recovery and increase testosterone levels.  After working out your muscles are needing some carbohydrates and amino acids to start the muscle building recovery process.

Update to my original post: There is some evidence to suggest that you might want to wait 60 – 90 minutes after a workout before consuming post workout supplements. It appears that if you worked out in a fasted state that after your workout your body will actually increase the amount of human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone as long as you don’t consume anything other than water right after your workout. So my updated advice is to wait about an hour after your workout before taking the supplements mentioned below. This will give you the opportunity to take advantage of spiking HGH and testosterone levels, thus maximizing your gains. 

Bodybuilding-Supplements

These are the 5 supplements I take after a workout:

  1. Branch Chained Amino Acids (BCCA) – There are three BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine and valine. The BCAAs are among the nine essential amino acids for humans, accounting for 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins and 40% of the preformed amino acids required by mammals. BCAAs not only increase the rate of protein synthesis, but they also increase the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis. BCAAs also work in your favor by reducing the rate of protein breakdown. They might also help improve workout intensity, that is why BCCA’s can be used as a pre workout and post workout supplement.
  2. Creatine Monohydrate – is a natural substance that turns into creatine phosphate in the body. Creatine phosphate helps make a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides the energy for muscle contractions.  Creatine will pull water into the muscle cells, and effects the ability for your body to use fast twitch muscles. Note: your body can only store so much ATP so taking more creatine than advised will not be effective.  The ideal dose is around 5 grams (1 heaping teaspoon).  Creatine can be used as a pre-workout and/or post-workout supplement.
  3. L-Arginine – is a naturally occurring amino acid that may help to increase blood flow (in some populations) and anabolic growth-hormone secretion. This helps increase lean muscle mass/strength/power, promotes faster recovery from exercise, and improves the work capacity of active muscles. L-arginine also improves the process of clearing waste products from your muscles. This may result in a reduced sense of fatigue. I like to use about 2.5 to 3 grams after a workout.
  4. L-Glutamine – is the most abundant inessential amino acid in the human body and makes up the majority of the amino acids in skeletal muscle. Despite being involved in many crucial roles in our daily health and function, it’s considered “inessential” because the body is capable of producing it on its own. L-Glutamine plays a big role in supporting workout and muscle recovery, enhances immune function, and improves intestinal health. For me it seems to assist in helping my muscles recover and I have less next day soreness.  I would use about 5 grams after a workout.
  5. Tribulus terrestris –  is a flowering plant that grows in temperate and tropical areas. The compound is rich in saponins, the active ingredient claimed to increase the body’s natural testosterone levels and helps to build muscle. The primary point of the tribulus terrestris extract is that it will increase testosterone levels. It does this in a very secure method – by no means exceeding the physique`s natural upper limits. I have read that it is best to take on an empty stomach after your workout. I usually take about 1 to 1.5 grams after a workout.

My method for post workout supplementation is as follows:

Either use a fruit drink or some powdered post workout drink (even Gatorade would do) to mix with the powdered BCCA’s, Creatine Monohydrate and powered L-Glutamine.  Once mixed, drink and swallow your Tribulus Terrestris and L-Arginine capsules.  Wait 20 to 30 minutes before eating.  This gives the post workout supplements some time to digest and get into your blood stream before you consume anything else.  The reason I advocate that you use a fruit drink or something like Gatorade is that following a workout is the best time to consume sugar. When you train, your body burns glycogen, or sugar. Both blood sugar and muscle glycogen are consumed during a workout, and to recover, as well as progress, you need to restore depleted glycogen levels as quickly as possible. My next step is to follow the post supplementation with a meal that contains a decent amount of protein and some complex carbohydrates.

The only warning might apply to women taking Tribulus terrestris. I would do some additional research on the effects it may have on women before adding it to your post workout supplements.

I would love to hear what kind of post workout supplements you advocate taking.

Sunflower Seeds

Even before I entertained the idea that my diet should move in a more healthy direction, I always liked Sunflower seeds.  I was wondering what the nutritional profile of those little kernels that tasted so good would be, so I decided to do a little research. Beyond just the nutritional profile I wondered what the health benefits might include.  Here is the basic nutritional data:

Sunflower seeds dry roasted

Sunflower seeds nutrional profile

As you can see Sunflower seeds are relatively high in fat, but also include a generous amount of protein and some fiber.
Well beyond the basic nutritional data we need to look a little deeper into some of the benefits of the sunflower seed:
  • Low in Cholesterol and Sodium.
  • good source of Thiamin and Vitamin B6.
  • High in Magnesium which studies have shown that magnesium helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Also contains Phosphorus, Copper, and Manganese.
  • High amounts of Selenium. Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, and to induce their apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells.
  • A very good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol).  Vitamin E has been shown to be good for your hair and skin, and contains antioxidants that remove free radicals that damage cells.
  • A good source of protein.

Now while the sunflower seed has a substantial fat content and is fairly high in calories, its many health benefits make it a great addition to just about anyone’s diet.

Namaste

Perseverance

According to Merriam Webster perseverance is defined as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition : the action or condition or an instance of persevering”.  Another definition from the Oxford Dictionaries states that perseverance is “Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. Essentially perseverance is needed for something that is difficult and without it you will not achieve success. Now perseverance doesn’t gaurantee success, but without it you are almost certainly gauranteed to fail.

Persaverance Steve Jobs

A couple synonyms for persevere are persist and hang on; I would add a dogged determination to see something through, to give it your best effort, and to not give up. Now let me also state that there is a difference between between perseverance and being stupid. One perseveres when pursuing a goal that is attainable, and usually perseverance comes from passion or a deep seeded belief that what you are seeking must be achieved.

We all have lots of great ideas and most of the time we pass on them because we lack the desire to make the long term investment or to persevere. Perseverance can apply to all aspects of our lives, but let’s take physical fitness as an example. If my goal is to run a marathon, and I’m just starting a running regime then one would need one hell of a lot of perseverance to make the investment in training required to achieve this goal. I’m no expert in marathon running, but I know some people who are and they train for many months to get in shape to run the 26+ miles required to complete this race. Apply that level of determination to other activities like strength training where you are using progressive resistance and every workout gets more difficult, or your yoga practice when you crawl out of bed at 5:00 a.m. and get on the mat challenging yourself time and time again.

So you want to be more physically fit, you want to have a better body, more strength, improved aerobic endurance, but are you willing to pay the price?  I would guess that we tend to prematurely call it quits when in reality we are so close to achieving our goal and that’s where perseverance comes in. Only you know when you need to persevere and when what you are attempting is not worth the effort.

perseverance Author Unknown

Namaste

 

 

 

More Yoga – working around pain

As you may have guessed I am not in my twenties. With age comes a phenomena called something always hurts. Now I’m not whining, and it isn’t the can’t get out of bed type of pain, but instead you always seem to be nursing some sort of muscle pull or strain. If I decided to take the day off from my yoga or strength training routine every time I had something that hurt I probably wouldn’t get too many workouts in, so I am going to suggest there are ways to work around these nagging pains you might be experiencing.

Let’s take my yoga practice, something I really love doing, but there are times when I need to be smart about what poses I undertake when nursing one of those minor injuries. Recently I had what appeared to be some form of a pulled muscle around the rib cage, so one of the poses I do is APANASANA Knee to Chest with a supine twist which is where one leg is bent and essentially goes over the other leg that is straight (see picture below) had to be temporarily eliminated. As you know there are a number of asanas where twisting around the spine is par for the course, so I also stopped doing things like MARICHYASANA III Seated Twist (below). About a week later the pain around the rib cage subsided and I was able to resume those poses that caused the most pain, while still maintaining my practice.

Apanasana supine twist

APANASANA Knee to Chest Post (supine twist)

marichyasana III

MARICHYASANA III

I’m not advocating you eliminate all asanas where you feel a bit of pain, just those where you know you are making the injury worse and probably compromising a speedy recovery. I don’t care if you are 20 or 60 you will encounter muscle strain and pulls from time to time, or if you are like me you will always have some nagging pain to deal with, but don’t let that stop you from maintaining your practice. Be smart and work around those injuries, and get what you can out of your yoga practice; remember you can modify many of the poses to work around that injury. So when I was dealing with the pain around my rib cage I opted to do a simple APANASANA bringing the knee to the chest without the supine twist until I had healed my body. Look for those opportunities to make modifications or temporarily eliminate certain asanas, but don’t stop practicing.

Namaste

Health benefits of common nuts

common nuts

The focus of this post will be on the health benefits of some of the most commonly consumed nuts including almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Nuts are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins,  minerals, and essential fats. Everyone can benefit from eating nuts, but especially those of you who are eliminating meat and dairy from your diets. Of course not all nuts have the same nutritional profile, and this will be something we delve into, hopefully providing you some guidance or at least an understanding of the differences between these commonly consumed nuts. Let’s look at each of these nuts for their overall benefits and nutritional data:

Almonds

This is a calcium rich nut that is great for your bones especially if you have eliminated dairy products from your diet. Almonds have a high amount of vitamin E making them good for your skin, and the outer skin on the almond has flavonoids that help protect your heart.

Nutritional Data: 1 ounce (23 whole nuts) of raw almonds contains 6.02 grams protein, 14 grams of fat163 calories, and 3.5 grams of dietary fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 200 mg
Phosphorus – 137 mg
Calcium – 75 mg
Magnesium – 76 mg
Iron – 1.05 mg
Selenium – 0.7 mcg
Zinc – 0.87 mg
Manganese – 0.648 mg
Copper – 0.282 mg

Vitamins

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.06 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.287 mg
Niacin – 0.96 mg
Folate – 14 mcg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.133 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.041 mg
Vitamin E – 7.43 mg

 

Cashews

A great source of protein they are also rich in iron and zinc, which makes cashews a great choice if you’re following a vegetarian diet. Containing generous amounts of the mineral magnesium, which is thought to improve recall and delay, age-related memory loss.

Nutritional Data: One ounce of raw, unsalted cashew nuts contains 5.17 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat157 calories and 0.94 grams of fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 187 mg
Phosphorus – 168 mg
Calcium – 10 mg
Magnesium – 83 mg
Iron – 1.89 mg
Sodium – 3 mg
Manganese – 0.469 mg
Zinc – 1.64 mg
Copper – 0.622 mg
Selenium – 5.6 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.1 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.12 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.016 mg
Niacin – 0.301 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.245 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.118 mg
Folate – 7 mcg
Vitamin E – 0.26 mg
Vitamin K – 9.7 mcg

 

Peanuts

Surprisingly the lowly peanut rivals many of the most nutritious nuts chosen by the USDA. This nut is heart-healthy overall, and contains resveratrol, the same flavonoid sought from red grapes and red wine.  Peanuts have the highest amount of protein, the third least calories, and the absolute highest amount of Folate (folic acid), a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that is rare in nuts .

Nutritional Data: One ounce of dry roasted peanuts contains 6.71 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat166 calories and 2.3 grams of dietary fiber.

Minerals

Potassium -187 mg
Phosphorus – 101 mg
Calcium – 15 mg
Magnesium – 50 mg
Iron – 0.64 mg
Sodium – 2 mg
Manganese – 0.591 mg
Zinc – 0.94 mg
Copper – 0.190 mg
Selenium – 2.1 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.124 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.028 mg
Niacin – 3.834 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.395 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.073 mg
Folate – 41 mcg
Vitamin E – 1.96 mg

 

Pecans

The pecan is a heart-friendly nut that is packed with plant sterols, valuable compounds that are effective at lowering cholesterol levels. Pecans are also have high levels of antioxidants which helps prevent the plaque formation that causes hardening of the arteries. The pecan is also rich in oleic acid, the healthy fat found in olives and avocado.

Nutritional Data: One ounce (19 halves) of raw pecans contains 2.6 grams protein, 20 grams of fat196 calories and 2.7 grams fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 116 mg
Phosphorus – 79 mg
Calcium – 20 mg
Magnesium – 34 mg
Iron – 0.72 mg
Manganese – 1.276 mg
Zinc – 1.28 mg
Copper – 0.34 mg
Selenium – 1.1 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.3 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.187 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.01 mg
Niacin – 0.331 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.245 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.06 mg
Folate – 6 mcg
Vitamin A – 16 IU
Vitamin E – 0.4 mg
Vitamin K – 1 mcg

 

Pistachios

Packed with antioxidants,and are the only nut that skyrockets in lutein and zeaxanthin, the only two carotenoid antioxidants that accumulate in the retinas of our eyes. Pistachios also have the most selenium, an anti-inflammatory trace element that aids our immune systems and helps prevent viral infections and cancer. While I love all of these nuts this is by far my favorite just because it tastes so good.

Nutritional Data: One ounce of dry roasted pistachio nuts (no salt) (49 kernels) contains 6.05 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat, 162 calories and 2.9 grams of dietary fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 295 mg
Phosphorus – 137 mg
Calcium – 31 mg
Magnesium – 34 mg
Iron – 1.19 mg
Sodium – 3 mg
Manganese – 0.361 mg
Zinc – 0.65 mg
Copper – 0.376 mg
Selenium – 2.6 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.7 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.238 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.045 mg
Niacin – 0.404 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.145 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.361 mg
Folate – 14 mcg
Vitamin A – 74 IU
Vitamin E – 0.55 mg
Vitamin K – 3.7 mcg

 

Walnuts

With their superior antioxidant content walnuts are useful in the fight against cancer. A good source of mono-unsaturated, heart-friendly fats, and studies show they help to lower the bad form of cholesterol (LDL). The Walnut is also rich in omega-3, so they’re a great alternative if you don’t eat oily fish.

Nutritional Data: 1 ounce (14 halves) English walnuts contains 4.32 mg protein, 18 grams of fat185 calories and 1.9 mg fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 125 mg
Phosphorus – 98 mg
Calcium – 28 mg
Magnesium – 45 mg
Iron – 0.82 mg
Sodium – 1 mg
Manganese – 0.968 mg
Zinc – 0.88 mg
Copper – 0.45 mg
Selenium – 1.4 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.4 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.097 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.043 mg
Niacin – 0.319 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.162 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.152 mg
Folate – 28 mcg
Vitamin A – 6 IU
Vitamin E – 0.2 mg
Vitamin K – 0.8 mcg

While there are differences in the nutrients derived from these nuts, there is also a many similarities and they all provide a healthy dose of potassium and phosphorus, generous amounts of protein, the good kind of fat, and much needed fiber. So instead of reaching for that bag of chips or bowl of ice cream, grab a handful of cashews, almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, or peanuts. You will feel so much better about what you are putting in your body, and you will find nuts are both a delicious and satisfying treat.

Munch on my friends.

 

References:

http://www.health-alternatives.com/nut-seed-nutrition-chart.html

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-nuts

http://voices.yahoo.com/6-best-healthiest-most-nutritious-nuts-chosen-usda-7227788.html?cat=5

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/nuts/art-20046635?pg=1

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/go-nuts-your-diet

http://healthyliving.msn.com/health-wellness/the-best-and-worst-nuts-for-your-health-1