Health, Exercise and a Book: Vol.2

Health: Let’s talk about seaweed!

If you’re from the New England coast like me, most of your exposure to seaweed comes from jumping in the ocean and coming out looking like Swampthing!

swamp-thing-auburn2

But guess what?  You can eat seaweed too…and it’s good for you!

 The Pro’s:

-Seaweed is very nutrient dense.  It contains a multitude of vitamins and and more minerals than you can find in almost any other food.

-It is chock full of antioxidants and calcium as well.

-Seaweed can aid in reducing inflammation.

-It contains iodine which is important for thyroid health.

-On top of all that, it helps regulate the hormones estrogen and estradiol.  There’s evidence that it plays a role in reducing the risk of breast cancer.

 The Con’s:

-A serving doesn’t provide a significant amount of some vitamins.  But taking multiple servings isn’t the answer either.  Too much of a good thing (such as iodine) can be a bad thing and have some negative side effects.

-Seaweed Pills aren’t regulated by the FDA.  There’s a chance that it could have been grown in water containing toxic chemicals.  It’s a good idea to stick with the food form.

-For some, it’s an acquired taste.  It can take a little getting used to, although I find it delicious!  (But then again, I’m a bit weird.)

 A few servings a week would be a great addition to a healthy diet.  Whether you’re going with kelp, dulse, arame, wakame or kombu, give it a try as a snack or with your next meal!

 

Exercise: Keeping a Neutral Spine

spine

This week’s exercise isn’t really an exercise per se, but rather how to maintain a neutral spine which actually applies to the majority of exercises we do.

Whether you’re performing a squat, deadlift, bench press, lunge, curl etc. etc., keeping a neutral spine will help keep you stable and injury free.

 Here are the basics of getting into neutral spine position:

Stand nice and tall.

Engage your quads, glutes and abs (core).

Keep your chest high, shoulders down and back.

Chin slightly tucked.

 This is the position we want to maintain.  How much your muscles are engaged depends on the exercise.  A body weight squat might require 10% engagement whereas a heavy 3 reps could call for 90% engagement.

 Check out the video demo (by yours truly) for a more detailed explanation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIdctw3SdYg

 

 

A Book: The Rise of Superman

by Steven Kotler

superman

 

Ever wonder what’s going through the head of an athlete just before skiing off a cliff?  Or surfing an 80 foot wave?  “The Rise of Superman” takes an in depth look at the psychology of extreme sport athletes.

 Our first reaction upon seeing someone put himself in a life or death situation for fun is, ‘That person’s crazy!’,  ‘They are just adrenaline junkies.’  or ‘He must have a death wish.’

This is actually far from the truth.  When putting their life on the line, the athlete gets into a state of intense present moment awareness, sometimes called a ‘flow’ state.  Their minds are clear.  Their bodies relaxed and responsive without impeding thoughts.  It’s a state of awareness that is so focused it acts like a sixth sense.

 This is a highly desirable state for EVERYONE although athletes and artists see it most often. It’s where we perform and feel our absolute best.  Time disappears. Creativity peaks.  Our best work comes out.  The big difference is that for extreme athletes it’s ‘get in the flow’ or die…literally.

 The author provides a great mixture of stories and science to illustrate his ideas.  The only point I took issue with is when the author claims that ‘flow’ is an alternative path to mastery and can circumvent the 10,000 hour rule (which says it takes 10,000 hrs to master an activity).  The athletes he highlights in the book have certainly put in those hours before attempting their life or death activities.  None of them got up from a desk job and free climbed a mountain.  They put in the groundwork just like any piano player, chess grandmaster or martial arts master.

 All in all, this is a fantastic read (or listen)  full of great stories and insight into peak performance!

 

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