Pursuing Health
Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training for Brain Optimization PH171

Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training for Brain Optimization PH171

November 24, 2020

“When we think about exercise in general as sort of a hermetic stressor, it just makes sense to think about, if you’re going to do it at a higher intensity and have these repeated hormetic stressors, you’re going to get an overall greater response. It’s a lot of the same mechanisms that we see for exercise causing a lot of great brain health and cognitive benefits, but we’re just seeing it to a greater degree.
- Julie Foucher-Urcuyo, MD

 

In this special edition of Pursuing Health Pearls, I'm joining Dr. Matt Dawson and Dr. Mike Mallin at the Wild Health Brain Optimization Summit for an interview-style discussion focused on how high intensity interval training (HIIT) can optimize brain health.

The Brain Optimization Summit featured doctors, scientists, biohackers, and nootropics professionals discussing lifestyle habits and methods to improve mental performance, memory formation, concentration, and professional creativity.

This was a really fun conference, and they’re planning to hold another similar conference on athletic optimization which I plan to participate in, so stay tuned.  I’m also excited to share more with you about Matt and Mike when I interview them in next week's episode so stay tuned for that as well!

In this episode we discuss:

  • The definition of high intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • How HIIT relates to brain health and why it's advocated to improve brain health
  • How HIIT can reduce risk of stroke and improve stroke recovery rates
  • The amount of HIIT required to receive health benefits
  • The mechanism behind getting brain health benefits from HIIT
  • High intensity exercise versus moderate intensity exercise
  • The impact of HIIT on dementia, depression, Parkinson's, and ADHD
  • How to minimize the risks of HIIT
  • How to safely introduce it to a sedentary individual
  • How much HIIT is too much?
  • The target heart rate for a sedentary ramp up
  • How to cycle HIIT into your weekly routine
  • Quick workout recommendations
  • Supplements to help with joint health
  • Thoughts on fasted HIIT
  • A Burpee Challenge!  5 rounds of:1 minute of burpees, 1 minute of rest

You can follow Wild Health on their website, podcast, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Links:

Related episodes:

Ep 78 - Lifestyle and Brain Health with Dr. David Perlmutter

Ep 159 - Pursuing Health Pearls: Exercise and Why It's So Good For Us

 

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.

This post was originally published on November 23, 2020.

Brooke Wells on What it Takes to be a Top CrossFit Athlete PH170

Brooke Wells on What it Takes to be a Top CrossFit Athlete PH170

November 17, 2020

Six-time CrossFit Games athlete Brooke Wells was just 19 when she qualified for her first CrossFit Games in 2015, and she's competed at every CrossFit Games since, always placing inside the top 20.  This year, at the 2020 CrossFit Games, Brooke earned her best finish yet, placing 5th amongst an elite field of competitors.

When Brooke started CrossFit, she had a natural gift for strength and lifting heavy weights.  Combine that with a background in track and gymnastics, plus several years of hard work to improve on her weaknesses, and Brooke has become an incredibly well-rounded athlete who is a consistent podium threat.  In Stage 1 of the 2020 CrossFit Games, she finished in the top 10 on every event, proving there are very few holes in her game.

Looking ahead to the 2021 season, she's excited to start improving upon her strength numbers again and to inch her way up the leaderboard even further.

She's also excited to be surrounding herself with a training community to help her achieve that goal.  Brooke recently relocated from Tulsa to Nashville and has teamed up with several other high level athletes including Will Morad, Alec Smith and Streat Horner to form an environment where she can be challenged to give her best with each session.

In Brooke's second appearance on the podcast, we caught up just a week after Stage 2 of the 2020 CrossFit Games to talk about her experience at the 2020 Games, her plans for the 2021 season, and the legacy she hopes to leave on CrossFit.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Areas where Brooke feels she has grown the most over the past 6 years
  • Her 2020 training season
  • How Brooke decided to move to Nashville
  • Brooke’s approach to preparing for Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the 2020 CrossFit Games
  • Her typical daily routine
  • Brooke's experience at Stage 2 of the CrossFit Games
  • Her impressions on the changes in leadership within CrossFit HQ
  • How Brooke is preparing for the 2021 training season
  • How she plans to spend her downtime during the off-season
  • The legacy Brooke hopes to leave on CrossFit
  • Three things Brooke does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she thinks could have a big impact on her health, but she has a hard time implementing
  • What a healthy life looks like to Brooke

You can follow Brooke on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Links:

Related episodes:

Ep 47 -Coffee Talk with Katrin, Jen, and Kelley at the Reebok Athlete Summit

Ep 64 -Haley Adams: A CrossFit Games Teen with Talent

Ep 74 - Brooke Wells & Jessica Griffith on Forging Friendships & Striking a Balance

Ep 166 - Three-time Fittest American Woman Kari Pearce on Preparing for the 2020 CrossFit Games

 

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.

Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis with Jasmine Joy PH169

Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis with Jasmine Joy PH169

November 10, 2020

“You have something like a major surgery, whether you have MS specifically or whether you have any other type of autoimmune disease or anything like that, but those don’t have to be death sentences. Even though that’s what they feel like when you first get diagnosed, and if the relapses are hitting harder and harder, or if the symptoms are getting worse. It’s easy to think it’s just going downhill. The biggest thing that CrossFit has done for me is to remind me or show me that I can take control of my health. I can take control of what my body does, I can take control of what I put into my body, and all of those things are going to benefit me.”

- Jasmine Joy

 

To look at Jasmine Joy, you would never know there are lesions on her brain and spinal cord, or guess that rods and screws are holding her spine in place.  To the casual observer, 26-year old Jasmine is healthy, happy, and moving freely with full intensity in the gym.

Yet, it is actually because of those three things that Jasmine is capable to live her life with little fear of what is to come. The choice of health, happiness, and movement are life-changing ones.

When she was age 20, Jasmine was preparing for a spinal fusion to treat severe scoliosis. The surgery would help adjust and hold her spine by using two metal rods and at least a dozen screws and would be followed by a daunting recovery process.  Jasmine would have to relearn how to stand, walk, move, and function on her own before returning to college.

During the preparation process, the doctors asked a series of routine of questions including, "Do you ever feel numbness, tingling, or pins and needles?" Jasmine told the doctor yes, thinking "who doesn't?" However, the degree, frequency, and locations of pins and needles she was experiencing was not normal and thus, further testing began.

An MRI revealed that Jasmine had lesions on her spinal cord and brain. During what was supposed to be the most fun and social time of her life, Jasmine learned that she likely had Multiple Sclerosis, and she was still preparing for a terrifying spinal fusion to boot.


Jasmine’s fusion was a success, and after an arduous and painful recovery she returned to school, but her health challenges weren’t over.  Follow up testing revealed that at just 20 years old, she had Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis.  Over the next several years her doctors worked to find the right medications to help her as she struggled with pain, allergic reactions and extreme side-effects like depression.

Jasmine also started to make some changes on her own. Driven by having own basic mobility taken from her after her spinal fusion, she was no longer taking movement for granted. She began running, paying attention to her nutrition, and frequenting the gym.  Says Jasmine, “I not only realized what a gift movement was by having it taken away, but I also had this looming dread that one day my ability to move might still be taken away, and maybe for good. If there was any chance of that, I wanted to do everything I could now.”

After trying all sorts of fitness, Jasmine ultimately joined a CrossFit affiliate and fell in love with it during her first class.  She recognized that in the years to come she might lose some of her abilities, and she knew that when that time came, she would be able to continue by adapting her workouts or finding someone to help her, regardless of how her MS might eventually look.

Now 26, Jasmine has been symptom-free since starting CrossFit, and her MS specialist encourages her to continue with high intensity exercise.  CrossFit helps Jasmine forget she even has a terrifying disease with no cure and her doctor assures her that her beliefs as to how she is no longer experiencing symptoms is neither cheesy nor crazy- it’s possible and likely.

The impact CrossFit has had on Jasmine’s life is remarkable.  She says, “I know that because of CrossFit, I took control over who I was, who I wanted to be, and the role my conditions would play in my life. I no longer focus on what my body looks like, rather on what it can do. I celebrate new movements and strength, not pounds loss. I look at ingredient lists, and I keep track of macro-nutrients I am taking in, not which food to "cheat" with. I have a massive second FAMILY of people I get to talk to authentically, get to know on good days and bad, workout next to, coach, celebrate with, and just live this life everyday seeing…. I am fully aware that to most everyone, CrossFitters sound like they are this insane cult of people who only talk about CrossFit. However, when you find a community, methodology, and sport that does for you and for countless others what it has for me? How can you not be obsessed with it in some way? CrossFit shapes your life.”

When Jasmine first shared her story with me, I was incredibly inspired by her courage and her desire to focus on the variables within her control as she manages her MS diagnosis.  In this episode, we chat about the evolution of her journey, how CrossFit and her CrossFit community have played a huge role in managing her symptoms, and how she keeps a positive mindset in the face of such an unpredictable disease.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Jasmine’s childhood diagnosis of scoliosis
  • How her daily life was impacted by the condition
  • Preparing for major back surgery and how that led to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis
  • What her recovery process looked like
  • Using nutrition to help manage her MS symptoms
  • Jasmine’s early treatment plan, which was primarily focused on medication
  • How she got started with CrossFit and the evolution of her training
  • How the adaptability and scalability of CrossFit appeals to Jasmine as she approaches her MS long-term
  • How the rods in her back impact her movement in the gym
  • How CrossFit and her community have impacted her life
  • The importance of recognizing that a diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence
  • Three things Jasmine does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Jasmine

You can connect with Jasmine via or Instagram or email, jasmine@crossfitfargo.com.

Links:

Related episodes:

Ep 148 - Fighting Back Against Fibromyalgia: Olivia Vollmar

Ep 78 - Lifestyle and Brain Health with Dr. David Perlmutter

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.

This post was originally published on November 9, 2020.

Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng on Avoiding the ICU and Racism in Medicine PH 168

Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng on Avoiding the ICU and Racism in Medicine PH 168

November 3, 2020

As you learn more, and more, and more about disease, prevention is the key.  Why get sick in the first place? Don’t get sick!  Why are we going to wait until you’re end-stage or sick as a dog before we try and provide you with help?  No.  Let’s be smarter with our minds, resources and approaches.  It just doesn’t make sense when you think about it, really.  A lot of times we’re just putting Band-Aids on [things].  Let’s get to the root cause and, really, stop you from entering the door.
- Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng

Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng is a palliative care & intensive care doctor based in Ottawa, Canada.  As a physician treating critically ill patients, he brings an enthusiasm and passion to the idea of keeping patients out of the hospital in the first place by using lifestyle to prevent disease.

On his podcast, Solving Healthcare, Dr. Kyeremanteng features interviews and discussions on the topic of improving healthcare delivery.  He is also the founder of the Resource Optimization Network, a multidisciplinary research group working to reduce health spending, make the ICU more efficient, and improve access to palliative care services.

Dr. Kyeremanteng was one of only two Black students in his medical school class, and as one of the few Black doctors practicing in his hospital today, he is keenly aware of the demographic imbalance in medicine and the resulting challenges Black individuals must overcome to have the same opportunities as their peers.  He’s recently launched a healthcare mentorship program to help Black students bridge this gap.

Dr. Kyermanteng’s role in the ICU has put him at the forefront of caring for acutely ill COVID-19 patients, and his experience as a palliative doctor gives him a unique perspective on the challenges facing these patients and their families.

I was excited to hear from Dr. Kyeremanteng on all of these hot topics, and more.  We covered a lot of ground in the conversation, from how intensive care medicine and palliative care medicine go hand-in-hand, to the lessons he’s learned from spending time with patients near the end of their lives, to what actions we can start taking now to be anti-racist.

*Photo courtesy of Michelle Dickie

In this episode we discuss:

  • His background and how he came to practice medicine
  • Why he chose to specialize in both intensive care and palliative medicine
  • The overlay between palliative medicine and ICU care
  • The difference between ICU care, palliative care, and hospice care
  • Lessons Dr. Kyeremanteng has learned from spending time with patients at the end of their lives
  • How he developed his passion for disease prevention
  • Observations Dr. Kyeremantang has had caring for acute patients during COVID
  • Patterns he’s noticed in patients who thrive after leaving the ICU
  • Ways Dr. Kyeremanteng helps patients nurture a positive mindset
  • His experiences with racism both as a child and in medicine
  • Dr. Kyeremanteng’s youth mentorship program
  • Lessons he hopes to instill in his three sons
  • The advice he would give to people to live their life to their fullest
  • Dr. Kyeremanteng’s advice to people concerned about COVID-19
  • Actions he would love to see his white colleagues take to fight racism
  • Three things Dr. Kyeremanteng does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his health
  • One thing he struggles to implement that could have a big impact on his health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Dr. Kyeremanteng

You can follow Dr. Kyeremanteng on his website, Solving Healthcare, his podcast, and on social media: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Links:

Related episodes:

Ep 147 – Cancer, Racism, and Speaking Up with Deb Cordner Carson

Ep 149 – The Science of Spontaneous Healing with Dr. Jeffrey Rediger

Ep 164 – Boosting Immunity and Reducing COVID Risk with Dr. Aseem Malhotra

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.

This post was originally published on November 3, 2020.

Is CrossFit Dangerous? PH167

Is CrossFit Dangerous? PH167

October 27, 2020

In this edition of Pursuing Health Pearls, we are going to dive into a question that certainly gets a lot of attention in the media, and that is, “Is CrossFit dangerous?”

Some of the perception that CrossFit is dangerous may stem from how it has been portrayed in the media over the past 20 years. From the early days of CrossFit, it was presented as an extreme exercise program with “Pukie Clown” and “Uncle Rhabdo” as mascots. CrossFit was initially used widely in the training of elite athletes in other sports and for military and first responders, with a tagline of “Forging Elite Fitness.”

In addition, watching athletes compete in the CrossFit Games can also make it difficult for the average person to understand that CrossFit can be for them, too. Seeing these athletes who train for hours each day with a sole focus on becoming the “Fittest on Earth” can make CrossFit seem inaccessible or “too intense” for the average person.

However, over the years these harsh messages have been toned down, and the methodology underneath it all has proven over and over again to be effective at producing health and fitness in people from all walks of life. CrossFit is not just for extreme or elite athletes, it really can be for anyone. Here, we’ll review the available data on CrossFit and injury rates as well as our interpretation of some findings that may help to minimize risk while participating in CrossFit.

 

Some Qualifiers

Before we discuss the research, we have to acknowledge that we still have a relatively small amount of data available on CrossFit and injury rates, although we do have a lot more than we did 10 years ago.

We also have to acknowledge that the studies we do have available have limitations. Many of these studies are retrospective, meaning participants were asked to fill out surveys about past injuries while doing CrossFit instead of tracking the injuries in real time as they happen. As with epidemiological nutrition research, this approach does not always provide the most reliable information.

Finally, we have to acknowledge that there have been a lot of special interests in this research area that can influence how studies are reported, and which studies are published or not.

The biggest example of this was a 2013 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, which is a journal published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

This study followed 43 participants doing a CrossFit program for 10 weeks and found that they improved aerobic fitness and body composition, but reported an injury rate that was later found to be fabricated. The study was corrected and then retracted completely from the journal. The study was the focus of multiple lawsuits against the lead investigator, Steven Devor as well as the Ohio State University and the NSCA. Steven Devor resigned from his position at the Ohio State University. CrossFit won $4 million in sanctions in a lawsuit stemming from the retracted paper. Judge Janis Sammartino ruled that the NSCA had “deceived and continues to deceive the public and consumers regarding the safety and effectiveness of CrossFit training.” She went on to say in her ruling: “Not only is it clear that the NSCA knowingly and repeatedly resisted producing documents that were irrefutably relevant to this litigation, but the forensic evaluation also uncovered evidence that the NSCA destroyed presumptively relevant documents and engaged in mass deletions across numerous devices during the pendency of this litigation.”

We share this here to demonstrate that the NSCA had motives to deceive the public on the safety of CrossFit training which then influenced the research that was published as well as contributed to bad press perpetuating “CrossFit is dangerous” dogma.

The Research

Now, qualifiers aside, we will discuss what the research we have tells us about injury rates in CrossFit.

An article published earlier this year reviewed all of the studies reporting injury incidence and incidence rates among CrossFit participants. The researchers came up with a total of 14 studies that met their inclusion criteria. Among these studies, the injury incidence ranged from 12.8-73.5% and reported injury rates ranged from 0.27-3.3/1000 training hours. They concluded that these findings would suggest CrossFit has a relatively low injury risk, and we know from this study and others that these injury rates are comparable to or lower than rates of injury in other similar activities such as Olympic weightlifting, distance running, track and field, rugby, or gymnastics.

While most of the studies reviewed were retrospective studies relying on survey data, there was a prospective study done in 2017, where 177 participants were followed for 12 weeks while they did CrossFit and any injuries they experienced during that time were documented. In that study the overall injury incidence rate was 2.1/1000 training hours, which is consistent with the rates from the other studies discussed above.

Overall, the data we have indicates that the risk of injury in CrossFit is relatively low, and not different from other similar sports.

Other Findings

Now that we know injury rates in CrossFit are low and comparable to other similar sports, we’ll discuss other findings that were reported in the research that may be relevant to minimizing injury risk.

The review study discussed above highlighted three important factors associated with injury incidence and incidence rates in CrossFit: 1) training frequency, 2) duration of CrossFit experience, and 3) individuals that compete in CrossFit competitions.

The idea that individuals who compete in CrossFit competitions are at higher risk for injury makes intuitive sense, as they are likely pushing themselves harder and taking more risks in training and competition.

As far as frequency, a study that surveyed over 3000 participants who did CrossFit from 2013-2017 found that the greatest rates of injury were in those who did CrossFit less than 3 days per week compared to those who did 3-5 days or more than 5 days per week. So, doing CrossFit less frequently seemed to be associated with higher risk of injury.

Additionally, this study found that those with less experience had a higher injury rate. The highest rates of injury occurred in the first 6-12 months of doing CrossFit. In other words, the longer participants had been doing CrossFit, the less frequently they reported getting injured.

To us, this highlights CrossFit’s charter of mechanics, consistency, intensity which recommends first learning the proper movement mechanics, then demonstrating those mechanics consistently (i.e. doing CrossFit at least 3 days per week, for many months and years in duration). Only after demonstrating proper mechanics and consistently practicing those mechanics should the intensity of the workouts be increased. The finding that the highest rates of injury occured in the first 6-12 months of doing CrossFit could indicate that participants are pushing the intensity too quickly before this charter has been implemented.

Other studies have found that males and those with prior injuries are at higher risk of injury.

Studies also find that working with a trainer to coach participants on movement mechanics and guide them through workouts decreases the rate of injury.

As far as sites of injury, the studies we have seem to be pretty consistent in finding that shoulder injuries are most common. Following shoulder injuries are injuries to the lower back and knee. This information suggests that there may be  some movements across the board that we could improve on as a CrossFit community to decrease shoulder injuries. One example of this would be the kipping pull-up. In the past CrossFit participants may have been encouraged to start practicing kipping pull-ups earlier in their journey, but now most trainers would recommend participants being able to perform at least one (or more) strict pull-ups before subjecting the shoulder joint to the high force of a kip.

 

Takeaways

Here we’ll summarize some of our personal takeaways after reviewing the available research:

    • The injury rates in CrossFit are relatively low, and no different from other similar forms of activity
    • We suspect that employing CrossFit’s charter of “mechanics, consistency, intensity” by emphasizing learning good mechanics in the early months of doing CrossFit and doing CrossFit consistently (at least 3 days per week) before adding intensity may be a way reduce risk of injury
    • Working with a trainer to learn the movements and receive coaching through workout will likely reduce injury risk
    • We should be aware that shoulder injuries are most common and do what we can to protect the shoulder joint. Some ideas for this include: 1) requiring strict movements (pull ups, handstand push ups, muscle ups) prior to doing kipping, 2) encouraging proper warm up and prehab/rehab exercises, and 3) making sure the musculature around the shoulder is balanced.
    • Males and those who compete in CrossFit are at higher risk of injury and should be especially cognizant of listening to their bodies when training to reduce this risk.

 

Risks vs. Benefits

Now that we’ve discussed some factors that can potentially influence risk of injury, we will take a step back and look at the big picture of the risks and benefits of doing CrossFit.

We acknowledge that there is going to be some risk of injury with doing CrossFit, just as there is with doing just about anything active. But what are the risks of not doing CrossFit?

We talked about the risks of sedentarism back in Ep 159 of the podcast about exercise. We know that more time spent in sedentary behavior increases the risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer of the colon, endometrium, and lung. A large 2016 meta-analysis study which pooled 16 studies looking at over 1 million people demonstrated that increased daily sitting time and decreased moderate-vigorous physical activity was associated with increased all-cause mortality risk.

So, if you don’t do CrossFit (or any other exercise), your risk of death and a number of chronic diseases goes up.

The potential benefits of CrossFit have also been studied. The research we have tells us that those who do CrossFit have: increased in VO2 max (cardiorespiratory fitness), increased strength, musculature, and endurance, reduced cardiovascular risk factors including decreased blood pressure, and body fat % and increased insulin sensitivity, (1, 2) and higher levels of sense of community, satisfaction, and motivation.

These benefits above have been documented in research studies, but the anecdotal benefits are also hard to argue with. If you know someone who has done CrossFit, you’ve no doubt heard about them. These are the benefits that are harder to put into words, but make you ask yourself, “Do I want to sit on my couch all day for fear of injury, knowing that my sedentary behavior increases my risk of chronic disease and death, or do I want to take the small risk of injury and improve my quality of life by doing CrossFit?”

 

To Sum It Up...

Although CrossFit has been portrayed in the media as dangerous, available research suggests that the risk of injury is no higher with CrossFit than any other similar activity. There are a few things we can do to potentially reduce the risk of injury, which include doing CrossFit under the guidance of a trainer, learning movement mechanics well first (an “On Ramp” or “Foundations” class is a great way to do this), and staying consistent with training by working up to at least 3 days per week.

There are also a lot of benefits to doing CrossFit, including increased fitness, strength, and endurance, decreased cardiovascular disease risk, and increased sense of community and satisfaction. The risks of not doing CrossFit should also be taken into consideration as being sedentary is associated with an increased risk of death overall as well as increased risk of a number of chronic diseases

Every person has to make a decision for themselves about what level of risk to take on with the activities they choose to do. But in our minds, reaping the benefits of CrossFit and avoiding the risks of sedentarism greatly outweigh a risk of injury that is comparable to doing other similar types of activity.

 

Related episodes:

Ep 132 - Healing Through Functional Movement with Dr. Amy West

Ep 159 - Pursuing Health Pearls - Exercise + Why It's So Good For Us

 

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

 

Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.

This post was originally published on October 27, 2020.

Three-time Fittest American Woman Kari Pearce on Preparing for the 2020 CrossFit Games PH166

Three-time Fittest American Woman Kari Pearce on Preparing for the 2020 CrossFit Games PH166

October 20, 2020

I think that’s part of why I love competing, is being side-by-side with people, having the spectators cheer you on and scream you on, and just being in the environment- it’s just so much energy.  You push yourself and you don’t think as much about the pain as when you’re doing a workout by yourself. But I’m thankful that there was… because CrossFit ended up sending judges, it was nice that we had a judge, and the gym that we were at had some of their members come and spectate, and my coach- it was really cool also having my coach right there next to me, which is different than any other sort of competition.  So, it kind of felt like a competition but also didn’t. Like I said, just because of those factors, but I did my best to keep it the same as a competition setting because, I bet similar to you being an athlete and growing up in gymnastics, just that competition mentality- nothing is like it, and you just bring yourself a little bit higher up than in training. - Kari Pearce

In just 6 years, Kari Pearce has built one of the most impressive resumes in the sport of CrossFit.  A 6-time CrossFit Games competitor, she has been a consistent performer, never finishing outside the top 10 since her rookie season in 2015.  She has also earned the title of fittest American female three times and has represented Team USA at the CrossFit Invitational in 2016 in Canada and in 2017 in Australia.

Kari is among the top 5 Fittest Women on Earth who are about to take on Stage 2 of the 2020 CrossFit Games.

Kari has a background in gymnastics and competed for the University of Michigan where where her team won 4 Big Ten Championships. There she also earned her degree in Movement Science from the School of Kinesiology and was three time Academic All Big Ten.

In addition to being a full time athlete, Kari has used her experience with gymnastics, CrossFit, and coaching to develop PowerAbs, which is a core program done by thousands of people around the world.

In this episode we caught up just a couple weeks before Stage 2 of the 2020 CrossFit Games to talk about some of our shared experiences growing up doing gymnastics in Michigan, her collegiate gymnastics career, how she found CrossFit, some defining moments in her Games career thus far, and how she has approached all the twists and turns of this unprecedented season.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Kari’s background doing gymnastics in Michigan
  • Why she decided to pursue collegiate gymnastics instead of Olympic gymnastics
  • Her insights into how the culture of gymnastics can improve to protect young athletes
  • Lessons in nutrition and recovery that, in hindsight, Kari thinks would have benefitted her as a young gymnast
  • How Kari got into CrossFit
  • High points and struggles within her career so far
  • Kari’s approach to dealing with injuries and finding the right mindset to allow them to heal
  • Her experience and approach to the 2020 training season
  • Making the move to Las Vegas
  • Her reflections on Stage 1 of the 2020 CrossFit Games
  • Her approach to training as she prepares for Stage 2
  • Why Kari feels her coaches and training environment are important to her success as an athlete
  • Her daily routine
  • The Power Abs program
  • Three things Kari does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she thinks could have a big impact on her health, but she has a hard time implementing
  • What a healthy life looks like to Kari

You can follow Kari on her websiteInstagram, YouTube,  Facebook and Twitter.

Links:

Related episodes:

Ep 36a & 36b - Dominique Moceanu on Gymnastics, Healing and Health

Ep 130 - Kristi O'Connell on Training for Joy and Balance

Ep 145 - 2019 Third Fittest Woman Jamie (Greene) Simmonds

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.

This post was originally published on October 17, 2020.

Thriving on the Unexpected: Cory Schmidgall PH165

Thriving on the Unexpected: Cory Schmidgall PH165

October 13, 2020

“I have learned how to adapt to the unknown and unknowable. I have learned to focus on what I CAN do. This led me to my main mantra to date which is, “What’s the next step?” which is what I focus on in any type of adversity or workout. - Cory Schmidgall

Cory Schmidgall tried just about every fitness program out there.  Nothing seemed to light the fire he remembered from his football days, or satisfied the competitive drive that motivated him to try out for the NFL.

It was while he was recovering from a major surgery, an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion of his spine, that he read about CrossFit. “I tried a few of the WODs at my local rec center. While everyone was looking at me as if I were crazy, I tried Elizabeth. 21 minutes later I was hooked.”

A few years passed, and Cory found that he was struggling with hip mobility and recovery due to inflammation, despite putting extra work in to improve in those areas. A consult with his orthopedist confirmed that he had a genetic degenerative hip disease. At only 37, he suddenly felt twice his age, and began to spiral into a blackhole of self-pity. But his CrossFit community wouldn’t let him. “One day, when I was kicking rocks at our box, one of the other members simply said, ‘Dude, why don’t you just focus on what you CAN do.’ Simple but effective.” From that day forward, Cory took on a new mindset.  He began to look at CrossFit as prehab to train for surgery.

In the span of 10 weeks, Cory had surgery on both hips.  The pain was brutal.  But he remembered his friend’s words of encouragement.  “I started slow and again focused on what I could do daily. I started over with all movements focusing on form and rehab. I used CrossFit methodology for rehab, on top of the hip movement rehab, and the CrossFit nutrition protocol to stay on top of inflammation and heal my gut from years of pain meds. I felt I was getting in the best shape of my life prior to surgery but even more so in the months that followed.”

Life wasn’t done dealing to surprises to Cory.  A year and a half after his hip surgeries, he was diagnosed with skin cancer, and went back under the knife to have it removed, adding a new scar to his thigh.  Just a year later, this was followed by a second cervical discectomy and fusion, adding another level to his previous procedure.

Just as he had before, Cory prepared for these new challenges by keeping his eyes on the horizon, using CrossFit, and by getting his nutrition on point.

Says Cory, “5 years in now, I have learned how to adapt to the unknown and unknowable. I have learned to focus on what I CAN do. This led me to my main mantra to date which is, “What’s the next step?” which is what I focus on in any type of adversity or workout.”

When I first read Cory's story, I was impressed not only by the remarkable mindset he's used to approach so many challenging surgeries, but also by how he's worked hard to develop skills to manage his own panic attacks and anxiety.  I was excited to catch up with him to learn more about how identifying his why has been so critical to growing through these obstacles, and how he's using his experiences to help others.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How sports and injuries played a role in Cory’s life growing up
  • Pursuing his goal of playing in the NFL
  • Struggling to find his identity as he retired from sports
  • The relief of finding an explanation for neurological symptoms he had been experiencing
  • Cory’s first CrossFit workout
  • The turning point for Cory’s mindset in approaching his injuries
  • How Cory is using his experiences to help others
  • What’s allowed him to grow through these obstacles
  • Strategies that have been helpful for Cory to manage his anxiety
  • Cory’s morning routine
  • Three things Cory does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his health
  • One thing he knows would have a positive impact on his health, but he struggles to implement
  • What a healthy life looks like to Cory

You can follow Cory on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, or you can listen to his podcast, Anxiety WOD.

Links:

Related episodes:

Ep 102 - Jason Khalipa and the AMRAP Mentality

Ep 108 - Training Smarter, Not Harder: Prevention and Recovery from Injury with Pure Physio

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.

This post was originally published on October 10, 2020.

Boosting Immunity and Reducing COVID Risk with Dr. Aseem Malhotra PH164

Boosting Immunity and Reducing COVID Risk with Dr. Aseem Malhotra PH164

October 6, 2020

I think a lot of doctors kind of know this but don’t really… it’s never really been at the forefront of their minds until now. We know, for example, that people who have high blood glucose or type 2 diabetes have worse outcomes from any infection - specifically respiratory infections. So, when I started looking at the literature and also looking at how immune health links to excess body fat, obesity, and type 2 diabetes pre-COVID, the data was very clear that this was a big risk factor for a dysregulated immune system, an immune system that isn’t going to function properly. So, it wasn’t just about the associations that we were drawing from COVID-19 and worse outcomes.
- Aseem Malhotra

Dr. Aseem Malhotra is a cardiologist with the U.K.’s National Health Service and a world renowned expert in the prevention, diagnosis and management of heart disease.

He is a visiting Professor of Evidence Based Medicine at the Bahiana School of Medicine and Public Health in Salvador, Brazil, an honorary council member to the Metabolic Psychiatry Clinic at Stanford University School of Medicine California, and is Cardiology MSc examiner at the University of Hertfordshire, U.K.

Dr. Malhotra is a longtime health activist and a founding member and lead campaigner of Action on Sugar, an initiative which highlights the the harm caused by excess sugar consumption.

Most recently, he has been a vocal advocate for improving metabolic health to reduce vulnerability to disease, including COVID-19, and has authored the book The 21-Day Immunity Plan: How to Rapidly Improve Your Metabolic Health and Resilience to Fight Infection.

Dr. Aseem and I recently sat down to chat about the link between metabolic health and immune function, ways we can improve our own immunity, and why turning the tide in the fight against poor metabolic health will take more than just personal responsibility.

*Dr. Malhotra’s bio was adapted from his website.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Dr. Malhotra’s background in cardiology and how he became involved in health activism
  • Why personal responsibility is only a very small factor in the epidemic of chronic disease
  • How obesity and metabolic health have affected the COVID pandemic
  • The markers of metabolic health
  • The link between immunity and metabolic health
  • Lifestyle factors that optimize the response to vaccines
  • A broad overview of things we can do to improve our immunity
  • 10 key points for policy makers to address metabolic syndrome on a grand scale
  • Three things Dr. Malhotra does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his health
  • One thing he struggles to implement that could have a big impact on his health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Dr. Malhotra

You can follow Dr. Malhotra on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Links:

Related episodes:

Ep 144 - Pursuing Health Pearls: What COVID-19 is Teaching Us About Our Health

Ep 146 - Pursuing Health Pearls: Understanding and Assessing Metabolic Health

Ep 135 - Immune System Strength with Dr. Leonard Calabrese

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.

This post was originally published on October 2, 2020.

Nutrition on a Budget PH163

Nutrition on a Budget PH163

September 29, 2020

After doing some deep dives on the basics of nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, and metabolic health, we’re excited to now be able to start exploring some of the nuances of these topics and others in upcoming editions of Pursuing Health Pearls.

In this edition, we’re going to explore whether eating healthy really is more expensive, and share some resources for eating real food on a budget.

If you haven’t yet seen Episode 150 where we share our general approach to nutrition, we’d highly recommend going to check that one out because it will provide more context for why eating real food is so important for our health.

 

It's Complicated.

Back in Episode 150 we talked about the importance of consuming real, whole food for our health, yet our current food environment often makes it very difficult to do so, especially for those with limited financial resources.

We live in a world where ultra-processed foods are readily available and hard to escape. They are served in schools and hospitals, we have fast food restaurants on every corner, and the government subsidizes crops including corn, soy, wheat, and rice which make up the majority of ultra-processed foods allows them to be cheaper for the consumer.

38 million people in the US are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps), which allows for the purchase of soda but not rotisserie chicken because it’s a prepared food. This is another example of the fact that it’s not easy to get access to real, whole food in our country.

 

Is Eating Healthy Really More Expensive?

We’ve all heard the argument that eating healthy is more expensive, and in general, research does back this up.

A study published in Frontiers of Nutrition in 2019 compared 3 different healthy eating patterns against the existing eating patterns of minority groups based on NHANES 2013-2014 data.

All diets were based on 2000kcal/day with national food prices adjusted for inflation.  The foods in the “healthy eating patterns” groups included foods in their nutrient rich forms, were low in sodium, and had no added sugar. The researchers found that existing eating patterns of minority groups cost around $5-$6 per day. In comparison, the healthy eating patterns cost $8.27/day for the US-Style, $5.90/day for the vegetarian pattern, and $8.73/day for Mediterranean eating pattern. Basically, the cost of the vegetarian eating pattern was about the same as the existing eating patterns of minority groups, but the cost was $2-$3 more per day for the eating patterns that included meat and seafood, which does add up over time.

It is important, however, to look at nutrition not only through the lens of cost and calories. While the healthy eating patterns in this study cost more than existing patterns for the same amount of calories, these healthy eating patterns were higher in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and lower in solid fats, sugars, and sodium, and were overall healthier.

This highlights the fact that we have to look not just at the cost of food, but the total cost associated with eating a certain way over time. Eating ultra-processed foods which don’t contain much in the way of nutrients and are more likely to contribute to chronic disease later on may save $2-3/day now, but eating this way may be very costly down the road in the way of increased medical costs, medications, suffering, and poorer quality of life.

Again, this is backed by research! A 2015 Review of fast food patterns and cardiometabolic disorders found that eating away from home and consuming fast food were associated with having a poorer quality diet (with higher calorie and fat intake and lower micronutrient density), being overweight particularly with abdominal fat gain, poorer metabolic health, increased inflammation, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.

However, just knowing the importance of eating real foods is not enough, because there are so many social factors that influence our ability to implement healthy eating patterns. What is local available in our communities is a huge factor. Studies show that places with greater availability of fast food are associated with a higher mortality and hospital admission rates for heart disease, as well as a higher risk of obesity.1,2

 

A Disclaimer...

We recognize that we do come from a privileged place, and that we ourselves do not have first-hand experience of having to navigate eating on an extremely limited budget. As discussed above, we also recognize that there are a lot of systemic factors that need to be addressed in order to truly remedy this problem.

However, we also don’t think we should wait around for those systemic issues to be fixed because people are suffering as a result of these problems right now. So, in order to explore this issue further, we decided to undertake an experiment to determine the cost of fast food vs. whole food purchased at a grocery store. We also collected numerous resources that may be helpful when navigating eating real food on a limited budget.

 

A Comparison of Fast Food vs. Grocery Store, Real Food Meal Plans

In this experiment we decided to compare one week of meals from fast food restaurants vs. shopping at a grocery store and preparing the meals at home. We realize that there are plenty of problems with this comparison, because we are not exactly comparing apples to apples here. The fast food meals are already prepared and convenience is part of what you are paying for. Fast food meals generally cost less than eating a healthy meal out at a restaurant. We do have to take into consideration the additional cost in the form of time, energy, knowledge, and access to a kitchen that are required in order to shop, prepare, and cook the food at home, but we would argue that this up-front investment is worthwhile to avoid disease, suffering, and medical costs in the long run.

We also recognize that it is probably not realistic for someone to eat every single meal over the course of a week at a fast food restaurant. It’s probably more likely for someone to eat a few fast food meals intermixed with prepared or ultra-processed foods from a grocery store. We did think it would be informative to look at an entire week rather than just one meal though, so you can think about this as more of theoretical exercise.

So, here’s how we structured the comparison:

  • We created one week meal plans including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks
  • We aimed for approximately ~ 2000kcal/day on both plans
  • We attempted to include realistic meals of what one might order or want to eat
  • For the fast food meal plan, we looked at the 5 largest fast food chains from across US which include McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Pizza Hut
  • For the grocery store, real food meal plan we looked at sourcing ingredients from Kroger and Aldi. Both of these stores are available across most of the US with Kroger being the 2nd largest retailer after Walmart in 42 states with ~3500 locations, and Aldi on track to become the 3rd largest grocery store with over 2000 stores across 37 states. We have also been impressed with Aldi’s more recent efforts to make healthier food (including organic options) more affordable and accessible.
  • Some examples of meals on the grocery store, real food meal plan include:
    • Three ingredient pancakes with peanut butter and berries
    • Overnight oats
    • Mediterranean pasta salad
    • Chicken salad
    • Zucchini noodles with marinara
    • Snacks of nuts and fruit

You can download a comparison of both meal plans, as well as our Budget-Friendly Real Food Meal Plan which includes shopping lists and recipes for free here.

To summarize some takeaways from this experiment, we’ll first compare just one day of meals from each plan. Below we look at the meals for Tuesday, but you can access the entire week here.

 

Fast Food Meal Plan:

Breakfast: Egg McMuffin (McDonalds) with hashbrowns, and a large coffee= $4.94

Lunch: 3 soft tacos (Taco Bell), chips and nacho cheese sauce, and a large drink = $6.36

Dinner: Avocado chicken salad (full order with dressing from Wendy's) and a large drink = $8.28

Total Calories: 1720

Total Cost: $21.08

Cost per Calorie: 1.2 cents

 

Grocery Store, Real Food Meal Plan:

Breakfast: Hard-boiled eggs with fruit and 1/2 avocado = $1.54

Lunch: Chicken salad with cucumbers and a peach = $3.55

Dinner: Zucchini noodles with marinara meat sauce = $1.65

Snacks: 2 handfuls of nuts ($0.92) and a piece of fresh fruit ($1.17) = $2.09

Total Calories: 1961

Total Cost: $8.83

Cost per Calorie: 0.45 cents

 

As we look at this comparison, a few observations stand out. First, it costs over twice as much for the fast food pattern, even with about 200 fewer calories. The cost per calorie was about ⅓ on the grocery store, real food pattern than with the fast food pattern. The cost of the grocery store, real food pattern is also consistent with the US-Healthy and Mediterranean health eating patterns from the research study we discussed above at $8.83/day. Additionally, the fast food meal plan includes far fewer micronutrients. Finally, drinks provided large sources of empty calories, added sugar, and excess cost in the fast food meal plan: a large soda added an additional 290 calories and 77g of added sugar, and costs $1.49. Similarly, a small caramel mocha adds an additional 310 calories, 40g of added sugar, and costs $2.39.

When we compared the entire week of meals, we found that the total cost of the fast food plan was $126.90, or $18.13/day average. The total cost of the grocery store, real food plan was $64.95, or $9.28/day average, about half as much as the fast food plan. Total calories per day averaged close to 2000 for both meal plans.

Again, we recognize that this isn't exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. We could have compared an ultra-processed grocery store meal plan to one composed of real food, or fast food to eating out at a healthy restaurant, but we hope this will still provide some insight and make all of us think twice before choosing to eat out at a fast food restaurant.

This exercise also highlights the importance of planning ahead to do grocery shopping and meal preparation. Having everything needed on hand to make a healthy meal decreases the chances of being influenced to stop by a fast food restaurant at the moment.

Tips + Resources for Eating on a Budget

We hope you’ll download and use our Budget-Friendly Real Food Meal Plan as inspiration, but there are also a plethora of tricks and resources available to make it easier to eat healthy on a budget. We’ve included some of our favorites below:

  1. Grow A Garden: This does require time, space, and attention, but it can save a lot of money over time while also providing access to much more nutrient-rich produce.
  2. Buy on Sale: Looking for sale or special items is a great way to save money at the grocery store.
  3. Buy in Season: Seasonal items are generally cheaper and more nutrient dense. SeasonalFoodGuide.org and the SNAP Seasonal Produce Guide are great resources for determining what is in season in your location.
  4. Use the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen: Using the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 guides can help to prioritize which foods are most important to purchase organic if you are interested in doing so. EatWellGuide.org is another great resources for finding local organic foods.
  5. Shop at Farmers’ Markets: LocalHarvest.org provides a list of all of the farmers markets in your area based on your city and zip code.
  6. Buy Produce with Blemishes: Purchasing produce has too many blemishes to be sold in grocery stores can save money and also helps to decrease food waste. Imperfect Foods delivers to most of the Midwest, Northeast and all along the West Coast, and Perfectly Imperfect Produce is another similar service we have used in the Cleveland, OH area.
  7. Produce Delivery: Farm Boxes deliver fruit and vegetables to your door which also saves another valuable resource, time.
  8. Buy in Bulk: Purchasing items in bulk from places such as Webstaurant Store, Vitacost, Nuts.com, or Thrive Market can reduce the cost per serving of grocery items.
  9. Use the Environmental Working Group’s Good Food on a Tight Budget: This is an extensive resource that lists the most nutritious, most economical, and least polluted fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy items. It also provides simple tips for eating well, quick lists of foods with the most nutrition for the lowest cost, tasty recipes, easy tools for tracking food prices and planning your weekly menu, and a blank shopping list to help you stay on budget.
  10. Calculate your Grocery Budget: Tools such as this calculator from Iowa State University can make it easy to plan ahead.
  11. Clip Coupons: Savings from grocery coupon sites such as Organic Food Coupons, Manbo Sprouts, Saving Naturally, Organic Deals, All Natural Savings, Health Savers, and Organic Deals and Steals can add up!
  12. Savings Apps: The use of smartphone savings apps such as Grocery Pal, Cartwheel, Coupon Sherpa, Apples2Oranges, and Key Ring can also reduce the cost of groceries.

In summary, we hope this was a helpful way to start a discussion about eating for our health even while on a limited budget. This is a deeply seeded and systemic problem that needs to be addressed on many levels from farm subsidies, to food deserts, to the availability of healthy food in schools and hospitals, and more. We hope this edition of Pursuing Health Pearls provided some insight and resources to help you or your loved ones get started with or continue healthy eating in a more affordable way.

As a reminder, you can download our Nutrition on a Budget Guide which includes:

  • Our Fast Food vs. Grocery Store, Real Food Meal Plan comparison
  • A One Week Budget-Friendly Real Food Meal Plan complete with shopping lists and recipes as well as cost, calorie and macronutrient breakdowns for each meal
  • Resources for eating real food on a budget

 

We have to give a HUGE shout out to Ariana Fiorita, functional and integrative registered dietitian who helped us with the research and resources included in this guide.

Finally, as always, we welcome your feedback. Please feel free to share ideas, your own favorite resources for eating healthy on a budget, or future podcast guest recommendations on this topic here.

 

Related episodes:

Ep 150 - Pursuing Health Pearls - Our Approach to Nutrition

Ep 95 - Optimizing Your Nutrition with EC Synkowki

 

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

 

Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.

This post was originally published on September 28, 2020.

Simple, Sustainable Nutrition with EC Synkowski PH162

Simple, Sustainable Nutrition with EC Synkowski PH162

September 22, 2020

There's no diet plan, there's no 30 day challenge that's going to stick with you forever.  You, ultimately at some point, are in the driver's seat.
- EC Synkowski

EC Synkowski is the founder of OptimizeMe Nutrition, a company dedicated to helping anyone improve their health and well being with simple, non-restrictive diet methods.

EC started CrossFit in 2006 and over time her enthusiasm and hard work led to seminar staff and flowmaster positions for the Level 1 and CrossFit Weightlifting courses, a CF-L4 certification, and a career as a Program Manager with CrossFit, Inc.  In 2017, EC stepped down from her position at CrossFit to focus on finishing her second master’s degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine.

From there, she founded OptimizeMe Nutrition, where she focuses on helping individuals understand nutrition physiology and it’s day-to-day application.

She is the creator of the #800gChallenge, a straightforward eating plan that encourages participants to maximize their fruit and vegetable intake and encourages the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods, and it’s slightly more advanced partner, Lazy Macros.

I was excited to catch up with EC for her second appearance on the podcast.  We talked about the 10 Principles of Nutrition, the importance of making sustainable changes to our diet, and the nutrition takeaways she’s gleaned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This conversation left me feeling inspired, and Dani and I have decided to run a four week challenge using EC's Lazy Macros approach starting on September 28, 2020 for all of our Pursuing Health subscribers!

Our focus will be on eating 800 grams of fruits and vegetables and meeting protein goals each day, with a leaderboard to track people who demonstrate the most consistency with the 800g, protein, workouts, and sleep.

This challenge will be open to all subscribers at no additional fee. We're hosting a live Q+A for our subscribers on the evening of September 24th to answer all your questions and then we'll get started together on the 28th, so if you're not a Pursuing Health subscriber yet, today would be a great time to join!

In this episode we discuss:

  • EC’s 10 Principles of Nutrition
  • Her thoughts on fasting
  • Why the #800gChallenge has such a positive ripple effect on our nutrition
  • Her thoughts on the carnivore diet
  • The Lazy Macro approach
  • The impacts of under and overeating protein
  • Why she started The Consistency Project, and why she keeps tracking so simple
  • EC’s new podcast, The Consistency Project
  • The nutrition takeaways that have been reinforced by the COVID pandemic

You can follow EC on Instagram and Facebook, or on The Consistency Project podcast.

Links:

Related episodes:

Ep 95 - Optimizing Your Nutrition with EC Synkowski

Ep 112 - Eating for Longevity with Dr. Valter Longo

Ep 150 - Pursuing Health Pearls: Our Approach to Nutrition

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.

This post was originally published on September 19, 2020.

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