One of the biggest mistakes I see among people who exercise is they forget this core truth: we get fitter not from training, but from recovering from training. This doesn’t just occur in beginners either. Some of the most experienced, hardest-charging athletes I know fail to heed the importance of recovery. Hell, the reason my endurance training destroyed my life and inadvertently set the stage for creation of the Primal Blueprint was that I didn’t grasp the concept of recovery. I just piled on the miles, thinking the more the merrier.
It didn’t work.
Even after I fixed my diet, ditched the chronic cardio, and cleaned up my overall lifestyle to be more in line with our evolutionary upbringing, one big problem remained: my response to stress.
This had always been an issue for me. Part of it was that I kept a full plate at all times. Whether it was my training load, my businesses, my overall type A personality, stress was simply unavoidable, I thought.
How did I approach the situation and manage my stress differently over time?
Insulin does a lot of important things for us. It pulls glucose from the blood and fritters it away into our cells to be burned for energy or stored as glycogen. It prevents hyperglycemic toxicity to neurons, pancreatic cells, the arterial walls and the generation of excessive levels of reactive oxygen species. It even promotes muscle protein synthesis and helps augment muscular hypertrophy, especially following resistance training. Clearly, we need insulin. Without it, we’d die, as type 1 diabetics readily do without an exogenous source.
But this process goes off the rails when our cells become resistant to the effect of insulin over time. We secrete too much. Our levels remain elevated. It becomes harder to burn body fat. In fact, we end up in even more efficient fat storage mode.
I’ve shared about nutritional means to enhance insulin sensitivity in the past. What about other non-dietary strategies?
Generally speaking, the basic Primal Blueprint for fitness and physical activity applies equally to men and women of all ages. Lifting heavy things works in everyone. Sprinting is a fantastic way—for anyone who’s able—to compress workouts and improve training efficiency. Improving one’s aerobic capacity through easy cardio doesn’t discriminate between the sexes. And everyone should walk, hike, garden, and perform as much low level physical activity as possible. These basic foundations—the 30,000 foot view of fitness—don’t really change across age or sex.
But the details do, especially for women.
What if a person secretes too much insulin in response to a glucose load? What if, for whatever reason (and there are dozens of possible culprits), a person’s cells are resistant to the effects of insulin? What if, to remove the same amount of glucose from the blood, a person secretes twice or thrice the amount of insulin? What happens when insulin stays elevated? Lipolysis is inhibited to an even greater degree. Body fat becomes even harder to burn. Susceptible brain, artery, and pancreatic cells are exposed to higher levels of blood sugar for longer. Muscle protein synthesis falls off a cliff. Glycogen is replenished at a diminished rate. And if cells are already full of glycogen and there’s nowhere else to put the glucose, it converts to fat for storage.
Obviously, we don’t want to be insulin resistant. We want to be insulin sensitive. Here are 10 nutrition-based actions.
With 6.1 million children in this country bearing a past or present ADHD diagnosis, it’s little wonder folks had a lot to say in the initial post I did on the subject a few months back. For the most part, people were pumped to discover new potential therapies for themselves or loved ones, or at the very least to find validation in their own hunt for side effect free ADHD treatment. Others questioned the validity of certain alternative approaches, and still more posed questions about other treatments they’d heard about or were interested in.
Is there any substance to the other alternative therapies I added in passing within that previous post? What else shows promise? Let’s dig in….
It’s impossible to talk about using food as a drug without looking at the genuine neurological and hormonal impacts it has on the body. The fact is, certain foods affect us more like drugs than others.
With actual drug use, we’re not operating with innate satiation signaling. But with food, our bodies have a built-in system for telling us when to eat, how much to eat and when to stop.
In our paleolithic ancestors’ time, it worked great. Today, we’ve become our own saboteurs. We’ve known for years that sugary and processed foods (those that strategically combine sugar, salt and certain fats into a triple crown disaster) are intentionally designed to override our inherent satiation signals and hyper-trip our reward systems.
“I became aware of the power of positive thinking after solving my first bout of hypothyroidism. So when a Reverse T3 problem showed up, I actively filled my life with audiobooks, podcast interviews, and films related to spiritual healing, the power of positive thinking, and the power of the subconscious mind.
Make a vision board to hang in your house, or make a smaller version that you can keep private if you don’t want others in the household to see it. Devote the entire vision board to health and healing; it can be a continual source of inspiration and hope while also imprinting your subconscious mind with positive health affirmations every time you see it.
If you are experiencing hypothyroidism for the first time, just know that it is fixable. You have the highest chance of success if you dedicate yourself to learning all that you can about hypothyroidism while adopting a paleo/primal eating and lifestyle strategy to support your goals.
— Excerpts from The Paleo Thyroid Solution by Elle Russ
Last year I was talking with Brad Kearns and Dave Dolle when Dave said something really interesting: he was using neurotransmitter analysis to build personalized training programs for his athletes. By giving a short written T/F test called the Braverman test, he could determine whether a client was dominant in dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA, or serotonin—and then use the results to determine their ideal training regimen. It was one of those instances where you hear something you know you’ll be chewing on for the next few months.
Last year, I wrote about 10 of the most interesting predictors of longevity. Many of them were subjective, but, as we all know, the objective physiological processes that occur in the human body also predict how long we live. Luckily, we can measure most of them. Some are standard at doctor’s checkups. Some require more involved (and expensive) testing. Some you can complete yourself at home with simple household objects.
But if you care at all about how well you’re doing in the longevity game, it’s worth paying attention to some of them.