How Running Changed My Weeks

I have never been a runner…

The truth is, before recently I hated running.

The hard knocks of every footstep, the hard uphill effort and my breathing was always hard and forced.

I never really understood the pull to running that so many people seemed to have. Some people couldn’t go through a day without getting a run in. To me there was no worse thought than to get up in the morning, put on some shoes and go for a run. I could get behind weight training and swimming, but never running. There was always some mental block against it as both a sport and a way to get fit and lose weight.

I think that this all changed after I began to run without shoes on. 

Throughout all the years that I so strongly stood against the idea of myself running, the only real thing I needed to change was not the shoes I was running in, but rather the shoes I wasn’t running in. I think that had I not made that decision to go out and buy myself a pair of Vibram Five Finger’s I’d still be against running. I never bought the Five Fingers to actually get into running mind you, I bought them because they appealed to the minimalist inside of me. They are simple, work and are to this day the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned. Having said that, I now own quite a few more pairs of the things, and in fact I’m writing this very article with my feet clad in Komodosports. My poor Komodo’s have been on 3 day hikes, Warrior Race obstacle courses and have been worn almost every day for two years. They are my favourite shoes next to my Five Finger Classics.

vibram-fivefinger-classic-favourite
My Classics are probably my favourites…

It’s safe to say that I am a Vibram Five Finger fan, haha.

On to running and how it has changed me

Running is hard. It is mental, physical and frustrating. The only time I feel like I’m really going at a healthy pace is when I’m running at around 80% of my maximum speed. I LOVE to sprint. There is something so simply primal and athletic about letting the reins get a little slack in them and charging forward at maximum effort.

I like to run a 5km route every Saturday. Some may say that isn’t far, and it really isn’t. I can cover 5kms on my mountain bike no problem, and with little effort. Running though really takes it out of me. I sometimes wonder if I have the wrong sort of build for running, but after having run on consecutive Saturdays now for quite a few months I am beginning to believe that we really are all born to run.

The main reason I think that is while running and observing my fellow running comrades I have noticed just how easily we can move and maintain a constant speed. Heads high, arms relaxed, we seemingly fall into each step over and over with little effort.

This brings me to another point that I’d like to make about running. I think that running is an art form. There is a specific rhythm a runner needs to move effectively while using the least amount of effort as possible. I know that when I slow down after around the 3 km mark that it is because I have fatigued and can no longer maintain my running form.  Form, I believe, is everything in running. From the research I have done into what makes a runner an efficient one, it appears as though a high cadence rhythm where concentrating on lifting your foot off the ground rather than driving it into the ground is the most efficient way to move both quickly and effortlessly.

This method of running is called pose running. 

 

This is how I run, and I have been told that I look very natural and relaxed when I move. Try it out!

Probably the best running shoe you'll every use! :)
Probably the best running shoe you’ll every use! 🙂

On to the main reason I love running

Running has now become a weekly “fix”. I love the post-run glow. I love the simplicity that is running. I love being outdoors and feeling the wind rush over me. I love feeling like I’m free and that nothing else matters on that Saturday morning other than finishing that run. I love running barefoot.

My favorite part though is just how good I feel for the rest of the day.

So why not give running a go yourself?

Grok: Who was he?

Who is/was Grok?

The simple answer is that he is, or rather was us. He used to wake up in the morning and have a good stretch while greeting the morning sun. He used to rile up his family and go for a morning run to gather food and water and he used to go on hunts with his friends to get some meat for dinner.

Do you see the similarities?

There are some, definitely, but there are also quite a few differences. Grok never had to worry about money, but he did have to worry about food sources, sustainability and health. We can wake up in the morning and greet the morning sun, hug our family members and even go on food gathering adventures, but we certainly don’t have to fight for our food or spend hours chasing down animals to eat. Additionally, Grok probably never encountered the convenience of gathering beef. Cows wouldn’t exactly be hard to hunt.

We don’t even have to do the hard work when we get our foods. Grok would have had to do everything, from harvesting to storage and distribution. Obviously everything would have been on a much smaller scale, but the point is that there was no convenience to be heard of. If Grok was hungry, Grok would have had to have gone out and fed himself.

Grok would have had to have run, jump, sprint and do pull ups like it was nothing in order to survive. He definitely didn’t have to sit in front of computers all day and worry about making money to buy his food, but he would have to evade dangerous animals and find places to shelter from storms. He’d have had to make tools from things he found around so that he could make spears to kill animals, control fire and ensure that he could keep his people happy.

Grok would also have to worry about getting sick as way back before the times of agriculture and medicine getting ill would almost certainly mean certain death. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about much of what Grok had to when he was alive.

Having said that however, Grok would have been in near perfect health. He had evolved with his diet, he had been physically active his entire life and he was stronger than most of us will ever be today. He could sprint, jump, climb and lift. He was nimble and athletic. He wouldn’t have to worry about cholesterol issues, diabetes or excess body fat. Everything worked like a well oiled machine.

How you can be more like Grok

This is a great video on how to be more Grok in your life…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1B45Dw9NKR8

The issue most modern humans have today is that our lifestyles have moved so far away from what our bodies are. We are social creatures who like to touch, run, jump and laugh. We try to mitigate emotional and mental stress where possible but seem to lose the fight all too often. Our bodies love physical stress but we leave them starved and wonder why they give out on us one day.

We are built to feed when we need to, not when we want to. Our bodies love good nutrition and hate bad nutrition, yet as a result of big industry and social conditioning we are robbed of automatic good health.

We need to move more, eat more high quality food and ditch the toxic stuff as soon as we can.

Try and walk barefoot more, eat more raw, natural foods and learn to think like Grok had to. What is my next meal going to be? Where is it going to come from? How am I going to get it?

Try and live in the moment a little more.

Here’s a great article on Grok by Mark Sisson

 

Simple Psychology To Keep Yourself Honest

How do you maintain your paleo momentum?

Let’s not beat around the bush here, paleo is not the easiest diet to stick to. I won’t “cave” in to all the anti-paleo naysayers who claim that it is an unsustainable way of eating because I’ve disproved them in my own experience on the diet (er, way of life?).

It isn’t that paleo is difficult, nor is it that the foods we love to eat are hard to come by (for the most part, anyway), its that it requires effort. 

Perhaps that’s what it all comes down to at the end of the day. If you are going to succeed with a paleo lifestyle, you have to give it some stick. You have to change the depress the clutch pedal, shift gears and step on the gas. There aren’t any paleo fast food restaurants (that I know of), it’s all gourmet goodness. 

Why wouldn’t you want to eat well everyday, with just a little effort? In 6 months time after you have converted to a fat burning grade A example of the human species, could you honestly say you wanted  to not eat according to a paleo way of life?

I could near guarantee not.

I believe that finding what works for your body is that powerful. It isn’t that you “know what to eat to lose weight”, or that you find that exercising while playing is more effective then just throwing some weights around in the gym. It’s about embodying something that you know is right. Something that works for everyone in much the same way. Your playground is a place where diabetes is banished and insidious fat gain is a by gone.

Think about that next time you are in the chocolate aisle at your local supermarket. Which brings me to the crux of this article.

How do you maintain your paleo momentum in the face of temptation?

Well firstly I think it’s important for you to understand that the foods you feel so tempted by really isn’t food. It’s poison. 

Even so, what’s one bite of a doughnut? Oh, wait… that one bite led to five more and now you’re eyeballing the next one in the box you just bought. Again, most of what isn’t paleo simply isn’t real food. 

So how do you use simple psychological tricks to make powerful, resonating and long lasting decisions on demand and in the moment?

Guilt, that’s how…

paleo-guilt

Now we both know that just saying that doesn’t really put a positive idea in the mind. Guilt is a negative word, it implies bad things, such as crime and deceit. 

Put the brakes on there and slow down. That’s not the direction I’m going in at all.

I’d like you to take a moment and reframe guilt. Try to think of it as an empowering tool that you call upon in your moment of need. Guilt, to the rescue…

Use guilt as a projector. Think of it like a pair of glasses you put on when you make decisions. Each food item you view through these glasses presents you with a timeline of how eating that food affects your life. How is that for a polariser, right?

Think about it, applying this technique while casually ogling some freshly baked, fluffy doughnuts produces a sharp and clear image of fat gain and long term, insulin issues…

However, glancing over a prime cut of steak or some delicious, fresh vegetables shows a wonderfully peaceful life of health and longevity.

Guilt allows you to make the right choices pre-emptively. It’s almost as though you are empathising with your future, overweight self and realising just how simple and easy it is to avoid ending up being unable to join your kid’s on their first bike ride. Powerful stuff. 

Yes, yes…

I know some of you may think that this is a little dramatic seeing as though we really are only talking about food. 

Well, we aren’t. We are talking about health, living long and living strong. Being healthy for our kids. Being able to see the world for the next 50 years. It’s about enjoying your human machine.

So get out there, feel guilty, and then make the right decision when it comes to what you feed yourselves and your family.

paleo-guilty
It’s surprisingly easy to keep this box empty…

Keep well!

Andrew

My Yoga Experience: Continued

In continuation of my previous post (give it a read so that we’re on the same page! :D) on my first experience with yoga, this post will be about how my view of yoga has changed after some more classes.

I think it would be best for me to mention the different types of yoga that I’ve done over the past week or so.

Flow Yoga or Vinyasa Yoga

I began with a class of flow yoga, which, to my limited understanding (at the moment) is a yoga discipline which aims at moving constantly from one pose to the next. Its correct name is Vinyasa Yoga which refers to the “alignment of movement and breath”, which is a method which turns static yoga postures into a dynamic movement; flow. 

This is quite a physically demanding style I think, as I found certain parts of my body trembling at the mercy of the instructors. As with all the yoga “styles” that I’ve tried there is a mental serenity you reach at some point during every class. Frequently I’ve found myself without thought where the only thing I’m “thinking” about is what my body is doing. I’ve found that with flow yoga there is little to no rest period between each posture, and so your body’s areas of weakness are magnified. Personally this is something that I welcome as it highlights where you need work and also makes you realise just how physically demanding yoga can be.

yoga-pigeon-pose

Something I enjoy in particular about flow is that there is a real sense of progress as you tie one posture into the next until you are repeating a fluid yet highly controlled sequence of movements which you begin to understand better and better the more you practice.

Bikram Yoga

paleo-diet-bikram-choudhury
Bikram Choudhury

Perhaps the most fashionable yoga in the world today, Bikram yoga is a yoga “system” developed by Bikram Choudhury which incorporates 26 hatha yoga postures performed in a hot room. Typically temperatures are of 105 degrees fahrenheit and up (40 degrees celcius), which I’ll have you know is pretty tough. If you have wondered what it would feel like to sweat out of every pore in your body then I urge you to take a Bikram yoga class. I was pretty fascinated at just how much fluid was being purged from my body, and equally amazed at how little water I felt I needed to drink during the class. After the class however I rehydrated quite aggressively, haha.

A little more about Bikram

Bikram Choudhury began learning yoga at a very young age. And by young, I mean barely able to walk; 3 years old. 

I don’t know about you but at 3 years old I don’t think I could run very well, never mind have the dexterity to control any yoga posture. Bikram’s studies continued and in his teens he had won the National Yoga Championship three times consecutively.

Perhaps the biggest “pull” of Bikram yoga is its claimed healing benefits. Bikram himself suffered a crippling injury during a weightlifting exercise which doctors told him would mean he’d never walk again. He claims that through yoga he recovered completely in 6 months. Bikram yoga is performed in a hot room because it more closely simulates the climates found in India.

He moved to the United States in the 1970’s and setup yoga studios in California and Hawaii. He began training students and ultimately was awarded a copyright for the 26 poses which constitute Bikram yoga. The theory for this copyright is same as that which allows choreographic sequences to be copyrighted.

Should you try yoga?

Yes.

I think that one of the greatest things about yoga is that it can be performed by anyone. The object is never to push beyond one’s limits, so there is a challenge for everyone no matter their physical strength or agility. I’ve found that in the short time I’ve been practising yoga I have become more flexible and there is a definite change in the strength of my core muscles. Small increases and changes, but progressive and understandable. It is easy to see how people become addicted to yoga, and how the progression of your development in the sport is a linear one where improvements in technique, strength and overall experience can be measured monthly, if not weekly.

So give it a shot!

Andrew

My First Yoga Experience: Learning About Yoga

This week I had my first yoga experience…

I decided (after some arm twisting I might add) to attend a yoga class with my girlfriend. She is an absolute yoga addict and attends classes multiple times per week.

The class that focused around the flow discipline, which, to my limited understanding is a yoga style, if you will, where each pose flows into the next, creating a seamless one and a half hour movement. I had some ideas of what it would mean to be moving in ways I wouldn’t normally through exercise or otherwise for that long, without a break.

The class happened to occur on the evening of a new moon, which meant that we were to focus on non-standing poses. This meant lots of close to the ground core work, and it was tough. Some poses appear very simple on the surface and when expressed by the instructor, but in actuality are incredibly tough to hold for more than a few breaths, never-mind express convincingly. I found that some of the poses which focused on maintaining core heavy poses worked me the hardest. I like to look at this as an indication of areas I need to get stronger and more supple though, so it’s all good…

What I learned at the time

Immediately as the class started I felt as though there was a good sense of calm amongst everyone in the class. I wasn’t the only first timer there and there were some experienced people who had obviously been practising yoga for quite some time.

I found that I really had to focus on my breathing, which is very important in yoga, and the better my breathing was the better the poses worked for me. Some poses seemed to stretch out my nerves, leaving my toes tingling while others seemed to test my ability to maintain a single position for (what seemed like) long periods of time.

What seemed to really resonate with me

I found that my thoughts and worries became muted as the class went on, and at the end of the class I was totally relaxed, even though I had just been physically active for over an hour. When we reached the final pose, savasana, I was ready to fall asleep.

paleo-yoga-savasna
Savasana or the corpse pose

 

The next “thing” I found resonated well with me was that the energy in the class was incredibly positive. It was as though everyone in the room was on the same level and “knew” one another. There is a great deal of respect that yoga seems to command, and it feels like a very mature form of exercise. From just a single class I felt as though I had gotten closer to my body and its current limitations. Even though I had struggled through many of the poses, I had attempted each one with 100% effort, and the resonant stiffness I feel today as I type this article reminds me that the yoga journey is a long one.

Every extra centimetre you are able to stretch is a big achievement in yoga, and the goal as it seems to me is not to become the best at performing yoga poses, but to become in touch with your body and how it feels on the day, how it felt before, and how you want it to feel in the future. The physical exertion aspect to everything seems to come as part of the package, but it isn’t the true value of practising yoga. I think that spiritual release you feel after completing a class is what really brings people back to the studio.

It is as though someone has given you permission to relax, forget about the stress of living and focus on your mind and body while strengthening both.

Takeaways…

I think that yoga is an awesome way to spend time with yourself. You could definitely practice poses at home but it is the careful, calibrated guidance of an instructor that will keep you focused and help you prevent injury. The studio was very quiet, with only the unique sound of Ujjayi breath filling the room. The outward expression of yoga’s breathing helps to ensure that (for the most part) everyone is in sync in the studio. It is a very liberating and bonding experience at the same time, if not with other people, with yourself. 

Yoga also perhaps unintentionally encourages you to take a holistic approach to the body. Everything you do, every day, will affect how your body peroforms when attempting yoga poses. Your diet, how you sit, how you sleep will all be affected (and even repaired) by the focus of yoga.

So give it a go. It was a very valuable experience for me and I’m seriously considering making it a routine part of my life.

Keep well,

Namaste,

Andrew.

Paleo Diet Guide

Why you need a paleo diet guide to succeed in getting healthy…

That may seem like a big statement to make, but in reality, those who read and study why something will benefit their lives will succeed in achieving their goals much more often than those who don’t.

Learning about why the paleo diet is so healthy takes some time and effort to get to grips with all the nitty gritty. Which foods are allowed, which foods aren’t. Which foods have gluten in them, which foods don’t.

All of these “lessons” take time to learn, and there are far easier ways of learning than bashing away at Google until something of high enough quality emerges. You see, it doesn’t matter that you read a lot about paleo or healthy nutrition. What does matter however is that you are reading the right  information about the paleo diet. This is where a good guide is irreplaceable. Reading about why something is healthy for you from someone who has already done the legwork will near ensure you a similar level of success.

 

paleo-guide

What a good paleo diet guide shouldi include

So what would a guide that was effective at communicating valuable knowledge be like? Well…

It would have to be easy to read

Learning from a guide which has a blurred approach to learning about a complex topic such as dieting should be as easy to read as possible. This isn’t to say that the paleo diet is inherently complex, it isn’t but it is important to get a good understanding of what it involves from day one.

It should be to the point and informative

Knowledge is power, and you should aim to learn as much, high quality information as you can. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for success. Losing weight is simple, but losing weight while staying healthy is the key. Great knowledge shouldn’t be hidden underneath layers of understanding or procedure, good lessons are learnt with a direct approach. Example, action, learn, repeat. Simple!

The guide should be written from a place of experience

A good guide should be qualified and have some weight behind it’s lessons. Nobody wants to learn from someone who claims they know it all or who has stopped learning. Finding a guide that is the product of an evolving mind ensures that you, the learner, can engage with the creator of the content in a natural way and build a lasting relationship that will ensure success in getting healthy.

Where would I find such a guide…?

paleo-diet-guide

Fortunately for you. The author of our sister site has a great guide that ticks all the right boxes and is totally free for your consumption.

In the guide you’ll learn:

  • How to make the changes necessary for effortless, healthy and simple weight loss starting today. 
  • Why the changes are effective.
  • Why the foods you’ve been told are healthy aren’t. 

Each section of the course (there are seven, don’t worry, they are very easy to read and are not long) contains links to further reading which will enhance your understanding of the paleo movement.

If you feel like you have really been looking for a guide that will help you automatically lose weight, gain muscle and avoid doctors, then you will surely benefit from signing up for the free course below.

How To Lose Body Fat

Learn How To Lose Body Fat

So you want to learn how to lose body fat. That’s great, but you need to know that losing body fat and keeping that body fat off for good are sometimes not explained correctly by people who give advice. 

Before we get started, let’s lay to rest some myths of losing body fat:

  • Losing body fat is not difficult
  • Losing body fat can be automatic
  • Losing body fat is an enjoyable process
  • Losing body fat does not require exercise…

That’s right. All of the points above are true and 100% provable. I bet you want to know how you actually lose weight safely, quickly and automatically while enjoying the food you eat, not needing massive amounts of exercise (look, a walk around the block doesn’t heart, and it makes you feel good), and ensure that the weight stays off forever?

Simple. Enter the paleo diet. 

Wait!

how-to-lose-body-fat-automatically
Believe it. A tummy like this is achievable for anyone, automatically, safely and naturally…

 Please don’t think that just because I’ve used the word diet that you’ll be required to put in hard work or make big changes to your life. The process of becoming paleo is more a change of lifestyle holistically. This means that the changes you need to make are not focused only on what you eat. 

While knowing what you eat is a very important part of achieving the results you desire, the way it is approached in the paleo lifestyle is a little different. There is no calorie counting, portion restrictions or limitations (within the eating framework). All that is required is that you learn about what your body actually does with food (easy with the guide below), and that you eat lots of great tasting, highly nutritious food. 

So how does the paleo diet actually teach me how to lose body fat?

Losing body fat requires two elements to be successful:

  1. Eat the right food and lots of it. 
  2. Be consistent.

That’s it. There are no steps like “walk 2 miles everyday” or “don’t eat more than a fist sized portion of food”.

how-to-lose-body-fat

Your body KNOWS how to burn fat, automatically and naturally.

All you have to do is retrain it how to do so.

You see, years and years of eating the wrong foods (bread, grains… etc.) have switched off some of the genes that allow the body to function the way it was designed to. Fat is an important part of the human diet, and you don’t eat enough of it. 

Yes, you heard right. Fat is your friend. Cutting it out of your diet only damages your progress in losing fat. Ironic? Not really…

I bet that if you haven’t heard that fat is not the enemy before you might be a little confused. Well, don’t worry, the changes you need to make are easy to follow and once you’ve applied the seven steps in the course below (all you have to do is enter your email) you’ll benefit from automatic fat loss…

So if you are ready to make the leap and lose all that excess body fat, get the Seven Paleo Concepts Course below…

 

Paleo Diet Meal Plans

I’d like to announce that I am now building meal plans for you!

If you have ever wanted to know exactly what to eat when following the paleo diet then you should defintely check out my meal plan options. There are currently two meal plan products that I have put together after getting requests from readers to do so.

Please take a moment and checkout this page that outlines exactly what you’ll be getting if you decide to signup.

paleo-meal-plan
paleo-meal-plan-more-info

 

My Dad’s Beer Win’s 1st Place

This post isn’t really paleo orientated, but I thought it would be cool to give a tribute to my dad’s success in the craft beer industry.

For a long time now he has been working on creating his own brewery. He is no stranger to the industry and has in the past achieved a pretty significant role in one of the largest beer companies in the world.

His passion, I believe, was always in doing it on his own. He has a entrepreneurial spirit and is a dream chaser, which is why today marks a very special triumph in his journey.

Two of his beers, a lager and an ale have been awarded 1st and 2nd place in a local beer festival. Great achievement dad!

I must admit that I have had a glass of the stuff with him once or twice, and while beer is not paleo, it is part of my sensible indulgences now and then. His winning lager is honestly the best lager I have ever drank, and I hope that he realises all the success he deserves with it.

Go dad!mitchells-festival-lager-1st

mitchells-festival-lager-1st

How To Increase Testosterone Naturally

What is required to naturally increase your testosterone?

Testosterone is a naturally occurring, vital hormone occurring in mammals. In humans, it is responsible for maintaining levels of sex drive, muscle hypertrophy and the maintenance of bone strength and density. Testosterone is produced for the most part in the testicles of men and the ovaries of women. It is to a lesser degree produced in the adrenal glands.

Men produce around ten times the amount women do, but women are more sensitive to the effects it has on the body.

So how do I increase the amount of testosterone available to my body naturally?

how_to_increase_your_testosterone_naturally
We want more of this guy in our bodies…

 

Focus on controlling your cortisol levels

Cortisol is a hormone which is in some ways the opposite of testosterone. It is released when the body is stressed, sleep deprivation and overtraining (chronic cardio). It is important to not string yourself too tight, take it easy, relax when you can. Cortisol reduces free testosterone levels in the body. 

Expose yourself to the sun or supplement for vitamin D

It is imperative that you get enough vitamin D everyday, either by natural means or through supplementation. The body requires vitamin d for many different functions, and you guessed it, helps with the increase of testosterone in men. This article covers this relationship quite well.

So get outside in the sun tomorrow morning and enjoy that cup of coffee with your shirt off.

Lift heavy objects, primal style

Squats and exercises like dead lifts are your friends. They both promote testosterone production and so you should either start lifting heavy things or add one of these workouts to your exercise program.

I like to do squats and move objects around which require maximum muscle engagement. There is also some evidence that resting for 90 seconds between workouts can increase testosterone production the most. A 60 second break, by comparison, will increase growth hormone release the most.

hypertrophy
Lifting heavy weights boosts testosterone

Try some sprinting on the lawn

Sprinting is a miraculous form of exercise. I have yet to survive a solid, high effort sprinting session without feeling pretty tired afterwards. All you need, and read closely, is a six second burst of sprinting. That is probably the easiest way of increasing your testosterone count.

Try to sprint once a week. Perhaps schedule a short sprinting session on your off day from weight training. Works for me!

Be sure to eat clean, high quality animal products only

Traditionally fed (grain fed) animals produce poor quality fat and dairy. If you are eating animal products (which you should be) then you should try and eat only those sourced from grass fed animals. We want to avoid dioxins as much as possible (especially for men, because they interfere with our reproductive system).

And on that note, you should be eating lots of saturated and monounsaturated fat…

Simply put, low-fat diets matched with the typical, grain filled “fiber” diets demote the production of testosterone. Conversely, high fat diets show an increase in testosterone production. Try to make sure that the fat you eat is of the highest available quality. Again, grass fed is best. Try and get a table spoon of coconut oil or olive oil down the gullet everyday as well.

Cut out sugar/carbohydrates

Foods which require the body to release insulin in order to control elevated blood sugar levels negatively affect our bodies testosterone production. Keep in mind that most people who don’t eat according the a paleo style eating plan probably eat a fair amount of carbohydrates in the form of grains. Grains, specifically processed grains like pasta and bread convert into glucose very quickly once eaten.

Supplement for zinc

Zinc occurs naturally shellfish, but if you can’t eat the stuff or have an allergy then you should take zinc supplements. This is more of a cover your bases step, but will still result in an increase in testosterone.