April 2nd 2010

Do you remember the last time you ran barefoot? I remember running in the wet grass on summer mornings as a kid. We were all born to run – barefoot.

Running is in our DNA. Since the beginning of time we ran -- for survival we ran for prey and from predators. Today we run for health, for sport or just for fun – and, in most cases, we are wearing a high-tech running shoe. Like our ancestors, the best runners in the world today are running barefoot AND injury-free.

In Chris McDougal’s, Born to Run, he tells of the “running people“ of the San Madres High Sierra Mountains of Mexico: The Tarahumara. The Tarahumara’s love of running is poetry in motion. They are not just athletes, but artists who have mastered the technique of FOREFRONT RUNNING.

The Tarahumara’s feet grip the canyon trails – their toes grip the ground or just a thin leather soul of a sandal that laces at the top of the shin. For miles upon miles, sometimes more than 100 miles a day, they run like deer prancing in the wild. They tap efficiently on the forefront of their feet, never allowing their heels to slam into the ground. Their running appears effortless to the modern viewer.

While the Tarahumara run without high-tech shoes like the Nike Air Max or the Adidas Super Novae, these shoeless athletes are impervious to the injuries that many modern runners face today. They have no podiatrist – no molded gel orthotics, plantar fasciitis, meniscus-tears or stress fractures in the hips or ankles.

“Your foot’s center piece is the arch, the greatest weight-bearing design ever created. The beauty of any arch is the way it gets stronger under stress; the harder you push down (on the forefront, not the heel of the foot] the tighter it’s parts mesh, “ notes Dr. Gerard Hartmann (physical therapist guru for the world’s finest runners). “The deconditioned musculature of the foot is the greatest issue leading to injury, and we’ve allowed our feet to become badly deconditioned over the past twenty-five years.“

“I’ve worked with over a hundred of the best Kenyan runners, “ says Dr. Hartman, “and one thing they have in common is marvelous elasticity in their feet … the best injury prevention advice is running barefoot on dewy grass three times a week.“

Condition your feet for the pounding of running and you will run injury- free. If barefoot is too extreme for you, transition by using the Nike Free (a shoe that fosters forefront running) or Vibrams 5 finger (a rubber glove for your feet). If you start with the Vibrams, make sure you’re prepared for some tight calves and feet, for muscles that haven’t been worked for years will be shocked. In the long run, your muscles will adapt, enabling you to run free of muscular pain and free of ankle, knee, hip, or back pain. Be persistent in conditioning your feet – wearing shoes as little as possible around the house or out in the yard. Diligently practice the forefront running technique.

Steve Prefontane, Roger Banister, Jesse Owens, Zatopek, … how did these running legends train? The best runners in the world all ran with backs straight, knees bent, feet scratching back under their hips, foot moves toward the track in a downward striking motion (not punching or pounding) outer edge of foot makes first, light, contact with the track, as the foot arches, like a spring board in gymnastics, absorbing the shock of impact while propelling the the next step. Picture a galloping horse running to victory, or a cheetah in hot pursuit.

Remember these five running mechanics and you will evolve into the best runner you can be: 1) Rotating on the outside edge of your foot, then gently rolling from little toe over to big until your foot is flat – a mild, shock-absorbing twist that allows your arch to compress (pronation/ forefront running) 2) Back erect 3) Head steady 4) Arms high swinging like a pendulum, hands not exceeding the back; 5) Elbows driving; feet touching down quickly on forefoot and kicking back toward butt. In addition to mastering good running biomechanics, a thorough strength-training routine will help to prepare your bones, joints, and ligaments for the impact of running. Multiply 3-5X your own body weight and that is how many pounds of pressure will be applied upon your foot strike.

Though the Tarahumara don’t strength train in a modern gym setting, they exert physical strength to survive in the canyons. As “hunters/gathers” their bodies are sturdy-sinewy-sensations -- they are not just runners, they are athletes. So, before you kick off your shoes and lace up the Nike Free or slip on a pair of Vibrams, ask yourself: are you in a balanced strength-training routine? Are you grasping the forefront running technique? Are you conditioning your feet? Are your stretching deep into the muscles and tissues through a foam roller? If yes to these questions, then you are ready to make the transition to bare foot running.

Start the transition in Vibrams on a treadmill for 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then after a month, 30 minutes; while keeping speed intensity moderate. Speaking from experience, sprinting 440 intervals in a pair of vibrams; or running at 5-6mile pace is not moderate, trust me, the next day, my calves were on fire … so take it slow, and step by step you’ll enjoy running, injury free, throughout your life, and maybe even this:

The translucent rays lit up the sky and a trail by a gently flowing stream called my feet. Prancing from foot to foot, gliding through the wooded trail, meandering to the sound of the trickling stream, a white tail hawk soared above and sweat beads rolled out of my body, as I completed mile 20 of the Alaskan Marathon. The beat of the run seemed effortless, with the cool breeze flowing. I felt a sense of peace envelope every fiber … I felt like I was floating on air! Running was no longer physical; the physical pain transcendent into a euphoric experience -- “the runners-high .” Running, on that day, strengthened, not only my body and mind, but spirit too…

In Born to Run, McDougal captivates our interest in running through the intriguing tale of the Tarahumara -- people who run not to be the best, but who are the best because they love it. The very joy of forefront foot striking, mile after mile, flows through their feet. They are one with the ground from birth to death. Running for them is as much a pleasure as it is a way of life; and in fact, running enhances the quality of the Tarahumara’s life. They are a society without cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, child obesity, and depression. Running is good medicine. As Harvard professor Dr. Lieberman notes, “If there is any magic bullet to make human beings healthy, it’s to run… if more people ran, fewer would be dying of degenerative heart disease, sudden cardiac arrest, hypertension, blocked arteries, diabetes.” So whatever reason you choose to run – health, peace of mind, sport, survival, or fun – just, run….

If you have any questions regarding the running technique, please ask. Or if you are interested in getting involved in a strength training program for running, or small group running training program, please inquire.

Good Health,

Endre' G. Witthoeft
True Grit Fitness LLC.
TrueGritFitness.com
Truegritfitness@mac.com
610-324-4555

October 10th 2009

Enter the Zone -- Maximize fat burn, rev up your metabolism, balance hormones, heighten mental focus, prevent diseases, and feel alert…welcome to The Zone. Enter The Zone, by Dr. Barry Sears, was published in 1995. Since then, more than ten post-Zone books like Protein Power, Sugar Busters, South Beach Diet, Sonoma Diet, Master Your Metabolism, and Atkins Diabetes Revolution have magnified The Zone’s message. These spin-off books all recommend cutting back on high-glycemic carbohydrates (sugar, pasta, unbleached flour) while increasing low-fat proteins (chicken, fish) and healthy, monounsaturated plant fats, like extra-virgin olive oil. The bottom line in all of these books is that the over-consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates makes you fat, hungry, moody, and tired.

In Enter The Zone, Dr. Sears asks, …How do you get fat? …not by eating small portions of steak and ice cream, but by eating fat-free carbs." He also asks, "What do we feed cows to fatten them up? We fatten our cattle with fat-free grains." Dr. Sears' message is clear: we get fat by eating too many carbs. Carbohydrates elevate our blood sugar level by releasing excess insulin, the hormone that transports sugar into cells. If we don't use up those carbs by running five miles the next day, they get converted to fat.

Are you satiated after eating a large bag of empty-calorie pretzels? No. You're probably craving more food, bloated (potential fat conversion) and irritable because the pretzels elevated your blood sugar and caused the sugar blues: tiredness, confusion, and depression. There's virtually no protein, vitamins, minerals, or phytochemicals in pretzels -- just many grams of carbohydrates and zero fat. Fat in moderation doesn't make you fat, but helps you feel satisfied. Sears notes that after we consume fat, a hormone, CCK, is released from the stomach to the brain. The brain then sends a message of feeling satisfied. The next time you're hungry, try a handful of nuts -- see which snack makes you feel satisfied longer. You will find that nuts are the better choice.

How do we prevent carb cravings and crashes? The answer is 40-30-30: consuming 40% high-fiber/low-glycemic carbohydrates, 30% low-fat protein and 30% monounsaturated fat. Dr. Sears is not a nutritionist who writes fitness fad books, but a biochemist who studies the hormonal effects of food. Through years of research, he discovered that The Zone 40/30/30 formula is the best way to help you achieve peak physical and mental performance.

How do you stay in The Zone? It takes a precise "block" system that is calculated based on your weight, body fat percentage, and daily activity level. Using these three criteria, I can calculate the blocks you need for 3 meals and 2 snacks, as well as the total grams of carbs, protein, and fat per block. I can help you lose weight, burn fat, maintain hormonal balance, and increase energy -- together we can be healthy in The Zone!

Good Health,

Endre' G. Witthoeft
True Grit Fitness LLC.
TrueGritFitness.com
Truegritfitness@mac.com
610-324-4555

September 10th 2009

You're huffing and puffing, sopped with sweat, hitting the treadmill in the "fat-burner zone " (55%-65% of max heart rate) -- seven days a week, 60 minutes, enduring seven long, arduous hours of cardiovascular training and still not loosing weight. You're hammering out the weights too -- rep after rep, five times a week, 3-5 exercises per body part, five more hours -- for a total of twelve weekly gym hours. Yet, the scale has not budged.

If this describes you, stop this type of training. There is a more effective way to shred those excess pounds: EPOC - Excess Post Oxygen Consumption - "... the calories expended (above resting values) after an exercise bout. This represents the oxygen consumption above resting level that the body is utilizing to return itself to its pre-exercise state. "

In other words, EPOC training is the "after burn" -- it revs up the metabolism to burn more calories after the workout. Compared to the proverbial fat burning workouts -- moderate intensity, long duration cardiovascular workouts - interval training bouts, that engender EPOC, burn TWICE as many calories for up to 48 HOURS after your workout. Think about it: two days of caloric burn from one workout - WOW!

In " Exercise After-burn: Research Update, " by exercise physiologists Chantal A. Vella & Len Kravitz, doctors measured EPOC for two subjects who ran on a treadmill. Subject A ran for 30 minutes at 70% of VO2 max at a constant pace. Subject B ran intervals - 20 one-minute bouts at 105% VO2 sub-maximal effort. Subject B's EPOC was far greater: 15 liters of oxygen for 75 after-burn calories versus subject A's 6.9 liters, for 34.5 calories. In another study from the same article, twice as many calories were burned during a 25-minute interval bout, compared to 50 minutes of continuous cardio at 75% VO2 max. The upshot - EPOC! -- train for less time at a higher intensity, and burn more calories.

EPOC is not only increased through interval training, but also through a high intensity circuit resistance-training program. Most of my clients are two types: ladies who are adamant on not getting bulky and guys who want to get buff. On the one hand, the lady clients spend endless time repping out the light weights, while the guys spend even more time on split routines with super sets, 4-5 exercise per body part. How much can you shred the muscle before you reach diminishing returns? Fifteen sets of chest is ridiculous; or 50 reps in one set is also too much. There is no reason why we can't get the strength training results you want and increase greater EPOC in a third of the time. Your strength training workouts should not exceed forty-five minutes.

Burn more fat, increase strength, and speed up your metabolism. It's simple to train your body to burn calories after your workout - saving time and seeing optimal results ... EPOC. For a complimentary consult, please call or email.

Good Health,

Endre' G. Witthoeft
True Grit Fitness LLC.
TrueGritFitness.com
Truegritfitness@mac.com
610-324-4555

August 24th 2009

Spark -- spark up your brain with exercise! Let exercise "supercharge your mental circuits." John J. Ratey, M.D. of psychiatry and professor at Harvard, points out in his book -- Spark - the Revolutionary new Science of exercise and the Brain -- how exercise overcomes anxiety, depression, loss of memory; and, in fact, creates new (BDNF). Brain derived neurotrophic factor is a protein produced inside nerve cells when they are active. It serves as "miracle-gro" for the brain, fertilizing brain cells to keep them functioning and growing, as well as spurring the growth of new neurons; thus stimulating neurogenesis - the process of stem cells dividing and developing into functional new brain cells, or neurons, in the brain.

"Out-run" your anxiety. Ratey conducted an agoraphobia case study, where he had folks sprint toward a mall, sprint toward their fear, while walking back to the starting line, the parking lot, some 50 yards away. The people ran 5-10 sprints a day, running toward their fear, walking back to safety. In only half a dozen sessions of this type of training - high intensity interval training - the fear started to subside: the people were able to walk into the mall and feel safe. Ratey notes, while performing the high-intensity running, the brain-released norepinephrine (the arousal transmitter that helps you face fear); dopamine (attention & motivation transmitter); and, after exercise, seratonin (the calming transmitter that relaxes the brain). So run, run, run, fast and fearless, and re-charge your brain chemistry, as these participants did, and melt away anxiety.

Through exercise the brain not only diminishes anxiety, but also depression. Again, intense exercise releases norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, but also endorphins -- stress hormones that calm the brain and relieve muscle pain during strenuous exercise. There are 40 different kinds of endorphins, often referred to as "opiate receptors." Opium is a narcotic drug extracted from the poppy plant that is given to sick patients in the form of morphine to reduce pain. Like opium, endorphins, are pain killers too, without the negative physiological and mental side effects of narcotic drugs: no bad trips or unhealthy withdrawals. Endorphins give you a high -- the "runners-high" -- that alleviate pain in the body and mentally sparks optimism in your mind; but, unlike the narcotic opium drugs, endorphins cost little, except the discipline it takes to be in an exercise program. Most importantly, endorphins, in synergy with a balanced release of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, will defeat depression.

Ratey, still in Spark ... touches upon a landmark case, SMILE (Standard Medical Intervention and Long-term exercise), conducted by renowned psychiatrist James Blumenthal, in which he pitted exercise vs. Zoloft (anti-depression drug). The results, life transforming: Exercise won! Participants had better results in fighting depression with a consistent -- interval training exercise program -- then in popping the pill, Zoloft. For more details on this case study, and how exercise re-wires your brain to beat anxiety, depression, memory loss, and much more, read Ratey's life changing book.

So SPARK up your mind and body through exercise! ... call or email, for a complimentary consult. And let True Grit Fitness -- "dedicated to helping people achieve total health and wellness through mindful-exercise" - enhance your life, today.

Good Health,

Endre' G. Witthoeft
True Grit Fitness LLC.
TrueGritFitness.com
Truegritfitness@mac.com
610-324-4555

July 22nd 2009

Did you know that 3 oz. of Cheetos is 480 calories, 30gms of fat, 45gms of carbohydrate, and almost no protein (the healing agent of the body) ... On the other hand, 3oz of low-fat, skinned-chicken breast is: 140 calories, marinated in a table spoon of extra virgin olive oil (healthy plant fat) 120 calories and 14 gms of fat; a ½ head of broccoli 65 calories; a ½ medium sweet potato, 60 calories; and a whole apple, 76 calories for a total of 465 calories.

Think about it: ... a handful of 480 calories of processed trans-fatty, artery clogging, empty carbohydrates -- depleted of vitamins, minerals, and photochemicals -- that Cheats You out of being healthy, hormonaly balanced, and metabolically efficient. According to Jillian Michaels, renowned personal trainer, and author of Master your Metabolism, protein revs-up your metabolism by 33%. And healthy carbohydrates energize your muscles and fuel your brain cells, while healthy fat releases CCK, the satiation hormone, and keeps a speedy metabolism. So do you want to eat Cheaters -- slowing your motor, sagging your muscles, leaving you feeling empty, and for some, depending on blood sugar and insulin levels, leaving you feeling the "ccarb- crash" ... or:

Would you like to enjoy a balanced whole food meal; a meal that repairs and energizes muscles, satisfies hunger, without carbohydrate cravings or crashes, for up to 4 hours. It's simple: Feel satiated, while promoting stable blood sugar and hormonal balance! The choice is yours: good health, hormonal balance, and a feeling of wellness. So treat -- not cheat -- yourself with the gift of whole foods. Choose balanced meals and snacks that have a protein, fat, and Carbohydrate -- 30% low-fat protein, 30% plant fats, and 40% high fiber Carbohydrates.

Lastly, in addition to good health, If you want to loose weight, graze throughout the day, eating 3 meals, breakfast the largest meal, dinner before 6p.m., and a snack. If weight loss isn't a goal, enjoy another whole food snack, eating every 3-4hrs, 40/30/30!

Good Health,

Endre' G. Witthoeft
True Grit Fitness LLC.
TrueGritFitness.com
Truegritfitness@mac.com
610-324-4555


July 12th 2009

Food is essential to our bodies for survival and also brings us joy. In fact, it was George Bernard Shaw who said, "Food is the last unconditional love" -- so enjoy it. I'll be the first to admit food is great and to be savored. Think about all the great times in your life -- birthdays, holidays, weekends -- they are all celebrated with friends around a good meal. Food brings people together. It's sacred. It's to be revered. I love a good meal too -- I appreciate food, while enjoying the tastes and fellowship with others.

Aside from the pleasure and social aspects food brings, I think about the health benefits. Here's a question: When you eat a meal, are you eating for health or pleasure; or just eating to eat? Asking yourself this question prior to eating -- will -- hopefully, give you an awareness that helps you to slow down and appreciate your food. I try to live by the 80% - 20% rule: 80% of the time I eat for health -- eating balanced meals of low-fat proteins, fruits, and vegetables, whole grains (high in fiber), and mono-unsaturated fats (plant fats) & omega 3 fats ( walnuts/fish ) at every meal; grazing throughout the day, 5 smaller meals ( 3 meals, 2 snacks ), to keep a speedy metabolism, stable blood sugar, and hormonal balance.

On special occasions, of course, let loose and enjoy your favorites -- yes I eat pizza and ice cream too! As a matter of fact, I just took my daughters to Hersey Park, and after a whirlwind-winding roller-coaster, I had a cheeseburger and some fries. To top it off, a scoop of vanilla soft-serve ice cream... 20% of the time I eat whatever I'm craving; then, get right back to eating healthy, good tasting, balanced whole foods for the next meal. So remember - 80/20 - enjoy food, with balance, moderation, and appreciation... Good Health!

Endre' G. Witthoeft
True Grit Fitness LLC.
TrueGritFitness.com
Truegritfitness@mac.com
610-324-4555