Are you Prepared?

Post-Disaster Wellness: Why Drinking Alcohol in High Stress Environments Should Be Avoided March 27, 2017

Hey there, ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals!  We are going to discuss how alcohol affects your physical training, and what physiological effects you must take into consideration.  Please understand: I am not “demonizing” alcohol or alcoholic beverages, and am not scoffing or scorning anyone who partakes in them in a normal, healthy manner.  Indeed, the scope of this article is not “moralistic,” nor am I a spokesperson for abstinence.  The intent is to explain how alcohol diminishes your recovery time and performance regarding your physical training.

You, the readers are a very demographically-diverse group from all walks of life and all ages, some with special health care needs.  I implore all of you to analyze your status and with your doctor come up with an exercise program for yourself.

Physical training and exercise are your best tools for preparation, along with proper study, diet, and rest.

Why You Should Avoid Drinking Alcohol in High Stress Environments

That being said, why am I writing about alcohol affecting training?  I do so because the proverbial “two drinks,” as well as the “after dinner drink,” and the “after work drink” are pervasive in our society and culture.  The Super Bowl just finished up, with hardly anything in the ads for your physical training, but a barrage from Budweiser to drink beer.  Consider me a quiet voice on the sideline, little more than a whisper in your ear recommending the physical training.

Alcohol deposits fat in your midsection, and also has a wasting effect on the thigh and gluteal muscles.  There was a study in 2000 done published in the Journal of Applied Physiology that found cortisol (a hormone we discussed in previous articles) rose 61% when alcohol was consumed after strenuous physical activity.  The reason for this significance: many people have physically-demanding jobs and wish to “wind down” with a beer or two, or a shot after work.

The cortisol (usually produced with stress) has an adverse effect on muscle maintenance and muscle growth.  See, alcohol has an effect that has gravitated man toward it throughout history: it holds similar effects to the drug Valium (or Diazepam, if you prefer) with calming, anxiety-relieving effects.  It also releases dopamine and endorphins within the first 20 minutes of consumption, substances that enhance pleasure when released by the brain…and in this effect, alcohol is almost akin to opium.

With low doses, alcohol increases stimulation in certain brain areas and the central nervous system, leading to feelings of euphoria.  So, with all of this, you may be thinking…shouldn’t I be taking an occasional drink of alcohol in conjunction with training?  The answer is an unequivocal “No!” on all counts.

Alcohol has the ability to severely depress brain function by interfering with the ion channels needed to fire neurons…that is, allow your brain to communicate to and with other important parts of your body…such as respiration, heart, motor control, and so forth.  Far from being a “sleep aid,” it can rob you of REM.  No, not the band from the late 80’s to early 90’s…but Rapid-Eye Movement sleep.  Alcohol can hurt your sleeping habits.  To say nothing of your love life.

Chronic consumption of alcohol is a libido-killer in both men and women.  It seriously lowers testosterone levels in men, and causes the testicles to shrink, as well as promoting impotence.  If you read the article I recently wrote for men on the importance of maintaining healthy levels of testosterone with weight and physical training, you’ll understand just how negative these alcohol-induced reductions are.

Alcohol increases the amount of recovery time that you need to heal and restore your muscles after hard physical labor or exercise.  Your liver works hard to excrete the alcohol and the toxins associated with it.  A substantial amount of energy is also needed to break down the molecules and process them.  If you work out for an hour in the gym and then go and have a beer or a glass of wine, you have just ruined or severely cramped the gains you may have experienced.

Tissue repair and the uptake of amino acids are also severely hampered by alcohol consumption.  Studies in the past have shown that a glass of wine will lower the triglycerides in the bloodstream and help prevent blood clotting.  This is true, but guess what?  So will a regular exercise program!  You can lower those triglycerides and build yourself up!  Alcohol also tends to reduce the uptake of essential vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin C and calcium with long-term consumption.

Will it kill you or cripple you to have a drink every now and then, such as once a month?  Consult with your doctor first, but it probably will not harm you.  I still stand by the fact that you don’t really need it, and it can cause your training and physical fitness regimen to suffer.  I haven’t even mentioned the other negative effects that heavy drinking can cause, but you can figure them out if you haven’t experienced them yourself.

To summarize, alcohol has its uses and is not a “villain,” and neither are people who consume it responsibly villains.  Just keep in mind that this piece is not designed to “excoriate” alcohol, but to keep you informed of the negative effects it can have on your physical fitness training when it is consumed.  Feel stressed?  Put on the bag gloves and beat up the heavy bag for ten or fifteen minutes.  If you still feel that you need a drink, well, then down a big shake full of amino acids…that’ll serve you better!  Stay healthy, make gains, and keep in that good fight!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published March 27th, 2017
Comments Off on Post-Disaster Wellness: Why Drinking Alcohol in High Stress Environments Should Be Avoided

Full Spectrum Health Gadget Gives Whole Picture of Your Well Being December 8, 2016

Nearly 40 million people used wearable devices to track their fitness and movement this year. Devices like the fitbit make it easy to determine calories expended and help you maintain or reach your fitness goals. If you are one of those people who does not find the idea of tracking your every move paranoia inducing (and storing it in the cloud, no less!), you might want to consider Spire, a new product meant to address the mental side of your health.

The makers of Spire believe fitness is comprised of both mind and body and that being healthy is about more than exercising and eating well. True health, according to those at Spire, means having clarity, control, and inner peace.

What is Spire?

Spire is a wearable device (it clips onto your pants or bra) that offers the same movement features as other activity trackers on the market but with the addition of sensors that monitor how you react to stress. Our bodies are constantly giving physical cues that indicate our mental state, such as increased or shallow breathing, rapid heart rate, and perspiration. Spire picks up on these cues and alerts you in real time so that you can adjust your behavior and reduce the effects of stress.

For example, if you are in a meeting with your boss and things are not going well, you might feel a little vibration from your Spire. A notification on your phone (which synchs to Spire) will indicate that your heart rate is increasing and that you need to breathe deeply. It sounds almost too simple, but researchers say correcting the physical effects of stress allows us to better tackle the mental effects, even in the heat of the moment.

And this goes for situations that you don’t even know are stressful, like driving on highways or talking with certain people. The creators of Spire hope that by becoming aware of how our bodies are reacting at any given moment, we can create a positive feedback loop and get relief from stress. Breathing is literally the only automatic function in our bodies that we also have control over. How you breathe sets up how you feel, and vice versa.

How does it relieve stress?

The main way that Spire works, like other fitness wearables, is by tracking and accumulating information that we are too busy or unable to track ourselves. Sensors detect your breathing and respiratory movement, including the depth of each individual breath. Advanced algorithms allow the device to make sense of your breathing patterns based on multiple laboratory studies that show links between respiration patterns and emotional states. In addition, Spire is customizable and able to tweak and reinterpret the data it receives over time (“stressed” for you is different than “stressed” for someone else).

Because Spire is always tuned in to your behavior, it also serves as a monitor during times of calm and focus. Looking at your data and recalling moments of peace, contentment, and clarity can allow you to reproduce these results at a later time.

How much is it?

I was very surprised to see that Spire costs just $99, considerably less than many other wearable fitness trackers. Considering the fact that Spire still tracks steps and calories expended in addition to the other respiration tracking capabilities, it seems that people in the market for this type of device might benefit from having a look at Spire. It may not be an overnight cure-all for stress, but those interested in “body hacking” may find it’s a welcome tool for providing a more complete picture of the whole self.

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published December 8th, 2016
Comments Off on Full Spectrum Health Gadget Gives Whole Picture of Your Well Being

How A “Drop-Everything” Day Can Revolutionize Your Productivity December 5, 2016

We live in a heavily connected world and most of us are skilled multi-taskers. The advent of the smart phone means I’ve ordered groceries while waiting in line at the DMV and I’ve made a voice memo while driving a car full of kids to little league. Most of us do more than one thing at a time, so the idea of doing nothing at all seems downright lazy. But some of the most productive and creative thinkers of our generation have one thing in common: they regularly drop everything to do nothing at all.

Stress is on the Rise

According to the American Institute of Stress, absences from work due to burnout are rising, with large corporations losing as much as $3.5 million per year due to this. From Steve Jobs to Albert Einstein to Marie Curie, scheduling solitary “do-nothing” days has proven to be exceedingly beneficial. Not only is dropping everything good for business, there is a wealth of medical and emotional advantages to this type of relaxation. It sounds crazy, but having a “drop-everything” day once a month or so can make a huge difference in your quality of life and your productivity.

How to Drop Everything

This isn’t about scheduling a trip to Tahiti or a yoga class. If you’ve ever felt stressed or overworked, it can be tempting to make your “me-time” a drink, a television show, or a formal vacation. But dropping everything means exactly what it sounds like. It’s a day where you do absolutely nothing. It sounds counterintuitive to “plan” for nothing, but here’s how you do it:

Step 1

Put it in the calendar: It’s much harder to be protective of your time when you’re dropping everything, but you need to make this activity known as an event—to yourself, and to others around you. If an entire “drop-everything” day isn’t possible for you, try setting aside at least 4 hours.

Step 2

Disconnect: No phones, no friends, no computer, no television, no work, no play, no sleeping. This day is about reflecting, thinking, hoping, and planning (but no to-do lists!). It’s amazing how removing your go-to distractions can change the way your mind works.

Step 3

Pay attention: You might choose to wander around somewhere outside. You might sit in a comfortable chair. Wherever you end up, make it a point to observe and notice your environment. We spend so much time rushing from one thing to the next we often forget to truly see the world around us.

Step 4

Note your desires: Once you’ve quieted the noise of your commitments and obligations, see where your thoughts go. Often, breakthroughs and new insights occur when we have solitude. See what themes keep cropping up and follow the trails of thought. This phase can be extremely uncomfortable for some people who are not used to being alone with their thoughts, but clearing the mind is like working out a muscle—it gets easier over time.

Step 5

Don’t rush it: You might think you’ve had enough nothing at an hour or two and you might start to feel guilty. Fight this! The biggest revelations often occur long after we’ve grown tired of “practicing” nothing.

Of course, the thing about doing nothing is that it eventually turns into something very meaningful. Some might call the above exercise “mindfulness” or meditation, but it helps me to think about simply clearing my mind. Successful people everywhere have engaged in these types of habits for years, so why not give it a try? You literally have nothing to lose!

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published December 5th, 2016
Comments Off on How A “Drop-Everything” Day Can Revolutionize Your Productivity