Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Quick Running Tip: Use Minimalist Running Shoes

Before the 1970s, athletic shoes had thin soles, no support, and zero heel drop. (1) Then, Nike popularized running shoes and an industry was born. (2) Dazzled by multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, we've become convinced that our feet need lots of support and cushioning to run effectively. But the belief that the modern running shoe is superior to your own two feet is slowly changing with the popularity of minimalist running shoes.

What is a Minimalist Running Shoe?
What started as a weird fad has exploded into a movement now backed by solid science. (3) As a result of this growing popularity, minimalist running shoes have suddenly been embraced by many everyday runners.

To give you an idea of how popular minimalist running has become, Vibram (the company who created the modern minimalist running shoe) had to ramp up production of their FiveFingers “toe shoes” just to keep up with demand (from 2006 to 2009, their annual minimalist shoe revenue jumped from $430,000 to $11 million dollars!).

The Vibram FiveFingers is an example of a minimalist running shoe.

Because of its rising popularity, other shoe companies are marketing their own minimalist shoes that aren't quite minimalist. To identify a true minimalist shoe, look for the following qualities:
  • Minimal heel-to-toe drop (<=4mm). 
  • Thin sole (3-6mm).
  • Little to no support for the foot. 
  • Large toe box (or individual boxes for each toe). 
  • Typically light (<7.5 ounces) 
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Increasing Your Push-ups and Sit-ups: Grease the Groove

For some individuals, increasing the number of push-ups and sit-ups they can do seems impossible. But I have stumbled across a simple and relatively easy technique that anyone can use to increase their strength in any exercise: Grease the groove.

As far as your PT test is concerned, this technique can allow you to possibly double the number of push-ups and sit-ups you can do in one minute in as little as six weeks! And you can do it at work while in uniform.
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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Do You Need PT Help?

As it happens, I have some free time to do research. So, if you have any PT-related questions (e.g., walk test prep, building basic push-up and sit-up strength), send them to my email at rapidpt@hotmail.com. I'll do my best to get an answer ASAP!

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The 30-Day Diet Challenge

On my Mayo's Mind blog I've just completed my 30-day diet challenge, which attempts to help you figure out which foods are hurting your body and causing health problems and which are not. Ultimately, you will be able to create your own personalized food sensitivity list.

Why should you care about food sensitivities? Not all food sensitivity reactions are obvious, such as coughing, hives, or a swollen throat. Some people may have one or more of the following symptoms when problematic foods are eaten:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Constipation
  • Emotional instability
  • Excess body fat
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Heart burn
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Indigestion
  • Irritability
  • Mental depression
  • Mental fog
  • Migraines
  • Muscle weakness
  • Overweight
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Underweight
  • Weakened immune system

Often, people suffering from these symptoms will not associate them with food sensitivities. Instead, because they cannot find the true cause of their symptoms, they may just suffer in silence, using supplements or drugs to get some temporary relief. This prompted me to put together this 30-Day Diet Challenge.

When it comes to your PT test, diet sensitivities can prevent you from performing as you expect. It can also cause inches to be added to your waist due to chronic stress and bloating. Accordingly, cleaning up your diet can have a HUGE impact on your PT score.

To read more about the 30-day diet challenge go to my Mayo's Mind blog. Then you can take the diet challenge to see how your PT scores improve!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Should We See Obesity as a Disease?

Recently, the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized that obesity is a disease. This decision was actually the exact opposite of the recommendations made by the AMA's own investigating committee. What was the AMA's reasoning? To try and stop the growing epidemic of obesity by changing the way doctors and insurance companies view those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 30.

For sure, obesity is starting to get out of hand. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that obesity affects over 500 million adults and 40 million children under the age 5 worldwide. This represents about 10 percent of the population. The WHO also believes that obesity is now the fifth leading cause of death (globally) and is strongly associated with degenerative diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. (1)

The age-adjusted rate of obesity in the US (in 2008).

Like many other bloggers, I'm happy to hear that the medical community is taking obesity more seriously, but am also conflicted about the decision to see obesity as a disease.

The rest of this post as been moved to my Mayo's Mind blog.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Food Guide Updated

During the process of updating my basic nutrition guide for an upcoming post on my other blog, I also updated my Rapid PT Food Guide. I added and reorganized a few foods, as well as added a notes section to include more information about what each section (Foundational, Optional, Minimal, and Avoid) means.

Click here to view the guide.
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Quick Running Tip: Try Forefoot Striking

Running injuries are nothing new. In the 1970s, when running injury data was first collected, about 20 percent of runners had injuries, with the top five injuries affecting the knee, Achilles tendon, shins, foot, and ankle. (1) Since the 70s, both the number of runners and their injuries have gone up: Today it is estimated that up to 70 percent of all runners will experience an injury every year (with the top five running injuries found in the foot, Achilles tendon, upper leg, knee, and shins). (2,3) And this increase in injuries is despite of latest running shoes designed to cushion, support, and control runners' feet.

There are lots of possible reasons for all these injuries (e.g., modern shoes, asphalt running surfaces, poor training, popularity), but one surprisingly controversial cause might be how you strike the ground.

A person can initially make contact with the ground while running in one of three different ways: With the hindfoot-, mid-, or forefoot. Hindfoot (or heel) strikers will first land on heel of their foot, while midfoot strikers land with their entire foot. Forefoot strikers will land on the balls of their feet.     
Heel strikers impact the ground with their heel first; midfoot strikers place their whole foot on the ground; and forefoot strikers land on the balls of their feet (and may also lightly make contact with their heel before pushing off).

Although heel striking is popular with today's runners, (4,5) it seems that forefoot striking is a more natural way to contact the ground while jogging and running. You can test this out by trying to run barefoot. No matter what your running style is when you wear shoes, we all run on the balls of our feet when we run barefoot. Heel striking is only possible in modern running shoes.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rapid PT Food Pyramid: The 7 Deadly Foods (Foods to Avoid)

UPDATED - 27 April 2013: I have updated the list of chemical additives that you should avoid.

This is the first of four posts that describe my Rapid PT Food Pyramid. This pyramid is the synthesis of everything that I've learned over the past four years. It combines perspectives from the Paleo, Primal, and traditional diet philosophies, as well as some of my other investigations (e.g., sports performance, optimal nutrition). Following this generalized diet outline should help you easily maintain a more ideal body weight, enjoy more energy, and possibly eliminate some/most of your current health problems (of course, the diet and lifestyle history of you and your family can limit how much you can reset your health).

My food pyramid is divided into four sections: Avoid, Minimal, Optional, and Foundational. It's basically designed so that the foods found at the bottom of the pyramid (Foundational) are eaten the most; those found at the top (Avoid) are eaten the least.

The Foods You Should AVOID
The Avoid section contains all the foods that you just shouldn't eat if you want to be healthy and fit (except for your cheat meals). It contains seven foods: Wheat, soy, gluten grains, refined sugar, chemical additives, high omega-6 oils, and trans fats. I like to call this group The 7 Deadly Foods because, from an evolutionary point-of-view, they are new to the human diet and (I believe) cause most of the diseases that plague Western societies.

Click here for larger image.
The main reason that I chose these seven foods is because they are associated with the negative consequences of the agricultural, industrial, and green revolutions. I will talk about these consequences in greater detail in a later post.  

Originally, when humans were hunter-gatherers, they ate a variety of meats, eggs, vegetables, and fruits. These early diets produced strong, healthy people.

About 10,000 years ago, a few humans in the Fertile Crescent started to cultivate wheat (and other grains), ushering in agriculture. While grains provided a storable form of food, it came at the expense of poor health and disease because it was a food that the human body was unfamiliar with. Although it took a while, grain-eating humans eventually adapted genetically to grains and figured out how to make them more nutritious and less toxic (through fermentation, sprouting, and soaking), allowing human health in these populations to eventually recover.

For thousands of years, human health wasn't too affected by older species of wheat (einkorn, emmer, and durum) because these species of wheat contained little gluten and were properly prepared. Then came the Green Revolution in the 1950s. A higher-yielding dwarf wheat was created to eliminate the many famines experienced at that time. This modern dwarf wheat slowly replaced the wheat traditionally grown and consumed for thousands of years.

Since then, wheat has been further modified to continue to increase its yield and baking qualities. An unfortunate consequence of all this modification was the creation of a wheat that now produces fewer nutrients and more gluten, starch, and lectin. Together, these three ingredients of modern wheat can cause: (1)
  • Autoimmune disease
  • A less robust gut barrier
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain syndromes
  • Increased appetite and hunger
  • Insulin resistance
  • Gut irritation
  • Leptin resistance
  • Poor nutrient absorption
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My New Blog: Mayo's Mind

What started as a simple 10-page diet and exercise program written for a friend struggling to pass his PT test has become the expansive Rapid PT blog (with over 60 posts) that you are reading now. Over the last year and a half, this blog has helped hundreds of people in the Air Force pass their PT test and encourage hundreds more to improve their health by simply changing their diet. And although many of my posts required a lot of exhaustive research, I never really thought of it as work.

But recently I have realized that I have used this blog as a place for me to talk more about disease prevention than passing the PT test. So, to re-focus the Rapid PT blog, I have revived an old blog called Mayo's Mind to talk about less PT-related topics. I will then start writing more posts on this blog that are specifically concerned with improving your push-ups, sit-ups, run times, and waist measurement.

And thanks again for making this blog as popular as it is. As always, if you know someone who is struggling with passing their PT test, please tell them about my 42-day program.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

17 Food Additives You Should NEVER Eat

I have just published a list of 17 chemical additives that you should completely avoid consuming on my Mayo's Mind Blog. Check it out!

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Can Inactivity Itself Cause Overeating?

I have just posted about how inactivity itself can cause overeating (and obesity) on my Mayo's Mind blog. Check it out!

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

How Leptin Resistance can Cause Obesity

I just posted on my Mayo's Mind blog about how I believe that malfunctioning feedback controls not only cause someone to be overweight, but also cause their brain to actively defend this abnormally heavy bodyweight, producing the familiar yo-yo like effect on bodyweight if they try to consciously restrict their calories (either through eating fewer calories, trying to "burn" off extra stored calories, or both). This could prevent someone from losing weight even if they are technically starving themselves. Check it out!

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lost 14 lbs and 2.5 Inches!


Figured I would drop you a line and say thank you for the information you put on your PT site. I started the program right after Thanksgiving and tested today, so I went a little over the 42 days. I moved to a desk job that allowed me to get lazy. Knowing that my PT test was coming soon I looked to your site for guidance. Well it worked, I dropped 14 pounds and 2.5" off my waist, my run could have been better but it was brutal cold for Mississippi (39 degrees) so I ended with a 13:04 run time (last week in the warm I was pushing 12:30s easy, way better then the 14s I was pushing in November). Sit-ups--I did 50--were a breeze; I could have done my push-ups, but I have profile due to bursitis in my elbow. Either way your "program" worked for me, with some "funky" type modifications. Just figured I would tell you of a success story.



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Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year's Resolution: Take Care of Your Health

For many of us, January 1st means getting excited about New Year's weight-loss resolutions.  Sadly, it often means being disappointed in ourselves later because we didn't follow through.  This year I propose a different approach:  Rather than resolving to lose weight, lets make the decision to improve our overall health!

Losing weight is great, but weighing less doesn't always mean being healthier.  I want to show you some simple steps you can take that will actually improve your health instead of just making the number on the scale smaller.  Rather than attacking your weight with some wacky diet and then seeing the boomerang effect on your scale a few months later, fix the problems in your body that cause weight gain in the first place.  The best part of it is, one of many happy side effects of improved health is weight loss!  So are self confidence boosts, improved attitude, more restful sleep, and lots more energy!

Make Realistic Goals and Be Committed to Change
Unfortunately, making resolutions is much easier than actually completing them. To improve your odds of success, only create a few goals, and set a time limit for when each goal should be completed. These two strategies can make achieving your goals easier and help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

To keep things simple, I'm going to suggest the least number of diet and lifestyle changes possible to make the greatest improvements in how you will feel every day. I promise you that once you get used to these changes, you'll never go back to your old unhealthy ways again!

Improve Your Diet
There seem to be many definitions of what a healthy diet is, making it hard to figure out exactly how to improve your diet. I've found that all effective diets have the following four things in common:
  • Limit added refined sugar intake to no more than 20-30 grams per day (this does not include sugars found naturally in fresh fruits and vegetables). Constant over-consumption of refined added sugars like table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup (and regular corn syrup), honey, agave, and maple syrup can cause chronic stress and reactive hypoglycemia (a spike and crash of blood sugar levels). (1) Both chronic stress and low blood sugar can cause INTENSE cravings for more foods with added sugar (which will temporarily elevate blood sugar), causing a never-ending cycle of constant sugar consumption. (2)

    The easiest way to reduce your intake of refined added sugars is to reduce or avoid soda, fruit juice, candy, and baked goods. Instead, try water and real food.
  • Avoid all wheat products. For most people, wheat causes all kinds of havoc in the body. Most of its destructive capacity is due to two proteins found in wheat: Gluten and wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). Gluten can cause poor nutrient absorption and inflammation. (3) WGA--which is an insecticide produced by wheat--can also cause inflammation, (4) as well as insulin resistance/sensitivity, (5) leptin resistance, (6) and altered gene expression. (7) In other words, wheat (and anything made with wheat) is really bad for your health.

    To avoid most of the wheat in your diet, remove all bread and pasta from your diet. If you like, you can replace these items with gluten-free versions (e.g., rice pasta).
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