5 Cholesterol Myths and What to Eat Instead

There's a bit of an over-emphasis (borderline obsession) about cholesterol in the media and when we talk with our doctor.

He always tells us to get our numbers lower, right?

Before blindly swallowing a red or blue pill to make that happen, it's important to understand the why and what.

Let's jump into some myths of what exactly cholesterol is.

 

Myth #1: “Cholesterol” is cholesterol

While cholesterol is an actual molecule what it is bound to while it's floating through your blood is what's more important than just how much of it there is overall. In fact depending on what it's combined with can have opposite effects on your arteries and heart. Yes, opposite!

So cholesterol is just one component of a compound that floats around your blood. These compounds contain cholesterol as well as fats and special proteins called “lipoproteins”.

They're grouped into two main categories:

HDL: High Density Lipoprotein (AKA “good” cholesterol) that “cleans up” some of those infamous “arterial plaques” and transports cholesterol back to the liver.

LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein (AKA “bad” cholesterol) that transports cholesterol from the liver (and is the kind found to accumulate in arteries and become easily oxidized hence their “badness”).

And yes, it's even more complicated than this. Each of these categories is further broken down into subcategories which can also be measured in a blood test.

So “cholesterol” isn't simply cholesterol because it has very different effects on your body depending on which other molecules it's bound to in your blood and what it is actually doing there.

 

Myth #2: Cholesterol is bad

Cholesterol is absolutely necessary for your body to produce critical things like vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, your sex hormones (e.g. estrogen and testosterone), as well as bile to help you absorb dietary fats. Not to mention that it's incorporated into the membranes of your cells.

Talk about an important molecule!

The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood (AKA “total cholesterol”) isn't nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood.

While way too much LDL cholesterol as compared with HDL (the LDL:HDL ratio) may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease it is absolutely not the only thing to consider for heart health.

 

Myth #3: Eating cholesterol increases your bad cholesterol

Most of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your liver. It's actually not from the cholesterol you eat. Why do you think cholesterol medications block an enzyme in your liver (HMG Co-A reductase, to be exact)? 'Cause that's where it's made!

What you eat still can affect how much cholesterol your liver produces. After a cholesterol-rich meal your liver doesn't need to make as much.

 

Myth #4: Your cholesterol should be as low as possible

As with almost everything in health and wellness there's a balance that needs to be maintained. There are very few extremes that are going to serve you well.

People with too-low levels of cholesterol have increased risk of death from other non-heart-related issues like certain types of cancers, as well as suicide.

Myth #5: Drugs are the only way to get a good cholesterol balance

Don't start or stop any medications without talking with your doctor.

And while drugs can certainly lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol they don't seem to be able to raise the “good” HDL cholesterol all that well.

Guess what does?

Nutrition and exercise, baby!

One of the most impactful ways to lower your cholesterol with diet is to eat lots of fruits and veggies. I mean lots, say up to 10 servings a day. Every day.

Don't worry the recipe below should help you add at least another salad to your day.

You can (should?) also exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, and eat better quality fats. That means fatty fish, avocados and olive oil. Ditch those over-processed hydrogenated “trans” fats.

 

Summary:

The science of cholesterol and heart health is complicated and we're learning more every day. You may not need to be as afraid of it as you are. And there is a lot you can do from a nutrition and lifestyle perspective to improve your cholesterol level.

 

Recipe (Dressing to go with your salad): Orange Hemp Seed Dressing

Makes about ¾ cup

½ cup hemp seeds

½ cup orange juice

1 clove of garlic, peeled

dash salt and/or pepper

Blend all ingredients together until creamy.

Serve on top of your favorite salad and Enjoy!

Tip: Store extra in airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for about a week.

 

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cholesterol

http://summertomato.com/how-to-raise-your-hdl-cholesterol

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-9-biggest-lies-about-dietary-fat-and-cholesterol/

1 TIP To Make Your Kettlebell Swing and Snatch Easier

One of the foundational Kettlebell movements is the Swing. The King of Kettlebell movements is called the Snatch. Both of these movements are linked to one another and when performed properly they each definitely give you pretty amazing results. I've seen people, even trainers, butcher exercising with Kettlebells with horrific form and this leads unsuspecting public to follow suit. The Kettlebell is an amazing fitness tool that delivers some pretty impressive results, but when used incorrectly it could harm you with injuries.

In this video I teach you an important efficiency tip to make it easier for you so you can quickly reap all the Kettlebell rewards.

Try a Kettlebell class: http://SynergyKettlebell.com

Synergy Rope Climb Challenge

Peak Obstacle Course Racing, aka OCR, season is quickly approaching and now is the time to start working on and refining your rope climb technique. Even an OCR isn't your thing... we designed this challenge for Beginners, Intermediates, and Veterans in mind so everyone benefits.

All month long, we’re challenging ourselves to get stronger and more confident climbing up the rope!

 

ROPE CLIMBING TECHNIQUES

Of course modifications are absolutely allowed and there are various climbing techniques you can use. See the chart below showcasing just a few variations of rope climb positioning. With any technique, the goal should be to use your legs as much as possible to get up the rope without depending on upper body strength.

 

 

 

Here are climbing examples of each technique:

S-Wrap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nabqer0ptaY

J-Hook: https://youtu.be/0uw4Aq3ABqY

Crossfit: https://www.facebook.com/michelle.bang.5/videos/10154700902649965/

 

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

Choose which level to start at according to your fitness ability. Each day you are at the gym or have access to a rope, complete the exercises listed in the chart for that corresponding week. Every week the exercises will progress in difficulty to help build strength and confidence for your rope climbs.

BEGINNER: Start at this level if you are new to working out and have limited upper body strength. This progression is great for beginners and because your feet never leave the floor.  Week 4 DOES NOT finish with a complete rope climb. 

INTERMEDIATE: Start at this level if you have decent upper body strength and coordination, but are limited due to fear of heights, shoulder injuries or other limiting circumstances. This progression DOES NOT finish with a complete rope climb in Week 4.

VETERAN: Start at this level if you have good upper body strength and coordination, exercise regularly, but have not yet learned how to climb a rope or are a beginning climber. Even if you can already climb a rope successfully, these exercises will help strengthen and master your skill. This progression DOES finish with a complete rope climb in Week 4.

 

EXERCISE HOW-TO’s

Lay to Stand Climbs: Start laying on the floor, legs straight out in front of you, rope hanging between your legs. Pull yourself up the rope to a standing position, trying to keep your legs as straight as possible. Lower yourself down, hand over hand, with the same straight leg posture. Ex. https://youtu.be/926H-gvXQuU

 

Leg Wraps/Leg Positioning: Practicing this exercise will help develop the muscle memory for the actual rope climb. Stand behind (or next to if practicing the j-hook) the rope, lift your dominant leg up high like a tuck and practice your preferred rope positioning while keeping non-dominant foot on the floor.

 

Hanging Rope Tucks: Standing behind the rope, reach as high as possible and grab onto the rope. Let your feet leave the floor and pull your knees to your chest like a hanging knee to elbow exercise.

 

Rope Pull-ups: Standing behind the rope, reach as high as possible and grab onto the rope, making sure your palms and insides of your wrists are facing toward you. Pull yourself up like you would for a close grip chin up on a bar.

 

Hanging Leg Wraps: Standing behind the rope, reach as high as possible and grab onto the rope, release your legs from the floor, tuck your dominant leg to your chest and proceed to practice your preferred wrap/clamp technique with that same leg while hanging.

 

Rope Clamp & Stand: Immediately following 1 rep of “hanging leg wrap” exercise, before coming off the rope, complete the move by taking your non-dominant foot and clamping the rope between your feet securely enough so that you are able to stand up on the rope. You should now be hanging about a foot or so above the ground.

Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

Sometimes those holiday feasts are just amazing, but it’s not just the holidays that get us.

We always have an abundance of delicious food around us and likely also people we want to hang with too!

It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on certain days like the weekends, birthdays, or parties.

But it doesn't always stop there.

Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time.

Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.

(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

 

Tip #1: Start With Some Water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it's too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.

But did you know that it's possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.

Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten. And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (...just sayin').

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.

Win-win!

 

Tip #2: Try Eating “Mindfully”

You've heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?

This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.

Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.

Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savoring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.

When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.

So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

 

Tip #3: Start With a Salad or Green Smoothie

 

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.

But don't start there.

(Don't worry, you can have some...just after you've eaten your salad or drank your green smoothie).

Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they're full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phyto-chemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.

Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They're “satiating”.

And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you're about to indulge in a large meal.

 

Summary:

Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.

Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas

If you're not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water: Slices of lemon & ginger Slices of strawberries & orange Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick Chopped pineapple & mango Blueberries & raspberries

Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning. They're already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.

 

References: https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal/

Raw Carmel Brownie Bites

Here is a super amazing shareable dessert I found on the Vedge. We will blend up a gooey, authentic tasting [but less guilty] caramel center – which has an amazing creamy and soft texture. I could eat this caramel forever and never be tired of it. True Story! And what would a raw dessert be without some kind of chocolate? (Hey, the brownie part doesn’t count!) A creamy chocolate mixture to top it all off!

I think you are going to make A LOT of friends with these little slices of heaven. So share!!!

Raw carmel bites

 

This decadent raw treat has 3 different desserts combined into one amazingly delicious, gooey, chocolatey, caramely dessert heaven! Oh boy enjoy!!
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Prep time
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Serves: 12 large slices

INGREDIENTS

Brownie Base:
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts, soaked overnight
  • ⅓ cup cacao powder
  • 1 cup medjool dates (about 12), pitted
Caramel Filling:
  • 1½ cups medjool dates (about 18), pitted
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1½ cups full fat coconut milk or cream from a can
  • ½ cup almond butter, macadamia butter, cashew butter or other nut butter
  • 1 Tbsp mesquite powder
  • 1 Tbsp lucuma powder (optional)
  • pinch of salt
Chocolate Topping:
  • ¼ cup full fat coconut milk or cream (whatever is left from the can from the caramel filling)
  • ½ cup date soak water or maple syrup
  • ½ - ⅔ cup cacao powder
  • ¼ cup coconut oil

METHOD

Make the Brownie Base:
  1. Prepare a square 7" x 7" pan or container, and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, combine the pecans and cacao powder and process into a flour. Add the medjool dates and process into a dough.
  3. Press the brownie base into the pan using the base of your hands. Set aside.
Make the Caramel Filling:
  1. Put the pitted medjool dates in a small bowl and pour ½ cup of boiling water over them. Leave them to sit and soften for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining caramel filling ingredients in a high speed blender (I use aVitaMix).
  3. Drain the medjool dates, gently squeeze out the excess water. Add the dates to the blender and set aside the date soak water.
  4. Blend the mix, using the tamper stick as needed. Be careful blending this as it's a very thick mixture, working up the speed slowly, use the tamper stick, and if you're having trouble blending it add some more liquid like water or coconut oil.
  5. Once the mixture is blended smooth, pour over the brownie base. Use a spatula to smooth the top. Set aside the pan in the freezer.
Make the Chocolate Topping:
  1. In a high speed blender, combine the chocolate topping ingredients. If you don't have ½ cup date soak water left, add more maple syrup to bring it to ½ cup.
  2. Blend until smooth, and pour over the caramel filling the pan. Use a spatula to smooth the top.
  3. Leave it to set in the freezer for at least a few hours, overnight is ideal. I like to keep it in the freezer, but if you want it a little bit softer store it in the fridge.
  4. Slice and enjoy!

Slow Motion Long Cycle by Coach Bob Garon

In this video I show you in slow motion the Kettlebell lift called Long Cycle. Quite simply it is the Clean and Jerk using a Kettlebell. Watch as I break down the macro components of this lift into smaller details. Of course there are minor technical components that I left out, but will visit those in another video.

For more Kettlebell technique videos visit my Youtube page or my website: http://www.bobgarontraining.com/kettlebell-technique-video/

HOW TO TRAIN FOR A SPARTAN RACE WITHOUT KILLING YOURSELF! PART I

IMG_1708 My article has been published and is now live for your reading pleasure on the My Mad Methods website.

If you're ready to hit a Spartan Race, but don't know how to train for it, this article is for you. Learn the 5 stages of training you need to work up to, and recover from, your next Spartan Race competition.

READ HERE NOW: http://www.mymadmethods.com/articles/conditioning-articles/item/how-to-train-for-a-spartan-race-not-kill-yourself-part-i