The Fit Executive

The Fit Executive

Maybe It’s Time to Put Eggs Back on the Menu!

shutterstock_187896863In a recent article by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post writes “The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol,” ready to undo warnings dating back almost four decades!  This is amazing, groundbreaking stuff in the world of nutrition.

Key points (read more):
  • Eating foods high in cholesterol may not affect the cholesterol levels in your blood
  • An advisory panel:  cholesterol is no longer a “nutrient of concern”
  • Cholesterol has been considered a “nutrient of concern” since 1961
Our stance at Stark:  we’ve never been concerned about foods high in cholesterol.  As a matter of fact, we think cholesterol is delicious!

Play Enhances Stress Management and Performance

Lots of studies show that you perform better when you are happy and that play is actually a form of stress management. No surprise, right? If you look back historically, you’ll see that playtime has long been in the mix, dating back to the primal ages.

Playtime increases testosterone – even if all you’re doing is playing with your kids – because it disconnects you from your source of stress. So, if you are looking for better stress management and performance in your life, go out and have a little fun!

The other day I took some time out to play. I went kitesurfing and I have to tell you, it was an epic day on the water. Taking the waves with only two other kite surfers out, carving across in big sweeping motions, I was at the top of my game.

Only I wasn’t. I was catching air from a really big wave, enjoying the moment, when suddenly I realized I had a mild headache, bloodshot eyes and I needed to sneeze. I was sick in the middle of my play!

It was a wakeup call. Here I was getting some time to myself and I couldn’t enjoy it fully. You see lately I’ve been pretty religious about watching what I eat – especially about avoiding gluten – but the night before I blew it when eating out and I could feel it. I had a food hangover! Has that ever happened to you? If you are highly stressed over time and then eat a food that you are sensitive to, it’s like kryptonite!

The worst part about it is that I know how to keep it from happening. At Stark we use supplements to help boost performance, manage stress, and maintain health. Read the rest of this article to get tips on some that can help strengthen your immunity or join our podcasts on Stark Radio for more tips and health related discussions.

You’re Just Like a Navy Seal!

I was once a boy.  At a certain age in a boy’s life (very young), your index finger, a broom, the remote control, a loaf of french bread, your sister’s favorite Barbie, all become weapons:  swords, guns, rifles.  You’ve seen this phenomena with your own children those of others.  Somewhere deep down in most men, we’re all still warriors or knights or cowboys–deep down.  Some men are, in fact, ACTUAL warriors.
In recent months, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with some of them.  Like a special screwdriver in my tool box I purchased but never really needed, I was suddenly faced with the opportunity to utilize a part of my training I hoped (but, never really expected) to practice:  coaching tactical athletes:  Navy Seals, S.W.A.T., etc.
As most of you are aware, my company specializes in coaching executives, primarily CEO’s.  I was shocked to find that those tactical athletes are merely accelerated versions of CEO’s, from a stress vantage point.  They had all of the signs associated with high-levels of chronic stress:  sleep disruption, fatigue, inability to focus, decreased libido.  Because of their drive and discipline, they tend to push themselves harder when their bodies are telling them, “no more,” refusing to listen.
If that sounds familiar, I’m going to give you some very simple tips to help you control stress.  If you would like more detailed information on the stress connection to those symptoms, which are having an indirect impact on low testosterone levels (not just a male problem) and generally imbalanced sex hormones, link through to a blog I recently put together on adrenal glands.
To help control stress (and get your mojo back):
1) Sleep more (see this article from the Harvard Business Review on sleep issues and work performance).
2) Meditate during the day, or buy an EmWave to help you learn how to breath (essentially telling your body that you’re NOT about to get eaten by a lion, merely in a conflict with your teenage daughter).
3) DRINK MORE WATER!  Can this be any easier?  If your body is mostly water, and needs it to operate properly, begin dehydrated adds unneeded stress and can be emeliurated by consuming one-half of your body weight in ounces.

Eating for High Performance

You eat the healthy American diet starting with a breakfast of oatmeal with a little bit of brown sugar, fresh berries, some fresh juice and a cup of coffee.  By mid-morning, you’ll feel a bit sleepy–throw in a 2nd cup of joe and you’ll have no problem making it to lunch.  Ahh, lunch:  not much time to dilly dally.  How about a deli down the street for a tuna salad sandwich made with low-fat mayo and sprouts on whole wheat bread with a small bag of sun chips on the side?  Then, after a long day at work, you’ll walk in the door, grab a glass of wine, and unwind to a much heavier meal:  dinner.  Maybe a steak; maybe a salmon filet or a vegetarian meal?  If you’re a health nut you’ll have poultry or fish, maybe some brown rice or quinoa (or, avoid the carbs altogether if you’re concerned with your waist line), and a nice garden-fresh salad with your favorite dressing.  If that was your day, how would you think you did, nutritionally speaking?  I can practically hear the collective “great” coming from the masses.
Then, you wake up the next morning to see your mirrored image staring back:  the disappointing reflection is you–plus twenty pounds.  The voice in your head says, “You just need to eat a little less; get to the gym more then just twice a week; put in another hour of cardio on the treadmill.”  In summary, you believe you should work harder and eat less.  And, so some of you do, and yet still experience that disappointing glare back in the mirror.  What is the problem?  Here’s the final statement coming from the same voice in your head:  “Well, you’re getting older.”
Now, I’m not going to be able to delve into the many ways that last statement is wrong, or in fact, how many possible solutions there are to suddenly shed that disappointing weight.  However, a great place to start is by, simply, managing your blood sugar.  It will streamline your energy levels, help you remain awake when you need it most, and help you sleep when you need that too.  Much of that can come from timing your intake of macro nutrients:  protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Foods which cause a spike in blood sugar trigger an insulin response which then causes sleepiness.  Sleepiness is a great thing right before you go to bed, right?  So eat foods which cause a rise in blood sugar at dinner or shortly thereafter.  Eat foods which don’t cause sleepiness throughout the rest of the day.  Both carbohydrates and fats are easily converted to energy by the body.  Of the two, fats cause the smallest rise in blood sugar.  One more detail:  separate those two energy sources.  In other words, don’t eat carbohydrates and fats in the same meal, if possible.  A meal high in fat with only vegetables as a source of carbohydrates is great in the morning or throughout the day; a meal low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates in the evening is effective in helping you calm down and sleep more soundly.
Managing your energy levels are a key catalyst to reaching your health and fitness goals.  High energy through the day will make you more likely to exercise.  Sound sleep will help you manage stress levels more effectively as well as experience the greatest recovery possible (when all of the muscle is built and the fat lost) from your exercise regime. Further, when your insulin crashes after your heavy carb dinner and you sleep well, you’ll have the highest likelihood of naturally boosting your growth hormone levels.
Here are some basic meal examples of how to practice macro-nutrient timing:
Breakfast:  3 – 6 oz protein for women, 5 – 7 oz for men, (eggs or anything that runs, flies or swims) and a 1/2 cup of nuts or avocado (this is the fat source)
Lunch:  3 – 6 oz protein for women, 5 – 7 oz for men, 2 cups of vegetables, and a 1/2 cup of nuts or avocado
Dinner:  3 – 6 oz protein for women, 5 – 7 oz for men, 1 cup of vegetables, and 1 cup of complex carbs
In summary, practice macro-nutrient timing, and you’ll find that mirrored image staring back isn’t so disappointing after all.

Metabolic Damage

Metabolic Damage is most commenly found in women who have gone to extreme measures to make themselves very lean, like fitness competitors for example, and once the competition has ended their metabolism completely shuts down. Because the metabolism has shut down, fat storage goes way up and no matter what they are trying nothing will work to return the body to it’s once shredded state. The metabolism is totally fried.

Here are some of the factors we look at to determine how far gone they are:

  • Digestion
  • Adrenal Health
  • Sex hormone production
  • Cortisol levels
  • The types of training they were doing for their competition

If you want to hear more about this check out our podcast! 

Or check out this video!

It’s your health, MAN UP!

Fats. Do They Make You Fatter?

Because fat’s are the most caloric dense food, it is often believed that they will make you fatter if you eat them. Seeing that we are non-believers in the calories in/calories out method, we just aren’t buying it that they do.

Why? Because it’s about the hormonal impact not the caloric value. Every type of food we ingest has a different impact on our hormones and our hormones ultimately dictate the way we look.

Brad and Todd discuss further here


It’s your health, MAN UP!

The Highs and Lows of Sugar and Your Liver

Today’s topic is all about the sweet stuff; the stuff we crave every single day:  sugar. Below are some great reasons to give sugar up, altogether.  In dealing with the withdrawal symptoms around the gym, it’s no easy task; but, it’s really worth it. If you want to get healthy, feel and look better, give it up. Trust us. It’s worth it!

  • Giving up sugar will help you sleep at night.
  • It’s extremely addictive.
  • It can bog down your liver, tremendously, which will impact your bodies ability to metabolize fat.
  • A blood sugar crash gives you that sleepy after lunch feeling, which is virtually eliminated on a sugar-free diet

There are a hundred other reasons to give up the sweet stuff. If you want to find out more, check out our podcast on sugar.


It’s your health, MAN UP!

Stress and Blood Pressure

Ever wonder how the daily stressors of life can impact your blood pressure? Or if there are ways that you can lower both without taking prescribed medication? Well, keep reading to find out the answer to both.

The first thing to understand is that the adrenal glands are the real factor behind blood pressure and stress being intertwined. That being said, when you become stressed, sodium fluid levels become off in-turn elevating blood pressure. The good news is that you don’t have to run off to the Doc for the latest and greatest meds to lower these levels.

Here are some tips on how you can naturally lower both.

  • Take some magnesium caps before you go to sleep. We also us a cream to rub behind your legs before bed that we’ve found to be more effective.
  • Meditate. Try to start with 10 minutes a day and work up from there. It’s important to make time for this. To clear your head.
  • Most importantly, HYDRATE! Water is king here. Half your body weight in ounces. Yes, everyday.

That’s it. t’s your health, man up!

Blood Pressure and Stress video

My Sweet Mistress

“Rats will work for sugar water the same way they will work for cocaine. We need to take addictions seriously.”  Dr. Daniel Amen

My name is Todd Vande Hei, and I’m a sugaraholic.  Even though I’m in the health industry, I still struggle to avoid certain foods. . . . for me, it’s sugar.  I know this is a common battle amongst many; for me, I’ve been able to limit it but found myself gorging on natural foods with lots of sweets because I was attempting to keep myself from doing the same with processed sugar.

It’s really all the same.

A couple of times a week, as per my prescribed nutrition program, I would “cheat.”  My go-to food was ice cream.  Ah, ice cream.  The next day I would, inevitably, have a slight headache and look a bit puffy.  I thought it was a minor intolerance to dairy.  A few weeks ago I had a blood test done (MRT LEAP test) to check for my food sensitivities of which there are many.  The one, which really hit hard, was fructose.

For those unaware, fructose is the type of sugar found naturally in many foods, primarily fruit.  Because that food is so far reaching, I called the lab expecting them to tell me I had to avoid high-fructose corn syrup—nasty stuff; hyper-sweet, low calorie, processed food.  The lovelylady on the other end of the call explained that, no, it was ALL fructose.  You see, every time I eat fructose, according to the test, my body responds with inflammation.  That can cause a variety of symptoms.  For me, it was a mildly uncomfortable headache.  Not much fun.

As I started to consider the ramifications of avoiding fructose, I did some reading on this delicious yet deviant food (I’ll now refer to it as my mistress).  My mistress seems to be everywhere.  Speaking ever so softly, like the devil you carry around on your shoulder she is witty, persuasive, all knowing.  Found not only in fruit, but all things sweet, she is a component of sucrose (table sugar).  Think in terms of avoiding ALL processed foods with some form of sweetener.  Think about avoiding all of those wonderful NATURAL sweeteners like honey, and maple syrup (my mouth is now watering).  If it’s sweet, my mistress is there, beckoning you, ready to be devoured.  ALL FOODS THAT ARE SWEET!

Like buying a new car, and suddenly seeing that same car pop up in traffic, everywhere, my awareness of sweet things is now in a heightened state.  Enjoying slices of raw bell peppers last night (green and red), the red actually tasted sweeter.  Technically a fruit, has my mistress been there, dusting even the bell pepper with her magic?  And what about the tomato—considered by most a vegetable, but technically a fruit?  Yes and yes!

Where do I draw the line?  How faithful am I to be to the cause?  Am I to be partially pregnant with this crusade?  No!  Well, yes.  I’ve decided that it’s ok to enjoy foods where she’s only a mere memory, a shade of her once powerful and virile self:  bell peppers, tomatoes, avocados, etc.  If I can’t taste her sweetness, I’ve found I don’t find myself at the bottom of that slippery slope; at the empty bag of gluten-free ginger snaps or the shiny, wet bottom of a pint of Chubby Hubby Ice Cream, only to search the kitchen for more.

Goodbye to her forever!  We’ve broken up.  As a slap in the face, she’s left me with weeks of pain:  missing her (mostly at night), depression, anxiety, fatigue, and headaches.  It has been just over a week without her, and I’m now just a shadow of my old self with only sheer determination and the hope of being a better man for my wife, my children and my business.  According to the experts, those symptoms may last as long as a few weeks and may also disrupt your sleep.  The reasons?  There are many; however, to sum it up, it’s like a drug addiction, as Dr. Amen put it.  As such, I decided to cut her out of my life completely.  Be tough about it.  The “manly” approach.  That may not be the wisest course of action, considering the withdrawal symptoms.  You may prefer a more systematic approach:  ditch the processed foods, and then go for the natural versions you’ll find in maple syrup, honey and high-glycemic fruit.  For me, I’m trying to break myself of the memory of her sweetness, or at least to not crave her so.

Although, I’ve given my mistress a firm “good bye,” I still find her in my thoughts:  at a traffic light, while reading, certainly while cooking, at work, doing homework with the kids.  She’s just a whisper now, but still powerful:  “indulge—I will help raise your serotonin levels; your growth hormone production will increase if you have me in the evenings; I’ll wake your thyroid up, just a little; you’ll be able to stop this time; you need to put a little bit of weight on; you need to replenish the glycogen stores in your muscles; a little 85% cocoa organic dark chocolate won’t hurt; it’s the weekend; or, it’s Monday.”  She is relentless using all of the logic, all of my knowledge and expertise against me, trying to justify rekindling my relationship.  The truth is, I want her back, even though I know she’s not good for me.

That’s where you, my friends, come in.  I need community support.  “Alone you go quickly; together we go far,” I can’t recall the author in my lack-o-sugar withdrawal induced fog, but it was certainly not me.

Help!  Let’s build some walls to keep her out; she’s after us all!  I know I’m not alone.    The rules are here:

  • 30 days, starting April 1(start slow or jump in like me)
  • No natural high-glycemic foods like honey or maple syrup
  • No sugar substitutes
  • No fruit juices

So, let’s get together, share our victories, support each other through defeats.  Post your thoughts, how you feel, share your ideas.  Below are some great reasons for you to seize the day and man up!

78 Reasons to Avoid Sugar

Straight from the writings of Dr. Victor Frank, founder/creator of Total Body Modification, here are 78 reasons to avoid sugar.

1. Sugar can suppress the immune system.

2. Sugar can upset the body’s mineral balance.

3. Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.

4. Sugar can drowsiness and decreased activity in children.

5. Sugar can adversely affect children’s school grades.

6. Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.

7. Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.

8. Sugar can cause kidney damage.

9. Sugar can reduce helpful high density cholesterol.

10. Sugar can promote an elevation of harmful cholesterol.

11. Sugar may lead to chromium deficiency.

12. Sugar may cause copper deficiency.

13. Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.

14. Sugar may lead to cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, and rectum.

15. Sugar can cause colon cancer with an increased risk in women.

16. Sugar can be a risk factor in gall bladder cancer.

17. Sugar can increase fasting levels of blood glucose.

18. Sugar can weaken eyesight.

19. Sugar raises the level of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which can narrow blood vessels.

20. Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.

21. Sugar can produce acidic stomach.

22. Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.

23. Sugar can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.

24. Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and gray hair.

25. Sugar can lead to alcoholism.

26. Sugar can produce tooth decay.

27. Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.

28. High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

29. Sugar can case a raw, inflamed intestinal tract in person with gastric or duodenal ulcers.

30. Sugar can cause arthritis.

31. Sugar can cause asthma.

32. Sugar can cause candidiasis (yeast infection).

33. Sugar can lead to the formation of gallstones.

34. Sugar can lead to the formation of kidney stones.

35. Sugar can cause ischemic heart disease.

36. Sugar can cause appendicitis.

37. Sugar can exacerbate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

38. Sugar can indirectly cause hemorrhoids.

39. Sugar can cause varicose veins.

40. Sugar can elevate glucose and insulin responses in oral contraception users.

41. Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.

42. Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.

43. Sugar contributes to saliva acidity.

44. Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.

45. Sugar leads to a decreased glucose tolerance.

46. Sugar can decrease growth hormone.

47. Sugar can increase total cholesterol.

48. Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.

49. Sugar can change the structure of protein causing interference with protein absorption.

50. Sugar causes food allergies.

51. Sugar can contribute to diabetes.

52. Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.

53. Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.

54. Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.

55. Sugar can impair the structure of DNA.

56. Sugar can cause cataracts.

57. Sugar can cause emphysema.

58. Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.

59. Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.

60. Sugar lowers the enzymes’ abilities to function.

61. Sugar can cause the loss of tissue elasticity and function.

62. Sugar can cause liver cells to divide, increasing the size of the liver.

63. Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.

64. Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.

65. Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.

66. Sugar can increase the body’s fluid retention.

67. Sugar can cause constipation.

68. Sugar can cause myopia (nearsightedness).

69. Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.

70. Sugar can cause hypertension.

71. Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.

72. Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha, and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind’s ability to think clearly.

73. Sugar can cause depression.

74. Sugar can increase insulin responses in those consuming high-sugar diets compared to low-sugar diets.

75. Sugar increases bacterial fermentation in the colon.

76. Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance.

77. Sugar can increase blood platelet adhesiveness, which increases risk of blood clots.

78. Sugar can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Macronutrient Timing for Higher Energy Levels

Do you want to have higher energy levels and better brain function throughout the day? Get your macronutrient timing (when and what you eat) down and you’ll feel and see the effects it has.

Through the use of macronutrient timing, we are able to get our clients to perform better, sleep more soundly, and even train harder. Another one of the key benefits of this type of nutrition program is that it actually stabilizes your blood sugar which is the foundation reaping the benefits of MT. Basically what I’m telling you is, you gotta EARN your carbs.

Without any type of physical activity and the ingestion of carbohydrates the likeliness of  you getting fat is…well, it’s really high. That being said, we arrive at one of the largest misconceptions in the “diet” world. Eating carbs first thing in the morning. Lets say a big bowl of oatmeal with some bananas on it is a great way to start your day, right?  Yeah, if your day ends two hours after you ate that oatmeal and bananas because you are going to want to go right back to bed. Why you ask? Because your insulin just spiked and crashed before you even got to your second cup of joe and dare I say it, you’re toast.

The way we have our clients start their day and wake those sleepy brains is with some good fats and protein. This not only helps fuel the brain for the day, but also will stabilize your blood sugar at the same time and you’ll be setting your self up for the rest of the day.

From there, we keep it pretty simple with a paleo style lunch of protein and vegetables which will keep your blood sugar stable and brain active. Come dinner time, assuming you’ve had your workout by now it’s time to help your body calm down with some carbs.

Because of the fact your insulin goes up when you consume carbohydrates and will crash back down shortly after having them with dinner is a perfect way to end your day, not how to begin it.

All of this being said, we’re not the carb police over here, but have found that if you time them appropriately, they’re your best friend. Get it wrong though and you’ll wish you had another month to get ready for summer.

Macronutrient Timing Video.

Man up! It’s your health!