The Naked Truth About Running
A few years ago, an extremely well known and well respected strength and conditioning coach named Mike Boyle wrote a scathing article about why women shouldn’t be running. The running community, particularly female runners, went on to write passionate reviews about why running had saved them and how running is the most amazing form of exercise. Mike Boyle was bashed for being misogynistic and he eventually took down the article. The problem is, Mike was on to something, and we would be wise to listen to his advice.
I feel that it is my professional obligation to explain the facts. Please know that I write this from a place of love and concern and not because I am anti-feminine or a hater of runners. What is written here is based on my personal research and experience with clients. I hope that after reading this you will feel that you can make an empowered decision about your health. I always say that we should chose a form of exercise that is fun for us. I understand that many women run because they love it. There are some women who love running and thrive doing it and so, I do not want to discourage a good thing. However, for a majority of us, running can be problematic.
First, and probably the primary reason Mike Boyle got in trouble, was that he was a little snarky about female bodies. The fact is that we have wider hips than men. This isn’t misogynistic, this is an anatomical fact. Boyle pointed out that the most successful runners, which he defined as those that were proficient in speed, form, and mechanics, had narrow hips like men. You can google images of professional marathon runners and see what he meant. I can see how women may have found this offensive and also how it was taken out of context. After all, not all women are running to be professionals. Most runners are running to get fit or to reduce stress.
The fact is that women’s hips are wider than our knees. This line from hip to knee is known as the Q angle. Boyle presented the idea that this Q angle is responsible for an increase in injuries in women. However, a few studies have been done since to suggest that it may not be the Q angle so much as general deconditioning that promotes injuries in both men and women. Most likely you have heard of runners with “runners knee”, IT band syndrome, meniscus tears, cartilage being worn down, lower back pain, shin splints, and hip replacements. These are all very common running injuries for both men and women however, women are often at a higher risk for reasons that are not completely clarified at this time. If you do have wide hips, be cautious and be sure to have a specific program for conditioning to avoid potential problems. Running is generally tough on the joints and is thus, not a sustainable sport. For those women who routinely run and do not have injuries, it may simply be a matter of time before they show up.
But you say, “I could never give up running because it makes me feel awesome!” Running increases our feel good hormones like endorphins. This increase leads to what is known as the runners high; a state of euphoria felt by athletes. After taking a run you feel energized and raring to go. While your brain is feeling amazing after a run, your internal levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, are creeping up. The longer the run, the more likely this hormone will continue to increase. According to Chris Kresser, author and Integrative Medicine Practitioner, “Certain high-intensity exercise routines may push the body’s stress response too far, leading to a cascade of biochemical responses that can cause serious damage to one’s health in both the short and long term.”
Most likely you are already being exposed to huge amounts of cortisol due to your busy lifestyle and the pressure of keeping up with work and family life. This constant state of “fight or flight” can lead to chronic adrenal fatigue which has been associated with numerous health risks. Essentially, when your body is stressed it shuts down all other activities in order to focus attention on dealing with the stress. Kresser states, “Chronically high levels of cortisol can increase your risk for a variety of health issues, such as sleep disturbances, digestive issues, depression, weight gain, and memory impairment. Excess cortisol also encourages fat gain, particularly around the abdomen.” Additionally, as women, we have to be aware that the“fight or flight” response created by our adrenal glands reduces our progesterone levels. Progesterone is used up during the process of creating the stress hormones. This means we can be low in progesterone and according to Dr. Len Lopez, “[low progesterone] is one of the primary reasons some women are having a hard time with infertility and miscarriages; they don’t have enough progesterone available to conceive or maintain a pregnancy. “
Not only does cortisol promote weight gain and other dysfunction within the body but it can also decrease your bodies ability to lose weight. Since many people run as a form of weight management this cortisol increase is literally undoing that intention. The increased cortisol levels will limit your ability to loose weight no matter how many calories your heart rate monitor is measuring.
(I want to make a quick side note here about calorie counting. Many people run because they feel it is the best form of exercise for blasting calories. Calorie counting, as a concept, is ludicrous. It is inaccurate because all calories are not created equal; i.e. 100 calories of jelly beans verses 100 calories of almonds are received and processed differently by your beautifully designed body. Secondly, the calorie counters on machines are almost always inaccurate and heart monitors are not much better. Additionally, If you were to run an entire marathon, thats 26 miles, you would only burn off about one cheese burger and fries. You can run for 26 miles and not burn 3500 calories which means you would not burn one pound of fat! That is 26 miles! An average of 5 hours of continuous running! Take a second to wrap your brain around that! )
Also, running will almost always boost your appetite and increase your desire for carbohydrates. Your body will crave carbohydrates because it is an easy form of energy. The enormous amount of energy loss during running will trigger an increased desire to eat. You may be thinking, “what about my friend who is a super lean runner?” Well there are always exceptions and we process carbohydrates differently based our genetics. The rare woman who does get super lean from running, and extreme athletes, often have hormone issues and loss of menstrual period due to decreased estrogen and loss of body fat. Again, this can lead to fertility problems, low libido, and other gynecological issues. Treating exercise as the primary method of weight loss is dangerous. I often tell my clients that anyone can out-eat any type of exercise program that I create. We have been conditioned to think that exercise will lead to shedding pounds and that more is better. This is simply not true. Exercise can be an assister but food is the primary determiner of weight loss.
Sadly, the biggest benefit you gain out of running long distances is getting better at running for a long time. You will most likely not loose weight, you may end up injured, and in the long term you may have health concerns pop up such as difficultly conceiving and other cortisol related issues. But, there is a solution. I want you to exercise! So here are my top tips for what type of exercise to do based on the primary concerns I have heard from clients:
1.) You believe that you have to do 45 minutes of cardio. This concept is SO 1977, literally! Back in 1977, Jim Fixx, a marathon runner and author wrote The Complete Book of Running. Fixx popularized the concept of anaerobic verse aerobic exercise. Science is now pointing to the idea that physiologically, anaerobic conditioning will have aerobic benefits. This means that an anaerobic exercise like a sprint will increase your aerobic strength and conditioning. Additionally, anaerobic exercises are easier on the joints, promote healthy metabolism, and boost lean muscle growth. I’d like you to consider the concept that Tim Ferris calls the “minimum effective dose.” In order for exercise to be effective, less is often more productive. For example, 8 minutes of high intensity intervals such as Tabata training are more beneficial than slow and steady cardio according to Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata, who discovered intervals to be equally if not more effective at cardiovascular conditioning and increasing metabolic rate.
2) Running gives you a place to think and get away from it all. Try rowing. Rowing reduces pounding on the joints. However, like running, rowing has the same deep breathing pattern and is a full body exercise. Also, if you need a place to think, create some space for yourself to do a meditation. Apps such as Mindify and Buddhify have helped me to think more clearly, lower my stress level, and even come up with creative ideas.
3) You love the runners high. Try doing plyometric exercises like squat jumps, push ups, sprints, mountain climbers, lateral runs, kettle bell swings, box jumps, and lateral hops. If you don’t feel awesome after a workout like this, then you weren’t pushing hard enough. An intense plyometric session should never last more than 30 minutes and should be done no more than 4 times per week. Keep in mind that adequate recovery time is as important as the exercise type and time engaged. Be sure to get adequate sleep and days off from your exercise routine.
4) You love the cool factor of doing a marathon. People love a good marathon. There is so much fan fare around this sport that it is hard not to want to get involved. Consider doing a different type of measurable sport such as a Tough Mudder. And if you enjoy the community aspect of running, consider joining other fitness related communities. MeetUp.com is a great place to find like-minded fitness friends to workout with and do group challenges with.
I hope that this information served you. Please leave a comment in the comment section below with any questions or concerns about running and I will be happy to assist you.
Allison Vernon Thompson is dedicated to exposing the naked truth about health and wellness. She is the creator of Our Naked Life, an online community dedicated to celebrating, motivating, and educating women on our path to vibrant energetic health. She works one-on-one with clients in Tribeca, New York. Allison holds a BFA in Dance Performance with an emphasis in Kinesiology. She is a board certified Health Coach, certified personal trainer, and Pilates mat instructor.COMMENT
2 Awesome Solutions for Low Progesterone Blues
I experiment on myself a lot. In fact, I’ve been experimenting since I was in my late teens. Not only do my friends come to me for advice on food, hormones and their periods, but they also get to hear all about the different (sometimes out there!) healing modalities I’ve tried. Most of them are amused by my misadventures in health and some of them probably think I’m a little nuts too!
Fast forward to today and I’m still bio-hacking (this is a term I learned from my mentor Dr. Sara Gottfried) which basically means trying new foods/supplements to see what works and what doesn’t to create awesome health. The last two months I’ve been doing two things and I CANNOT believe the results.
A little background: Many of you struggle with painful periods and PMS symptoms like depression and anxiety. There are also a bunch of you who are dealing with a short luteal phase – this occurs when your the second half of your cycle between ovulation and your period is less than 10 days long. Ideally it should be closer to 14 days long. In almost every case I see (including myself) all of these issues stem from low progesterone. Earlier this year I tested my hormones and my progesterone was on the lower side. I’ve tried quite a few things and nothing was working as well as I’d hoped. Well, that all changed a couple months ago and I can’t wait to tell you about it!
Here’s what I tried:
1. Saffron - yes that bright-colored spice you put in paella dishes. I bet you’re probably rolling your eyes already but bear with me. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years so don’t be too quick to dismiss it! I learned about saffron’s superpowers awhile back but was skeptical (just like you!) even though studies prove saffron’s effectiveness in treating PMS, painful periods and depression. In fact, saffron has been shown to be as effective as Prozac for treating depression and PMS! Hello! Without the side effects too.
A couple of months ago, I was in Turkey and saw it in a spice market and figured I’d give it a shot. No better place to buy it than a Turkish market right? The minimum effective dose of saffron is about 15mg a day – we’re literally talking a tiny sprinkle. So I started with just a sprinkle on lunch and dinner and continued for about 45 days. Then I kind of fell off the saffron wagon but in that time I got my period and wow! Absolutely no emotional PMS symptoms – I felt completely normal until the moment I got my period. AND majorly reduced pain, by about a third. Let’s do a dance! Expect to see results in 1-2 cycles. If you don’t see improvement then this is just not the treatment for you and that’s totally okay. Onwards and upwards to the next experiment.
Interestingly, saffron has been used as an aphrodisiac and to treat premature ejaculation in men but the evidence isn’t sufficient enough to conclude that it works. However, if you are wanting to try something like this out on your man, I’d love to hear about your anecdotal results.
2. Vitamin C - Did you know that vitamin C is the only vitamin on the planet that can actually raise progesterone levels? Yup, it’s pretty badass. But not just any old vitamin C, that’s so not how I roll. I’ll get to that in a sec though. It’s also got a ton of other incredible purposes like it’s Super Shero antioxidant powers which help your body fight any kind of germy invaders. Naturally I was focused on the progesterone part but I’d be happy to not get sick during winter too! Unfortunately, the RDA for vitamin C in the US (and I think it’s similar everywhere) is a measly 75mg a day. I’m going to tell you right now – that’s useless. You want to be getting at least 1000mg a day of the best stuff out there. I use Livon Labs Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C which tastes like crap but works sooo well! What makes it awesome is it’s gel-like liposomal delivery system, basically it gets where it needs to go and doesn’t get stuck in stomach traffic. Don’t worry about overdosing, vitamin C is water soluble and will be flushed out if you’ve taken too much.
I’ll tell you another little secret – for the better part of the summer and fall I was spotting before my period. Shhh, don’t tell anyone! LOL Me, the woman who’s supposed to be fixing periods was in need of some period fixing. I realized these things were happening so I could fix them and share. Win/win situation right? Well, the spotting on that first period was somewhat improved but what’s even more interesting is that I am about 5 days away from my next period and there is not even a sign of spotting, cramping, the rage-monster or any other undesirables. Just from a little saffron and vitamin C. Who said you have to struggle to fix your period? It’s so much easier than we think it’s going to be most of the time. We just have to be open to new ways of thinking and willing to try a different approach.
I’ll be re-testing my hormones at the beginning of next year and keep you posted on my progesterone levels. If you’re testing your progesterone levels you want them to be 15-25ng/ml in the middle of your luteal phase or on day 21 of your cycle.
Now tell me, what have you tried for low progesterone? What’s worked and what hasn’t worked? DYING to know what you gals have up your sleeves!
If you want even more AMAZING solutions to your particular hormonal imbalance, then you’re gonna love my holiday special on the Fix Your Period 4-Week Home Study E-Course. Purchase the course before December 20th and get $25 off the $197 price.
- 5 jam-packed weekly webinars - your head will be spinning from all the useful and applicable information
- Brand new updated handouts - I’ve beautifed and updated all my handouts
- My Gut Healing Protocol – remember, your digestive health is the key to rockin’ hormones
- New bonuses - including my interview with Dr. Nat Kringoudis on debunking ovulation
- Access to my private Fix Your Period Facebook group - as one woman said, “it’s like a diary that talks back to you”
- Lots of extra resources and information - I’ve added in tons of cool links, videos and resources
- Plus you can keep this course and all the materials forever!
Just enter HOLIDAY in the coupon code for your $25 discount! This expires Sunday, December 15th so hurry! Got questions? Email us at email@example.com and we’ll sort you out!
Ditching the Heels
Today’s guest writer is Virginia Cunningham, a freelance writer and health enthusiast in the Los Angeles area. As a mother of three, she understands how difficult it can be to resist cravings of caffeine and beautiful heels, but it will be all worth it in the end!
Struggling with infertility is one of the most difficult things a woman can experience. As if feeling helpless about your situation wasn’t enough, there is also the sense of disappointment of not having the ability to bare your own child, which can result in making you feel somewhat “broken.”
Unfortunately, due to various conditions and circumstances, there are situations that simply do not allow a woman to become pregnant. While many hopeful parents will consider adoption as their primary option when they are unable to conceive naturally, there are still many things you can do to boost your fertility if you’re not quite at the point of looking for an adoption agency yet.
Image Courtesy of ShutterStock
Most women who struggle with infertility do so temporarily. In fact, many instances of infertility can be successfully treated with natural remedies and simple lifestyle changes.
If you’re struggling with infertility, it’s advisable to start with the simpler and more natural solutions before moving on to more complex treatments, such as prescription drugs and surgery. Below are just a few:
1. Ditching high heels
While we may all love flaunting off our newest designer high heels, but the actual design of a high heel tends to push our gravity forward, which will inevitably cause us arch our backs in order to compensate and keep our balance.
Although this may be a chic look for many women, the problem is that wearing heels can place tension on our ligaments and spine, which alters the space where our gynecological organs are housed. As a result, it is theorized that this could limit blood flow, thereby making it more difficult to become pregnant.
2. Limit your caffeine
Most of us need that extra boost in the morning to get our day started off on the right foot, but, in certain studies, experts have been able to link the consumption of caffeine to problems with infertility. However, at the same time, some studies have found no such link.
The caffeine argument needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as the generally accepted advice is to simply be cautious and stick to less than 200 milligrams of caffeine, or roughly two cups of coffee.
3. Start meditating
Most experts agree that the negative effects of stress on the human body can minimize a woman’s ability to conceive. If you think that could be playing a part in your own situation, consider setting aside time every day to meditate and cut down on your stress levels.
Keep your mind clear and try your best to not focus on what you can or cannot do about your current situation– it’ll only bring more stress.
4. Don’t overlook your partner’s health
All of the things that could harm your own ability to conceive could have an impact on your partner’s reproductive health as well. Cigarettes, alcohol and a poor diet can all contribute to a low sperm count, so don’t discount the possibility that the problem could lie in this area and have nothing to do with you.
Cutting out bad habits, maintaining a well-balanced diet and taking a multivitamin with a high concentration of zinc, folic acid, vitamin b6, iron and calcium is a good place to start. If you still suspect a low sperm count or motility, it’s advisable to test for such things before moving onto other solutions.
Don’t Overthink It
Rather than stress about what may be causing you not to conceive, start by making a few lifestyle changes to not only improve your own health, but to boost your fertility as well. Starting with these simple solutions will help you avoid the trap of wearing yourself out, and they provide you with a foundation to build upon if you ever want to pursue further treatment options.
Baby will come when the time is right and until then, enjoy life, take care of your body and do the basics to increase your fertility.COMMENT
Debunking Ovulation Giveaway!
- Do you know when you ovulate each month?
- Are you familiar with the signs and symptoms of ovulation?
- Do you understand your cycle and what’s supposed to happen each week of the month?
If you answered no to these questions then you’ve got to get on the Debunking Ovulation train! Debunking Ovulation was created by the one and only Dr. Nat Kringoudis and it is a mini online crash course in understanding everything (no joke, I mean everything) about your cycle and how it should function.
And today I’m giving away TWO FREE Debunking Ovulation mini courses!
The best part is that I am running a contest and giving away TWO free Debunking Ovulation courses. All you have to do is enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
A medical mystery?
This is the second post in a series of Client Stories. This story is by Dori W., and she shares her journey from medical mystery to vibrant health and getting pregnant naturally. Enjoy!
I’ve spent most of my life being a medical mystery. I remember half-joking with one of my new friends at college that whenever I went to the doctor, they either didn’t know what was wrong with me or told me I might have something horrific when it turned out to be not that big a deal. I said this as I was off to a doctor’s appointment, where I was told I might have leukemia, but it turned out to be mono. Like I said, half-joking.
I started having issues with my health about the same time I hit puberty. In seventh grade, I passed out twice after skipping breakfast (yes, it took me twice to learn to eat breakfast), which was the start of a long battle with my blood sugar levels. Not long after, I started having gut-wrenching, incapacitating menstrual cramps that made me throw up from the pain. I actually remember contemplating if it might hurt less if I cut everything out, it hurt so bad. At age 14, I was put on the pill to help with the cramps. I then started having issues with sun poisoning, where being out in the sun would cause me to break out in a rash. Over a couple more years, I only got more sensitive. Not even clothing was enough to protect me, and even just going out to get the mail left me broken out in hives. So I had to start my day with a full body covering of sunscreen before I got dressed. Finally, I went to the doctor. After being looked at like I was an alien after showing them my hives from just driving to the office, they consulted a visiting doctor. Luckily (for me), his wife had experienced the same thing only while she was pregnant, so that was their clue that it was a hormonal thing. They changed my birth control prescription to a mini-pill, and it got much better.
Throughout high school and college, I was one stressed out lady. In high school, my overachieving self had overcommitted herself to the point of actually getting panic attacks when I realized how much I had to do. This, as you might imagine, took a further toll on my health. There was a period when, like clockwork, I would be at the doctor’s office every three months with some new, totally bizarre symptom. At one point, I lost 15 pounds in two weeks while having to eat every hour to keep myself from getting dizzy. I was drinking those 2,000 calorie shakes to try to keep my weight up. It turned out I was hyperthyroid, and it finally started to click that all this stress was bad for me. I consciously started to work on stress management. In college, I no longer was having panic attacks, but I was still pretty high strung and all over the place. My senior year, I carted myself into the doctor’s office yet again after “not having time” for weeks. I had bronchitis so bad by that point, I was down to 13% lung capacity! It took me five months to recover from it, and it gave me mild asthma. This was really a wakeup call for me; I needed to prioritize my health over all of my other commitments.
The medical mysteries continued but at a much less frequent pace as I started prioritizing my health more, and with each health crisis, I continued to learn valuable lessons. A couple years ago, I had a severe allergic reaction to the flu shot, despite having had several during the previous years with no incident. It was described as a chemical burn from the inside out. I shed not only several layers of skin, but also the linings of my organs. I had reduced work hours for five months. But the good that came out of such a horrible experience? Out of necessity, this uber-independent woman learned to ask for and accept help.
The first big step I made toward taking charge of my own health was a candida cleanse. Candida, a yeast overgrowth, was something that kept popping up as a possible underlying cause for seemingly unrelated problems I was researching. I didn’t want to go to the doctor, tell him I thought I had this, and get looked at like I was crazy yet again. I had found a two-week cleansing diet, so I figured what the heck? I’ll just try it for two weeks and see what happens. It was life-changing. I no longer was blacking out from low blood sugar. I had to redefine what hungry felt like. For example, I realized I had associated sweating with low blood sugar and would immediately grab for something to eat, and it took some reprogramming to realize that now it’s more likely that I’m just hot.
The next big move I made toward my health was switching to a “real food” diet. I know, the name is stupid, but it’s basically trying to eat foods like they were before industrialization. This basically means eating for nutrition and not convenience, and my body is definitely appreciating the extra nutrients as well as taking more care with my gut flora.
In the midst of this journey, I met and married a man who no one would debate is my soulmate. We fit so well together, we’ve had people assume we must be brother and sister. We decided we wanted to have a child together. Now, by this point, I had been on birth control for nearly twenty years. I thought I could just get off of it and boom! get pregnant. Let me tell you – it doesn’t work that way. First, I had very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, and then…nothing happened. With each passing month with no results, I got more serious about taking charge of the situation. I started to realize that I had done so much research on health and nutrition but was embarrassingly ignorant about how the female hormones and parts actually worked, at least in the reproductive sense.
This is where Nicole came in. She gave me so much of an education on how my body works and how to get things to be the finely tuned masterpiece they’re supposed to be. She lays out the information for you, tells you what works for most women, but still encourages personal experimentation that really appeals to my scientist side. The information I got from her class kicked my health up to the next level, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the cycle I started while in her class was the one in which I conceived my sweet baby girl. I am so thankful for the winding, difficult paths that brought Nicole to do what she does and me to be able to accept her help. Thanks, Nicole!
Would you like to share your period story and inspire other women to heal naturally? If so, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.orgCOMMENT
Reliable Childcare Makes for a Well Balanced Family
Lindsay Bell is the co-founder of Lucky Lil’ Darlings, an elite family care solutions company providing corporate and family focused babysitting, parent-centric events and inspiring commentary on child care, kids and family focused products. Childcare is an investment on so many levels: Time, Financial & Emotional; however the payoff is worth the commitment. There are […]COMMENTS READ MORE