Happy New Years to all! Make 2013 the year you reinvent yourself and your fitness routine. I hope you and your families have a fantastic and healthy New Year!
Chris P – The Wild Juggler
Happy New Years to all! Make 2013 the year you reinvent yourself and your fitness routine. I hope you and your families have a fantastic and healthy New Year!
Chris P – The Wild Juggler
With Old Man Winter roaring into my neck of the woods, coming home to a hot meal after joggling in the snow and doing errands is a necessity.
It’s hard to compete with acorn squash during the cold winter months. It is arguably one of the most perfect foods since besides providing a lot of carbohydrate, it also provides a significant amount of protein and healthy fat if you count the squash seeds, close cousin of the pumpkin seed(pepita). The seeds are loaded with zinc, magnesium, protein, and healthy fats. The flesh of squash is a good source of carotinoids, phytochemicals that are good for the eyes and may have other benefits. Some of these carotinoids are converted into vitamin A by the liver. They can’t be converted to Christianity or Islam though(the liver can do a lot of amazing things, but not everything).
This acorn squash came out perfectly. I really wish you all could have tasted it. I cut it in half(or rather, into 2/3 and 1/3 due to my clumsiness). I baked it for 40 minutes in the oven. It was wonderfully sweet and filling, it kind of reminded me of sweet potatoes, but a lot more stringy. I had some creamy peanut butter on the side. I’ll eat the seeds some other time – they just need to be lightly toasted.
This was a New World crop kind of meal, since I ate only food native to the Americas, similar to what Native Americans would have eaten before Columbus showed up. Squash was a very important crop for the Natives and still is in much of Latin America.
I highly recommend squash. I must note that this may be one of those crops you are better off getting organic since their roots absorb a lot of toxic chemicals from the soil.
Some interesting articles:
Every now and then we hear about people dropping dead during marathons, and our unfit friends and family point this out to show us how “dangerous” running is. It seems in most cases these people had a heart defect. In my non-expert opinion, it certainly is possible that marathon running or over-training can cause at least a little heart damage even in healthy people, but this damage is usually temporary.
In the articles above, they examined only a small number of marathoners. We need studies that examine larger numbers of marathon runners so we can see what is really going on here.
Still, it is important to know that contrary to what many people would have us believe, completing a marathon doesn’t necessarily represent the pinnacle of fitness. Indeed, in the days and weeks following a marathon, for many runners, it is more like the opposite of fitness due to the damage caused by the running and the long recovery period. Some may even suffer from permanent injuries that can lead to being less fit and healthy in the long run. There are diminishing returns when you exercise beyond what is necessary for being fit and healthy, especially if you’re focusing almost exclusively on cardio which is what marathon-training is. As a person who has run and joggled half-marathon distances many times over the years, I can attest to this.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t run marathons. I’m simply saying, and I realize I may sound like a heretic to some, you don’t have to run or joggle marathons to be truly fit. You don’t even have to run every day to be fit, so long as you run or exercise most days of the week. Fitness shouldn’t be a form of punishment. If you run on a regular basis, don’t feel bad if you are not capable of running a marathon – it’s not the only game in town or the sole measure for determining how fit you are.
If you have a heart defect or suspect you may have one, be extra careful. See your doctor before attempting even half-marathons if you think you may have something. Also see your doctor if you decide you just want to be a total couch potato, which we know is much worse for the body than running.
Running a very long distance is overrated as a measure of fitness; marathons aren’t for everyone, but if you have the right physique, no heart defect, train properly and recover quickly, then running marathons may not be a bad idea. We at Wild Juggling want you to be creative with your fitness program, we want you to challenge yourself. But this doesn’t necessarily mean punishing yourself or pushing yourself to extremes that have more drawbacks than rewards.
So you really want to learn how to juggle, and then eventually become a joggler. I admit it isn’t very easy, but if it were very easy it probably wouldn’t even be worth attempting. Adventurers don’t climb Mount Everest because it’s easy.
So you are having trouble getting started. Your coordination is so bad it seems almost impossible for you to juggle. You just want to quit and find something easier to do.
For some of us, going from not being able to juggle to becoming a capable juggler is a huge leap. So it may help to take smaller steps to eventually work your way up to 3 ball cascade juggling.
Among things I would recommend to ease your way into juggling are:
1) Try juggling with juggling scarves instead of balls or beanbags. You can just make your own or you can find some online.
2) Exercise with a jump rope. Jumping rope can help improve your coordination to get you ready for juggling. You can even make your own, though even quality ones are cheap. I used to regularly jump rope years ago as cross-training on days I didn’t run, and I think it made it easier for me to get into juggling and joggling. You can even work up a sweat if you do it long enough. Try doing tricks to break the monotony and to improve your coordination even further.
Other than that, if you’re stuck tossing 2 balls, trying mastering that. Maybe even try two heavy balls(be careful, wear protective gear if they weigh more than 1 lb) to improve your neuro-muscular system to make that 3rd ball easier. Also do upper body strength exercises. It may also help to try meditating for a few minutes before juggling to help you relax and to sharpen your focus. Youtube has lots of juggling tutorials you can check out.
Studies have shown that the brain benefits even if you are a lousy juggler. Don’t worry if your progress is slow. It doesn’t make you dumb or less virtuous if you can’t juggle. Indeed, if you are juggling career obligations and kids, you are already doing an amazing juggling act that surpasses anything a childless guy like me is doing.
Make sure you have fun on your juggling journey.
The holidays are that time of year for family gatherings. Some of us have big families while some of us have small families. The much ignored(until recently) vitamin K is actually a big family and not just one lonely vitamin. In this respect, it is similar to the B vitamin complex, which is made up of several distinct vitamins under the vitamin B umbrella, all of which are needed for proper energy metabolism.
So what is so special about vitamin K? Vitamin K, which is fat-soluble, is essential for blood clotting(coagulation), as well as optimal calcium metabolism. A deficiency of vitamin K can lead to excessive bleeding. Unfortunately for vampires, vitamin K deficiency is rare.
There are two main forms of vitamin K – vitamin K1(phylloquinone), and vitamin K2(menaquinone). Vitamin K1 is found mostly in plants while vitamin K2 is found more in meat and produced in the body. This gets even more fun when you consider that there are also many sub-forms of menaquinone, which seem to have somewhat different effects. The overall effect of vitamin K is the synthesis of proteins needed for proper coagulation and the proper metabolism of calcium and bone tissue. This makes vitamin K important both for bone growth and maintenance, as well as the prevention of arterial calcification.
According to Schurgers LJ, Cranenburg EC, Vermeer C. at Maastricht University:
Among the proteins involved in vascular calcium metabolism, the vitamin K-dependent matrix Gla-protein (MGP) plays a dominant role. Although on a molecular level its mechanism of action is not completely understood, it is generally accepted that MGP is a potent inhibitor of arterial calcification. Its pivotal importance for vascular health is demonstrated by the fact that there seems to be no effective alternative mechanism for calcification inhibition in the vasculature. An optimal vitamin K intake is therefore important to maintain the risk and rate of calcification as low as possible.
So vitamin K looks very promising as a treatment for calcification of the arteries(a very common problem among the elderly). Basically, the vitamin K family ensures calcium goes where it belongs(the bones), so it doesn’t get stuck where it can cause problems(the arteries).
According to the same vitamin K researchers quoted above:
Prolonged sub-clinical vitamin K deficiency is a risk factor for osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Present recommendations for dietary intake are based on the daily dose required to prevent bleeding. Accumulating scientific data suggests that new, higher recommendations for vitamin K intake should be formulated.
It also appears that vitamin K may help prevent osteoporosis, and surprisingly, cancer. It also says the scientific data suggests new, higher recommendations for vitamin K intake. It doesn’t say exactly how much more, and I am not recommending we all take vitamin K pills. However, if you are at risk for osteoporosis or have atherosclerosis(of which calcification of the vessels plays an important part), it may be a good idea to talk with your doctor about vitamin K.
Vitamin K is also associated with a decreased risk of type 2 Diabetes, according to Diabetes Care:
This study shows that both phylloquinone and menaquinones intakes may be associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
So how can you be sure you are getting enough of both forms of vitamin K? Eating a varied diet that includes a lot of green leafy vegetables can help ensure you get enough. Vitamin K is also produced by gut bacteria. So eating fermented food may ensure optimal vitamin K levels. People with chronic gastrointestinal diseases are at a much higher risk for vitamin K deficiency, according to – Am J Clin Nutr. 1985 Mar;41(3):639-43.
Here is some interesting research from Italy on the different biological effects of the various forms of vitamin K:
Vitamin K (vitamin K1 or phylloquinone and vitamin K2, a series of menaquinones [MKs]) is involved in the production of bone and matrix amino acid γ-carboxy-glutamic acid (Gla) proteins, regulating bone and vascular calcification. Low vitamin K concentrations are associated with increased risks of fractures and vascular calcification, and frequent complications in hemodialysis patients. We carried out an observational study to establish the prevalence of vitamin K deficiency and to assess the relationship between vitamin K status, vertebral fractures, vascular calcification, and survival in 387 patients on hemodialysis for ≥1 year. We determined plasma levels of vitamin K compound, bone-Gla-protein, matrix-Gla-protein, and routine biochemistry. Vertebral fractures (reduction in vertebral body height by ≥20%) and aortic and iliac calcifications were also investigated in a spine (D(5) -L(4)) radiograph. Three-year patient survival was analyzed. Important proportions of patients had deficiency of MK7 (35.4%), vitamin K1 (23.5%), and MK4 (14.5%). A total of 55.3% of patients had vertebral fractures, 80.6% had abdominal aorta calcification, and 56.1% had iliac calcification. Vitamin K1 deficiency was the strongest predictor of vertebral fractures (odds ratio [OR], 2.94; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.38-6.26). MK4 deficiency was a predictor of aortic calcification (OR, 2.82; 95% CI, 1.14-7.01), whereas MK5 deficiency actually protected against it (OR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.15-0.95). MK7 deficiency was a predictor of iliac calcification (OR, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.03-2.60). The presence of vertebral fractures was also a predictor of vascular calcifications (OR, 1.76; 95% CI, 1.00-3.08). Increased alkaline phosphatase and C reactive protein (CRP), age, and cerebrovascular events were predictors of mortality. Our study suggests that the vitamin K system may be important for preserving bone mass and avoiding vascular calcification in hemodialysis patients, pointing out a possible role of vitamin K in bone and vascular health. Based on our results, we suggest that the general population should also be studied for vitamin K deficiency as a possible cause of both vertebral fractures and vascular calcification.
Copyright © 2012 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
So, have you figured out yet which is your favorite form of vitamin K? Don’t stress yourself out over whether or not you are getting enough of the MK7 form of vitamin K or enough phylloquinone. If you don’t have liver problems, or gastrointestinal problems, or if you are not on dialysis and you are young, eat right and get plenty of exercise, you have little to worry about. But if you are at risk for diabetes, osteoporosis or atherosclerosis, speak with your doctor about vitamin K.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to all my readers! I hope you all have a fantastic and healthy New Year. Wild Juggling will continue to revolutionize fitness in 2013, so expect a lot of excitement and a few bad jokes. Thanks for all your support, this wouldn’t be possible without you.
Chris P – The Wild Juggler
The Rockefeller Preserve in Sleepy Hollow, NY, has a lot to offer the nature lover or fitness buff all year round, so long as no idiot burns it down. Its 1,233-acres offers beautiful vistas, dense forests, diverse wildlife, and exotic dancers. The preserve’s many bird species will greet you with ethereal bird song as you walk, run or joggle along its many trails(and I was kidding about the exotic dancers, just wanted to make sure you were paying attention).
The Rockfefeller preserve used to belong to this very rich, powerful family, but I can’t remember their name at the moment. It’s an especially good place for joggling as there is virtually no vehicle traffic or roads in the park. I don’t let the cold, breezy air keep me indoors, so I had a delicious time there yesterday.
Some new video from yesterday – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK0V7834BM4
There are so many great views in this preserve, it’s hard to decide where to take photos.
I believe that joggling keeps me warmer than running due to having to move my arms a lot to juggle the balls. Keep in mind that you may have to do a lot of warm up exercises with your arms before you joggle or you will drop the balls a lot at first. Try to see if you can incorporate juggling into your fitness routine in the New Year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
This is how I usually eat. There are few dishes I love as much as rice with lentils. I just threw whatever I had into a pot without any precise measuring since I kind of know by sight how much of each ingredient to use. It required about 20 minutes cooking time.
The ingredients in this are:
Red lentils(at 13g per 1/4 cup, an excellent source of protein – I used about 1/2 cup)
White Basmati rice
A splash of olive oil
Red cayenne pepper powder
And I used water instead of vegetable broth. I would have used vegetable broth if I had some.
It came out alright, though a little on the mushy side. It was kind of Indian or Middle Easternish. I joggled for an hour this morning and this vegan, gluten-free meal was a great way to refuel. If anyone has any good ideas for improving this, let me know.
This dish is kind of part of my heritage – my ancestors lived close to where this was and is commonly eaten.
Now that winter is officially here with all its challenges and positives, I keep thinking of the how different it was when I joggled during the summer and its own unique challenges.
In a strange kind of way, I miss it, especially as the weather gets colder. It’s like I have forgotten the profuse sweating, the heat-induced muscle fatigue causing me to slow down or drop the balls, the countless insects biting me or flying into my face, and the sunscreen I had to rub over much of my body to prevent sunburn. Okay, maybe I haven’t forgotten, but I still achieved bliss on a good run. I remember joggling in the summer wishing it was the heaven that is winter.
And now sometimes I wish it was summer, or spring. How ironic. The middle of the winter means heavy clothing, shorter days, a running nose, the risk of frost-bite, kids throwing snow balls, and sometimes stiffer muscles. If there is snow or ice, winter joggling can be especially problematic – be not afraid of new challenges. And the local kids should know they can’t win in a snow ball fight with a joggler!
“When you long for a life without difficulties, remind yourself that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure” – Uknown
Although I have to adapt to the weather, all the rules for joggling are the same. For beginners, this is very important: Maintaining the proper rhythm and posture is everything. It is like music, making beautiful music, becoming one with the rhythm and one with the balls. You may hear the music, you may not. If a melody develops, literally run with it. Hum along if you want.
With all this emphasis on rhythm, and music perhaps it would be better for jogglers to forget about running and to think of themselves as dancers. Running simply takes you from point A to point B. But juggling adds a new magical dimension to the running; going from point A to point B^3.
It really doesn’t matter what kind of dancer-joggler you think of yourself as. If you prefer the grace of a ballerina, go with that. Or if you prefer hip-hop dance, go ahead. You don’t even necessarily have to do the 3 ball cascade pattern, although that is most efficient and easiest for beginners. Above all, be creative. You may surprise yourself and learn all sorts of new things about yourself through joggling. If it really does make us smarter, that isn’t such a surprise.
In the new year, whatever your fitness goals are, it helps to be as creative as possible, to think outside-the-box, to make it as fun as possible and to not care what anyone else thinks.
And for the record, I’ve decided to stop eating eggs, which makes me vegan yet again.
The leadership of the various healthy eating and vegetarian movements over the past few centuries includes a lot of quacks, charlatans, and wackos. However, even some of the wackiest had some helpful ideas. A good, and early example of this type of health pioneer is Sylvester Graham(1794 – 1851). He was an American dietary reformer who advocated vegetarianism and eating only whole-grains rather than refined grains. He was the inventor of the graham cracker, which in its original form was made from whole-grain flour and free of sugar, spices, flavorings and preservatives.
Sounds like a real innovator, right? However, his primary motivation for pushing his strict diet wasn’t due to health concerns but rather due to his religious fanaticism. He may have been ahead of his time, but he believed his diet could cure people of having “impure” thoughts. He was a big believer in sexual abstinence and believed his graham crackers could magically cure the desire to masturbate. Graham similarly believed that meat-eating lead to sin, and so advocated a diet of mostly fresh fruits, vegetables and whole-grains.
He eventually had a large following and in his final years helped found the American Vegetarian Society. Many health reformers in the late 19th century were influenced by him. Next time you see graham crackers at the store, remember that they were originally invented to cure masturbation, although in their current form they have little in common with what Sylvester Graham envisioned.
So what are we to make of such a character? I find it fascinating how Graham was right about the negative health effects of refined grain well before science finally figured it out. On the other hand, his belief that a vegetarian diet could cure alcoholism was laughably wrong.
Of course, there are still many wackos in the vegetarian movement, and of course among meat-eaters. But this says nothing about the virtues of either diet.
There are no longer any “Grahamites”(as his followers were called), but some Christian denominations like the Seventh Day Adventists continue to practice vegetarianism.
Graham may be long gone, but there are health gurus out there still making ridiculous, pseudo-scientific claims, often mixed promiscuously with good health advice. Don’t take anything on faith and do your own research to uncover the facts.
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