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So, you want to learn to surf? Rock on.
Did you know the first major surfing competition was held in Corona Del Mar, California in 1928? Since then, surfing has exploded as not only a sport but a way of life. Our beaches our packed with pros, killer novices and beginners. If you’re just beginning, choosing the right equipment, checking the conditions, and physical preparation can put you a step ahead.
First up, selecting the right surfboard is essential to optimizing performance. The appropriate equipment proves true in any sports activity. For example, in baseball, you need your glove to fit properly. You can’t expect to catch the ball with a glove that is sliding off your hand. Same goes for surfboards.
You can’t expect to be able to surf on a board not fitted to your weight or ability. Lighter boards are often suited for lighter people. Further, longboards are often recommended for beginners. They offer the stability and support needed when first starting out. I’d recommend checking out a local surf shop to further determine what style and size board best suits your needs.
Knowing the conditions prior to setting out is essential. Depending on your level and ability as a surfer, certain spots may be better suited. Always look up or ask around where is best suited for beginners, intermediate, or advanced surfers and how the conditions are before heading out into the water.
Practice, practice, practice. Not just on the board, but in the gym as well. A new surfboard and knowing what spots to check out is great, but that can all go amiss without first ensuring your fitness level is up to par.
Shoulder strength, core strength, and endurance are important for optimal surfing performance. Not only will it make the sport easier, but you will be able to enjoy it much more. Bonus: you are less likely to injure yourself by doing so. Many beginners suffer from shoulder injuries due to overuse. Paddling through currents to reach those waves can be tough work. Counteract the problem before it becomes a problem.
Free Weights: Simply mimicking the motion of paddling using weights in a gym setting can build shoulder strength and endurance.
Row: can be done in a gym setting using a pulley machine, or at home with the use of a resistance band. Sitting on an exercise ball, bench, or chair ensure the band is attached to something stable. Bend the elbows to 90 degrees and grasp the ends of the band in each hand. Slowly bring the elbows straight back. At the same time, pinch the shoulder blades down and in engaging the middle and lower trapezius muscles. Adjust resistance or weight accordingly. Do 10 repetitions for 2-3 sets.
Reverse fly: can be performed from a standing position. Start with your feet hip-width apart. Bend forward at the waist, keeping a slight bend in your knees. With a weight in either hand and without locking the elbows, slowly extend your arms away from your body. Pinch your shoulder blades down and in throughout the movement. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets
Core strength aids in balance and smoothness of movement on the surfboard. Exercises such as bicycle crunches and yes, the dreaded plank, can strengthen and prepare your core to take on the movements and balance necessary for surfing.
Bicycle crunches: target the upper and lower abdominal muscles. To begin, lie on your back on a mat. Bend your elbows and place your hands behind your head. Lift both legs off the ground, and bend one leg up toward your chest. Bring your opposite elbow to touch the opposite knee. Your shoulder blades should come off the ground during this movement. Alternate sides and do 10 repetitions for 2-3 sets.
Planks: can further strengthen the core, as well as certain arm and leg muscles. It is often referred to as a full body workout. Ensure your hands are directly under your shoulders, eyes stay on the floor in front, and that your core is engaged. An important tip to avoid any strain around the neck and shoulder region is to think about pulling your shoulders away from your ears. Your back should be straight throughout the exercise. Hold for your personal best. Often, the aim is 30 seconds to a minute. Side planks can further be useful in strengthening the oblique muscles.
Strengthening is crucial when it comes to preventing surfing injuries. You want to be in the proper physical condition to enjoy the sport and have fun! Always warm up prior to surfing or any workout. Muscles that are not warmed up properly are more prone to injury. Warming up increases blood flow to the joints and muscles to ensure optimal performance.
Good old fashioned cardio my friends. Shoot for distance running or swimming. Mixing in sprints with runs will help to get your heart in shape and also prep you for when you need to paddle fast to catch that perfect wave.
Last tip: If you are new to surfing, it is highly recommended to invest in lessons first either with a professional or a friend that really knows his or her stuff.
Sure, you can learn as you go. But to avoid injury or unsafe conditions in accordance with individual skill level, taking instructions from someone who knows what they are doing is key. They will tell you all you need to know. From surfing conditions to form and how to get up on the board, they know it all. Learn from the best to become one of the best. Take the time to learn and build your surfing skills. Hit the gym and physically prepare yourself for what is many Californian’s favorite pastimes.
Aging and Life Cycles in Chinese Medicine
In Chinese medical theory, the aging process is controlled by a substance called “Jing” or essence. Jing is said to be stored in the Kidneys and is responsible for development in children and teenagers, and aging in adults.
We are each born with finite amount of Jing. As you go through life, you gradually use up your Jing. As its levels fall you get the classic signs of aging; wrinkles, greying and thinning hair, weak bones and teeth and deafness. Think of Jing as a candle wick slowly burning as we go through life until it finally runs out.
To an extent, the quantity and quality of your Jing comes down to genetics. Your parents’ age and health at the time of your conception determines your “pre-heavenly Jing”. This is written into your DNA from birth and cannot be changed.
There is also “post-heavenly Jing”. This is formed by everything that happens from birth onwards. Diet and lifestyle both affect your post-heavenly Jing for better or worse. And it is here that you can make a positive impact and slow the aging process down.
Aging affects men and women differently. According to the original Chinese medicine text, the Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic, men age in cycles of eight years. Bear in mind that this was written hundreds of years ago when life expectancies were much lower. However, the same aging process exists now but the years might be off.
At 8 years old the Kidneys become strong. The permanent teeth and body hair begin to grow.
At 16 sperm is produced and it is possible to conceive.
At 24 the Kidneys are at their peak. Development stops and the wisdom teeth grow.
At 32 the body is at its physical peak. The bones and muscles are strong and powerful.
At 40 the Kidneys begin to decline. The hair and teeth begin to fall out.
At 48 the upper body begins to decline. The face sags and the hair turns gray.
At 56 the Kidneys decline further as does the Liver. This causes joint problems and a general lack of vitality.
At 64 the hair and teeth may be completely lost.
For women, the aging cycle is even shorter, just seven years
At 7 years old the Kidneys become strong. The permanent teeth and body hair begin to grow.
At 14 menstruation begins and it is possible to conceive.
At 21 the Kidneys are at their peak. Development stops and the wisdom teeth grow.
At 28 the body is at its physical peak. The bones and muscles are strong and the hair is thick and lustrous.
At 35 the Kidneys begin to decline. The complexion becomes dull and wrinkles appear.
At 42 the upper body begins to decline. The face sags and the hair turns white.
At 49 the body deteriorates. Menstruation stops and conception is no longer possible.
This paints a pretty depressing picture, but there are steps you can take to slow things down, keep your Jing levels up and stay healthy well into old age.
The Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic goes on to say that Jing can be preserved by “living in accordance with nature”.
This means acting appropriately through the changing seasons. For example, waking up early and going to bed late in the summer, then waking up later and going to bed early in the winter is one way to hang on to your Jing.
Eating a good diet is another effective way to keep aging at bay. Avoid processed foods which lack nutrition and include a variety of foods such as whole grains, organic meat and fresh fruit and vegetables. Some foods that are particularly beneficial are leafy, green vegetables, seaweed, miso and millet.
Avoid smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs and these stimulants all have a depleting effect on Jing in the long run.
Excessive sexual activity is also said to harm your Jing. But what is excessive? There is no set figure, but as a general rule, avoid sex if you’re unwell, tired, hungry or under the influence.
Another major factor is stress. Stress puts a strain on the kidneys and wipes out Jing. Create a good work-life balance, make timje to relax and get enough sleep to stay on top of things. Exercise is another great way to bust stress. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are both especially good at preserving Jing.
Youth, physical fitness and beauty are all prized qualities in our modern world. And if you want to stay young and healthy the message is simple. You gotta look after your Jing!
About these photos… I was fortunate enough to advance my study of Chinese Medicine working, living and studying in a massive hospital and TCM dedicated university in Chengdu. I fell in love with the people. These few photos are just the tip of the iceberg.
Which comes first? Nutrition or skincare… or is it skincare then nutrition?
Recently there has be an abundance of chatter discussing the relationship between nutrition and skin integrity. But what is the actual impact of our skin on our nutritional intake and our nutrition’s impact on the largest organ of the human body? Well, the answer is not as much as you would think but some key nutrients do stand out.
Can your skin affect your nutrition?
Interestingly enough, yes!
While it can also be attained through food, vitamin D is made in the skin through sun exposure. Skin color is known to be the major factor linking sun exposure and vitamin D production. Vitamin D production is proportionate to skin pigmentation, so the lighter the skin color the greater the vitamin D production and vice versa. People with dark skin tones and those living in northern climates may need to increase their vitamin D intake from foods or supplements.
Can nutrition affect your skin?
Yes! However, things such as genetics, hormones, sleep, exercise, smoking, environment, etc have a bigger impact. The follow dietary constituents elicit the greatest influence on skin health:
The human body comprises of 50-60% water. This makes it the most vital component to our diet. A seemingly marginal decline of 2% hydration can result in dull, dry and itchy skin with increased lines and wrinkles. 8 cups of water per day is recommended for the average individual excluding those participating in intense physical activity or those residing in hot and humid climates.
Carbohydrates. Often misrepresented, carbohydrates have developed a not necessarily deserved bad
reputation in recent years. However, whole grains are a rich source of vitamins and minerals. The glycemic load, also known as the glycemic index, is one of the many factors why carbohydrates get a bad rap. The glycemic load measures the amount of carbohydrate consumed and its rate of absorption. Refined carbohydrates such as flour (think white bread, most pasta, crackers, cookies, processed pastries) have a higher gylcemic index than whole grains meaning they are absorbed faster thereby causing negat
ive side effects such as high blood sugar and insulin levels. High blood sugar levels in conjunction with insulin and insulin growth factor have been correlated to increased sebum production and subsequently acne. Therefore, don’t eliminate carbohydrates from your diet, just the white ones!
Protein. Protein serves as one of the building blocks of our body tissues and is essential for skin repair and renewal. Most western societies consume roughly double the amount of protein required per day. Protein can be attained through sources such as lean meats, dairy products, soy products, beans, nuts/seeds, whole grains and spirulina.
Fats. Fat is a compulsory constituent of the cell membrane and aids tissue regeneration. The omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenonic acid (DHA) can only be attained through external dietary sources. Some of the best sources of ALA include flaxseeds and walnuts, along with different oils such as flaxseed, canola, soybean, walnut and wheat germ. Omega-3’s can be found in smaller quantities in soy products, beans, vegetables, and whole grains.
Corn, safflower, sunflower, and cottonseed oils also contain omega-3’s, though in lower levels than the previously mentioned oils. While fish are frequently referenced as good sources of these essential fatty acids, the high amounts of other fats and cholesterol and the lack of fiber make fish a poor dietary choice. Fish are also often high in mercury and other environmental toxins that pose dangers to the consumer especially pregnant or breast-feeding women.
Etc. Other more distilled nutritional components that affect our skin are antioxidants, especially vitamin C which supports collagen production. Antioxidants act to protect the body’s cells from the daily onslaught of free radicals derived from essential metabolic processes within the body as well as external exposure things such as air pollutants, industrial chemicals, UV-rays and ozone. Foods with the highest antioxidants content include whole plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts/seeds.
As a final note:
Don’t make the relationship between skin and nutrition too complicated. As Michael Pollan states:
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”… and get outside!
“Just breathe.” A favorite saying of enlightened masters, jungle shamans, and loving moms tending to their kids “boo-boos” all around the world. You’ve probably heard this advice before, and perhaps you’ve even given it, but what is so special about the breath? Well, for starters it is the first thing we do when we are born, and the last thing we do before we die. Have you ever thought about that?
Kind of a big deal
It is also one of the only automatic functions of the physical body that can be controlled consciously. For example, you can’t control the way your liver makes bile, or the way your stomach digests food, these are automatic processes. You can however control the way you breathe. The good news is that even if you don’t think about it, your body will keep you breathing, which is kind of important if you ask me!
Fun facts aside, what’s so powerful about “just breathing?” It turns out that the breath is intimately connected with our mind and our emotions. Meditators have known this for thousands of years, and scientists have been discovering the very same thing over the last few decades. As technology has allowed for a greater understanding of the brain, it has been discovered that different states of mind relate to different brain wave patterns.
To make it really simple, think about it like this: The brain functions differently when we are sleeping, or laughing, or studying, or stressed, or blissed out, etc. It just so happens that one of the greatest ways to control these brain wave patterns is with the breath. So, what does that mean for you and me? Simple. If you want to be in control of your mind, your emotions, your life . . .learn to control your breath.
Turns out, it’s easier than you may realize. Take a moment and think about what happens to your breathing when you are scared or anxious? It usually stops for a moment, and becomes very shallow. What about when angry or upset? It often becomes quite rapid. On the flip side, how do you breathe when you are relaxed and at peace? Usually deep, and slow. If you have ever seen a baby sleeping, you will notice they breathe slowly and deeply, their belly rising and falling in a gentle rhythm. They know what’s up.
The good news is that it doesn’t take a whole lot of deep, slow breathing to make a shift. In fact, in less than one minute, you can use your breath to shift into a state of calm relaxation, no matter what is going on around you. The better news?
I am going to teach you how
I call this technique “The Breath of Change” because of how powerfully it can change the way you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even though it is a simple technique, it is powerful. Once you know how to do it, you can use it anywhere at any time. When first starting out, I don’t recommend you use this technique while driving, as it can put you into a pretty mellow space. Once you are used to it though, you can use it whenever and wherever you need.
The Breath of Change:
Take a slow, deep inhale through your Nose. See if you can breath all the way down into your belly and feel your abdomen gently expand as you breathe in. You don’t have to stuff yourself with air, just breathe in comfortably. This is not about how much air you can take in.
Slowly exhale through pursed lips, as if you were gently blowing out a candle or trying to spin a pinwheel. The key here is to go slowly. Again, find a rhythm that is comfortable for you, but ideally your exhale should be longer than your inhale.
Repeat for up to a minute, or longer if you need. Often one minute is usually more than enough time to create a shift, but if you are feeling particularly stressed or anxious, you can use this breath for longer.
If it helps, you can count your inhale and exhale. You so, if you breath in to a count of 5, you should try and breath out to a count of 8-10. That way your exhale will be longer than your inhale, which is key.
If counting doesn’t feel right for you, don’t use it. The important part is that you breathe in a comfortable rhythm for you, and make sure that your exhale is longer than your inhale.
That’s it. Simple, but powerful. Don’t just take my word for it, give it a try. Check in with how you feel before you begin the technique, and then again after you finish. You may be amazed at the shift that happens. This technique is also a great way to start the day, and to end the day before bed. If you combine it with last months blog about Mindfulness, you be well on your way to creating a powerful daily practice, and life of greater peace and wellness. If ever you have any questions about these techniques, or how to integrate them more fully into your daily life, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Until next time, just breathe!
Adam is an author, transformational speaker, and stress management coach. His powerful yet approachable and easy-to-understand wisdom have the potential to make a powerful shift in your life. Combining ancient wisdom and modern science, he helps his clients achieve their personal and professional goals, free from stress and worry.
Ive had so many friends and patients bringing me crazy delish tomatoes from their gardens (keep them coming, btw 😉 It really makes me miss having a garden! The tomatoes at the farmers markets right now are so incredibly delicious too. There truly is no comparison to store bought (even organic) to whats grown in the garden.
Since it is tomato season and summer, it got me wondering about tomato recipes. I wanted to kill two birds with one stone here: 1. use in season and local tomatoes and 2. use tomatoes because they are hydrating due to their high water content.
I discovered this Provençal baked tomato dish. It combines some of my favorites.. leeks, garlic, olive oil and eggplant along with the tomatoes. It is topped off with grated parmesan at the end which could always be optional or only put it on half if you are watching extra calories or are lactose intolerant. Paired with a lean protein for dinner, this one is a keeper! And, besides, who doesn’t love a touch of the South of France….
Here’s what you’ll need….
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 cups thinly sliced leeks, rinsed and well drained
- 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 3 large tomatoes (about 1½ pounds), sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 small summer squash or zucchini, sliced diagonally ¼ inch thick
- 1 small eggplant, sliced ¼ inch thick
- ⅓ cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried
So good and soooo easy….
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Transfer the mixture to a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
- Layer tomatoes, summer squash (or zucchini) and eggplant slices in an alternating shingle pattern over the leek mixture (they will overlap quite a bit). If you have extra vegetable slices, save them for another use. Sprinkle the vegetables with the remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
- Bake the vegetables for 1¼ hours. Sprinkle cheese and marjoram over the top. Continue baking until the edges are browned and the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes more. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.