Salmon Burgers

These salmon burgers was basically created by scraps as I was butchering a whole fish the other night :) You know, them ugly end pieces that are too thin to be juicy when you cook them, and also kind of look ugly looking (and we all know that all I really care about is my food not looking like s--- :) They turned out good! And, I also suspect they might be a great gateway for those of you who aren't a fan of that fishy flavor. Spices and onions help!

 

4 burger patties: 

  • 1 lb wild caught salmon, turned into a paste in the food processor :)
  •  1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard  (make sure it's free from crap :) 
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite hot sauce (again, crap free, clean ingredients)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika  
  • kosher salt to taste  
  • grassfed butter for cooking  

Set oven to 400. Mix all ingredients (except for salt and butter) together in a bowl. Form 4 patties and sprinkle salt on both sides. Sear in grassfed butter 2-3 mins in each side, then finish in the oven for 12 mins. I ate mine with a side of sautéed kale, roasted sweet potatoes, some mashed up avocado and salsa 🌶

 

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Crockpot Bonebroth

For my little bestie Josh <3 And of course for anyone that wants to make their own bone broth. It's super easy, just a little time consuming.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of quality bones (meaning grass fed or pasture raised animals)
  • organic veggies - chop 1 carrot, 1 yellow onion and 1 stalk of celery
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • tbsp of organic apple cider vinegar
  • crushed eggshells from 2 eggs (well rinsed)
  • Kosher salt

Put all the bones, veggies, garlic and eggshells into your crock pot. The eggshells makes for a nice extra mineral boost. Then fill it up with filtered water, then add salt (like 2 tablespoons) and the apple cider vinegar. Set the crock pot on low and cook for 24 hours. Before you drink it, make sure you strain it. Done!

Cardio, It's a Little Bit of a Pickle

This post is dedicated to cardio, simply because SO damn many of us do it on a regular basis (including me, little miss running addict over here) and feel that it should be a part of our exercise routine, especially one that’s aimed towards fat loss. But how efficient is it? Are you getting the results you're looking for? And perhaps more importantly, are you even getting healthier from it? 

Let me start off by saying that I believe all movement is better than no movement. I am also one of those people who are pretty hooked on cardio myself in the form of running. All while knowing damn well that it doesn’t quite serve me and my little system, I still seem to be unable to lay off of it. Sweating from running outdoors is addicting for me, and so is the feeling of that completely clear mind I get from doing it. Hey, cheaper than therapy, right? But if we dissect cardio a little, we'll see that it's not necessarily good for our bodies (biochemically speaking) when executed the conventional way, bringing our heart rate up to about 80% or more of our maximum.

When it comes to our heart and other internal organs, how we live, eat and move demands different biochemical responses. If we look at the heart in relation to conventional cardio, it’s easy to see that we are putting a lot of stress on it by actively forcing it into a situation where it’s required to beat faster in order to supply our muscles and organs with adequate amounts of oxygen and fuel. Like any other muscle, the cardiac muscle can become over worked. The problematic thing is that it usually happens quietly; the fibers won’t tear like other muscles do when we work them. Instead the walls of the heart starts to thicken with chronic overuse, which can cause all sorts of issues, for example cardiac arrhythmia and potentially atherosclerosis. So no, running, spinning, elliptical etc. is not the most ideal activity in terms of heart healthy exercising.

In terms of weight loss…well, let’s start with the obvious. Doing cardio to burn calories is a bad investment. We don’t burn nearly as much as we might think we do from spending 45 minutes on that spin bike or treadmill. 

Something that's been proven to work better is to consume foods that allows your body to burn fat and not glucose instead, meaning lower your carb intake and increase your fat intake. This way, you'll always have energy, always burn fat, and your body is not stressed or affected by a roller coasting blood sugar that demands your pancreas to work work work.

Knowing this, I’ve made myself a little promise; to be smarter with my running. My competitive self thoroughly enjoys timing how fast I can run and measure how far I can run, but my rational self understands this isn’t a smart move. Instead, I will focus more on low intensity cardio, combined with some intervals every now and then. Slow and steady will be my mantra.

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I will absolutely not write about it if I fail. Ooops.  

Intermittent Fasting Breakdown

Fasting and starvation...one of the many things I swear by and believe is incredibly good for our health. Still a tiny but controversial, especially within my industry where thermodynamics is still very much alive and kicking (despite the fact it has no place in human nutrition), and the idea of eating regularly and often is the way to "keep your metabolism going." Since I still get quite a few comments about my general lack of carbs (really it's my lack of grains) in my diet and intermittent fasting (IF), I figured I might just break down IF a little. One thing at a time. Explain what it is, what it does and why I do it. Just for the ones out there who are curious to try it, but are afraid it's dangerous due to conventional (old) knowledge.

Intermittent fasting is basically a name for going extended periods of time without food. How long this is can vary. I particularly like the 16:8 (16 hours fasting, 8 hours of eating) or 18:6 (18 hours fasting, 6 hours eating). I feel really good when I stick to this.

If we just take a moment to think about fasting (and starvation) from an evolutionary perspective we'll quickly see that it's nothing new for humans; we've done it all throughout our history for extended periods of time due to either a lack of food or because of religion. It's a natural state for our bodies, much more so than being constantly fueled with food. The 3 meals per day combined with 1-2 snacks everyday is not normal for our biochemistry. So if you feel lethargic (which is not the desired result of IF) when you go even just 12-14 hours without food, you most likely have a roller coasting blood sugar that demands attention in the form of carbohydrates to prevent you from feeling tired, weak and hangry. If this sounds familiar, don't stick to a method that's not giving you the result you're looking for, be solution oriented. It's ALWAYS way more productive. For IF, this means that you need to include the bigger picture into how you're feeling, which means you need to oversee the foods that you're actually eating, instead of solving it by consuming more coffee and conclude that the fasting is the problem. I of course recommend a low carbohydrate, Paleolithic diet with plenty of saturated fats to solve the issue of the carb hunger. Aka, let your body run on fat instead of carbs, and the greatness (and comfortability) of IF will be optimized.

The benefits of fasting are many, but below are my 3 personal reasons for why I do it:

1.) The metabolic effects. My body is already fat fueled, so I don't have too much fat storing insulin in my system anyways, but this just makes sure I stay in ketosis, where I'm happy and comfortable. The reason why I want to make sure my body is running off of fat is simply because it's the superior, and most natural source of energy for humans.

2.) I want to live as long as I possibly can without disease, and fasting can help me with that. Giving my body a break everyday from the process of digesting and absorbing food increases the time in can spend on cellular repair instead, which is amazing for our little systems. Fasting has also been shown to lower the cancer driving growth hormone called IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor 1), so it can help protect against cancer. However, the benefits of reducing IGF-1 doesn't end there. It's also key when it comes to anti-aging, so it will help me look and feel young. I am vain and I'd like to avoid wrinkles and flopsy skin, and this is a little biohack to help me stay young looking just a little bit longer.

3.) IF stimulates HGH, human growth hormone. Some studies has shown that after 30, our levels of HGH is decreased by 25% every decade, so if I can fight this process a little by utilizing IF, I am all for it. HGH promotes and increases the synthesis of new protein tissues (hey muscle recovery and repair), and helps out in keeping our bones strong (bye future osteoporosis). Obviously all good stuff.

And there you have it, the main reasons I fast. Go test, test. See how you feel! 

Hump Day Assblast

When you're a girl my size, aka completely curve less, the vanity aspects of my workouts tend to be focused around the few asssssets I do have (get it? I know you got it :) So without further ado, here's a solid little assblast workout you can do anywhere. No equipment needed, just you, yourself and your booty. Do this circuit x3, your butt will get lit!

1. Glute bridge

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Begin by laying down on your back, arms resting along the sides of your body, palms facing up. Legs and feet are hip width apart, feet pointing straight forward. 

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Lift your hips up (remember to pull your belly button in here to provide spinal support), root your heels down and think that your reaching your tailbone forward. Purpose here is to feel that you're holding the weight of your body through your glutes. Hold this position for 1 minute, then begin moving dynamically up and down. Inhale and lower your hips down (not all the way, just almost), and exhale lift back up. Do 20 reps. 

Stay in your bridge and draw one knee into your chest as you lower down towards the ground.

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Exhale and press your hips up as you extend your leg forward until thighs are parallel. Repeat 20 times, then do the other side.

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2. Stationary lunges  

Follow the instructions for my lunge tutorial here. 20 reps on each leg.

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3. Stationery lunge with trunk rotation

Place your hands behind your head, and draw your elbows back and shoulderblades down along your spine. Lunge down and rotate your upper body through your torso (meaning don't pull with your shoulders) to the same side as the leg in front of you. So, when right leg is forward, you rotate to your right. Inhale your torso back to center, and press up. Do 20 reps on each side.

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4. Single leg deadlift  

Begin in a standing position, feet hip width apart, feet pointing straight forward. Shift your weight onto one heel, and hinge back through your hips, allowing one leg to reach back while your arms reach forward. Pull yourself back up to starting position through the glute you're standing on. 20 reps on each leg.

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Anxiety & Stress

I got a question the other day from a person gently asking me if my way of living (diet and exercise) is really healthy? I mean, am I not depriving myself, or at the risk of over training? Am I too disciplined? These thoughts are common around people I meet, and especially obvious in situations involving food, since I'm unfortunately usually still the odd ball who don't eat grains, legumes, sugars or anything processed. I don't really understand why my way of eating (which is purely natural and healthy) should be a cause of concern for others, but it is. 

But back to the question, am I depriving myself? Short answer is no, of course I'm not. I'm nurturing myself. That is not deprivation in my world. The long answer has a lot to do with who I am. See, I'm a pretty anxiety driven individual. An emotional roller coaster or just hyper sensitive if you will it. Not hyper sensitive in a way that means I'll start crying uncontrollably whenever a minor curve ball is thrown my way, but sensitive to situations, and others around me. Many things in my life, and I'm sure this is true for others as well, is a source of anxiety in some way. Stress at work. That feeling of never being done. Am I drinking too much caffeine? Too much alcohol? Relationships. Friendships. Family. Am I enough? Am I doing enough? Anxiety and stress! And guilt sometimes. But when it comes to making healthy food choices and exercising, it's completely stress and anxiety free. I have never regretted a workout. I've never regretted a healthy food choice. I have however felt crappy physically and emotionally from not moving my body enough. From eating too much sugar (oh the anxiety that comes with the sugar jitters). Or eating gluten that makes my belly feel horrible and gives me headaches. So no, I don't feel like I am depriving myself. To me, my stinky sneakers, that stink because I've been running in them is joy. My sweaty workout clothes is joy. Feeling that my legs are tired at the end of the day because they've worked is joy. Feeling hungry because my body needs fuel is joy. Fueling my body is joy. Sugar, processed foods and grains (and gluten) is not a source of joy. It's a source of feeling shitty. So I do my best to minimize that. Makes sense, right?

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Epsom Salt Baths, Yay or Nay?

For me, Epsom Salt soaks or baths are a solid yay. I brine myself like a pork chop on the regular for two reasons mainly; its detoxifying and anti-inflammatory benefits. 

The chemical compound that makes up Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate (the name comes from the discovery of it, Epsom, England), and it's incredibly awesome for our bodies, in particular when it comes to detoxifying us from unnatural and harmful substances, and reducing inflammation. Our skin is our largest organ, and plays a major roll in detoxifying us. The magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin when you take an Epsom salt bath, and this aids in detoxification as the sulfates are essential for the formation of proteins lining the digestive tract, as well as in stimulating the pancreas to form digestive enzymes that are necessary in order to detoxify the body. Simply put, the more flawlessly your gut functions, the better skills your body will have when it comes to rid itself off of toxins.

The fact that Epsom salt baths also increases the body's magnesium levels is huge too. Many of us today actually have a magnesium deficiency, which is a problem since magnesium is so incredibly important to our health. But, to focus on the anti-inflammatory issues, magnesium matters as it literally gives inflammation a chill pill. Inflammation is a response to an irritant from your immune system, so if we keep that in mind, this will be easy to understand. If we fall and hurt ourselves somewhere, our immune system creates a protein called circulating immune complex (CIC), and this is what causes the pain and swelling that comes next. The pain lets us know that we're injured, and the swelling is protective for the injured tissue (for example, a compressed disc in our spine will swell up during compression to protect itself from rupturing, it HURTS, but it's there for a reason) as the body will respond with fresh blood, antibodies and vital cells in order to begin healing and repairing the damage. To counteract the inflammation, our bodies then produces something called proteolyctic enzymes, which helps restore us back to normal. Without these guys functioning properly, our bodies don't get the message that it's time to stop the inflammation. The pickle here is that these enzymes are mediated by magnesium, meaning that without enough magnesium, the proper function and activity of them won't be good enough to calm down the inflammation. This is of course where Epsom salt baths comes in, as one way of helping us absorb magnesium quickly, and help reduce inflammation.

By no means is this a cure all thing, but I find it to be very helpful with acute inflammation. At the very least, it won't hurt you to try it out! Go to CVS, and you can get a big bag of it for around $5. I say it's totally worth it.

Lunge Tutorial

As I believe I promised in this post here's a little lunge tutorial to help you all get your butts in check.

Get into a lunge position. I like keeping either a yoga block between my hands or just clasp them together, to help align my shoulders by reaching my elbows towards the floor. Ears, shoulders and hips should be aligned on top of each other. Before you lunge down, elevate your back heel off the floor, and soften the back knee to help disengage the quad. The purpose is to engage your front glute muscle, and not the back quad. Make sure your front heel is rooted into the floor, all while still keeping the ball of your foot rooted as well. Engage your abs and begin lowering your body down, actively pulling your abs in, and lengthening out throughout your spine. Front knee should stay aligned on top of your front ankle, and you should not be leaning forward here. Use your front glute and press back up again, but not to the point where the back leg extends fully. Fully extended leg will only fire your quads.

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What not to do. Take a look in a mirror from the front. With butt amnesia comes all sorts of sneaky ways for the body to try avoid having to use the glutes. If the hip of the glute that's supposed to be firing is coming out to the side, and knee is moving in towards your midline, then you're not working correctly. This alignment inhibits your glute complex from stabilizing your hip and knee and instead, the adductor complex kicks in and takes over. This is bad for your knee (especially the soft tissue on the medial side) and it also defeats the purpose of the lunge.

Use the concept of mind to muscle here! Try to actively feel your front glute firing, think about that booty. Patience is important as well. Remember that it has taken years to disconnect from your glutes, so go easy on yourself and remember that we become good at what we practice. Repetition is your friend here. Practice often, trust the process, and don't give up. Your butt wants to work <3

Post Cinco De Mayo Breakfast

For all of you who might be suffering a little bit today, this will for sure make you feel better. Eggs cooked in coconut cream, tons of cilantro to help your system cleanse, and plenty of lemon to make you a tiny bit more alkaline.  And of course plenty of fat to make sure you get full, and to help curb those gnarly hangover cravings you know are coming for ya :)

 For 1 person 

  • 1/3 cup coconut cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 bell pepper , sliced thin
  • A little bit of sliced scallions  
  • LOTS of cilantro (I used a full cup) 
  • 1 whole lemon
  • Kosher salt

On low heat, melt the coconut cream in a pan. Add in eggs when the cream is fully melted and scramble low and slow until fully cooked. Season with salt, serve with the veggies and squeeze all the lemon on top. Black coffee and aspirin on the side ;)

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PMS

It’s not a dazzling topic to talk about, but I want to anyways. My blog. My content. Me me me me me :) Here’s the thing, pms happens to me, and most women, every month more or less and it sucks. It’s disruptive in my everyday life, it’s tough to manage because literally everything I do needs to be pretty much flawless (diet, workouts, sleep, social interactions etc.) leading up to it in order for me to not have to deal with it, and since I’m flawed by nature a cycle with zero pms symptoms has happened…..never? At least not from what I can remember. Either way. Here I am, grateful to once again be out of the pms-bullshittery-deluxe-weeds. This gnarly creature will manifest itself differently in all women. For me, it turns my heart hypersensitive, combined with raging hypochondria. This round I had cervical, ovarian and skin cancer all in one day. Super solid. And I was bloated on top of that. Normally it’s not this bad for me (like I don’t have to live through epic pms stints like so many women out there) but this one just hit me hard, I felt so anxious, and I have some theories about why, so figured I should share. Because who knows, maybe it will bring some level of comfort to another fellow little crazy monster out there? To know that at least you’re not crazy all by yourself, and how you’re feeling is most certainly not just in your head. Ya hear that, dudes?!

Pms will happen sometime during the luteal phase of your cycle (post-ovulation) and it’s the balance between estrogen and progesterone that stirs shit up. If you for some reason have a cycle where you’re extra low on progesterone this will affect serotonin more. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a big role in stabilizing our mood, so keeping it balanced will make a huge difference for our well-being. Obviously not the only function, but it’s an important one. Low levels can make us anxious, sad, feeling depressed etc., and it can also drive us straight into multiple nights with Ben & Jerry’s without really knowing what happened until it’s too late. Feel me?

Naturally boosting our serotonin is possible, but it requires a little bit of planning. Meaning, don't try any other method other than the ice cream method if you're currently living downtown pms-ville, it’s kinda too late for this month. But for all of you other ladies who can be saved this cycle, I'll give you my (very personal) take on what can be done.

Since some studies estimates that about 90% of serotonin is produced in our gut, I think the gut approach is the way to go. I’m not going to try to back this up with any scientific studies, this topic is just too damn personal and abstract. All I can really talk about here is myself and my personal experiences.

I genuinely believe that all disease begin in the gut, so keeping my gut healthy is my primary focus with my diet these days. A great way to help heal out our guts, and restore the gut microbiome is to keep it simple with our diets. First get rid of anything that we know is disruptive (grains, legumes, dairy and even nuts and seeds). Eat veggies, but focus on those that grow above ground. Eat plenty of fat in the form of grass fed butter, coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil. Then eat normal amounts of high quality protein. In addition to this, eat a little bit of raw, fermented veggies daily to ensure a solid flow of good probiotics. I stick to regular sauerkraut for the most part (just cabbage and salt), but sometimes I ferment veggies myself, or eat kimchi. Whatever gets you going. Then consume a little bit of prebiotics. If you don’t want to carb out, then drink potato water (slice up a potato, put it in water over night and drink the water). I like sweet potatoes. My best carb treat.

Second tip is to sleep! Serotonin is replenished during our sleep, and to be honest, this is usually my downfall. I have a busy mind and I tend to be a light, anxious sleeper combined with being a master at staying up late for no reason. It's just not a great combo.

When I’m 100% good with my diet and sleep, I pretty much bypass the hassle of pms completely. For this cycle I feel like I’ve screwed myself for a few reasons.

1) Diet. Too many cocktails. Sugar sugar sugar.

2) Sleep. Hasn’t been that great.

3) My immune system got a little stressed a while back (gut gut gut).

Again, not claiming this to be the truth, but it works for me. Everytime. And when all else fails, there’s always Netflix, wine and ice cream. XO

 

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Blood Typing Your Diet?

I've been getting some questions lately about whether or not eating accordingly with your blood type is a good idea. Honestly haven't spent any real time exploring this, or what it means in terms of diet, so had to do a little research and think about it for a second. If we start by looking at the different blood types and what Dr. D'Adamo, the blood type diet's guru, says about them in relation to diet and exercise:

Blood type O is the oldest blood type. O-people will thrive on a diet rich in animal proteins, while minimizing dairy and grains. Ideal exercise routine should be based around aerobics, martial arts, contact sports and running.

Type A-people should consume a vegetarian, whole foods based diet. Exercise routine should be focused on calming movements, so yoga or tai chi would be good options. Apparently A-people are also prone to cancer, diabetes and heart disease, according to Dr. D'Adamo.

Type B's are robust people with solid immunity, and a tolerant digestive system. B-people should eliminate corn, wheat, buckwheat, lentils, tomatoes, peanuts, sesame seeds and chicken if they're trying to lose weight. Foods that encourages weight loss are green veggies, eggs, beneficial meats (goat, lamb, rabbit, mutton and venison), and low fat dairy. For exercise, hiking, cycling, tennis and swimming are suggested as good activities, as it requires mental balance.

The last one, type AB, Dr. D'Adamo claims to be the most recent blood type (in terms of evolution), and foods to avoid for these group of people includes caffeine and alcohol (especially in stressful situations, go figure). Foods to focus on should be tofu, seafood, dairy and green veggies if you're trying to lose weight. For exercise, a combination of what's suitable for type A and B are recommended.

Obviously there's a lot more details than what I listed above, so if you want to dive in, website is right here. But just this small part makes me tick a little, it goes against what I've learnt from an evolutionary perspective. First of all, type O is not the oldest blood type, and it didn't evolve through dietary patterns. Type A seems to be the oldest type, but who knows? And does it matter? Recent research points to types A, B and O being about 20 million years old, and if we think about this...how can type A, or any blood type require foods that hasn't been around for more than 10,000 something years? Makes no sense in my head. Also, being a Scandinavian, I've got to question this from the aspect of the diet of the Sami people. The majority of these fine folks are type A's (50-90%!), yet their diet was (is) reach in reindeer meats, blood, and fatty fish, and they are healthy. 

A lot of the focus with this diet is based on the idea that lectins found in certain foods will cause clumping of the red blood cells, and that this is different depending on food and blood type. However, no such evidence exists. What research has shown is that lectins that causes this type of clumping will do so regardless of blood type. I think people who get great results on this diet can attribute it to the fact that it seriously reduces the amount of processed foods they're consuming, no matter the blood type. I don't think it's optimal, but hey, whatever works, right? I'll keep doing some research and maybe I'll change my mind. We'll see. If I find something interesting I'll for sure write a little something about it here. 

Some Swedish Food

Homesickness hits me on the regular, and even though food is just food, it can be a comforting tool to use sometimes. For me, potatoes and fish are pure nourishment for my Swedish heart. It's not completely keto (but tots 100% paleo), because there's 1/2 potato per portion, so if you're sensitive, just replace with more boiled eggs. It will be just as awesome, promise! I decided to put boiled, then cooled off potatoes in it for the prebiotics. Because sometimes our good gut bacterias needs to be fed too. Just trying to be a fair mama for my little internal eco system-baby. XO

 

EGG & POTATO SALAD, 4 PORTIONS

  • 2 potatos, boiled, then fully cooled off, diced into pieces
  • 3 eggs, hard boiled, then chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2-1 cup of chopped, fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp of capers
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard (make sure ingredients are all good for both capers and mustard)
  • 1/2 cup mayo, I use Mark Sission's incredible avocado oil mayo
  • S & P to taste

This is where it gets tricky...not! Blend it all in a bowl and it's done :) Serve with as much cold smoked salmon as you want! I can rarely eat much more than 2-4 oz but there's no reason to limit your smoked salmon, as long as it's wild caught, and contains nothing but salt and the actual smoke. Enjoy! 

Astrid Bengtson

IT-Bands: Foam Rolling, No Pain, No Gain?

If you've ever tried self-myofascial release (SMR) to reduce pain in a sore area of your body, chances are you've tried out a little tool called a foam roller, and that you've used them to "roll out" your oh-so-sore IT-bands. Yes? At least this is my experience, that many of us LOVE to "release" this commonly sore and banged up area. I used to think foam rolling did wonders for me too, until something hit me. If it was so good for my IT-bands, then why wasn't the issue ever solved? I mean, why would I still feel tension and soreness pretty much every time I rolled my IT-bands if this method of reducing soreness was efficient?

Fast forward a few years, and a greater understanding on my end of kinesiology. Turns out, the issue isn't the IT-bands (for most of us at least). On the sides of our hips we have a few muscles that are responsible for hip abduction (moving your leg away from the midline of your body). This movement should allow for dynamic stabilization of your knee during movement, in particular while walking or running (hands up runners who regularly foam rolls your IT-bands?). Say hi to your glute medius. This glute muscle is the prime mover in hip abduction, and it has an assistant called the TFL (tensor fascia latae), which is supposed to help out with stabilization of your knee in this motion. Your IT-band is attached to your TFL and since the body is an integrated unit, when one part becomes dysfunctional, a whole lot of other dysfunction and problems will arise as a consequence. For most of us people living a modern western lifestyle, pretty much completely free of our natural movement patterns, this means most of us have what I like to refer to as butt amnesia. Simply put, because of our lifestyle we've lost a lot of the fundamental, natural muscular functions in the body, and for most of us this include the glute medius.

With a glute medius that has checked out, it becomes pretty useless in terms of stabilizing your pelvis, and further down the kinetic chain your knee and ankle, so the TFL has to kick in and do more than it's supposed to. However, since it's a pretty small and humble muscle compared to your glute medius, a thick band of connective tissue tightens up to help out and stabilizes the knee statically, aka your IT-band. This is an issue, because now your body is statically using a structure in the quest for dynamic stabilization, and as a result way too much unnatural stress is put on the IT-band, and it becomes real grumpy and inflamed as a consequence. If it still doesn't make sense why foam rolling the IT-band isn't a good solution, here's a quick breakdown:

1.) Your IT-band tightness is caused by your glute medius not firing properly, or not firing at all.

2.) Your IT-band responds with inflammtion, and to foam roll on an already inflamed area makes about as much sense as taking sand paper and rubbing it on an irritated patch of skin in hopes that it will heal.

So instead of furthering irritating you IT-bands through foam rolling, you are better off addressing the root cause; glute medius weakness. I'll make sure I post some exercises and tips and tricks on how to wake these little suckers up. But, in terms of foam rolling, releasing the overworked and overactive TFL in your body is a good option. This can be done by simply placing the foam roller right underneath it and "resting into it" until you feel a decrease in pain. Try doing that prior to the glute exercise to optimize your chances of firing up your glute medius! 

Monday Detox Tip!

If you live in Lalaland, that is, and you got a little ratchet over the weekend :) Go to the Bulletproof Cafe in Santa Monica, and get their bonebroth with upgraded collagen. Chug a little activated charcoal, then eat one of their protein bowls with cauliflower rice, and you'll be as good as new, I swear. Completely non-toxic foods in a non-toxic, and fully biohacked environment. Bliss for the mind of this nerd, and bliss for my liver.

I can't say the sluggish feeling I have today wasn't worth it. There's crispy pig in it. 

I can't say the sluggish feeling I have today wasn't worth it. There's crispy pig in it. 

Fatty McPatty broth. So good.

Fatty McPatty broth. So good.

Grass fed steak bowl with veggies. All your system needs. 

Grass fed steak bowl with veggies. All your system needs. 

Activation & Deactivation Before Lifting

I love the concept of trying to optimize most things in life. This is because I'm a pretty lazy person, so whatever I can do to make my life easier and more efficient, I do. When it comes to working out, I want to get the most out of it so I don't have to do as many reps and sets in my workouts (did I mention I'm lazy?) This translates into me spending a little bit of time not just activating and fire muscles that I know tend to behave as weak-sauce (glutes for example), but also deactivating my overactive, compensating muscles.

My train of thought before I engage in any form of activation is that I first must look at what exercises I am going to perform in my workout. This determines what muscles to activate prior, how they need to be activated, but also what muscles to try and deactivate. For example, if my workout will include squats and lunges, I need to think about what muscles that are supposed to be driving these movements, what the optimal sequencing of these exercises should be, as well as taking my western, muscular dysfunctions and compensations into the equation.

To follow the above structure of figuring out our activation and deactivation, we'll begin by dissecting the biomechanics of the squat a little. During the eccentric phase of the squat (when we squat down), our glutes are moving and stabilizing through hip flexion, adduction and internal rotation; aka our glutes are lengthening in all three planes of motion. This is supposed to enable us to rise back up safely using our glutes as they concentrically extend, abduct and externally rotates our hips. That is, if our glutes are working properly. Also in the eccentric phase, the mechanics of the knee is flexion and a slight internal rotation (internal rotation of the femur). This means hipflexors are contracting during the eccentric phase, and quads are contracting as you stand up, extending your knees. 

Now that we have an idea of what muscles that are at work during the squat, we can move on to the next step of looking at our muscular imbalances and dysfunctions. Most of us westerners suffer from a little something I like to call butt amnesia. I have yet to assess one single client over the years that has had an adequate, normal function of the glutes. In the world of muscular imbalances and compensations, this means that our quads and hipflexor complex are dominant and overactive. Therefore, activation of these areas in any form in order to prepare for squatting (or lunging) makes no sense. In my opinion it's a waste of time as we don't have to worry about them engaging during the squat. They're already overactive and more than excited to work, combined with the fact that activating them further also encourages an even greater inhibition of the glutes. The quads and hipflexors are therefore areas that I would encourage to try and de-activate prior to squatting. This can be done utilizing SMR with the help of a foamroller, as it can help relax and get very active muscles to chill out a little bit. Moving on to activation! Here the focus should be ass, ass, ass! If you're suffering from severe butt amnesia, I recommend following the protocol of first releasing your TFL through foamrolling, then moving onto an exercise like clams so you get to feel your glute medius, and then do a couple of sets of single leg deadlifts so you get to feel your entire glute complex working, all while teaching it to stabilize your hip and knee in hip flexion and extension.

Only performing exercises such as glute bridges and hip thrusts will not prepare your muscles for squatting! Don't get me wrong, I love using these exercises as a gateway to allow clients to feel their butts again, but in terms of using it as an activation exercise for squatting, they're pretty useless. This because we're limited to only teaching our glutes how to extend the hip with these exercises, combined with a nervous system that's pretty much asleep due to the supine position (we're not fighting gravity the same way as when we squat). Also, when we do these exercises, the glutes are working in isolation, which isn't conducive when it comes to squat prep. When we squat, we use multiple muscles which requires correct neurological communication, so if we really want to optimize (and safe-proof) our squats we're much better off doing an activation exercise that actually practices and re-establishes correct neurological function and pathways. This is where the lunge comes in handy! I suggest starting with a few sets of stationary lunges without any added weight, using the exercise in itself as an activation. Although the biomechanics of the lunge isn't exactly the same as the squat, the joint motions of the hip (of the leg in front) are similar enough; hip flexion, adduction as you lower down and internal rotation of the hip. This way you're teaching your glute how to work together with all the other muscles of the hip, as well as getting the ankle, knee and spine to move properly with the hip as well. It's also time efficient, as this means that you can incorporate activation into your workout, as long as you sequence everything properly (meaning, lunge before you squat). I'll try and get a lunge-post up as well later this week to explain how to do it correctly. Maybe I'll also write a little bit about how to get some abs even if you're a total sloth. Maybe. XO

AstridBengtson

Bone Broth Tip...

...for all you single people out there. Bone broth is one of those things that's damn tricky to make in small batches, and if you live by yourself like me, you've also probably thrown away gallons of it, yes? Bad bad bad people! Food should never be wasted, so let me tell you what you do - reduce all that broth to stock, pour into ice cube trays and freeze it. Pull out as many as you need and use for whatever. Wicked smaht.

AstridBengtson