Monday, August 8, 2016
Alternate title: The Time I Drank Three Iced Coffees Before 9 AM
A certain little someone turns
26 months 2 years and 2 months old today! I can’t believe how quickly the months are flying by now. In fact, they’re moving so fast, I missed last month’s Day in the Life post. Boo. Mom fail. And I almost missed this month’s post too, but I ended up documenting last Saturday morning, so it’s a little snippet into our life at this age.
5:57 AM: I hear Qman on the monitor. Seconds later, I feel Mal climb out of bed. He walks into Quinn’s room, tells him it’s too early to wake up, and then returns to bed. I fall back to sleep.
6:31 AM: I hear Quinn on the monitor again, but, this time, it doesn’t sound like he’s going back to bed. I look at the monitor and he’s standing up in his crib, which means it’s time to start the day. (There’s no way he’s going back to sleep!)
6:33 AM: I bring Qman downstairs. He puts his arms around me and his head on my shoulder. I assume he’s still tired and start rubbing his back, hoping maybe to sneak in some morning cuddles on the couch, but then he pops his head up and immediately asks for milk. Ok, then. I give him some milk in a sippy cup and then set him up on the couch with his recent stuffed animal posse. Quinn’s must-haves for bed: 3 blankets + Nemo, Dori, Pinchy, and Frog.
6:37 AM: I make myself an iced Americano using our Nespresso machine + cream + date ice cubes.
I soaked a bunch of Medjool dates overnight for a recipe, so I decided to turn the leftover date water into ice cubes. They turned out so well and added some natural sweetness to my Americano!
6:47 AM: Quinn and I play with his opposite cards. (FYI: They’re from the Dollar Spot at Target.)
7:00 AM: Dada wakes up and comes downstairs. He says he’s too sore for CrossFit and suggests going out for breakfast instead, which sounds like an awesome idea to me!
7:05 AM: I start to get Quinn dressed for the day, but he’s in maniac-mode, so I let him play and head upstairs to get myself ready.
7:08 AM: I change out of my pajamas and put on a little make-up (tinted moisturizer + mascara). Side story: Back in high school, I always thought it was weird when girls wore make-up to school everyday. Now, I get it and rarely ever leave the house without at least a little make-up (even to work out).
7:14 AM: Once I’m ready, I join Quinn downstairs. He’s using a magnifying glass to examine his opposite cards.
And possibly Murphy’s butt. I’m not quite sure what he’s looking at…
7:19 AM: I take Murphy for a walk while Mal gets ready.
7:29 AM: Murphy and I return home. I finish getting Quinn ready.
7:31 AM: We’re off to breakfast!
7:42 AM: We arrive at the Omelet Factory.
7:47 AM: Mal and I order iced coffees.
Qman orders milk and uses his Slinky to hold it.
7:48 AM: Cheers!
7:49 AM: It’s our first time at the Omelet Factory, so we’re impressed with the menu. Some of the specialty omelets are really creative and sound so delicious. I order the Farmer’s omelet with Swiss cheese.
7:53 AM: While we wait for our food, we keep ourselves entertained with silly games, like blowing “snakes” made out of straw wrappers.
And building epic jelly towers.
Mal’s face… haha!
7:58 AM: Quinn’s fruit cup arrives and he digs right into the watermelon.
8:06 AM: Breakfast is served!
Holy cow, the portions are massive!
8:16 AM: We play more silly games.
And shake Splenda packets like maracas.
8:23 AM: Qman eats several bites of his pancake and then signs “all done.” He wants to leave the table and explore the restaurant, so we explain that breakfast isn’t over and he needs to sit in his chair. He looks at us, waves, and says “bye” before climbing down.
8:25 AM: Even though it’s really cute, we know from past experience that “bye” means: “I’m not going to listen to you and will throw a tantrum if you try to make me,” so we break out the iPad and let Qman play Endless Alphabet until we’re finished with breakfast. Technology to the rescue!
8:41 AM: We pay our bill and swing by Coffee Shack for a couple of iced coffees. (Hey, it was on the way home!)
8:46 AM: Mal and I both order Pecan Sticky Bun with a splash of milk.
8:51 AM: We drive home.
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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions. First up, what happens when a brisk walk isn’t enough to attain the optimal fat-burning heart rate zone? It’s a good problem to have—better fitness—but it still needs a response. What activities can a person do to slightly increase the intensity without going over the target heart rate? And second, are fermented foods a potential cause of depression? If they have any effect on serotonin, could this cause problems rather than improvements?
I love walking and have lost 65 pounds over the last year and a half with that, combined with some basketball and, of course a primal diet. But walking no longer gets me into my “180-my age” range anymore, my heart rate stays 110 or so even at 4 mph. Running/jogging hurts my knees, so should I try the elliptical for my aerobic work, or just stick with fast walking even at a lower heart rate? Thanks and love the blog and podcast!
I’ve got good news and bad news, Vance.
The good news is that you’re officially fitter than when you started. If you’re able to walk at the same pace with a lower heart rate, you’re building that aerobic base, those new mitochondria. You’re becoming fat-adapted. Nice work.
The bad news (that isn’t really bad news) is that you’ll have to step it up a bit. But here’s another piece of good news: the “harder” work will only be as hard as walking used to be at your old heart rate because you’re more efficient at burning fat and you’ve got all those new mitochondria to play with. This is how an aerobic base opens up new doors and promotes the exploration of new types of movement. If last year a 5 mile uphill hike made you wheeze with regret, today that same hike will be a breeze. You’ll actually get to enjoy yourself, take in the views, and hold a conversation. The physical effort will be an afterthought.
That’s why the aerobic base is so important even for regular folks and non-elites: it improves your default mode of transportation. If before a slow walk along a sidewalk was as fast as you could go and still be comfortable, now a fast walk is your default. Your new normal becomes faster, better, stronger.
As for what you can do to hit that heart rate?
The elliptical is okay. I’m not a big fan, personally, especially for the high-volume, low-intensity movement you’ll be doing. The treadmill’s linearity is bad enough. Ellipticals are totally linear. Your movements literally follow a track, forcing repetition and replication. Any repetitive motion adds up. Sprinting on an elliptical? Sure. It’s over in a jiffy and provides the desired stimulus.
Try rucking. Load up a backpack with books and walk around wearing it. Start small, maybe 10-15 pounds. Move up as dictated by your heart rate. If things get heavy, use a pack with a hip belt to redistribute the weight. Weighted vests also work well here.
Do you have any hills near you? Go walk them.
As for the machines, an inclined treadmill can work.
Rowing is great. Just keep it nice and leisurely, like you’re a 19th century Manhattan fop taking his sweetheart out on the pond. Wouldn’t want to sweat through your linen suit.
Skipping is great, too. Kids know what they’re doing. If skipping’s too intense, skip for 10 paces, walk for 20.
A nice easy bike ride.
Swimming, too. Don’t forget about the pool.
Anything works. Just explore the different types of movement and watch your HR.
Fermented foods, like kefir and kimchi, are often praised for their health benefits, one of which is their affect on serotonin and mood.
I’m wondering, concerned even, about possible long-term effects like serotonin depletion. This is something I observe in myself after prolonged periods of enthusiastic coffee consumption, short-term indulgences with wine, and (unfortunately) even a single dose of 90% dark chocolate. It also something I’ve read about in association with BCAA supplementation.
Should we be wary of a daily kefir habit too?
There are some strange things going on with serotonin and depression. It’s not a straightforward relationship. The common “neurotransmitter imbalance” model of depression where low serotonin causes depression isn’t quite accurate and has little actual evidence to support it. Anti-depressant drugs and supplements that don’t target serotonin, as well as non-pharmacological interventions like exercise, may be more effective than SSRIs against depression. If SSRIs work, it’s probably not by “increasing serotonin.”
In mice, probiotic administration increases serotonin turnover in the brain and reduces some of the inflammatory biomarkers associated with depression. Yet in humans, elevated serotonin turnover in the brain is a common feature of depression. Weird, eh?
The evidence is quite clear, though: fermented food intake is usually associated with low rates of depression in humans, not high rates.
Among Spanish university students, high-fat yogurt (but not low-fat yogurt) is protective against depression.
A recent trial in humans even found that a multi-species probiotic supplement made subjects more resistant to sad moods. These were healthy humans, not depressed ones, and depression is more than “sad mood,” but it’s promising.
The serotonin/fermented food question is up in the air. I’m not convinced, personally. But we have a conceivable mechanism by which fermented foods might exert protection against depression: improved gut health.
Leaky gut is common and seems to play a pathophysiological role in major depression; up to 35% of depressed patients have leaky gut. If your gut is too permeable, bacterial endotoxins/lipopolysaccharide (LPS) gain admittance to general circulation. And at least in mice, LPS induces depression.
Fermented food and probiotics can help. L. rhamnosus and L. reuteri supplements reduce leaky gut, and L. rhamnosus also helps restore the gut barrier in kids with acute gastroenteritis. In rats with leaky gut, yogurt improves gut barrier function.
I don’t think you should worry about this until it actually becomes a problem. Keep drinking that kefir and fermenting that cabbage.
That’s it for this week, folks. Now let’s hear from you.
Anyone had depressive symptoms worsen with fermented food intake? Improve?
What else can Vance do besides walk faster?
Thanks for reading!
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