Monday, October 1, 2007

Z Health and Weight Loss, Caffeine Power Nap, Neural Chunking and more!

I apologize for the longer than usual gaps in blog posts, but in the future they will be about one per week since I like to go more in depth on some and that takes a fair amount of time to track down the research. My virtual assistant should be up and running any time now, so that will be a big help.

December 18 is my last final for classes this quarter and it will be my last quarter of full time classes! Whoo ha! My research proposal should gets some funding (fingers crossed), so I will be able to start my dissertation research in January of 2008, so I am super excited! I just need to publish 3 papers and then I am done--ha!

I am also working 24 hours a week, TA for Exercise Physiology all day every Friday, pilot research, funding proposal due Oct 25 and training myself and some Z Health appointments along the way. I try to get out and have fun too! It is all good though and no complaints.

I have the RKC in Oct here coming up and then Z Health Level 4 training in AZ in early November, so that will be a blast.Neuro Chunking Experience
I was able to get out 2 weekends ago kiteboarding on Friday, wakeboarding on Sat and more kiteboarding on Sunday, so that was awesome!

My first pull wakeboarding on that Sat was horrible! I was having an "off" day and everything seemed hard and nothing was going right. I was trying to clear the wake and not making it and slamming into the opposite wake--youch.

So before my second pull, I just said I was going to have fun and if I never clear the wake, so be it. As I got back there, the driver (Mike "Supersize") cranked up a killer Seether tune and I realized that this is supposed to be FUN! I relaxed and had a blast and cleared the wake most of the time no problem!

I realized that music profoundly affects my mood and although I can't prove it yet, I feel that mood influences performance too! There is some evidence to suggest that the release of dopamine (a "feel good" neurotransmitter) aids in strengthen neuro connections(actually it was shown that dopamine depletion disrupts skillful performance of sequential movements if you want to be picky (1)). Add to this that I have nuerally chunked music into almost everything that I do; so in my case good music=good times=improved performance.

I would be interested if others have had similar experiences, so please post them in the comments section.

Z Health for Fat Loss?
Now I know this sounds too good to be true!

Awhile back I did a Z Health appointment on an athlete and it went well. In short, we were able to get her glutes and hams to fire much better and this drastically improved her KB swing almost instantly! I was excited and so was she.

A week later I checked in and she said the KB swing felt worse and she was getting tightness in her lower back. I asked if she had been doing the Z drills and she said "no". So I explained to her that if her glutes and hams were not working correctly that more of the force would be transferred to her low back and she should do the Z drills more.

Fast forward to another week later and same thing--low back tightness and she had not been doing the Z Health drills and even stopped doing the KB work.
Since her goal was primarily fat loss, I explained that if some of the biggest muscles in her body (glutes and hams) were not firing correctly, that in addition to causing some low back tightness she was actually hindering her fat loss efforts since the most metabolically active muscles were still asleep! Her eyes lit up and that made sense to her. Bingo!

She began doing the Z Health drills before each session and reported that she felt great and even had some soreness in her glutes and hams for the first time in recent memory. She was all excited because she could feel it "targeting" the glutes and hams.

Now you can argue about whether soreness is needed, but in the real world most athletes (at least initially) like to feel like they have done some work; so by explaining it in terms she could understand AND fit her goals, her compliance went way up.

Caffeine power nap
Here is a cool trick I picked up about a year ago called the caffeine power nap. Right before you take a short (30-45 minute) nap, drink some coffee or use anhydrous caffeine like No Doz (or my favorite Biotest Spike which has caffeine and thiamine di(2-methylpropionate) disulfide in case you were wondering), lay down ideally in a quiet, dark room, for some shut eye. I like to set a kitchen timer since I can then turn off my cell phone as for the alarm to work the cell phone has to be on. The caffeine will start to kick in within about 30-60 minutes, so once you wake up the caffeine is going and you had the benefit of some extra shut eye. Sweet!

I don't recommend this practice all the time as there is nothing that can replace a good nights sleep, but lets face it--sometimes you have deadlines to meet and stuff that has to get done and this works great. I view caffeine as living on "borrowed time" as you will have to repay this temporary sleep debt at some point. The half life of caffeine is about 3-9 hours (2,3) and feel free to adjust the amount based on your tolerance for caffeine and how close you do this near your estimated bed time.

Let me know if anyone has tried this and your thoughts. I will save you a diatribe on caffeine for now.

Personally I really like Biotest Spike since it helps my concentration quite a bit and the time release provides a nice and smooth no crash feeling. Again, use in moderation.

Amazing new band for all you music fans!
It is a pretty well know fact that you find a higher percentage of metal heads in the "gym crowd" than in other places. One of the best things I love about training in my garage is the loud metal music. Most people probably don't know that I was a metal DJ at a college radio station for 4.5 year and was also the Director of Loud Rock music there for 4 years--amazing time.

I just saw the band Five Finger Death Punch here in MN last night and they were AMAZING! All of the members are amazing and very passionate musicians. Old school metal guitar solos, amazing vocals from Ivan Moody (former singer of Motogrator) that go from clean and clear to angry and screaming, double bass and crazy hooks. Their debut CD is my favorite CD of this entire year--highly highly recommended. Check out two videos below from them.

Random studies I found interesting

leucine study

The molecular bases of training adaptation

Muscle mechanics: adaptations with exercise training

Shoterning velocity and ATPase activity of rat skeletal muscle fibers: effects of endurance exerercise training

The determinants fo skeletal muscle force and power: their adaptability with change in activity pattern

That should keep you busy!
Rock on!
Mike N


1. Blanchard J., S. J. Sawers. The absolute bioavailability of caffeine in man. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 24(1):93-98, 1983.

2. Matsumoto N., T. Hanakawa, S. Maki, A. M. Graybiel, M. Kimura. Role of [corrected] nigrostriatal dopamine system in learning to perform sequential motor tasks in a predictive manner. J Neurophysiol. 82(2):978-998, 1999.

3. Newton R., L. J. Broughton, M. J. Lind, P. J. Morrison, H. J. Rogers, I. D. Bradbrook. Plasma and salivary pharmacokinetics of caffeine in man. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 21(1):45-52, 1981.