Mixed tape Monday: Supplements and Habits

Today marks four weeks since I've started this blog, and much to my surprise, I'm closing in on 2,000 page visits. So thank you to the two people who have each visited my site 1,000 times. That's a lot of page refreshes.

I kid, I kid. It was four people.

 Whether or not you are interested in fitness, this is just an awesome book.

Whether or not you are interested in fitness, this is just an awesome book.

Ok, seriously. Thanks to all of you who have visited this very young site in the past month. If there's a topic you'd like to see covered, please feel free to mention it in the comments section below. Or just say hi. That's cool too.

With that in mind...

Habits (No, not rabbits, which is this interesting thing my friend Heather texts on the first day of every month. Maybe a New England thing. )

I came across this book, not surprisingly, as recommended reading on one of the fitness blogs I follow, and it's by far one of the most fascinating and useful books I've read. In the book, Duhigg delves into the science behind habits; the way we develop good habits and break bad ones. He dissects the model of Alcoholics Anonymous as well as the business models of businesses such as Target and Starbucks. 

Aside from just being an excellent and entertaining read, much like any Malcolm Gladwell book, Duhigg talks specifically about how folks develop an exercise habit. (He also talks about how Fabreeze nearly failed right out of the marketplace. I for one am grateful it didn't, our lacrosse gloves in college turned the strongest stomachs without it.)

For some people, working out provides a natural high. The reward I get from a workout is often a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. My cue to work out is when I'm in a bad mood or feeling sluggish. I know that if I workout, I will get the reward of feeling better. 

But it doesn't work that way for everyone. I know plenty of people who drag themselves to the gym, are miserable while they work out, and aside from a cognizant recognition that they've done something good for themselves, feel no different for working out. If there is no reward for working out, it's harder to motivate yourself to hit the gym.

Duhigg's recommendation? Find a reward (I'm oversimplifying it). My recommendation? Read the book. 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids n'at

Exactly what is Omega 3 fatty acids n'at?

Well, n'at is a Western Pennsylvania term for "and that." Why it's added on to the end of many sentences, I have no idea. Here it is used to say let's talk about fish oil...which by itself doesn't sound that interesting, so by including 'n'at, I've now abandoned the four readers I had....

If you're not already taking a fish oil (Omega 3) supplement, you might want to consider adding one. Why?

Because fish oil burps. That's why.

No, not really. And in fact, if you're like half the people I know, one fish oil burp a half hour after you take the two gel caps is enough to make you throw up in your mouth, literally. (Tip: Freezing your fish oil or taking it with food will help prevent this. You're welcome).

Omega 3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, as well as hemp protein and flax and chia seeds, among a host of others foods, are linked to increased brain function, reduced cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and my personal favorite, reduced inflammation. Omega 3 fatty acids are specifically more effective when we balance them out with Omega 6 fatty acids, which most of us get more easily, through the consumption of red meat, eggs, etc. Fish oil is often recommended to balance our intake to a 1:1 ratio of Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids. (If you want to read more of the science, and have someone explain it way better than me, check out www.examine.com) Also, please note that if you have high cholesterol, be aware that fish oil can increase cholesterol.

Chances are, someone a lot smarter than me has made the recommendation to you (like a doctor or something), so there's no need for me to get all science-y n'at. (See how it just fits everywhere?) But, I include this in a post because as of two years ago, taking a fish oil supplement was news to me. It was something my parents did, but not something I thought I should ever consider. 

As with all necessary nutrients, the goal is to get them from whole foods and not supplements, but in some cases, this is often easier said than done. Hence the word supplement and not replacement. And as far as how much fish oil to take, the American Heart Association recommends one gram daily.

I went through several brands of fish oil before I found one that didn't cause the offensive indigestion, and I also use this company for vitamin D and greens. Athletic Greens offers a high quality fish oil and a 100% money back guarantee. And I'm way too new at this blogging game to get any money from any sites I link to. So the best I can tell you about the company and the products is that I've had great service.