Christopher Vlaun’s health and wellness tips
Why I skip breakfast.
Over the years I have gone through various phases and dietary habits to find the ones that best work for me. One habit that I adopted about 5 years ago is skipping breakfast. You may have heard of this concept, but am sure that you have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Opinions are pretty strong and studies are quite divided on this, but form me it works.
So how does it work for me and why? Is it for my performance? Yes. Is it to stay lean? Yes. Is more convenient for my lifestyle? Yes. Is it because it offers a range of health benefits? Sure does. Does it just work for me? Once again, yes.
With that said I wanted to share with you my top 5 reasons why I don’t eat breakfast. Keep in mind that there are studies
and views that are divided. Some outcomes may be correlated to lifestyle and habits that may not be exactly causation.
1. Being full while training is uncomfortable – Since I’m in the fitness/wellness business my days start pretty early and are often active in the early part of the day. I am often working with clients in a very interactive way demonstrating bodyweight exercises and techniques of our training system Aeroga Movement. This work often entails a great deal of full spectrum movement, twisting and exercises that would feel quite uncomfortable on a full stomach.
2. Fasting Benefits – It’s a good time for me to take advantage of the benefits of being in a fasted state. Since it has been over 12 hours since the last time I have had a meal, I am generally entering a fasted state. Do I consume anything when I wake up? Yes. I am all about the “Bulletproof Coffee” thank you Dave Asprey. I have always enjoyed coffee although I have always been a little sensitive to caffeine – the added butter and coconut oil tempers the effect of the jitters while giving me laser like focus. More on that later.
A few added benefits of intermittent fasting;
a. It promotes stronger insulin sensitivity and increased hormone secretion, both are good for weight loss. If your skeptic, I’m not the only one telling you this. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting/
b. Immunity Boost – When you cut food out for 15 or more hours your body is not under attack by the germs and bacteria from the food you eat.
So you are actually giving your immune system a break, as a result your immunity will be boosted thanks to the fast.
c. Digestive Reset – It takes energy for your digestive system to process the food you eat. During this fasted state you are giving your digestive system a rest so energy can be more put to use in activities. When you eat again your digestive system will be able to pick up and start working at full speed again.
d. Cellular repair: The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste from cells
3. It simplifies my day – In the morning there are to many tasks with getting the kids ready for school, preparing for my training/work day. Rather that spending the time preparing a quality breakfast and cleaning up after, I can enjoy my coffee, connect with my kids and quickly mix my green tonic drink that I will sip on for the next few hours during training hours. More on that at a later time.
4. Prepared for survival – While fasting is like tapping into my primal being, I feel more prepared for uncertainty whether feast or famine and not really stress myself out on exactly when I am have my next meal. People can often spend quite a bit of energy on wheat and when to eat next. I know I spent some time and energy over the years when really trying to dial in my nutrition to perform better and it didn’t always pay off. In the end I was stressed and unsatisfied.
5. I enjoy working out in a fasted state – Without a sufficient amount of glucose and glycogen to pull from (since it has been depleted in the fasted state) my body release of the only source of stored energy available – the fat stored in the cells. Great for staying lean!
What happens when you work out in a fasted state? As the glycogen stored in your muscle and liver so your body can burn as fuel when necessary is depleted during sleep and even more while working out or training, also increases insulin sensitivity. This means that what you eat immediately following a workout will be stored most efficiently. Most of the energy stores as glycogen for muscle stores, burned as energy quickly to aid recovery, at the same time a minimal amount is stored as fat.
Bonus Tip: I actually feel more focused and alert on the morning for a couple of hours. Makes sense since intermittent fasting helps brain function
Here’s my morning routine:
- Get out of bed do a short wakeup movement routine.
- Crank up some organic morning brew (coffee) make my Bullet Proof concoction. Sip on that while I prepare my green tonic. Recipe Below:
- Macro Greens – 1 scoop
- Fresh sliced ginger – size of my thumb
- 1 whole fresh squeezed organic lemon
- 16 oz of artesian spring water
Peel and slice up a thumb size of ginger root, cut a whole lemon in halves, squeeze into 16oz of water, blend and serve over ice. Sip and enjoy.
We have long been conditioned to the phrase that if you need to get in shape, lose weight, or get advice from your doctor it will sound like this: “I suggest diet and exercise”. It may not sound so inspiring, it sounds somewhat like a chore to me…
Two ways to look at it and two different approaches:
One is restrictive while the other is more motivational and performance driven. Think about it like this… if you set forth on a new “diet and exercise” program, your thought process will usually begin like this..
- I need to cut out this, cut back on that and eat only those.
- I can’t be around this, and I need to stay away from that.
- I will have to exercise for this long every day.
- I have to lift weights and do cardio X days per week.
Now let’s look at the approach of “train hard and nourish”. You probably will approach the mission with this kind of thinking…
- I need to find food that will best nourish and support my performance, make me feel good, and help me burn fat.
- I am going to look for this, I am going to surround myself with an environment that will inspire me.
- I will train with intensity and variety that will make me feel good, show me the best results and keep me motivated.
- I will train all energy systems (anaerobic and aerobic), I will explore my body’s capability and aim to improve overall performance (strength, power, mobility and endurance) since it will relate to a better lifestyle.
Aesthetic vs Functional driven.
One of the major differences of the diet and exercise approach vs. the train and nourish approach is that the first is aesthetic driven and the second is functional driven.
When aiming for aesthetic first you are more likely to find yourself doing it all for the six pack or “great ass”. This is all fine and motivating until you have set yourself up for something unsustainable or unattainable. Just think of starving yourself for six weeks while doing monotonous cardio and taking fat burners. It sounds like living on the edge of insanity while anxious and drained — all in the quest of that six pack.
By letting function drive you it is more than likely that you will be seeking training methods that will improve on the performance that will translate to your favorite sports or activities. I like to call this a “Train for Life” approach.
Conditioned thought of “Diet” vs “Nourishment”
Diet – Through life many of us have been conditioned to attach the idea of “diet” as restrictive, depleted, demotivating and somewhat rewardless. Humans naturally seek out reward somewhere in the process of making a change. If the reward is losing weight and/or looking better than it can be motivating and rewarding (if you get there). The question is, what if you never get there? I mean, what if you go through a period of time of restriction and depletion and your do not arrive at results you anticipated, chanced are that you will probably begin to think, “I am not enjoying this”, “this is not living”, or “I was happier before dieting”. Most likely you will then ditch the whole dieting thing altogether.
Nourishment – A completely different approach would be to seek out flavorful foods that give me more energy, more mental clarity, perform better and lose unwanted (bad weight) all at the same time. With this approach you can begin to look at food and eating much different. Grass fed butter is ok and gives me energy? I can nuts and fruit and because I will get digestive enzymes and healthy anti-inflammatory benefits? Awesome! Let me find what I can eat that will allow me train like a beast later.
Let’s Exercise vs Let’s Train – The idea of exercising is often understood as getting off the couch and moving. Yes – of course its better than staying on the couch and playing Xbox, but it dose not always guarantee that you are hitting the intensity necessary to elevate your level of fitness. I personally don’t find the term exercise very motivating. If you where to say, “let’s go get some exercise”, I’m not very fired up from that. Now, if you where to say “let’s get out and train” I really want to get after it with intension to rise to my ultimate potential. I am fired up and thinking of all the possibilities that may translate to other areas of my life.
Feel good first – One of the most important messages that I try to extend to instructors and clients is get addicted to feeling good from training. If you are training all in the quest of getting that 31″ waist or the perfect arms and six-pack you may fall short of your goal. Falling short of your goal may derail you from your journey. We have become very conditioned from all the marketing an infomercials that say “you can get a six-pack in 90 days simply following this routine”. Yes, these images do sell us on the ideal of looking good and feeling good after. True, you will feel better when you look better… how about feeling good first and getting hooked on it. If you are hooked on training because you feel so good and looking good becomes the byproduct of all that training you have just set yourself up for a fit feeling good lifestyle. I’m sold on that! Sometimes we can just change our phycology on our own and not wait for the marketing geniuses to brainwash us.
As an entrepreneur in the health and wellness arena I am so overwhelmed at the amount of information (good and bad), fads, science (good and bad), diets, detoxes, workout systems (good and bad), – where would someone possibly begin? So I sat down and decided to reflect on what I believe are the top five basic principles for living a healthy and happy life. Sure, there are definitely much more, but I want to break it down to the five essential. I always say the best way to make progress is to have a simple formula with consistent execution. So here are my top five – not in any particular order since they are all equally essential.
1. Simple Exercise
Nature takes away anything we do not use, so let’s use it all. Full spectrum movement and comprehensive bodyweight exercise is one of the ways to maintain a strong and balanced physique while being tuned up for many sports activities. Breathing is another very important component of fitness. Deep breathing through your nose during exercise oxygenates your blood in an amazing way. Many say that disease cannot exist in an oxygenated environment because studies are finding that disease manifests in places of the body that are not well oxygenated. My wife and I developed Aeroga Movement as the perfect formula to harness all of the essential aspects of fitness, breathing and full spectrum movement.
2. Connection With Nature
The idea that spending time in nature can make you feel better is intuitive. I would like to consider it an innate wisdom that we all carry. Researchers are amassing a body of evidence, proving that wisdom we all know to be true: nature is good for us and has both long and short term mental and physical health benefits. Today many may be a little more removed from that wisdom than a few hundred years ago. Exposure to nature is such an important part of our life harmony for the spiritual experience, breathing, mental clarity, sunlight, immune system and more. Hiking in nature for instance, is often very scenic and very rewarding. You experience deep breathing at a sustained heart rate with all of the benefits of fresh air like negative ions. Negative ions have been shown to help lift mood, alleviate depression and seasonal affective disorder (winter depression or SAD).
3. Traditional Diets
Recently traditional diets have been embraced by elite athletes (such as LA Lakers), Olympic Athletes, Paleo Movement (at some degree) and are getting finally the popularity they deserve. Traditional diets are built on the concepts of choosing foods preparation and foods quality that we were consuming over 100 years ago.
Foods that are part of the traditional diets have disappeared from our tables, especially in the USA, but thanks to the popularity there are more and more of these foods are available. The missing foods in our modern diet is the reason why many people eat healthy, everything organic and spend tons of dollars in supplements but seem not to feel or perform at their very best.
The benefits of the traditional diets include:
- More anti inflammatory
- Probiotic rich which support intestinal flora and the immune system
- Stronger gut health, bones, joints and ligaments
- More energy and vitality
- More nutrient dense
- Better skin and mood
Traditional diets foods that are missing in our modern diets includes
Naturally Fermented beverages (kvass, orangina, lemonade, sauerkraut juice, ecc.): particularly rich in beneficial probiotics, prebiotics and vitamins needed to sustain our gut flora and immune system.
Naturally fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchee, and asparagus) : do not confuse them with those found in the stores because they are not fermented and pasteurized). Particularly rich in beneficial probiotics, prebiotics and vitamins needed to sustain our gut flora and immune system. Especially sauerkraut is the only vegetables to contains the available source of vitamin K2 (plants contains vitamin K1 which as humans we absorb poorly)
Sprouted/germinated grains (corn, brown rice, quinoa,ecc), flours, legumes (beans, lentils, etc.), nuts (almons, walnuts, ecc.) and seeds. These foods even Organic naturally contains inhibitors such as phytic acid which bond to minerals and enzymes causing digestive difficulties and low mineral intake. Sprouting and germination brake down these inhibitors (including gluten and lectins), make them more digestible and open up their nutrition. Sprouting and germination is another form of fermentation.
4. Spiritual connection
Generally, spirituality is the opposite of materialism and implies a sense of connection – connection to a reality greater than perceived physical world which may include an emotional experience of religion, respect and reverence.
Dr. Steven Southwick’s book, Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, describes how some people overcome trauma—such as abduction, war, and imprisonment—by seeking comfort in spirituality or religion. He gives examples where spiritual people find ways to “meet the challenge and continue with purposeful lives…they bounce back and carry on.”
Spiritual connection with food
If you are on a spiritual path, I recommend exploring benefits of truly exploring your relationship with food. Food is an pathway to spiritual growth, because how you experience food is how you experience life. A recently discovered quality of food that has a powerful impact upon cells in our bodies, is the electromagnetic energy emitted by fresh living foods. We’re all made of energy, and we therefore require the consumption of energy in the form of food, air and water for sustenance and good health. We also require thoughts made up of positive vibrational energy.
Spiritual people make healthier choices.
Adhering to a particular spiritual tradition may bring an indirect health benefit because many traditions have rules about treating the body with kindness and avoiding unhealthy behaviors. Research has show that people who engage in spiritual practice are less likely to over indulge on alcohol, drugs and other self destructive habits. People who engage in a spiritual practice are less likely to commit violent crimes or theft.
Forgiveness is medicine.
Letting go of blame and negative feelings after a hurtful incident is a practice that is reflected by a number of spiritual traditions, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. Modern science shows the health benefits of forgiveness are numerous: better immune function, longer lifespan, lowered blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health, and fewer feelings of anger or hurt.
5. Digital Detox
Our world is speeding up at an overwhelming place. We are now in an age where there is a sea of information at your fingertips. Many people are spending as much as 11 hours per day staring at a screen. I don’t think we were originally wired for that. Now just think about what’s happening to your body from a physical level if you are sitting staring into this space of digital reality day after day. How is it possible to have a sense of calm, ability to focus, and let me get started on your vibrational energy.
As quoted By digitaldetox.org : “WE LIVE IN AN EXTRAORDINARY TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY We are more globally connected than ever before, but life in the digital age is far from ideal. The average American spends more than half of their waking life staring at a screen. The negative psychological, social and cultural impact is real. Things need to change.”
- 33% of people admit to hiding from family and friends to check social media
High Social media use can trigger an increase in loneliness, jealousy and fear
- 95% of people use some type of electronics in the hour leading up to bed.
** Artificial light from screens increase alertness and suppress the hormone melatonin by up to 22%
– negatively affecting sleep, performance and mood.
- Unplugging for just one day can give some users mental and physical withdraw symptoms
Disconnect to Connect.
As we disconnect from our devices, we reconnect with ourself, our community, nature and the world around us. Without initially disconnecting it is difficult to find the clarity and awareness to pick up on the beauty and nature around us. Disconnecting from devices and technology allows us to begin to cultivate mindfulness and awareness practice techniques that help us stay grounded. As you create the time to digital detox, you will find more time to decompress and reflect. Along with the time and reflexion you will find more clarity and enhanced creativity.
The good news is that people are beginning to catch on and there are some great retreats and workshops that cater to activities “device free”
© Christopher Vlaun 2016: V Art of Wellness – Founder
After earning a Bachelors degree of Art and Design, I understand that color and light play a vital roll in our world. Color and light can affect mood, change actions, sway thinking and suppress appetite. Color is a powerful form of communication, color is everywhere in nature and color is irreplaceable. Since I have always used fitness as my equilibrium for creativity I embrace all of the positive effects that color and light have on you especially while enjoying a great workout outdoors. Something about the mixture of a great workout on a beautiful colorful day really leaves you feeling recharged. Here are a few observations that may expound this…
First, nature’s colors can profoundly influence our minds and ways of thinking because they are pure and electrifying. I have found that it is an effective and inexpensive solution to use the lovely colors of nature for stress reduction. Such shades as the blueness of a clear sky, the greenery of the grass, the deepest shades of red in a sunset as well as the grayness of an overcast day can have a considerable influence over our state of mind. Research has shown us that specific colors bring balance to our physical and emotional systems. Chromotherapy (color therapy) is now being used as an alternative to Chinese acupuncture, achieving the same results in unblocking meridians without the discomfort of needles used in acupuncture.
Secondly, light is just as important as color. If there was no available light, we would not be able to see color since it is created by the reflection of light on an object. The Earth, our continents, oceans, in fact every living thing depends on light to be able to exist. Recent scientific evidence suggests that light is in fact emitted by every cell in our bodies called (biophotons). We live in a sea of energy where light is working within us. It shines with in our divine self, and radiates upon us from the sun.
Next, allow us to take a moment to shift our focus to endorphins. Serotonin and endorphins are the chemicals which give us a natural high. Serotonin also regulates sleep and appetite while endorphins act as a natural pain reliever. With these benefits it’s not surprising you might want to increase your serotonin and endorphin levels. The great news is that with exercise you can increase these chemicals naturally without any side effects. Exercise is one of the best natural ways to produce both serotonin and endorphins.
Step it up
Note* I suggest somewhat vigorous exercise since it puts stronger physical demands on the body and increases the release of endorphins. For best results, train for at least 40 minutes and alternate between high and low intensity circuits or intervals — I recommend outdoors, of course.
Now we can make sense of natures perfect mix, color, light and endorphins. If countless studies show that exercise increases the production of serotonin in the body, color and light can recharge us, it just make a lot of sense to spend some time exercising outside in the sunlight. Meanwhile, don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the colors of nature, while exercising outdoors. I encourage you to be conscious of all the beautiful hues and grays will help keep the Qi “ch’i” or (life force) energy flowing in our bodies’ energy channels or (meridians). We can talk a little about “Ch’i”, energy channels and meridians later. For now, step outside, enjoy a great workout and raise your vibration.
©2016 | Chris Vlaun
Significantly over the last 9 years I have been training myself as well as most of my clients on Miami Beach barefoot. I have somewhat habitually urged that my clients/guests join me by being barefoot throughout the experience. Intuitively, I sensed that this was something they needed. I have often mentioned that studies have shown that lightning gives us approximately 20 flashes to the ground per second globally and therefore 1,728,000 flashes to the ground per day. This seems like a huge number, but it is necessary to maintain an electrical balance between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere. Does this mean that we get charged up from this as well? I would say “yes”.
According to a new book called “Earthing” by Martin Zucker, you were experiencing the flow of the earth’s electric energy connecting to your physical body, which has been scientifically proven to promote healing and create a deep sense of well-being within us. Grounding is simple and it is free. You simply connect your bare feet directly to the earth and enjoy the organic healing benefits.
Throughout generations cultures around the world have honored the connection to the earth. In Chinese Medicine it is called Qi or “Life Force”, Native Americans have a deep connection to the nourishing qualities of the soil. They also found that it has a mothering while soothing power that is all healing, cleansing and strengthening while walking sitting or running barefoot on her surface.
Dr. Daniel Chong states “The surface of the earth is teaming with a continuous supply of electrons. Unfortunately, standard shoes stop the necessary flow of electrons into our bodies. This separation can have a devastating impact on our health. When we’re not insulated from these electrons we literally quench the free radicals that accumulate in our bodies. Where do these free radicals come from? Everything from stress and manmade electromagnetic fields to toxins, infections and poor diets — all which contribute to chronic fatigue and inflammation”
How to experience the connection…
You do not necessaraly need to live on beach. Go barefoot outside for half hour and see if you notice your stress level begin to diminish. Begin to move, stand walk even sit on the grass, sand, gravel or unpainted concrete. Wood, vinyl or asphalt won’t work.
If you do live near the beach I suggest to step out on the sand and begin to connect to the earth’s life-force.
2016 Chris Vlaun | Founder V Art of Wellness