tired, overworked and overstimulated people. We have so many entertainment options at our hands that rest is given the back seat. And why not? We have coffee, chai, energy drinks, sodas, extra caffeinated sodas and even concentrated all natural caffeine shots to help get us through the next day, because watching that favorite TV show of yours at 11 p.m. when it comes on at night is much more preferable. I mean, who wants to be out of loop for the first 15 hours after a great episode? Why put yourself through the pain of avoiding all things media related when you could just suck down a Monster Energy drink or get an extra shot of espresso in your latte when you peel yourself out of bed the next day? It is certainly much easier to do this than avoid all the social media platforms that are available to you, because I will admit personally, that is hard and painful! Even when the time shift happened in late winter, I still stayed up to watch every last episode of Sons of Anarchy, even when it was on at 11 in the evening and often times not ending until 12:30 a.m. I didn’t want to be out of the loop for even half a day!
Anyway, over the course of my weight loss and fitness regime, a lot of things have changed. When I gave up meat and dairy, I could actually taste all of the spices that used to be kind of dull for me, especially turmeric, dill and rosemary. There was an even stranger side effect that hit after I started eating healthier as well; my desire to drink unhealthy sodas and energy drinks. I initially gave up soda, mostly by accident, when I realized the stuff was just too darn sweet to even drink. I then gave up energy drinks, which was more caffeine based than anything, and even wrote a blog post about it. http://blog.parsonstrainingtucson.com/2013/10/my-torrid-love-affair-with-energy.html But now I come to the realization of another problem in my life: coffee. I’ve been drinking the stuff way too much lately, almost to the point of a sickness. You see, my job didn’t have a real coffee maker, so it meant that if you wanted coffee to drink, you either brought your own or went to the Circle K down the street. But then my boss finally listened to one of my suggestions, and got a new coffee maker! With a new grinder as well! I was maybe drinking 40 ounces a day, and that was when the new problems started cropping up. My teeth were becoming sensitive, and my ability to eat citrus fruits and eat cold foods became rather painful. Heck, brushing my teeth became painful…even with the enamel protecting stuff! These past couple weeks have illustrated a new necessity in my life, that I must start taking care of my teeth much better. But the sad thing is though, I feel like I am going to lose a good friend.
Now I won’t give up coffee completely (I have an expensive bag of coffee at work that I don’t want to just throw to the masses, hehe), but I have to start reducing my usage. I have always had a problem with my teeth, for this problem was bourne from my love of ridiculously sweet and ridiculously sour candy. Sour Straws and Red Vines were my particular favs, and of course, I would eat the one pound bag of Starburst and Skittle from time to time (okay, more like once or twice a week). My teeth problem also most likely stemmed from my massive soda habit, where I figured that in the middle of the last decade, I was guzzling at least 100 gallons of the stuff a year and maybe 30 to 40 by the time I gave it up in 2012 (and that is not including the coffee and the energy drinks). So yeah, I was pretty wired for a good decade, a zombie addicted to sugar and guarana and whatever other super additive that is the du jour foreign sounding, nouveau concoction that is “super good” for you.
It seems kind of silly that I want to make a reduction in my caffeine intake, especially when the problem can be solved with some enamel building toothpaste and some more holistic methods of “oil pulling.” Some of my vegan ilk have suggested swishing around coconut of sunflower seed oil to help rebuild and protect the enamel. Some have even suggested colloidal silver. But here is the funniest thing I have encountered: the more healthy and fit people I converse with are wondering that the heck I am doing! Now, from all the things I have heard in my life, caffeine seems to be the devil. It messes with your bone density. It dehydrates you. It creates a false sense of energy by raising your blood flow as opposed to giving you real energy that you might get from food and such. Since caffeine is intertwined so deeply with coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks, one has to believe none this stuff would provide any real aid. But not so fast, for science has stepped in and kind of proven the opposite. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/boost-your-workout-with-caffeine.html
For as long as I can remember, Jon has always joked with me about drinking coffee before a workout, and needless to say I used to scoff over the notion. I made that assumption after drinking coffee before a couple runs and getting gassy in the process, hindering my performance and making me beg for death as my stomach turned into a balloon. But it turns out there is plenty of truth to Jon’s advice, even though the opposite seems to be the case for me. Turns out caffeine, especially that in coffee and darker teas, can be an aid going into a workout. “Caffeine works on the central nervous system by promoting spinal cord excitability and muscle fiber recruitment, while decreasing perceptions of fatigue and muscle pain. It's been demonstrated to improve physical performance in all manner of sports while also delaying mental fatigue” the article goes on to say. Sounds awesome! to make things even better, other sources indicate the benefits of coffee (namely caffeine) in muscle building. http://news.health.com/2014/06/19/5-reasons-to-drink-coffee-before-your-workout/
While many people have wasted their time with whey proteins and other stuff, apparently coffee is quite an elixir of the gods when it comes to aiding in the process of muscle expansion. First of all, it does help with increased blood flow, for the faster your body can utilize it’s valuable oxygen stores, the faster you go and the harder you can work. And then you have the pain endurance angle. Much like in the old days when cyclists would drink beer and wine during long races at the Tour de France, coffee helps numb pain, aiding in endurance. Let’s put it this way, it is a lot easier to blow through multiple sets of chest presses with 55-pound dumbbells when your body is less aware of the pain involved. That’s pretty much a fact in any aspect of life, and with the help of a dose of caffeine, keeping your mind focused on a task as opposed to letting it wander is another happy side affect of the dark elixir. This might apply quite nicely to my running as I seek to become a more focused runner. As of late, I have been trying some different things with my running regimen, keeping my crooked foot straight and back erect. It has led to some shorter running distances, but doing this will ultimately restrengthen my body. Why shouldn’t I take advantage of something that will keep me moving correctly, allowing my mind to remain active while I seek to retrain my body. I mentioned it before, but when I start losing focus, I start losing my ability. There was another couple interesting aspects of coffee and muscle building I have never come across before, as well. Turns out coffee can help out with the loss of muscle as one gets older. It’s no secret as we get older, we start deteriorating, but adding a little caffeine into the regimen will allow you to continue more intense workouts, especially since it aids so much in glycogen production. As I mentioned in my carb loading blog, glycogen is necessary in regards to maintaining energy stores, and it turns out coffee consumption can increase the amount of muscle glycogen after an intense workout. Basically this means if you have more gas left in the tank after doing those 50 dead lifts, you will allow yourself to bust some more hump the next day when you seek to do those 50 bench presses. http://blog.parsonstrainingtucson.com/2015/03/carb-loading-101.html
Now before you start brewing a pot of coffee, before you start your session with one of the various trainers at Parsons Training, you still have to remember that caffeine/coffee is merely a supplement, not an actual booster. You can’t just come into the gym with a 24-ounce cup of coffee with two shots of espresso with whipped cream and Irish Creme syrup and think it’s going to make you a beast at the gym. If anything, the amount needed is still somewhat nominal, like somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 ounces at most a half an hour before you work out (since I am a much bigger guy, I would be on the high end). Even if you were drinking coffee during your workout, you would really only need 4-6 ounces for the best results, but that typically is not the case, especially with younger people who may be working odd hours or doubling up new duties (like raising a new baby and going to work all day). And don’t forget, just because you chug that coffee in the morning, doesn’t mean it will make you a monster at night. One thing several of the articles kept mentioning is you should use coffee/caffeine supplementation in the mornings, mainly because the caffeine might mess with your sleep patterns, and I have already talked about how important sleep is to the recuperation of your body and/or energy. Messing up that pattern with some nighttime caffeine can lead to some lost gains if you are not careful. http://blog.parsonstrainingtucson.com/2015/04/to-make-gainsget-some-sleep.html And then of course, there is always the problem of feeding your coffee addiction, which could ultimately lead you to the problem I am having in my personal health due to the added level of consumption.
Now I’m not saying I will give up the brew completely, but one thing is for certain. For the sake of my teeth and the sake of my distance running, the reduction has to happen. While I will most likely start getting a little ornery and having some intense headaches, I personally think this next step will help reduce some of my other issues, like reducing more of my added sugar intake and my addiction to caffeine. Since I only have one pair of teeth, this will definitely help a little in my sensitive teeth issue as well. But then again, I have yet really try and see if these training methods might help in my ultimate goal of being a buff, sub eight-mile a minute runner. Aye! Decisions, decisions.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.