Particularly around the holidays, we really get into food extravagance.  Extreme acts of desserts happen more than extreme bouts of exercising.  Equations of fitness we have been working into our bodies throughout the year unravel with smells from the kitchen.  Rapid caloric ingestions far outweighing our caloric expenditures happen, and hapen on many consecutive days. Bad choices are made about the carbs and fats we hook up with, and we take walks of shame towards our workout the next day.

You are going to have to work to get those bad calories back.  You are also going to need to clear your system that you  just gunked up.

If you do extremely complex foods (processed desserts), try extremely simple foods (raw foods) for a change.

Once a week a Spartans should get in touch with their primitive eating instinct, and simply enjoy the deliciousness of eating only raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts for a day.  ‘

If you want to go next-level, don’t even mix your raw food.  In fact, put three hours between each one type of raw food you choose to consume, and the next raw food you choose to consume, so that you don’t cross them, even in your stomachs.

Sounds extreme, right?  You run through fire, crawl under barbed wire, carry heavy objects around mountains…you are freaked out about eating as much as you want all day, as long as you just make sure it is raw whole goodness? Better fuel comes from fewer ingredients.  Processed food products are the worst kind of fuel.  Raw food ingredients are the best. Therefore more processing of products equals worse products.

One ingredient is the best ingredient.  It goes down hill from there, as soon as you start mixing and matching, and then doing various eat processes (cooking) as well. If you want to eat avocados, eat as much as you want, just only eat avocados – eat 2lbs of avocados, go till your full.  Then, wait 3 hours before you eat 2 lbs of cashews.

This is what we did with Chris Davis and Danny Rodriguez, collectively loosing over 300 pounds here at Spartan HQ.

They did it for weeks at a time to really get the benefits, but you can get benefits just by trying this kind of diet once a week. More than anything, use it as an opportunity to reflect carefully about your food choices, and really experience them first hand. To learn that humans were made and evolved to eat foods, not food products.  More nutritional advice can be found by signing up to our Food Of The Day.

What do you have to lose?  Weight?  Try raw food.

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While it’s clear that the fight against obesity and poor health has never had more momentum, it appears that champagne corks shouldn’t be popping just yet. Save those back slaps and knucklebumps for a moment, as things aren’t quite as rosey as we’d like to believe they are.

The Overseas Development Institute recently said one in three people worldwide was now overweight and urged governments to do more to influence diets. 

In the UK, 64% of adults are classed as being overweight or obese.

The report predicts a “huge increase” in heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.

Globally, the percentage of adults who were overweight or obese – classed as having a body mass index greater than 25 - grew from 23% to 34% between 1980 and 2008.

Spartan Race has been pushing for Americans and indeed those around the world to live healthier and exercise more.

Consider signing up for our FOD . With our Food Of The Day, you will be emailed a different food/recipe that you may like to consider each and every day.

Likewise our WOD – workout of the day – will give you a routine to go through that will not only keep you in shape, but will prepare you for your next Spartan Race. Our WODs are designed to target elements of our races which, when done regularly, will see you attack obstacles with greater strength and confidence.

Sign up your children (ages 4-13) for Spartan Kids so that they can share the pleasure of experiencing what the adults get to enjoy.

Of course, the regular Spartan Race is still waiting for you adults aged 14 and over. Let’s get together and push that obesity percentage down. Sign up your friends and family and have today be the first day of the rest of your lives!

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Competing in a triathlon, running a marathon, or just trying to beat your personal best time are all exhilarating, until you hit a wall mid-stride. Almost all athletes have experienced this, when their bodies run out of energy, not wanting to go a step farther, let alone faster. Thankfully, help is on the way!

Benjaman Rapoport has come up with an online calculator to figure out how many extra carbs athletes need to avoid the dip in energy that causes them to hit the wall. By entering into the calculator your resting heart rate and target marathon time you get the optimal number of carbohydrate calories needed to give you enough energy to get through your race.

Rapoport, a Harvard-MIT student and marathoner, gives athletes a great tool to improve their performance on game days.

Remember to carb up correctly before your next Spartan Race!

See you at the finish line!

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by Harmony Heffron

Blueberries recently made the news when companies were discovered putting fake ‘blueberries’ in their products.  Though you now have to be careful to avoid purchasing counterfeit blueberry products, there are plenty of reasons to add this wonder food to your diet.

Rich in antioxidants, blueberries may even prevent some types of diseases, including cancer. A study by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center reports that blueberries may lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and reduce fat in the stomach area. High in vitamins A, B complex, C, and E, these berries can keep your body healthy and help your immune system to function well.

Since fresh berries are only available a few months a year, frozen blueberries are a great alternative. They make a fabulous, nutrient-rich addition to health shakes. Just throw them in the blender with everything else!

If you buy fresh berries, check the color. The more blue they are, the more antioxidants they have in them.

Check out our Food Of The Day for more help with eating.

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by Chris Rutz

Last weekend I was off to yet another Spartan Race, my 20th of 2012. I have gotten pretty good at knowing what I need to have with me along the way. I check a few things night before my departure, such as my airline, rental car and hotel reservations. Most have sent me a confirmation e-mail in the past few days, so I just save them on my smartphone. I also map out the airport, Whole Foods/Trader Joes, hotel and race site so I get my bearings for the trip. Once I have completed that I move onto my nutrition packing list.

You can take food and water with you on the airplane. I use one of the Gaspari Nutrition/Spartan Race cinch sacks to carry my food. For my flight today I have packed the following:

  • 2 grilled chicken breasts
  • bell pepper
  • banana
  • apple,
  • fresh raspberries,
  • carrots,
  • cauliflower,
  • a bag of frozen broccoli (keep the chicken next to the frozen broccoli)

Why so much food you might ask? Well, pre-race nutrition is very important and you can never predict what food will be available at the airport or if your flight will be delayed. I would rather have too much rather than too little. Once you get to your destination, you can eat the “leftovers” on your way to the hotel.

I also carry an empty water bottle through security and fill it up at the gate. You need to hydrate before a race especially if you are flying.

Once I land I generally head to the grocery store to pick up what I will need for my weekend. This eliminates the need to figure out restaurants and allows you more time to relax and rest before the race. If you want to eat out, do that after the race. I try to get a hotel with both a microwave and refrigerator so I can stick to my nutrition plan.

This should help you get to the race primed and ready to deliver you best possible performance.

Who is Christopher Rutz?

Christopher is a member of the juwi Solar Obstacle Racing, has 6 top three finishes in Spartan Races this year and is the current leader of 2012 Spartan Race Points Series. He manages a health and fitness blog, and a Facebook page, Tough Training.  We’ll be featuring his blogs about how to travel Spartan style over the next few months.

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WOD for Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

~By James Villepigue CSCS & Hobie Call

Hey gang! Todays’ Spartan WOD is once again brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition, pioneers in sports supplementation, including pre-race, intra-race and post-race performance.

Today’s WOD is a metabolic resistance training Burst Bout – In other words, we’ll be using resistance during each exercise Burst, but moving at a rapid pace to ensure an intense cardiorespiratory effect.

Your objective should be to try and use a ton of weight – you can use heavy weights, but please don’t sacrifice the quality of the exercise Burst for quantity, as your results will suffer. Choose a weight that is challenging, but something that you believe you can handle for the duration of today’s 40-second work time Bursts.

If you find that you must stop during your work time, then listen to your body and stop, BUT, if you don’t need to stop, then don’t quit! If you do need a breath, take it and then get right back into the Burst for the remaining work time.

Your goal with these types of metabolic resistance training workouts is to progressively add weight or repetitions during each successive workout – In other words, let’s say you used 40 pound dumbbells for the Incline Dumbbell Press and did 15 repetitions, the next time you perform that exercise during a WOD, either jump up to 45 pound dumbbells or shoot for 20 reps…or do both! If you did a Pull-up during today’s WOD and hit a 20-rep mark, next time shoot for more.

So, let’s get to it! Each of today’s Burst Bouts exercises will be performed using a 40/10 Work-to-rest ratio. Advanced exercisers should perform 3-5 Bouts aka Rounds of the 12 exercise Bursts. Beginners can start with 1-2 bouts and take it from there.

So that’s 40-seconds of non-stop work time and no more then 10 seconds rest as you transition from one movement to the next.

Again, remember: You want to keep the movements fast and smooth, but remember to always go at YOUR OWN PACE!

If you ever feel dizzy, nauseous or just weird, STOP, assess your condition and take it from there.

Here are your WOD Burst Bouts Exercises – 40/10 W-T-R

1.  Step-Ups – Set up either a workout bench or at least a sturdy chair or some other type of platform to step up onto. Remember to force the stepping leg to do all of the work and do not push off the back foot for help! Alternate legs.

2.  Chin-Ups – You’d be surprised where you can do a chin-up or pull-up. Look in your home for a sturdy ledge or outside for a fairly low hanging horizontal branch. Make it fun and challenging!

3.  Incline Chest Press – If you don’t have a bench, fold a bunch of towels up and prop your upper torso up, so that it’s angled from the floor – This angled position will allow you to focus in on the upper chest muscles and front shoulders.

4.  Piston Presses – Sit upright in a chair or 90 degree bench. Press one arm up at a time, creating that piston motion effect. This will both force each side of your body to work hard and will also engage the core to maintain that upright-seated position.

5.  Narrow Stance Squats – For focus on the outer quadriceps, take a less than shoulder width stance. When you squat down, really push the toosh out, stick your chest out and bring your shoulders back and down to ensure proper posture. Keep those knees behind the toes. Go as low as you can, getting as close to parallel, to really engage those legs and glutes!

6.  Pull-Ups – Same as chins.

7.  Flat Fly – You can either set up a bench or even lay flat on the floor for this one. One of my favorite pieces of training gear is a blow up fitness ball AKA Swiss Ball. They are incredibly versatile and quite inexpensive. Remember, that when you fly, you are only supposed to be moving from the shoulder joint and not extending or flexing at the elbows. As you’re bringing the dumbbells together, imagine hugging around a tree – This arching motion will help to keep the focus on the chest muscles.

8.  Upright Row – Take hold of two dumbbells and take a hip width stance, with feet straight, knees slightly bent, abs tight, chest pushed out and shoulders pulled back and held down. Bring the dumbbells in front of your body with palms facing your thighs. Now, lead the motion with the elbows angled up and out to the sides of your body and drag the dumbbells up the length of your body, keeping them about two inches away from your body. Stop when you reach chin height. As you drag/pull the dumbbells up, allow your hands to flex down, so that the dumbbells are actually held by your fingers. If you try to keep your wrists straight, you could apply too much pressure to the wrist muscles and connective tissue.

9.  Close Grip Bench Press – Just like the traditional barbell bench press or dumbbell bench press, where you lay flat on a bench or on the floor, but here you want to keep those elbows held in tight to the sides of your body. Now press the dumbbells up and focus on keeping the resistance upon the triceps muscles. The more you think about contracting your triceps, the more likely you’ll be to really fire them up!

10.  Incline Dumbbell Curl – For this one, you can either keep those towels propped up or invest into that fitness ball we mentioned. Lay back to create that upper torso angle and allow the arms to hang straight down to the floor (yes, your body will have to be adequately elevated to allow this). With arms fully extended, you will feel a nice stretch in the biceps muscles. Now flex at the elbow and keep those elbows pointing directly toward the floor throughout the movement. As you reach the midpoint of the exercise, contract aka “flex” your biceps muscles as hard as you can and then return to the start position.

11.  Dumbbell Kickbacks – I love this exercise, because it forces those triceps to really work hard. It’s easy for the chest to take over during most triceps exercises and with this one, those tris will be forced to do the muscle hustle! ;-) Take a pair of dumbbells that aren’t too heavy – Guys, put the ego top the side and trust me on this! Hold the dumbbells in a neutral position, where your palms are facing the sides of your body. Now, bend over at the hips, arch your lower back to create a tight and maintained lumbar curve, bend at the knees, keep your abs tight, chest out and pin your elbows against the side of your body, so that your upper arm (Humerus) is positioned horizontal to the floor). With the elbows pinned and your lower arms (Ulna, Radius & Hands/DB’s) hanging down vertically, contract the triceps and extend at the elbows, bringing the dumbbells back and even with upper arms. Make sure to briefly hold this position, by contracting the triceps muscles as hard as you possibly can!

12.  Reverse Curl
- Take a hip width stance, bend the knees slightly, bring elbows to the sides of your body and pin them there. Palms are facing behind you in a pronated grip. With abs tight, chest out and shoulders retracted back and down, flex at the elbows and reverse curl the dumbbells up. Make sure to keep those elbows pinned to your sides and focus on allowing the forearm muscles (Brachioradialis) and outer biceps (Brachialis) muscles to do the work. These are the muscles that often get injured during rope climbing and monkey bar obstacles and are usually due to a weakness in those arm muscles.

1 Minute Rest Between Bouts

As always, please have some cool water and a towel with you. Please let Hobie and I, know how you did!

Keep Going!

James Villepigue & Hobie Call

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by Carrie Adams

Photo courtesy Nuvision Action Images, Brent Doscher

Spartan Races are grueling endurance events designed to push you physically and mentally through obstacles and trail running.  Fueling your body for a long distance run on Spartan Race day is a critical part of being successful and kicking ass without cramping, fainting, and letting the Spartans with pugil sticks take you out before you cross the finish line.

For Spartan events, I recommend the same kind of preparation I use for full and half marathons.  A few weeks before your event, work as many raw veggies into your diet as you can.  This helps clear out your intestinal walls of build up so you can effectively absorb the good stuff when you really need it.  Additionally, eliminating dairy from your diet helps avoid excess mucous build-up, which can interfere with effective respiration while you run.

On race day, you can get off to the right start by consuming the proper amount of fluid and glycogen (sugar) stores that you will just maintain as you race.   I always tell people that you want to be done eating two hours before your event.  Just be mindful of when your wave starts and plan accordingly.  Eating too close to an event can lead to an upset stomach or can negatively interact with your body’s natural insulin response.  Get to bed early so you can get up and get prepared–there’s plenty of time to party AFTER you run.  For each city that hosts a Spartan Race I have created smoothie recipes that are the perfect pre-race fuel.   Look for those a day or two before the event.

Read the rest of this entry »

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by Harmony Heffron

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“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  Though it sounds like something your grandmother might tell you, could it really be true? Can something as simple as eating an apple actually improve your health?

High in fiber, apples are definitely a good health food for athletes, but the benefits of apples far exceed just being “regular.”

A new study shows apples can be particularly beneficial for older women. Dr. Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD and Margaret A. Sitton, Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at The Florida State University have recently studied the cardioprotective properties of apples and have found large benefits for post-menopausal women. The women in their study that consumed an apple a day showed a remarkable 23% reduction in bad cholesterol after six months.

Dr. Arjmandi also added another benefit of eating apples to the list, ”Reducing body weight is an added benefit to daily apple intake.” This could possibly be due to the pectin content of apples which has also been linked to improved lipid metabolism in other studies.

For Spartans trying to slim down and improve their heart’s health, this little piece of folk wisdom may just be the key.

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