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Personal and professional experience consistently demonstrate that doing very intense exercise for many months or years without taking sufficient or sensible recovery breaks will lead to some pretty serious chronic aching. Much more than mere muscular soreness. Much much more. When we do very demanding work for long periods, we must, must take time off, on a regular basis.

Doing any sort of regular training can make us sore. But unremitting intensity is more than normal. Running, or strength training -- it's normal, and will bring the occasional soreness, localized and a sign of progress. Doing years of grinding work though, of unrelieved stress and distress, is more than anyone's system can handle. Pain will become a constant presence. Perhaps the payoff seems worth it. It's not good in terms of health, but there may seem to be things more important than health.

What's the cause of this pain? The research is clear. It is a symptom of subclinical systemic inflammation. There are tests for it, C-reactive protein and other such markers. It's a serious thing. In most cases it is a function of an imbalanced diet. In some cases  it can be caused by an abuse of a person's capacity for exercise. And the stress builds up and up, with insufficient recovery time, until it breaks through the consciousness threshold and manifests as constant ache, if not actual degenerative disease.

Is there some way of damping these fires? -- caused by either poor dietary choices or too much physical strain? Other than pain killers? Pain killers, aspirin or Advil or other such (anti-inflammatory) NSAIDs are always a bad choice, in that they slow the healing process. Is there some other way of turning off the ache of the inflammation on-switch? It seems that there is.

The Standard American Diet is just poisonous. S.A.D. Lots of reasons, but in this instance because of the vegetable oils. Starting largely after WWII, animal fats were replaced by vegetable oils in cooking. Crisco. Mazola. Hydrogenated fats, whereby lipids that should be liquid are processed so that they are solid at room temperature. Pretty unnatural, but that's only a philosophical problem. The real problem is the Omega-6s. Corn, cotton, canola, soy, safflower and sunflower oils. The C's and the S's. Effectively inevitable in any food that comes in a box, and almost entirely Omega-6s. Big deal, right? We need Omega-6s. They are essential for healthful functioning.

Problem is, it's too much. We need some, not all. We need to get just enough. Because Omega-6 is the precursor to the inflammatory and coagulating hormones. We need them or we'd bleed out, or be unable to fight infections. There has to be an on-switch for inflammation, which has its place in a healthy immune system.

But there must be an off-switch too. Like muscles, hormones work in opposition to each other. And the precursors, the building blocks of the anti-inflammatory hormones, the off-switches, are the Omega-3s. That's the problem with the SAD. Estimates vary, but the consensus seems to be that the ratio between omega-6s and -3s is about 30 to one. That amounts to a 30 times greater inclination to start inflammation than to stop it. So after a while, any slight stress results in a virtually hysterical inflammatory response. Wild fire. No balance.

The so-called Paleo-Diet would have us eat like hunter-gatherers. The benefit is clear, in that it's all about whole foods, lots of fruits and berries and herbs and veggies and nuts, not a lot of grains, and the meat is very high in Omega-3. It's a highly anti-inflammatory nutrition system. Game meat is high in Omega-3, corn-fed meat is high in Omega-6. Vegetables have some Omega-6; vegetable oils however are far too concentrated with them.

So, the ratio between these lipids, 6s to 3s, is 30:1 for most Americans, whereas it should be about 1:1. How can that level be reached? The simple answer is to match, gram for gram, 3's for 6's.

We call it Omega-3, but it's really fish oil. Vegetarians may have to make some compromises. In any case, you know that you need to supplement, if you're in pain, or have any inflammation issue. If it's severe, most folks should take quite a bit. More than the label on the bottle says. One gram per day? No. Five, or ten, or twenty. Some of our clients don't take capsules at all. There are  phenomenal results from megadosing, taking it in liquid form by the tablespoon. Swigging it, even.

The results are very, very real. Clients have reported feeling better by orders of magnitude. There may still be some slight sensation. But it's nothing compared to the pain. We don't count on miracles. Quite the opposite: we look for cause and effect. The cause of pain is some sort of agitation of nerve cells, some sort of pressure or disruption. If it's not some traumatic injury, where does the agitation come from? Inflammation. Omega-3 is the firehose. Big fires need lots of water.

We always want to be cautious about snake oil and extravagant promises. Beware GRAND ANNOUNCEMENTS of the UNIVERSAL CURE!!! Who knows what can go wrong? Life teaches us to be careful in giving out our trust. But sometimes the alternative is to give up, which is a bad thing. A better lesson that life should have taught us, or will, is that a large part of wisdom is to yield before pressure, and exploit the momentum. We keep trying to learn that. Jiu Jitsu, dude. Point is, giving ourselves what we need, in this case Omega-3, is wise.

You look at where you put your resources. Omega-3 oil is expensive. But the health benefits are huge. There are lots of data regarding actual cures of serious diseases, but there are no promises. Just statistics, and logic, and a certain amount of faith. Question is, is it worth it? Figure about 10 bucks a week. You spend that much on ice cream. We provide Carlsons brand at the best price around, as a courtesy to our clients.  Not husterism -- courtesy.

A sensible philosophy of fitness training extends far beyond setting up some routines and then telling you to do "One more!"  Diet, exercise, motivation. You are a soul living in a body. Optimize the experience. It may not last.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank
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