Take an Epson salt bath for recovery

Take an Epson salt bath for recovery

The more you train, the more you need to recover.

Many athletes get so caught up closing activity rings, counting steps, competing in Strava challenges, or reaching a distance goal, that they forget to make recovery a priority. 

One form of recovery, that often gets overlooked is an Epson Salt Bath.

Especially in the cold winter months, a hot sudsy bath does sound pretty inviting. But, besides being relaxing, how else does it help you recover?

We don’t have many concrete scientific studies that support how an Epson Salt Bath helps recovery, but we do know that it works. On the most basic level, taking a warm bath helps calm the nervous system which has a ripple affect, allowing your body to direct it’s energy into repair mode.

If you want to take it a step further, if the athlete also uses this time to focus on breathing, or follows another form of relaxation technique such as listening to music or reading a novel, your brain has time to shut off and recharge. Think of your body like your iphone; it has a long battery life, but the more you use it, the longer you need to stop to recharge.

So what is it about the Epson Salts?

Dissolving epson salts in water releases magnesium and sulfate ions, which can be absorbed through the skin. Magnesium plays many crucial roles in the body and is required in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions in the body. Some of the most important roles for an athlete are:

regulates energy production aka improves performance

regulates muscle and nerve function

regulates blood sugar levels

regulates blood pressure

reduces inflammation

strengthens bones

reduces depression

improves digestion

helps release melatonin which helps you sleep

So, instead of thinking of your bath as a guilty pleasure, you can add it to your arsenal of recovery tools to make you faster, stronger, fitter, and healthier overall.

In the summer, we will talk about ice baths and contrast baths, which also have amazing benefits in aiding recovery, but much harder to convince when it is already cold outside.

10 tips to break sugar addiction

10 tips to break sugar addiction

scroll to bottom for cookie recipe

After several weeks of indulging over Christmas, it can be challenging to return to our usual, healthy way of eating. This is not just due to a lack of willpower. Physiologically, your body and brain are now programmed to want more sugar, making the cravings almost impossible to ignore. 

The brain demands sugar

Sugar fuels every cell in the brain. Your brain also sees sugar as a reward, making you want more of it. You reinforce that reward system every time you eat sugar, making it a tough habit to break.

And the body wants it’s share as well

As if that wasn’t enough, now your body also demands that you give it another hit. As insulin moves glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells for energy, this rapid drop in blood sugar leaves you feeling wiped out and shaky, searching for more sweets to regain that sugar “high.”

Starch equals sugar

Think you don’t have a sweet tooth, but crave bagels, chips, crackers, or french fries? Highly refined starches are complex carbs that the body breaks down into simple sugars. When eaten without protein, fat, or fibre, starches can make blood sugar levels surge and crash, similar to a simple sugar bonk. 

So how do we break this cycle?

  1. Start Slow

January is notorious for making massive commitments to change our lives and diet, only to fail by February and give up.

Instead of going cold turkey on quitting sugar, do it gradually. Try cutting out one sweet food from your diet each week. For example, pass on dessert after dinner or eat one cookie instead of two.

2. Retrain your taste buds

Over time, you can train your taste buds to enjoy things that aren’t as sweet. Start by putting less sugar in your coffee, oatmeal, and baked goods. Over time your taste buds will change, and you will experience the same pleasure or “high” with less.

3. Change up your sugar choices 

Include more fruits and vegetables containing natural sugars, fibre, antioxidants, and essential vitamins. 

4. Educate yourself 

Check food labels. Watch out for items that list any form of sugar in the first few ingredients, or have more than 4 total grams of sugar per serving.

The word “sugar” sometimes goes by another name, like these:

  • Agave nectar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Glucose
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose
  • Honey

5. Add more protein and fibre

High-protein and fibre foods digest more slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer. They also don’t make your blood sugar spike the way refined carbs and sugars do. Good protein sources are chicken, yogurt, eggs, nuts, or beans. Good fibre sources are soaked chia seeds, oats, beans, lentils, berries.

Food combining (eating a high protein or fibre along with a high sugar food) will slow the release of insulin and help prevent a sugar crash. But the brain will remain in the same “sugar = reward” feedback loop.

6. Do NOT substitute with artificial sweeteners

Some studies suggest artificial sweeteners may leave you craving more sugar, which doesn’t help break your taste for sweets. Pay attention to your body. Are sweeteners making you crave even more sugar? 

7. Get enough sleep and rest

Many times we crave sugar because we are tired and looking for energy. In addition, if we are well rested, we can make better decisions and, therefore, better food choices.

8. Snack on exercise

It is usually around 2 or 3pm when our blood sugar drops and we start to crave something sweet. Instead of reaching for a cookie, get up and complete a short but vigorous form of exercise. Run up and down the stairs or whip off 10 fast push-ups or do burpees in your office. The quick adrenaline rush will boost your energy levels and curb the craving.

9. When baking, cut the sugar by half

Unless the recipe was designed for weight loss or a low-sugar diet, EVERY recipe I have found uses way too much sugar. As a general rule, I cut the sugar by half. If it is just for myself and my husband, I will continue to cut the sugar until I find how low I can go before he notices. 

10. Make it easy

Have tasty snacks and food available and easy to access, for when your next sugar craving hits. Some snack ideas are: celery sticks with peanut butter, yogurt and blueberries, hummus and any vegetable, apple and almond butter, raisins and almonds. Eat foods that you enjoy so you don’t feel deprived.

Here is my favourite healthy cookie recipe courtesy of Dr. Leslie Wicholas. Leslie is a psychiatrist and an avid cyclist who rides with Kits Energy. She also designed the food as Medicine program to treat depressive mood disorders and fibromyalgia at the Mood Disorders Association of BC.  I love these cookies so much that I double the recipe, so I always have a few in my freezer.

Chocolate Spice Cookies (gluten and dairy free)

by Leslie Wicholas, MD

2/3 cup baked cooked garnet yam. Remove the skin from the yam before using. (You can bake yams ahead of time and freeze them to use later)

1 egg

4 Tbsp mild flavoured olive oil

3 Tbsp dark maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup oat flour

3 Tbsp cocoa powder

1.5 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

3 Tbsp dark chocolate chips

Bake yam at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until really soft. Fully cool in refrigerator before using.

  1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix the wet ingredients well.
  3. Combine dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients. Mix well. Batter will be sticky with a cake like batter consistency. It will firm up after baking.
  4. Grease cookie sheet with coconut oil. Scoop a spoon full of batter onto the sheet. Gently shape into cookies
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. Cookies should be firm, with a little “spring” when you touch it.

Makes 15 cookies

Keeps well in fridge for 3-4 days. Freezes well.

Become a “pro” and achieve your goals

Become a “pro” and achieve your goals

Want to achieve your goals this year? 

Stop acting like an amateur and start acting like a pro.

An amateur is a person who engages in a pursuit on an unpaid rather than a professional basis.

Think about your current mode of employment, or job that you must do because someone else’s life depends on it. 

You show up every day.

When it is cold, wet, and raining, you show up.

When you are tired and would rather watch Netflix, you show up.

When your best friend is in town for just one day, or it is your partner’s birthday, you may leave early, but you still show up.

Every morning you don’t wake up and contemplate whether or not you will decide to fulfill your responsibilities today. 

You just do it.

In addition, while working you don’t typically suffer from feelings of guilt, laziness, or think you are wasting time as often happens when an amateur attempts to take an hour away from “their job” to paint, run, cook, bike, write, or play their instrument.

So what do you think would happen if you applied that same philosophy to your next goal? 

With every goal comes massive resistance. Even if it is something that we desperately want, we will find every excuse to procrastinate, delay, or self-sabotage. By eliminating the choice of whether or not you will show up, you also remove the opportunity for that resistance (in whatever form of excuse it looks like) to stop you from doing the work required to achieve your goal.

Treat your goals as if your profession depended on achieving them.

Don’t think about whether you want to do it; just do it. 

BUT, there is one caveat that you need to consider.

Many people already have more jobs than they can handle. 

Think about which responsibilities in your life are non-negotiable. 

Beyond the employment that makes you money, your list of non-negotiable responsibilities, jobs, or goals may include:

  • raising children
  • attending to elderly parents
  • starting a new exercise program
  • volunteering in the community
  • serving as a board member
  • pursuing your love for music or art
  • learning a new skill 
  • engaging in a sport or several sports
  • playing on a team
  • learning to become the next Top Chef
  • losing weight
  • renovating your home
  • dealing with an illness or injury
  • traveling for work or pleasure

It is impossible to continue adding more jobs to the list without getting burnt out and ultimately failing at all of them. 

If you are someone who overextends themselves, you will need to review your current list and evaluate which responsibilities can be put on hold or delegated, while you work on achieving your new goal. 

Once you have narrowed down the list into something that is both manageable and realistic, add your new goal to the top of the list and the rest will fall into place.

If your “profession” is to become a 50+ road cyclist and finish a fondo before x amount of time, then you will need to do what a professional 50+ rider would do. You need to sleep, eat, rest, recover, and train like a cyclist. Every day you need to do something that gets you closer to your goal of becoming a professional 50+ fondo rider.

Remember, this is your job. It is non-negotiable. Now stop thinking about it and go and do it.

Q&A on Menopause

Q&A on Menopause

Earlier this year, we had a live Q & A with Jennifer Thompson from Herstasis.com, which was highly informative and answered many of the questions women have about menopause.

Some women will pass through this stage without skipping a beat, while others may suffer terribly.

If you are suffering from new and uncomfortable symptoms, first rule out the possibility that they are not a sign of something more serious. Once your symptoms are diagnosed as peri-menopausal, you may need to make some lifestyle changes, at least until you get through it.

In this interview and the Herstasis website, we discuss hormone replacement, natural alternatives, and other coping methods. We are not promoting any particular method nor should you feel judged for making the choices you need to live your best life.

Wherever you are, please remember there is an end to it. Nothing lasts forever.
Let’s try to be kind to ourselves during this time. Becoming informed is a good place to start.

Please click on the following to view the one hour video with Jennifer Thompson.

Chain love

Chain love

The availability of both bike parts and bike mechanics are still feeling the squeeze of covid. Which means that doing some minor bike maintenance is necessary if you want to keep your bike on the road this summer. 

Since your chain is your bike’s most “at-risk” part and an essential component, I feel that it deserves an entire newsletter on how to care for it..

In general, you should lubricate your chain whenever it squeaks or appears “dry.” But taking the extra time to clean and lube after wet rides will help keep your chain from rusting. It is a simple task but often gets forgotten, especially when we are cold and wet and just want to get into the shower.

To clean a chain that doesn’t have too much built-up grime, simply use a rag and degreaser. For really dirty chains, you may need to use a chain cleaning device that is more thorough and a lot less messy. Once you have cleaned the chain, you also need to clean the bike parts it comes in contact with, the front chainrings, rear cassette, and rear derailleur. See photo above if you are unsure of which parts I’m talking about. Scrub the front chainrings and rear derailleur with a brush and degreaser while turning the pedals (moving the chain). For the rear cassette, take off the rear wheel and wipe away any remaining dirt by flossing between the gears/cogs.

After the degreaser has dried, apply drops of lube slowly onto the chain, getting some on each link. Run the chain through all the cogs. Let the lube dry, then wipe off any excess lubricant, so it doesn’t attract more dirt. .

Cleaning and lubricating your chain frequently will help slow down the rate of chain wear. But even the most meticulous rider will need to replace their chain eventually. The more you ride, the sooner you will need to replace it. This bit of maintenance may seem costly, but it is much cheaper than the damage it could cause if you don’t. If you can get your hands on a spare chain now, take it! At some point, you will need it.

What happens if you don’t change your chain when you should?

If you continue to ride with an old chain, even if it is clean, it will start to grind away at the metal on your front chainrings and rear cassette. Over time, the chain and gears will grind out new grooves that a new chain won’t be able to match. This is not a good thing. You are now beyond the point of no return, and you will need to replace all three together. Your cheap $60-$150 replacement chain may cost you $500 or more, depending on what you parts you need to replace. 

If you want to avoid this mistake, ask your bike shop to measure the chain to see how much wear it has left. When you bring your bike in for a tune-up, they should do this for you. They will let you know how much life you have left in your chain. If they don’t say anything – don’t assume that it is OK – ASK! 

Triple Crown for heart 2022

Triple Crown for heart 2022

Every event is tough when you are pushing yourself to achieve a personal best. But when the weather turns sour and never lets up, it adds one more element of pain to the day. These are the days that build resiliency and character as an athlete. These are the days that you will never forget. Saturday July 16th 2022 was one of those days. I am so proud of all the riders, and especially the Kits Energy riders, who remained positive and smiling despite how cold they were. They rode 75km and climbed 2300m up into the wet and cold clouds. We had a large group of Kits Energy riders in the Triple Crown for Heart event and we were also among some of the fastest riders!! No matter what time you finished in, everyone should be proud of themselves for completing such a big event, on a mentally and physically challenging day.

Connie, Jack, Kristina, and Matthew starting our climb up Cypress Mountain

A huge thank you to Dominik Szopa, Marie Campbell, Fiezel Babul, and all of the other board members and volunteers who helped put this event together.  The emergency blankets at the end were a very smart idea! In total, the event raised $30,000 for BC Children’s Hospital, Pediatric Cardiac Care.

Triple Crown Volunteers
Setting up the post ride snack table at the top of Cypress Mountain
Dominik Szopa (helped organize and also rode the event!!) and Facundo Chernikoff

Congratulations to Paul Towgood and Grant Bullington (who is also our KE sponsor from StretchLabs) who both finished first, along with two other riders, in a time of 3:09!!!! That’s crazy fast!

Grant and Paul at the starting line

Lynda McCue finished in the second fastest group, in a total time of 3:53 and won the prize of a stuffed lion for first female finisher. Another crazy fast time.

Lynda McCue all smiles at the starting line
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