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Skiing and Snowboarding : Fitness

Fitness in the Age of the Selfie

Jen Selter has mastered the art of the vanity squat. On her Instagram account, the 20 year old frequently posts pictures of herself assuming the position—in the gym, on a yacht, on the steps of a plane—emblazoned with her handle “@jenselter.” Her habit of fitness motivation has paid off. As one of the social network’s homegrown celebrities, she has amassed 3.5 million followers, a fitness agent, and a photo shoot in Vanity Fair.

Personal accountability has long been a well-recognized tool to help maintain a fitness re-gime or exercise plan. But in the age of the selfie, this time-tested method of personal ac-countability has turned glaringly public. A search of “#fitness” on Instagram yields nearly 39 million posts. In addition to Selter, there’s a whole cottage industry of Instagram fitness celebrities, “Fitblrs” on Tumblr, and a bevy of fitness tracking apps like Runkeeper and Strava that automatically upload your 10K time to your Facebook or track your cycling route in Twitter. 
http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/beauty/news-features/tmg10649929/fitness-gurus-the-real-stars-of-instagram.html
http://lifehacker.com/the-best-fitness-tracking-apps-for-every-type-of-exerci-1482693352 
We already know that keeping track of workouts the old fashioned way—a notebook and pen comes to mind—has beneficial effects when it comes to sticking to our goals. But posting the details of each and every run, squat, gluten free lunch, or Crossfit W.O.D. can feel a little egregious to those following along. One has to wonder: do all these fitness-themed posts amount to anything more more than an exercise in self-righteous ego boost-ing?
Research suggests they do. The Telemedicine Journal and e-Health found that fitness re-gimes with a social component are more likely to succeed as they “foster motivation, en-couragement, and commonality.” 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3000900/
Tiffany Clifford Czajka is a Scottsdale, Arizona, based trainer who says she uses social media as a way to motivate her clients and encourages them to do the same. In her expe-rience as a trainer, she’s found that frequent visual cues of progress really do help people commit to their goals. 
“I often post pictures of equipment—bosu balls, combat ropes—for a sneak peak into the next day’s work out. It helps keep excitement going and I take pictures of [my clients] working out as well to post and tag,” Czajka said. “Pictures speak volumes so whether you post a picture of an amazing before and after or the defined toned biceps that you have worked so hard for, it shows dedication and self confidence that maybe you once did have.” 
For those going after a big, longterm goal or challenge, using social media to document it also has the effect of inspiring others. Writer Anna Brones and Policy Analyst Megan Pon-der started their project ‘Portland to Paris: 1000 Miles’ in January. Each of them have committed to running 1000 miles in the year 2014, despite the fact that they live on differ-ent continents. 
Ponder, who is based in Portland, keeps an Instagram of the project while Brones, who lives in Paris, blogs monthly recaps. The duo feels that the positive feedback they’ve re-ceived from social media is a good sign that they’re adding value of some sort, rather than just over-sharing. 
http://annabrones.com/category/outdoor-environment/1000-miles/
“Every month that I post on my own blog, I get comments from regular readers that I know are following—and they are not people I know in real life,” Brones said. “We had someone on Instagram say recently that she loved the feed and found it really inspiring. That's all I have ever wanted from sharing—to get other people to get after it in their own ways.”
As with any goal, there are bound to be setbacks, such as a month where a knee injury put Brones below her mileage target. But the pair aren’t worried about failing publicly; they say the project is much more about the conversation they’re creating with each other and their followers. 
“Ultimately, I think that sharing our journey can be inspirational to others whether or not we achieve the goal,” Brones said. “This is much more about the process itself.

Personal accountability has long been a well-recognized tool to help maintain a fitness regime or exercise plan. But in the age of the selfie, this time-tested method of personal accountability has turned glaringly public. A search of “#fitness” on Instagram yields nearly 39 million posts. In addition to Selter, there’s a whole cottage industry of Instagram fitness celebrities, “Fitblrs” on Tumblr, and a bevy of fitness tracking apps like Runkeeper and Strava that automatically upload your 10K time to your Facebook or track your cycling route in Twitter. 

We already know that keeping track of workouts the old fashioned way (a notebook and pen comes to mind) has beneficial effects when it comes to sticking to our goals. But posting the details of each and every run, squat, gluten free lunch, or Crossfit W.O.D. can feel a little egregious to those following along. One has to wonder: do all these fitness-themed posts amount to anything more more than an exercise in self-righteous ego boosting?

Research suggests they do. The Telemedicine Journal and e-Health found that fitness regimes with a social component are more likely to succeed as they “foster motivation, encouragement, and commonality.”

Tiffany Clifford Czajka is a Scottsdale, Arizona, based trainer who says she uses social media as a way to motivate her clients and encourages them to do the same. In her experience as a trainer, she’s found that frequent visual cues of progress really do help people commit to their goals. 

“I often post pictures of equipment—bosu balls, combat ropes—for a sneak peak into the next day’s workout. It helps keep excitement going and I take pictures of [my clients] working out as well to post and tag,” Czajka said. “Pictures speak volumes, so whether you post a picture of an amazing before and after or the defined toned biceps that you have worked so hard for, it shows dedication and self-confidence that maybe you once did have.” 

For those going after a longterm goal or challenge, using social media to document it also has the effect of inspiring others. Writer Anna Brones and policy Analyst Megan Ponder started their project ‘Portland to Paris: 1000 Miles’ in January. Each of them have committed to running 1000 miles in the year 2014, despite the fact that they live on different continents. 

Ponder, who is based in Portland, keeps an Instagram of the project while Brones, who lives in Paris, blogs monthly recaps. The duo feels that the positive feedback they’ve received from social media is a good sign that they’re adding value of some sort, rather than just over-sharing. 

“Every month that I post on my own blog, I get comments from regular readers that I know are following—and they are not people I know in real life,” Brones said. “We had someone on Instagram say recently that she loved the feed and found it really inspiring. That's all I have ever wanted from sharing—to get other people to get after it in their own ways.”

As with any goal, there are bound to be setbacks, such as a month where a knee injury put Brones below her mileage target. But the pair aren’t worried about failing publicly; they say the project is much more about the conversation they’re creating with each other and their followers. 

“Ultimately, I think that sharing our journey can be inspirational to others whether or not we achieve the goal,” Brones said. “This is much more about the process itself.”

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The Really Weird Trend of Breast Milk as Energy Beverage

There are grown men who drink breast milk. For some, it’s undoubtedly a kink. But for others, it’s something else: a “God-given” performance-enhancing elixir—and believers are paying top dollar for it online. Once a fringe gym-rat movement, now athletes of various stripes are chugging the stuff in search of a high-energy protein fix.

Far away from government oversight or official scrutiny, hundreds of gallons of breast milk flow through online classifieds, according to one of the leading online facilitators, OnlytheBreast.com. The site officially caters to mothers who want to sell their “liquid gold” (their language, not ours) to other women, but about a third of the requests for milk on the site are posted by men. The demand has set off an arms race among the 10 percent of women willing to sell their milk to the other sex. One St. Louis provider catering to athletes boasts that her milk is best because she adheres to a “Paleo-style diet with added grass-fed butter,” only organic foods, and a daily regimen of supplements including charcoal and probiotics.

The “breast is best” believers drink this stuff up. They say that the milk is more nutritious than anything you can get from a cow, best for body building, the secret to fighting off disease, and a sure-fire way to boost energy levels. It’s the energy drink of the future, New York Magazine reports.

It’s too bad it’s soggy logic—on all counts, says Bo Lonnerdal, a professor of nutrition and internal medicine at University of California at Davis. “I don’t see much sense in it all,” she says. “It doesn’t provide more energy than other drinks with the same energy content.”

Which brings us to protein. Fans of human breast milk point to its supposedly superior whey-to-casein ratio of 60-to-40, compared to nearly the inverse 20-to-80 of cow’s milk. But a liter of breast milk has only one-third the total protein of cow’s milk. And it contains nearly twice as much lactose sugar, making it sweeter than cow’s milk and a poor choice for those who are lactose intolerant. Then there’s breast milk’s fat content, which varies widely based on the donor’s diet.

More souring is that the heralded bioactive components within breast milk are unlikely to make it through your stomach—precisely because adult men aren’t at all like children. “We highly likely would break down bioactive components like lactoferrin and immunoglobulins long before they could have any potential function,” Lonnerdal says.

It’s just wrongheaded to think that what works for baby boys and girls will be best for grown men, says Katie Hinde, assistant professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University, who tracks advances in milk research on her “Mammals suck… Milk” blog. 

“Breast milk is nature’s magical elixir for those particular infants at a particular time, but the benefits for adults are less clear. There’s still too little we know about what it does even in infants,” she says.

Then why all the fanfare? Adherents are committing a naturalistic fallacy, says Sarah Tishkoff, a professor of genetics and biology at the University of Pennsylvania who studies the evolution of lactose tolerance. They believe that people evolved to drink breast milk, not cow’s milk. They’re wrong. “No humans have evolved to drink breast milk after weaning,” Tishkoff says. Most human populations whose ancestors practiced dairy farming have actually adapted to drinking cow’s milk.

But would it really hurt to give breast milk a try? That’s not a good idea, particularly if it is purchased online versus milked from a willing wife or girlfriend. “The biggest issue is that breast milk can contain live viruses and bacteria,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Sharon Donovan, former president of the American Society for Nutrition and a professor at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

When moms donate to a hospital milk bank, they are screened before being approved, Donovan explains. But men buying from strangers could result in transmission of diseases including HIV, syphilis, or hepatitis. Most milk bought online also comes contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, as Dr. Sheela Gerahrty’s lab at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center reported last year. Granted, OnlyTheBreast.com has explicit instructions about home pasteurization.

Plus, there’s the issue of cost—at $2.50 to $4.00 per ounce, a gallon of breast milk is priced at $320 to $512, versus just $4 a gallon of cow’s milk, Donovan says. And what really sucks?  There’s a chance you might not even get what you’re paying for. Because it’s sold by volume without any oversight, the milk could be cut with water or cow’s milk, Hinde warns. These aren’t problems you find with hospital milk bank donations where no monetary gain is involved.

Getting beyond the ick factor, athletes commanding high prices for breast milk could inadvertently encourage disadvantaged women to sell their milk instead of feeding their own infants. It may also discourage women from donating to milk banks, which are crucial for supporting the needs of premature infants.

The “invisible breasts of the free market” selling their products online comes with lots of questions, Hinde says.

If you’re still convinced that breast milk is best, take heart: cows may soon be genetically modified to produce human milk, The Telegraph reports.

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The Sweetest Running Swag

Going the distance means getting some goodies. And no, we aren’t talking just the sense of accomplishment you feel at the finish line. We are talking freebies, treasures, and swag—whatever you want to call it. It doesn’t matter when it’s free. At these races you will find the best, the worst, and some of the weirdest stuff in your swag bags.

Most Luxurious

Nike Women’s Marathon; San Francisco, California
Sorry guys, but the 15,000 runners who come together in April to take on the roads of San Fran are ladies only. Lottery-only entry makes the Nike Women’s Marathon even more exclusive. But you have to be selective when you are doling out Tiffany & Co. necklaces at the finish line by the hands of firefighters in tuxedos. The beginning is just as extravagant as the end, with pre-race festivities including a four-day expo chock full of free vendors giving out boutique and spa products. For all the ladies who are always multitasking, here is a way to pound the pavement while getting pampered. 

Smelliest

ORRC Garlic Festival 10K; North Plains, Oregon
The ORRC Garlic Festival 10K does feature some pretty vanilla race goodies. Finishers get a medal and can win running gear at the raffle. Winners get plaques and ribbons. But that’s where is the blandness ends. The ice cream at the finish line is garlic flavored. So is the celebratory beer. So is the shape of the medal. In the past, “secret” prizes for the winners have included giant bags of garlic bulbs. Don’t expect to get any kisses in the winner’s circle at this event. 

Most Indulgent

Hershey Half Marathon; Hershey, PA
Well if you are a running lover of dessert with a child-like love for theme parks, the Hershey Half is a dream come true. Along with chocolate-filled swag bags, a Chocolate Aid Station at mile 12, where volunteers hand out Reese’s and Special Dark like it’s well, candy. The finisher’s goodie bag includes two tickets to Hersheypark amusement park. After running 13.1 miles, and eating an equivalent amount in ounces of chocolate, we dare you to take a spin on the Sooperdooperlooper coaster. 

Most Random

London Marathon; London, England
You would think that a World Major marathon would be handing out some pretty legit stuff but in the past, London swag has been a little swag-less. Not only do they hand out one mish-mash, but two. The pre-race bag contains the common and expected nuts, nutrition bars, and leaflets. It’s post-race where things get really weird. That one includes everything from Mars Bars, a beer, a single prune, a sachet for a pasta bake, chewing gum, and a one-size fits all shirts the size of blankets. 

Best International

Le Marathon du Medoc; Bordeaux, France
With a 2014 theme of “The Countries of the World and Their Carnivals,” you can bet the Medoc is going to be a party. Before you even get to the start line, the marathon oraganizers a proper carbo-load, called “Soiree Mille-Pates,” complete with fine china and a twenty-piece band. The pre-race celebration seems to carry right through the race, where 23 different red and white wines are offered at drink stations along the course in the middle of France’s vineyards. Wine serves as hydration and gourmet foie gras, entrecote steak, pain au chocolat, fruit and oysters at pit stops serve as fuel. Put all this together you have yourself some world-class swag. After the race, and downing nearly six bottles of wine, winners are given their weight in even more wine. All finishers are rewarded with a rose, a kiss gym bag and a bottle of vintage Medoc to go. 

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Apple Takes a Bite Out of Fitness and Wellness

Everything you ever wanted to know about your health and fitness is coming soon to an iPhone near you. Or, more specifically, to an app named Health that runs on Apple’s new mobile operating system, iOS 8. 

That’s today’s big news out of San Francisco, where Apple announced its foray into health and fitness tracking at the company’s annual World Wide Developer’s Conference.

As TechCrunch explains, Healthkit is “the company’s first real big foray into health and fitness tracking, and Health [is] an app for viewing all that info…the new Health app will combine data from various different health and fitness devices and apps, and make them accessible all in one place.” For example, the app will combine sleep, nutrition, activity, weight, and heart-rate data in tabs on a single screen. 

With Healthkit, Apple is not only getting into the fitness-tracking game, it’s also making a push to modernize and mobilize healthcare. As Engadget reports,

Mayo Clinic, a Minnesota non-profit, is already working with Apple on making the software work best for both doctors and patients. In the examples shown today at Apple's WWDC event in San Francisco, Health advised patients of wellness plans set by their doctors and enabled a futuristic approach to healthcare; where doctors and patients interact constantly, in real-time, at very least on a data level.

Apple isn’t the first company to try to consolidate personal health and fitness info in one place. Microsoft launched web-based HealthVault in 2007, and Google followed with Google Health in 2008. HealthVault still exists, though Microsoft has refused to comment on the number of active users. Google shuttered its service in 2012, citing a lack of participation. As former manager of Google Health, Adam Bosworth, told the New York Times, “the service could not overcome the obstacle of requiring people to laboriously put in their own data.” 

That’s where Apple Health is likely to succeed while these early services did not. It seems Apple’s app will do all of the work of integrating records and information from fitness-tracking devices, like Apple’s rumored iWatch, as well as doctors. That may make it an easy technology to adopt.

Tech insiders believe the highly-anticipated iWatch itself—a “smartwatch/wearable of some form directly from Apple”—could someday have self-monitoring capabilities beyond those of the popular FitBit or similar wristbands. Think: hydration, oxygen saturation, and blood sugar tracking. Apple hired several health and fitness experts in the past year, fueling those rumors, though the company has yet to make any official iWatch announcements.

A patent Apple filed in 2009 suggests wearables aren’t the only devices that will track health data. Future iPhones may have leads embedded in them that allow the phone itself to track cardiac data, giving users easy access to heart info as well.

For now, we know the Health app is coming. Amid the rest of the rumors, one thing is certain: this year is shaping up to be a big one for health and fitness.

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