DCGI Ends Cosmetic Testing on Animals

Following an intense campaign by PETA India and work by MP Maneka Gandhi, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) Dr GN Singh announced that testing cosmetics and their ingredients on animals will not be permitted in India. The landmark announcement was made during the Bureau of Indian Standards PCD 19 Cosmetics Sectional Committee meeting, on which PETA India’s science policy advisor, Dr Chaitanya Koduri, has an official seat. Earlier this week, Dr Koduri had held a private meeting with Dr Singh urging him to implement this ban.

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PETA India’s campaign received support from high places. Congress President Smt Sonia Gandhi recently urged the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to consider PETA India’s request for a ban on the testing of cosmetics and their ingredients through the National Advisory Council Office, while senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lal Krishna Advani had sought the same through his office. Santosh Chowdhury, the newly appointed Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare; Dr Mirza Mehboob, former Cabinet Minister of Health, Medical Education and Family Welfare for the government of Jammu and Kashmir; and Yashodhara Raje Scindia, former Minister for Tourism, Sports and Youth Welfare for the government of Madhya Pradesh had all sent strong appeals to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in favour of a total ban on the testing of cosmetics and their ingredients on animals. Mehboob is also a medical practitioner who did his MBBS at Srinagar Medical College in Jammu and Kashmir. MP Maneka Gandhi has been working closely with PETA India’s science policy advisor, Dr Chaitanya Koduri, to push for this ban.

Multinational companies The Body Shop and LUSH as well as Indian companies such as Omved Lifestyle, Shahnaz Husain and others had also written to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in full support of a ban after hearing from PETA. Officials from the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Mahatma Gandhi–Doerenkamp Center for Alternatives to Use of Animals in Life Science Education and theAnimal Welfare Board of India, a statutory advisory body, had also all expressed support for the ban.

In 2012, the cast and crew of Farah Khan’s Joker, directed by Shirish Kunder and starring Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha and Chitrangda Singh, had joined PETA in urging the government to ban cosmetic testing on animals. Chitrangda posed on behalf of PETA and Joker with the aliens from the film for the campaign. The ad was shot by ace photographer Atul Kasbekar.

DCGI’s announcement comes in the wake of the European Union’s and Israel’s bans on the testing of cosmetics products and their ingredients on animals, which includes a ban on sales of animal-tested cosmetics, regardless of where those tests were conducted. Israel has also banned the testing of household products and their ingredients on animals as well as the sale of such products if they have been tested on animals. Household products include cleaners and detergents. PETA India is also campaigning for an end to the testing of household products and their ingredients on animals in India.

Please note, however, that at present, cosmetics and personal-care products tested on animals can still be sold in India. Please do checkPETA’s list of companies that do not test on animals before you go shopping.

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard on this campaign, from celebrities, politicians and compassionate businesses who lent their support to the many PETA India supporters who raised their voices and donated time and money to make this achievement possible. Celebrations are in order all around!

Source:  PETA



 How many times have you heard someone say that if you want to lose weight you shouldn’t be eating at night? Or that eating too late is a sure recipe for weight gain? Despite what you may have heard about this, the answer about whether or not to eat at night, is not entirely clear. In fact, eating certain foods at night can actually accelerate your progress toward attaining your fitness goals.

The physiological truth is that nothing magical happens when the clock strikes 8 or 9 p.m. So, where did this fitness rule come from? People are generally less active at night, which means that they burn fewer calories. In addition, it seems like dinnertime is when people might be at a higher risk of consuming more calories than necessary. 

A lot of mindless eating occurs while watching television, and according to A.C. Nielsen, 66 percent of Americans watch TV while eating dinner, so you can do the math. And if you think that because you have healthy eating habits, this won’t affect you, think again. A 2011 study published in Appetite showed that people who control their diets and calorie intakes are more likely to be influenced by food-related content on television, causing them to eat more calories. 

Eating at night isn’t bad under the right circumstances. It’s mindless eating and eating junk food that are the troublemakers. If you find that you mindlessly snack late at night, then yes, curbing late night calories is important.

That said, here are four surprising night eating strategies that may help you lose weight and improve your performance in the gym:

1. Low Glycemic Dinner Tonight Can Help Control Your Blood Sugar Tomorrow

Starting your day off on the right foot doesn’t just start with getting a good night’s sleep. It actually starts beforehand– at dinner. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that what you eat for dinner can affect how your body responds to what you eat for breakfast the next morning. The findings showed that people who ate a low glycemic dinner the night before were able to better regulate their blood sugar after breakfast the next morning. Optimizing blood sugar control is not only important for improving weight loss but also for your overall health. 

For a dinner that will help you better control your blood sugar in the morning, try pairing a low glycemic carb like lentils, black beans, sweet potatoes or your favorite green vegetable with a lean protein, such as chicken breast, lean beef or salmon.

2. Not All Carbs Will Turn into Fat if You Eat Them Late at Night

Exercise is the one activity in your life that has the biggest effect on how your body processes and metabolizes food. When you exercise, your body changes what it does with the food you give it. These changes preferentially shuttle nutrients toward recovery, meaning that following exercise your muscles will absorb more carbohydrates. This occurs regardless of time of day. But still many people abstain from eating carbohydrates at night out of fear that those carbs will be stored as fat, even after they have exercised. 

Not eating after a workout, especially a tough one, can put a damper in your post-workout recovery as well as your results. In the 45 minutes after a workout, one of your top nutritional priorities should be recovery from exercise as it helps get you and your muscles stronger and better. Don’t skip the carbohydrates after you exercise just because it is later in the day. Eat carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and bananas to refuel your muscles’ energy stores so they are ready to go when you are ready to start training again.

3. Eating Carbohydrates at Night Can Help Control Hunger

A recent study found that eating carbs at night may actually help you control your appetite throughout the day. In a 2011 study published in Obesity and Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, researchers put a group of 63 obese female and male police officers on one of two diets. The first diet plan spread the officers’ carbohydrate intake evenly throughout the day, while the second diet plan concentrated the majority of the carbohydrates at dinnertime. The findings showed that the participants who ate most of their carbohydrates at dinnertime experienced hormonal changes that reduced hunger. 

The ability to control hunger is a key strategy in long-term weight loss success. A previous long-term weight loss study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that your body’s hunger sensors don’t adapt to you eating less over time. What’s more, the study found that hunger hormones remain elevated at least 18 months into dieting. So, as your daily calorie goal becomes lower when you are dieting, instead of separating a small amount of carbohydrates across several meals, it might benefit you to concentrate them during your evening meal.

4. Protein Before Bed Can Help You Build Muscle While You Sleep

A myth about eating before bed is that you don’t digest food while you are sleeping. This could not be farther from the truth. While you are asleep, your body doesn’t stop working – your heart is pumping blood, your lungs are passing air. Strategic eating before you go to bed can help optimize your muscle building efforts. Bodybuilders have long incorporated casein protein-rich meals, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and protein powder, before bed to help boost muscle building while you sleep. Research now supports this cult practice. 

A 2012 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, found that protein consumed immediately before going to bed helps muscle growth, repair and maintenance during overnight recovery after working out. To accelerate recovery from your training sessions, eat a casein protein shake or bowl of Greek yogurt before you go so sleep at night.

Article reviewed by Luz Plaza Last updated on: Jun 25, 2013


Source: http://www.livestrong.com


Of course, you want fries with that. Does the server behind the register even need to ask? Let’s face it, no meal at McDonald’s is complete without an order of its delicious fries. And to think, the world-famous french fries were added to the menu only as an afterthought. They replaced plain old potato chips in 1949, nine years after the first-ever McDonald’s opened its doors for business in California.


So, you assume these tasty fries are terrible for you, right? Before you turn your eyes away from the screen so that we don’t ruin yet another delicious food for you forever, hear this: There are many fast food menu items that are far worse for your health (we will mention some of them later in this article).

THE SUSPECT: McDonald’s French Fries Large (5.4 oz)

THE DETECTIVE: Dr. Christopher Ochner (a research associate at New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center) is very familiar with the McDonald’s menu. A few years ago, Ochner — who holds a doctorate of clinical psychology — conducted his own “Super Size Me”-type diet experiment: Every day for two months he ate one meal at the fast food restaurant as part of a study. His findings have yet to be published.

NUTRITION LABEL: 500 calories, 25 grams fat, 63 grams carbs, 350 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber, 6 grams protein

LISTED INGREDIENTS: Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (to maintain color), salt and dimethylpolysiloxane. The oil used for frying also mentions tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ).

*Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients.

Shockingly enough, these fries are not vegetarian.

Dr. Christopher Ochner, New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center research associate


VEGETABLE OIL (BLEND): To make french fries, you have to deep-fry some potatoes, an otherwise healthy carbohydrate, in something fatty and greasy. McDonald’s spuds get dunked in an oil bath twice. According to Ochner, the manufacturers cut and boil them and possibly fry them once before freezing them and shipping them to restaurants, where they are fried again. Here’s what goes into that piping hot potato bath:

a) Canola oil: This commonly used cooking oil is generally considered “good for you” when compared to others in its category, but it’s still loaded with calories and therefore will make you gain weight if you consume too much of it. It’s hard to tell how much of this particular oil is used versus the less healthy, and even fattier options. Because canola oil is a little pricier, Ochner speculates that McDonald’s probably uses less of the good stuff and more of the others, like corn oil and soybean oil.

b) Hydrogenated soybean oil: When regular soybean oil goes through a hydrogenation process, its unsaturated fats become saturated fat, which in turn makes it easier to cook with and helps boost preservation. The downside is the new fat also becomes a trans fat, which has been strongly linked to heart disease. You’d think that the recent nationwide mandatory call for removal of trans fats in all foods would have forced McDonald’s to rethink its recipe. Nope. Ochner says that the FDA’s definition of “zero trans fat per serving” means less than 1 gram per tablespoon, and that McDonald’s found its loophole and still continues to serve a relatively low amount of trans fat in its fries.

c) Natural beef flavor: Some 50 years ago, McDonald’s cooked its fries in beef fat. When it switched over to a vegetable oil blend, it didn’t want the fries to lose their famous flavor, so they opted to add natural beef flavor to the blend. Hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk are used as starting ingredients of the flavoring. Shockingly enough, these fries are not vegetarian. In 2002, McDonald’s paid $10 million to members of a vegetarian Hindu community who had sued the chain for failing to disclose how the food was prepared.

d) Citric acid: This common preservative is considered safe to ingest, but there’s something disturbing about how it works. If you remember Morgan Spurlock’s alarming 2004 documentary “Super Size Me,” you will recall how McDonald’s fries can last for months without breaking down at all, continuing to look like you bought them yesterday.

e) TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone): This super potent preservative, found in lots of foods, is what might be helping citric acid keep long-dead fries from becoming zombies. Though it’s also said to be safe, animal studies have linked it to stomach ulcers and damage to DNA.

DEXTROSE: Another word for sugar, this is third ingredient, following potatoes and oil, in McDonald’s fries. Now why would such a savory food need a dash of sweetness? Well, it’s simple: It makes it taste better and it also increases addiction and cravings. New research shows that the body may convert the sugar found in foods into body fat more easily than it can convert fat found in foods into body fat. So sugar may be worse for you than fat.

SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE: This preservative is the reason McDonald’s fries will retain a fresh-looking golden brown color rather than turn black when placed in a jar for two months. Yuck. This same ingredient is often found in commercially prepared cake, pudding, waffle, pancake and muffin mixes, and it is also added to refrigerated dough products, flavored milk, cured meats, potato products and canned fish.

DIMETHYLPOLYSILOXANE: What’s an anti-foaming agent doing in your fries? Bizarrely enough, this silicone serves a purpose: McDonald’s manufacturers likely add some to the water when boiling the potatoes before frying and freezing them for shipment. This probably helps speed up the process (no foam spilling over) and cuts back on cleanup afterward. There’s no proof that ingesting this stuff is harmful, but why would you want to?

THE VERDICT: It all sounds pretty questionable, right? Despite all the potentially hazardous ingredients hidden in these fries, Ochner says that the saturated fat in foods like this is the most dangerous part for your overall health. However, at McDonald’s (and other fast food restaurants), there are many items on the menu that are worse for you than french fries, based on calorie and fat content alone. Some examples to avoid: McDonald’s Angus Bacon & Cheese, which has 820 calories and 41 grams of fat; KFC’s Chicken Pot Pie, which has 790 calories and 45 grams of fat; Burger King’s Double Whopper, which has 830 calories and 50 grams of fat; and the seemingly healthy Gluten-Sensitive Low Carb Breakfast Bowl from Hardee’s, which has 740 calories and 61 grams of fat.

THE SENTENCE: McDonald’s french fries contain questionable ingredients, a high amount of fat content, and a minimal amount of nutrition (protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants). That said, we do understand that some of you might still find the siren song of “Do you want fries with that?” very tempting. Our hope is that this information may nudge you to eat them less often, or perhaps at least convince you to choose the smaller portion of fries. Just by ordering the small versus the large fries, you’ll avoid 270 calories, 14 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 34 grams of carbs.

Article reviewed by Luz Plaza Last updated on: May 15, 2013


Source: http://www.livestrong.com


Are You Bottling Up Your Feelings?

Internalizing or Externalizing — that is the Question!

Suffering is traumatic and awful and we get angry and we shake our fists at the heavens and we vent and rage and weep.  But in the process we discover a new tomorrow, one we never would have imagined otherwise.  ~Rob Bell


I come across a lot of people who either build up a big drama around their problems or they internalize them.

It’s one thing to go around needlessly gossiping about people and wreaking verbal havoc but it’s an entirely different case to shut up like a clam instead of allowing yourself to blow off some steam.

The ones who internalize their problems usually don’t like to ‘talk’ about people behind their back or find it inappropriate (venting about your children) or disrespectful (especially in the case of your parents) which, of course, is very noble indeed but there are certain instances where it can be appropriate, if not detrimental, to talk about your problems.

Finding Perspective amongst Guilt

No matter who is causing you distress — it’s not personal.  There is often a lot of misunderstanding between a person and their actions. You may still love that person dearly but they have done something (the action) to fluff your feathers.

Holding onto the problem could cause you to like them less and less but addressing the core before it festers can give you that space to figure out your next step without losing any love for that person over it.

So, let’s get this ball rolling by addressing some potential situations.

There should be no guilt in:

Admitting that your child has done something to annoy you — it is no reflection on you as a parent or them as a child — it is what it is.  You still love them but their action has caused you unease.  You’re not a Stepford Wife, you know.  I know the perceived ‘norm’ is to always have a smiley face and a tray of milk and cookies for your child, however, the bald-faced truth is that parenting can be overwhelming at times and you are entitled to vent about your little darlings without fear of judgment.

Discussing a problem you may have with a partner, friend or family member to someone you trust with the information as long as it comes from a place of integrity (i.e. the truth and not the dramatized version).

Talking about how you may not be coping at the moment.  When you internalize this it becomes like a festering sore that causes you more and more pain until one day it pops at the most inconvenient time and you are left with a sticky mess to mop up.  Even worse, you have a physical breakdown.  It’s okay to talk about how you are feeling no matter how ‘dark’ you may think it is.  Once you let it out of your system, you have the potential to let it go or find a solution, if not just get the support you may need.

The Lone Warrior

If you feel you can’t talk about these things or you don’t have anyone who will listen that you trust, it’s best to let it out and vent in whatever way you can.

Some healthy examples would be to:

Have a little cry (hell, even a big one!) — there’s nothing more releasing than letting your emotions out through a healthy blubber and don’t feel guilty for it!  Rather feel guilty for not allowing yourself the freedom to express yourself.

Find some solitude and belt out a scream — this can also work well as long as you are not within the audible radius of a nosy neighbor.

Put on your boxing gloves and get out that punching bag — it’s a liberating feeling to blow off some steam through physical activity.

Write out your feelings and then burn the paper — this can also be an emancipating experience.  When you write something down you are releasing it from your internal dialogue and unburdening the mind.  Burning it is symbolic of having vented your problem and you are now ready to move on or find a solution.

Human beings are emotional.  We need to express ourselves.  Of course, we need to exercise a certain amount of restraint when doing this — i.e. don’t hurt anyone in the process — but there are safe ways of doing it as outlined above.

The worst thing you could do is to bottle up your feelings and wait for the cork to explode one day.  You are helping nobody out, least of all yourself, when you don’t blow off some steam about your woes.

Everyone Gets to Park Off on the Lavatory Daily

Remember that old saying; when you feel intimidated by someone remember that they too need to use the toilet every day (slightly euphemized here)?  Well, this concept is kind of similar.  Everyone has problems, don’t think you are alone.

Everyone needs to take a dump once in a while and everyone has to face problems in their life every now and again.

To talk about it is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you can admit you are vulnerable and that your ego doesn’t have you by the short and curlies.

The ego is the thing that wants to exude an outer appearance of having it all, coping with life and just being a regular robotic superhuman.  The fact is that you’re not.  No-one is and it’s great!

Whoop-de-doo, we’re all messed up and we should celebrate our daftness together and not have to feel guilty about it ever again!

Source: Purpose Fairy


Dissolving the Myth of Competition.

When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you. ~Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Who is the best? Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant?

Who is the strongest country in the world? USA or China?

Who is the best political party?  Democrats or Republicans? And who is the best singer on American Idol?

We have been programmed to think in order to be successful, not only do we have to be better than the people we are in competition with, but we have to be the best. But it is impossible to be better than another person at anything you are meant to do.  Because each person in the world has a unique role in the world that only he or she can fulfill.  There will never be another Shakespeare, Oprah or another YOU for that matter!

I have learned my unique gift to the world is to heal your emotional experiences and wounds from your childhood.  And to do all of this in a medical setting so I can introduce the power of emotional healing to people who would not actively seek out professional help in this regard.

These are stories of my clients, and many of the people I encounter in my life.  It’s like the entire universe wants me to know that this is the work I meant to do.  I did a workshop last month for women who were abused, in prison and recovering drug addicts and hearing their tragic childhood stories made me feel at home. Home because I knew in my heart this is the work I am meant to do.

I used to have the mentality that in order to generate more business, it’s best to be of service to the widest variety of clients and have as many clients as possible.  Yet there are hundreds of thousands of nutritionists in the world which all can we all help you with weight loss and healthy living.  But I know now we will all attract different clients, with different journeys.  I know now that each client I have is the perfect client for me, because I am fully aware of my unique role in this world.  And now each of my sessions are even more powerful beyond my imagination.  Not only do I experience this is in my office but in my “incidental” everyday encounters.

For example, every Saturday I go to a local Vitamin Shoppe to introduce my services, and it was slow this past Saturday so I was just reading my book.  This lady was standing across of me while waiting for an employee to get the supplement she needed.  And she just suddenly broke down crying in front of me.  I looked at her without any judgment, and in turn she looked back at me with a feeling of ease.

She asked me if I worked here, and I told her I am a holistic health practitioner visiting today.  She told me she was battling through cancer.  The cancer was around her thyroid.  Your thyroid I remind you is your center of self-expression because it sits on top of your voice box.

In the way she talked she was extremely frantic and emotionally unstable.  It was obvious to me that there had to be a strong emotional component to her cancer (remember one of the leading causes of cancer is repressed negative emotions.) I ended up asking about her relationship with her parents, and she revealed they are only in her life when she gets ill.

(You see I can just be minding my own business reading a book and the Universe will send me the work I am meant to do right at my doorstep.)

And the last time they were in her life was two years ago when she had her first experience with cancer. She explained to me, at that time she had tumor growths all around her neck.  After recovering, her father disappeared from her life again and she was deeply saddened by it.  She admitted that she believes why the cancer is back is from the two years of wondering why her dad did not want her in his life.  I did not ask her this, but it’s almost as if she gets ill because that’s the only way she can get her parent’s mere attention.

I looked into her eyes and told her, “Your parents have their own insecurities and their own pain. And what they do to you comes only from the pain within themselves.  It’s not about you at all. It’s about them.”  A little life began to come back into her spirit, “Really?? I needed to hear that so much. Thank you.” She paused for a moment and said, “You know I’ve been praying for you.”

You see we all have a unique purpose and gift.  It is like we all play an individual role in this world-wide screenplay. And each person is the only person in the galaxy that can fulfill his or her role.  Another person’s role is not any more or less important than yours.

To use an example, I had a friend tell me recently she set out to create many products that were a part of her dream vision, but couldn’t start on even one product because she feared what she would put out in the world wouldn’t be good enough.  She admitted the messages conveyed by her mother growing up made her feel she wasn’t good enough.

I told her “You are the product. You are the gift.  All you have to do is express yourself fully and the perfect product will come out because it’s who you are.”

We were all born and created Great. Anything short of greatness you are only cheating yourself and your creator. All gifts are meant to be shared, so by not honoring your gifts you are cheating the world of the miracle that you are.

Source: Purpose Fairy

CrossFit is intense, effective, and hugely popular. But is it also too dangerous?

Ryan Palmer had a tough week. On Monday, the 26-year-old job battled squat presses and ring dips. Tuesday, a clean and jerk set where he squeezed out 30 reps with 135 pounds. The following day, even though his muscles were still aching, he performed a total of 150 pull-ups and 150 burpees.

Palmer took a break from exercise on Thursday, but the next morning he went for a long bike ride. The following day his arms were uncharacteristically sore and swollen, his urine the color of black tea that had been seeping for hours. Instead of suiting up in workout gear on Sunday, he found himself in a hospital gown hooked up to an IV drip that flushed his kidneys with more than nine liters of saline. As his creatine kinase levels—the amount of muscle protein broken down poisoning his blood stream— declined at the pace of a snail, he pulled out his phone to send a tweet to his fellow athletes. With one flash of the camera, Palmer revealed the frightening results of a kidney test, and offered a simple caption: “Uncle Rhabdo, is that you?”

“Normal people don’t get it. It’s like being in the mafia. You can’t understand what it’s like unless you’re on the inside.”

33-year-old Jennifer Wielgus, who’s been doing CrossFit in Philadelphia for about a year.

The Evolution of Exercise

A little more than a year ago, I pulled up to a garage one evening ready to get my ass kicked. I wanted to try a CrossFit workout. I’d heard the rumors. I knew what was coming was probably more than I could handle—and that not even my athletic background as a gymnast, weightlifter, running back or point guard would prepare me. So, I ate a light dinner that wouldn’t taste horrible if I ended up hurling it onto my sneakers after overworking myself. And I sucked up my fear.

When I arrived, nothing seemed too intimidating except for the big clock with red numbers. It was those numbers that would define my ability to survive. The workout started well, but right around my fifth set of squats, when the weight became a little too heavy and my form began to falter, I put the bar down. But the clock did not approve.


While the athletes around me kept moving, bewildered by my inaction, I knew my time was up. I could feel a twinge in my spine reminiscent of an old stress fracture. Everything—aside from the environment—told me to stop.

“Pick it up! Finish it out! Two minutes! As many rounds, let’s go!” The coach’s hands clapped together, lips pursed tightly in frustration for the mental and physical break I gave myself. So, I picked up the bar. And, moving as slowly as possible with as best form one can do when they’re tired and hurting, I finished it out. That night I needed a double dose of ibuprofen and an ice bath.

That was my first experience with CrossFit, a workout methodology created by former gymnast Greg Glassman in 2001. CrossFit consists of a stew of exercise variety: Olympic-like lifts, cardio training and other seemingly basic, but multi-joint movements (like box jumps, pullups and jumping rope) are combined in each class. CrossFit aims to “forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness,” according to the brand’s guidebook. The workout phenomenon has been steadily growing for a decade, and according to CrossFit headquarters, there are more than 3,000 CrossFit affiliated gyms worldwide, with 332 in California alone.

Every day, thousands of CrossFit athletes faithfully arrive at their respective gyms: warehouses filled with boxes, ropes, Olympic rings, kettlebells and a never-never-quit atmosphere. The defining characteristic of CrossFit is the intensity. The programs are hard as hell. Its “prescription,” as the guide states, is for “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements that will optimize physical competence in ten physical domains: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.”

The key to the high-voltage workouts is a digital clock that holds prime real estate in most CrossFit facilities. Most of the workouts are time-based, meaning you don’t stop until the clock hits zero. Even as your muscles fail and your mind weakens, coaches and fellow gym goers push each member to completion.

Peter Villahoz, a 30-year-old New York Police Department Officer from East Meadow, NY, says a lot of his close friends are from CrossFit, and that they are there to push each other.

“If I finish first, I wait till these guys are done and I motivate them,” he says.
The camaraderie in the gym is nothing short of contagious. As such, the program has earned its skeptics and, of course, true believers.

“As an adult competitive athlete, there’s nothing else like this. You get that adrenaline rush that you got from being in sports in high school,” says 33-year-old Jennifer Wielgus, who’s been doing CrossFit in Philadelphia for about a year.

That rush and love of the gym is far from a bad thing, but the no-quit atmosphere has generated questions. And the mob mentality has taken the healthiest of behaviors and turned it into a growing danger.

The Dark Side

Uncle Rhabdo represents a character in the CrossFit community and is short for rhabdomyolysis, a kidney condition most commonly induced by excessive exercise, according to Heather Gillespie, a sports medicine physician from UCLA. The potentially life-threatening state, which can also be caused by underlying genetics, occurs when muscle breaks down and myoglobin, the biproduct of muscle fibers, is released into the blood stream, essentially clogging up the kidneys and poisoning them.

“If you’re dehydrated, which sort of goes along with rhabdo, you can’t clear these toxins, the kidney can’t filter the byproduct,” Gillespie says. It can lead to kidney failure and electrolyte imbalances that can ultimately affect your heart.

Uncle Rhabdo was originally invented to shed light on “the inappropriate use of intensity,” according to CrossFit’s Training Guide. The haunting image of Uncle Rhabdo is a cartoon of a blue-haired-red-nosed clown with face paint, panting from exhaustion with organs and blood spilling from its body, a set of weights in the background.

Some in CrossFit use these clowns as a humorous way to prove that they’ve worked hard. But problems arise when CrossFit athletes and their trainers simply don’t know when—or choose not—to pull the plug.

“I do give them a little sticker [if they puke],” says Hollis Molloy, a trainer at CrossFit Santa Cruz, one of the first CrossFit gyms in the country. “Back in the day, we used to give them shirts and the availability of the shirt ran out.”

If most gyms struggle to have their patrons work hard enough, CrossFit gyms struggle on the opposite end of the spectrum. Searching for the words “pain” and “CrossFit” on Twitter yields hundreds of results, nearly every one praising the sting the workout provides. “There’s pushing an athlete to the point of discomfort that is challenging,” says Joe Dowdell, founder and CEO of Peak Performance in New York City. “But then we pull the reigns back. Vomiting is a sign that you’ve hit a point when it’s just too much.”

“CrossFitters put up with burning muscles and overall strain so they’re used to ‘bring it on, gimme more gimme more.’ It gets hard to say oh, that’s pain, I need to stop” says David Geier, Jr., an orthopedic surgeon and the director of sports medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. “I think the benefits of CrossFit outweigh the risks—but the risks are real.”

While all exercise can create injury, Geier sees more injuries with CrossFit because of the high-speed, high-impact approach. Certain exercises implemented by CrossFit (Olympic lifts, specifically) are meant to be done in moderation. But CrossFit preaches pushing to the edge of every set, every rep, until there’s nothing left in the tank. And while training to muscular failure is notoriously debatable, one thing is certain: Regularly pushing your body to failure can lead to serious health risks, like rhabdomyolysis.

“I have always taken the stance that training to failure causes useless fatigue,” says Mark Peterson, an exercise physiologist from the University of Michigan’s department of physical medicine. “Whereas fatigue is a normal side effect of certain types of metabolic training, I do not believe it has a time or place in training for strength and power.”

The real danger is to new athletes, like those who flock to the thousands of CrossFit facilities looking for a great workout. Word of mouth is powerful in the CrossFit community, and maybe the most dangerous element. While the workouts can be performed by beginners, their immature muscles can’t tell the difference between training to failure and simply getting a good workout. In fact, most beginners don’t know when “too much is too much” and don’t understand the unique demand of an exercise session, says Eric Cressey, C.S.C.S., a shoulder and injury prevention expert and owner of Cressey Performance in Hudson, Mass.

Since many explosive movements require technical skill, he says, it is not advisable for Olympic lifts be completed in a fatigued state. CrossFit, and other popular workout schemes like bootcamps, rely on training to excessive exhaustion and failure, and thereby create an artificial perception of effectiveness. “These people might be doing a crazy workout and feel great because their endorphins are flowing, but then they wake up with their shoulder pounding with pain,” Cressey says.

His biggest concern is the technique that goes along with the workout. “When you see a 20-minute circuit of really ugly cleans and ring dips, those are exercises that don’t jive well,” he says.

The Fitness Solution?

This much is certain: When done correctly, CrossFit is not inherently bad or ineffective. Like other training methodologies before it, CrossFit is a form of high intensity exercise, an efficient model of exercise that has helped many people lose weight while improving strength and endurance. But due to its extensive popularity, many CrossFit gyms have diluted the system. Just as some first-time CrossFit athletes rush into overdoing exercises in a fatigued state and, thus, falter in form, CrossFit coaches and affiliates are rushing into setting up CrossFit gyms and are, thus, faltering in form.

The problems stem from inexperienced trainers. CrossFit level-1 trainers are certified after completing a two-day seminar and 50-multiple-choice-question exam. That’s all you need to open up a CrossFit gym and start training as many athletes as you want.

Zach Even-Esh, a CrossFit trainer at New Jersey’s Underground Strength Coach, says the trainers at level-1 are just scratching the tip of the iceberg. “They tell you at level-1 that this is an introduction to understanding the basis of what CrossFit is about and that you need to take it to the next level,” he says. But the reality is, someone with two days of education could be leading your next CrossFit class.

That’s not to say there aren’t well-experienced trainers coaching CrossFit across the country, but with a certification and affiliation so simple to attain, the program’s becoming diluted with inexperienced trainers who are hurting people. Cressey suggests those who want to be trainers should wait one year before getting a certification. “If you have it without any experience, it makes you a liability, not a professional,” he says.

The real question is: Can the growing CrossFit industry slow down to make sure its trainers are adequately prepared to train their clients? According to CrossFit headquarters, 150 applications arrive every month, which amounts to about five CrossFit affiliated gyms per day, assuming all applications are accepted. To put in perspective, in 2006, Starbucks set up an average of six stores per day.

CrossFit trainers and affiliates simply sign up to affiliate after receiving their level-1 certification and pay a monthly fee from then on out. There are never calls from headquarters pushing for further education or refresher courses.

“It does hurt the community because some people don’t go out and educate themselves,” Even-Esh says. And there is no lack of furthering education in the CrossFit community. The program offers level-2 training and specialty seminars in areas like kettelbell, mobility, power lifting, running and more. The classes are offered all over the country; CrossFit comes to the coaches, making it overly accessible. Even-Esh says he thinks CrossFit headquarters should even go as far as requiring coaches to get a specialty certification every once in a while to keep their affiliation.

The presiding hope among the CrossFit community is that this exercise movement can help reverse the growing obesity trend by creating a more active society. “I remember in the early days, Greg [Glassman] saying that CrossFit athletes aren’t found, they’re made,” says CrossFit Santa Cruz’s Molloy. And while CrossFit motivates its followers to exercise, the growing fear is that the current model and lack of monitoring is more likely to build broken bodies than create a healthier nation.

Source: http://www.livestrong.com