Archive for the ‘Healthy Eating’ Category

Like many people in the fitness community, I enjoy a good challenge! I was genetically given a body frame that is extremely slight for someone who is well over six feet tall. I am able to shed fat with extreme ease, but have always lacked true size. This is typically not a problem for most people, who put size on for cosmetic or pure, raw strength reasons. My case is different, as I have a Crohn’s disease diagnosis to work through, and I recently rehabbed a neck injury.

Crohn’s afflicted people are often very underweight, and will lose large percentages of their body weight when the disease flares up. Doctors fear the worst because these patients are often grossly underweight to start with, and during a serious bout…they are losing even more weight. I decided this was not going to be me. I want a bit of a cushion in the event that something goes wrong.

I began looking into an amazing book by Dan Johns called Mass Made Simple.  The exercise routines in the book and clean weight gain techniques are excellent, and this item is a steal at under ten dollars at the kindle store. Basically, each week you add a new protein/fiber source to your diet for six weeks. You also do TONS of high rep squat sequences, as doing so will aid the body in naturally releasing human growth hormone. The large size of the quad muscles is what brings this on. You also work your entire body using complexes that stress many different movements without ever putting the bar down. I also listened to some amazing eating methods from “The Mike Dolce Show”. Type that into google, listen and absorb the words of a weight/nutrition expert!

I am a very fit person, who has conquered program after program in my pursuit of better fitness. I even reached the pinnacle by earning a black belt in jiu jitsu, and I’m working on my second degree each day. Mass building was a whole new story! I could barely walk after these workouts, and I even threw up after the third workout day. This type of insane load and volume work was enough to drive me to the brink, and I love it.

It also made realize that there is no replacement for good technique. When you are on rep number 30 of a squat weight that exceeds your body weight, it better be clean. Good technique also allows you to take the most from each exercise. If you are unsure of how to do a move, watch videos, look at a pictorial progression, and read explanation. The best thing (if possible), is to have another member of the fitness community assist you.

I know this was all over the place, but I wanted to share the small piece of my journey. I’m up 5 pounds in a short period of time, and I want to try to gain ten more before this cycle is closed out. Definitely check the book out to learn more, and please give “The Mike Dolce Show” a listen. If you want help with bulking, I can let u know anything further that I know. We can go through this together!

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As a member of the fitness community, I’m sure we’ve all heard people talk about what they wish to do with their body, and/or the current routine that they are working with. We’ve probably also seen upstarts dream big and go way too hard in the first month or two. Today’s article is going discuss the ideology behind a fitness plan, and how you should really be planning to reach the goals that you’ve laid out for yourself.

A clear objective is the first step to any exercise plan. Whether it’s adding a certain amount of weight to a specific lift, or going a further distance on runs, these flexible landmarks need to be clearly defined from the outset. I’d say the biggest stumbles that occur with objectives lies in those who create vague ones like “I want to run more” or “I want to do more pull-ups”. You can reach these kind of goals by day two if you really think about it, and since that’s not what you’re looking for, you’ll often end up lingering in the same program for far too long. This will either create imbalances or limit gains due to General Adaptation Syndrome.

The other conundrum that jumps off of the page is a goal that is totally unrealistic. Beginners are renowned for this, and it is very problematic. It often discourages the person because they continue to fall short of the goal, or it isn’t happening fast enough for them. The result usually leads to workout overload during the early weeks/months, which lends itself readily to injury. I have seen this too many times, and frequently that person ends up leaving the fitness community. They are very tough to get back as well.

I make goals like, “I would like to add 20 pounds to my deadlift”, or “I want a 3% drop in my body fat.” These are clear, and I know when I have attained them. I also can plan for success for goals such as these with clarity and understanding. If my goal is to add pounds to my deadlift, I’m not going to do that by running and doing cardio work for a majority of my time. I would have to line up accessory lifting work that traditionally benefits this lift, while allowing enough other work for my body to remain balanced. Likewise, if my goal was to reduce body fat, I better not be pounding down steaks for dinner every night and asking for dessert.

There are also going to be times when the goal is appearing further away than you wanted it to at that juncture of the workout routine. Don’t be afraid to redraft the path that you need to take to get to that objective. Sometimes we consult with someone and get some new ideas, or we see that a particular action is not bringing the rewards we anticipated it would. These things are bound to happen through your fitness career, and I find myself doing these subtle tweaks. In fact, the most successful people are the ones who set up a solid plan and are adept at knowing how and when to make the small alterations that might add up big time later.

What happens when I get to that goal? Time to reassess how you got there, and what you would do next time to extend this goal. I then begin the process of setting up an entirely new goal to reach, because fitness is a journey without an end. We just reach new and exciting landmarks along the way. Stay fit and be well!

The word “plateau” strikes fear into the hearts of members of the fitness community. When we plateau, we have hit a point where gains are either coming slowly, or have ceased to occur at all. It can weigh heavily on us both physically and mentally. There is a barrier between us and the short (or long) term goals that we hope to reach.  I hope to offer tips on working through these daunting periods of time. I’ve been there and it can be difficult.

Take a few days off. It’s not uncommon for someone who is extremely devoted to exercise to be in an “overtrained” state. The body is worn down and the central nervous system can actually become sluggish because of the considerable amount of repeated similar movements. It’s quite impressive what a bit of rest can do for someone.

Add in a bit more cardio. If you are doing heavy lifting as your primary modality of exercise, this can take its toll. I’ve done cycles of very heavy weight lifting, and sometimes I found that the answer was simple. I was fatiguing late in my workouts, thus affecting the outcome of each lift. I added some cardio in place of the final set of these lifts and I felt as if the rut began to dissipate. My body was able to maintain a steadier heart rate throughout the exercise, and it was easier.

Try some kettle bells. Kettle bells are very useful items in the world of both strength and endurance training. Adding a kettle bell swing and/or snatch to your workouts can help open your hips and, increase your grip strength. I also like figure eights, as they strengthen many stabilizer muscles that can help you reach your peak. These have been a savior for me over the years.

Change your diet. Sometimes, our exercise commitment outweighs our will power when it comes to eating. The food you eat is the fuel for your body, and it can truly set the tone for the level of success that you attain when working out. Eating cleaner will definitely reap many positive benefits. For more advice on nutrition, check out the “healthy eating” section of my blog.

I’d like to wrap things up by reminding you that this is a journey without a defined destination. Fitness is a process that we develop over our lifetimes, and we must stay with that process at all times. Work through your plateaus and you will take even more pride in what you have been able to accomplish!

The title to this blog really says it all. I had a decent understanding on the surface level about the basic ways toxins enter our bodies. Upon hearing about environmental toxins on a health radio show, I decided to get down to business with some research. What I found was truly eye-opening for all of the wrong reasons. I will start by giving some fast facts about toxins in general, and then move on to more specific toxins that are most prevalent. Special thanks to Ray Francis for the additional information that was needed for this post.

–          Only about 8,000 of the 80,000 chemicals used in industry today have been tested in the U.S. for their role in the development of cancer.

–          Human toxic load is often ten times or more than the acceptable level for animal meat. In some humans studied they had 75 times this number!

–          In a random sampling of Americans, nearly all surveyed parties had been exposed to over 200 of the 212 chemicals tested for.

–          Women can transmit toxins to their children through the placenta and the breast milk.

PDE’’s (polybrominated diphenyl ethers)

This is chemical used to stop the spread of flames in furniture, mattresses and some newer cars. In fact, that new car smell that some people love so much, is actually the toxins in the fabrics and plastics from the car’s interior going through the process of “gassing off”. The same is true for new clothing! PDE’s lead to a variety of unhealthy ends. Sexual disorders, thyroid issues, and worst of all, cancer have all been found to have strong connection to PDE’s. The worst part about PDE’S is how easily they build up in the fat tissues of the body, thus affecting the liver and kidneys.

BPA (bisphenol-A)

Have you ever seen water bottles that say “BPA Free!” They want you to know that this nasty toxin is not hiding out their product. The most common place to find BPA is in plastic containers. It can also be found inside the lining of cans.  What is most concerning about BPA is that it does not take a massive load of this toxin to do some rather serious damage. This chemical resembles the hormones inside the body, and then creates large-scale imbalances in the endocrine system as a result. Another nasty side effect of BPA is how it can negatively impact genetic expression. Genetic disruptions created by BPA can actually be passed down through the generations. That is an extremely deep impact from what can be just a very small amount of this strong toxin. Avoid plastic water bottles without the label mentioned before, and try to skip canned food when possible.

PFOA (perflourooctanoic acid)

I would probably think again before purchasing your next nonstick pan. PFOA is highly common in cookware, clothing, and some food packaging. Among the plethora of health troubles that are caused by PFOA, one can note immune system underperformance, infertility, and once again, cancer as the worst. Do you still want that UN”Healthy Choice” dinner likely packaged in PFOA?

Acrylamide

Oh French fries, the wonders you continue to do for our health. Acrylamide can be triggered when starchy foods are heated at very high temperatures.  Fast foods tend to be very rich in this one because of the quick heating methods utilized. Cancer is heavily connected to an abundance of acrylamide in the diet.

Mercury

I know what you’re saying, “I already knew this!” I understand that dangers of mercury are pretty common knowledge at this point, but I must add a few things that not many folks consider. We’ve heard about the mercury in fish and some vaccinations, but did you know that your mouth could be exposing you to a very rich amount of mercury every single day of your life. Find out what kind of fillings you have, because chances are, you’ve got mercury or an amalgam of it. Mercury affects immune function, and it has been shown that T-cell production can regenerate 600% by simply switching out mercury fillings!

I hope this has helped a few of you realize what’s around you and how you can avoid exposure to excessive amounts of toxins in our environment. Leave me some feedback and stay well!

In honor of my nation’s independence day (sorry UK), I wanted to look back at something historic, yet still relevant to my blog’s typical subject matter. I did some research about how the colonists might have been eating in 1776, and some of what I found was rather thought-provoking. Were they eating healthier than some of the folks we know who live outside of the fitness community? While there is no such thing as a prototypical meal from this era, there are some common threads to be found. You can decide after reading.

Let’s start with breakfast, which had a defined time based on your economic standing. Poorer people usually ate early in the morning, while richer ones ate later in the morning. This sounds innocuous at first, but it actually was rather important, since there was no formal “lunch”. Poorer folks would therefore have to go far longer without eating than their rich counterparts.

The colonists must have believed that it was “5 o’clock somewhere”, because beer was the most popular morning beverage of the time. Some took it immediately after rising. My research yielded that breakfast foods would be bread, cornmeal mush or some type of rudimentary muffin that is nothing like the ones we have today. Milk would accompany many of these offerings (which must’ve tasted lovely after that morning beer was downed beforehand).

“Dinner” was the next meal on the docket for these folks. This was eaten at some point in the afternoon. It was served in two courses, Meat puddings and pies were a commonality during the first course, and cabbage was a common side. Course two was more like modern-day dessert. One could find dried or fresh fruits during this course, or some type “sweet meat”. I still have yet to find out what that is, and I’m probably happy I don’t know.

“Supper” was the final meal of the day for our colonists. Many historians speak about how small this meal was. There is some mention of “sallats”, which has been interpreted to mean “salad”. For some colonists, they would revert back to breakfast food, more coastal citizens could dine on a few oysters or mussels. Beer was once again on the drink menu. “Supper” was eaten very close to bedtime in most households.

So there you have it, a basic review of what people were eating when my country was formed. I hope you enjoyed this one. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but I had fun doing a little research. Did they eat better than some folks now? Leave me a few comments and weigh in! Stay fit and be well!

Nutella – The claim in their ads that it’s “Good for kids” has always made me somewhat infuriated. I’ve even heard the term repeated about this product by a co-worker, and I had to just shake my head and walk away. Let’s take a look at the ingredient label first, and the very first one on the list is sugar. Simply stated, this mess is more sugar than anything else. Now let’s get to that “nutritional goodness” that people just love… 4% of your RDA for calcium and iron. I can imagine how biologically unavailable it is too, considering the sugar content. Wow, what a great deal! 21 grams of sugar in two teaspoons and 4% of my RDA! This glorified candy spread needs to stop attempting to march around as a health food.

Baked!” Chips – Yes, it sounded too good to be true; chips that you could eat without a hint of guilt because they weren’t the fried little patrons of unhealthiness that preceded them. I’m going to use Baked Doritos as the example here because this junk doesn’t deserve an individual review for each product in the line. After giving these a closer look, you may be safer eating baked cardboard than Baked Doritos. These are bereft of nutrition, and has no more than 6% of the recommended RDA for any nutrients that it claims to have. Now let’s look at what this product does have. It’s a fine amalgam of GMO corn, inflammation-producing oils, and monosodium glutamate. Add the dairy products to this equation and you realize that this product is a monster in disguise. Find some organic tortillas and bake them in the oven to make your own version of these… and this method actually might be healthy!

Subway Sandwiches – Yes folks, I apologize for ruining this one for all of you, but I’m here to inform and help us all out. Sodium is the Achilles heel of this franchise, and allow me to spend a few lines reflecting upon the power of too much sodium in one’s diet. First, the bones are impacted terribly. The average person who consumed too much salt on a regular basis loses 2.5% of their skeleton yearly. In a decade, you are down 25%! Additionally, salt bombs like Subway sandwiches can affect cellular health. Each cell has an electric charge that keeps it going strong. This charge is literally sliced in half when a person overloads themselves with high sodium products. The heart effects are also well-documented. Well, how much sodium are we talking about here? Roughly four meals worth! Also, one must look at the “meat” that is served here. It is all highly processed, and one needs to look no further than the “chicken” to note that it all looks the same. This is because the patties are pressed together, carrageen (a problematic filler) is added, and we get those lovely grill lines (although there is no grill on premises). Fast food is still fast food, no matter where you go!

Fruit Juices – I think that bottled fruit juice falls under the heading of “glorified sugar water”. World-renowned fitness expert Mike Dolce is one of the leaders in lashing out against these juices. He has made frequent mention to the idea that freshly created juices from fruits and vegetables in the home last under one day. He creates his own juices daily and runs into this issue frequently. Additionally, there are many juices that are completely loaded with high fructose corn syrup. Juice provides you with the flavor of the fruit or vegetable, but none of the benefits. The fiber that is present when you blend at home is removed, and the added sugars render the nutrients biologically unavailable.

The underlying point is summed up well by early fitness guru Jack Lalane. “If man made it, don’t eat it!” I’ll be dedicating a post to him soon, but his theory holds true. Natural fruits and vegetables are never a bad bet. Raw nuts and seeds are another snack choice that is likely to include far less hidden ingredients. I won’t enter the meat debate at this time, but that’s beyond the point. Watch yourself if you plan on eating healthy and you have to open some type of package to get to your food.There are better ways to stay full.Until next time… be fit and be well!

Famous, but not as an author

Tony Horton – Yes, we all know he sold millions of copies of P90X, and his late-night infomercials for the product continue to go on, probably as we speak. That program has done $420 million dollars of sales to this point. Did you ever know he wrote a book? He steps away from the Beachbody Corporation (which has some questionable business practices at best), and strikes out on his own to give some real solid overall wellness advice in Bring It. This book helped me re-evaluate how much sugar and caffeine I was consuming when it came out a few years back. It also turned me on to coconut oil. There are also some very extensive workout plans and recipes (the one for the granola is amazing). This is a good choice for someone who is just looking for some good advice about how to life in the fitness community. Check it out below:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AF4FAU6

 

Popular, but only in a specific circle

Mike Dolce – Anyone who participate in any mixed martial arts training has known about this man for a number of years. It’s a shame the rest of the world doesn’t. Mike Dolce is the patron saint of diet and nutrition for fighters around the world. He is also the main trainer in the UFC Fit workout program. Recently, Mike has gone beyond the scope of the competitive world to bring us Living Lean. This book is pure gold. He spends the first few chapters explaining the idea of quality over quantity. He’s also not a fan of scale watching, which I really like. The recipes in this book lay the ground work for healthy eating, and most fans turn to the Living Lean Cookbook  that follows to provide them with even more ideas. Not to be overlooked in Living Lean are some very targeted and well-planned strength and cardio routines. I utilized the tougher ones, but what’s cool is that he has workouts for every skill level.  The Dolce Diet is by far the easiest program to follow for success!

http://www.amazon.com/Dolce-Diet-Living-Lean/dp/0984963146/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372508508&sr=1-1&keywords=living+lean

The Dedicated Wild Card

Jay Ashman – Jay Ashman has yet to reach the level of notoriety that the previous two writers have earned, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t worth checking out. There are few people in the fitness world that shoot straighter than Jay. He is no BS, and he lives the lifestyle that he promotes. In The Ashman Strength System, we get the author’s extensive background of training, and he then goes on to describe his workout routine. I honestly have yet to see a better strength training program in all of my travels. He isn’t going to tell you how to eat like a vegan, or how to run a marathon, but this guy can get you some serious gains in the strength department. Another thing that I love about this program is that it never gets boring. You hit various areas of your body during a day of work, but you get to select your movement from a list of nearly a dozen possibilities. Don’t sleep on this book!

http://ashmanstrength.com/the-ashman-strength-system-ebook/

There you have it folks. I use tenets from each of these books every single day. Picking a favorite among these selections would be like asking a mother to select her favorite child. Please comment if you have checked any of these out, or if you have specific goals and want to know which one to buy. I hope you enjoyed this post and stay fit!