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Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Website - Get Excited!

"Success is Focusing the full power of all you are on what you have a burning desire to achieve"
- Wilfred Peterson

Hello everyone! I have finally decided to grab a real domain name and get my own website up and running. I am in the process of setting it up now and transferring everything from this blog over there! It may be a few weeks until everything is running smoothly again.

The new address is:

www.AchieveMoreFitness.com

I'm really pumped about this! I'll be regularly uploading my training with videos, health and lifestyle information as well as some motivating pieces. If you fit into these following categories the website is for you.

1. You want the most out of life. You want to live out the life of your dreams, have a positive influence over others and leave a legacy.

2. You are passionate about fitness, nutrition and training. It is enjoyable to you, it isn't a chore but a pleasure.

3. You understand that optimal health requires time and discipline. You know the effort is worth it in the end.

4. You value yourself. You prioritize your health, education and well being. All of the effort you put into training, eating well and educating yourself adds tremendous value to your life.

5. You believe in yourself. You know that if you set a goal for yourself, you can achieve it. You can make it happen.

6. You put your knowledge into action. You understand that in order to accomplish something you have to take action. You're a go getter.

I'll let you know when its up and running but for now there is a little teaser!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

So, Cirque Du Soleil?



Al Gore makes me smile!

Another week in training over at Llama bash. This was the start of another 4 week cycle. I have one more day of finals left, then I'll be relaxing over christmas. Once January hits, its go time baby! I'm keeping the 3 main lift days per week and adding in 3-6 skill workouts mixed in there to bring up my weaknesses and work on technique. I'm pretty jacked up about the crossfit open competition coming up in February and competing with Crossfit Tribe.

video
Cirque Du Soleil? What do you think?

Here we go!
11/15/2011 - dynamic warmup and shoulder prehab

video
1-Board Bench Press
295 x 5
325 x 4 - PR

Fat Bar Dumbbell Press
130 x 2
90 x 23 - Could not get my dumbbell pressing together today.

Ring Pullups - chest to rings
45 x 6
55 x 5

Incline Bench "Y's" 3 x 10
Fat Bar DB curls 3 x 8/12/side
11/17/2011 - dynamic warmup and prehab

Clean and Jerk round robin between 6 people. 20 sets. About 60-90 seconds rest between sets. My sets were...
225, 225, 225, 225, 235, 240, 245, 250, 225, 230, 235, 225, 225, 225, 225, 225, 225, 225, 225, 225

Met-Con. 3 rounds of 8 box jumps / 6 wall ball / 5 chest to bar pullups / 3 x 70lb KB Swings
3 minute rests between sets, 3 rounds (of 3 rounds) first two sets right around 2:20, last around 3:00.
11/20/2011 - Dynamic Warmup - core and hip prehab.

Power Snatch - trying to get the technique down
135 x 5
155 x 3
165 x 3
135 x 5

video
Deadlift on 6" blocks - thanks to Popes' Gardens for generously donating sliced up 4 x 6's.
395 x 5
450 x 5 - not too heavy, looking forward to the next few weeks for some big pulls

Front Squat
185 x 8
205 x 8

Met-con - 8 pullups / 10 box jumps / 8 handstand pushups / 10 box jumps - 2 rounds, 3 minute rest, another time through - 2:15 first, 2:20 second

One more final tomorrow, I'm psyched!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Top 6 Favorite Health and Fitness Blogs and Websites

Hey all,

I'm in the thick of final taking this week, 4 down 2 to go. I haven't had as much time to churn out good content. Anyway, I thought I'd post some other people's good content! Here are some of my favorite blogs and websites for solid health and fitness information in no particular order.

1. Mark's Daily Apple - http://www.marksdailyapple.com/

Mark has popularized a lifestyle he labeled "primal." The basic premise is that the key to health requires a more primitive approach. eg: eating only what you could hunt or gather, sleeping longer, reducing stress, exercising efficiently and more like our ancestors. He churns out great information about health and fitness and posts a lot of research to go along with his articles. Great stuff!

2. The Weston A. Price Foundation - http://www.westonaprice.org/

Weston A Price was a dentist who traveled the world in the 1930s to see if there was a link between dental problems and diets in different civilizations. Besides finding a definite correlation between dental caries and nutrition he found much more. Turns out these more primitive cultures were very healthy! This website opened my eyes to the incredibly important aspect of eating foods as least processed as possible. They were the first to introduce me to the idea of raw milk, grass-fed beef and the thought that animal products are not bad for you but were most likely beneficial.

3. Mike Reinold's Blog - http://www.mikereinold.com/

Being a student physical therapist I love reading about my career and Mike has a boatload of excellent advice. He also has an excellent section for recommended reading for anyone who is interested.

4. Whole Health Source - http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/

Stephan Guyenet has a Ph. D. in Neurobiology and knows more then I'll know in several lifetimes. He caters his research to the science of fat loss, health and wellness. What initially attracted me to his blog was the information he was posting about various tribes living untouched by modern civilization. There is some pretty nifty research showing just how healthy these people were and their diets may surprise you. (Hint - diets high in saturated fats) Check out the masai diet for something really interesting. http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/06/masai-and-atherosclerosis.html

5. Kelly Starret's Mobility WOD - http://www.mobilitywod.com/

WOD stands for workout of the day and has been popularized by crossfit. Kelly is a physical therapist who took the idea of producing a WOD for flexibility (mobility) and injury prevention. He caters the WOD toward crossfit athletes but anyone can benefit from the information.

6. Chris Kresser's Blog - http://chriskresser.com/

Chris is another person who adopts a stance similar to Mark and the Weston A Price Foundation. He is research based (practices based on what the literature says) and delivers a good blend of traditional medical knowledge combined with a preventive emphasis. He focuses on the big picture of wellness addressing nutrition, exercise and lifestyle management.

There it is! Read up!

Monday, December 19, 2011

6 Reasons to Eat Grass-Fed, Pastured and Wild Animal Products over their Grain-Fed Brethren: A Case for Eating Healthy Animal Products: Part 3


And now the third and final piece to this series...

If you at any point want to order some grass-fed meat for yourself you can get some delivered to you by clicking the banner on the right hand side of my page labeled EAT GRASS FED BEEF. I get a lot of my food from there. Great company.

If you missed part 1 you can find it here:

http://strengthfoodlife.blogspot.com/2011/12/6-reasons-to-eat-grass-fed-pastured-and_05.html

Part 2:

http://strengthfoodlife.blogspot.com/2011/12/6-reasons-to-eat-grass-fed-pastured-and_12.html

Here are the cliff notes for all of you busy bees out there:

Grass fed beef has less of the saturated fatty acids that increase cholesterol.
- There are different types of saturated fats
- Certain types of saturated fats raise cholesterol levels and some do not
- Grass fed beef contains less saturated fatty acids that affect cholesterol levels.
- 30% of the fat from grass-fed beef is oleic acid, the heart healthy fat found in olive oil
- Grass-fed beef contains less saturated fat and less total fat then grain fed beef
Grass fed dairy products contain more vitamin K2.
- K2 is a form of vitamin K
- K2 is only found in animal products and fermented foods
- K2 decreases your risk of heart disease and decreases the risk of fractures in the elderly
- K2 is highest in animals that are allowed to free range on grass.

5. Grass fed beef has less of the saturated fatty acids that increase cholesterol.
There is a lot of controversy right now about whether or not saturated fat causes heart disease. The literature also goes both ways. This topic is kind of like the elephant in the room as far as nutrition topics go. The general idea is that higher levels of saturated fat eaten correlates to increased blood levels of cholesterol. High blood levels of cholesterol are theorized to cause heart disease. This is a very simplistic view and not all types of saturated fats actually raise cholesterol (19).

Some types of saturated fat can preferentially increase HDL (the “good” cholesterol) like lauric acid, found predominantly in coconut. Some types of saturated fats raise cholesterol more then others. Cows contain the saturated fats palmitic acid, myristic acid and stearic acid. Myristic acid has been shown to increase cholesterol levels as well as palmitic acid to a lesser degree. Stearic acid on the other hand is neutral as has been shown to have no influence on cholesterol levels (20). Contrary to popular belief, fat from animals is not entirely saturated and contains small amounts of polyunsaturated acids as well as a hefty amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (5). 30% of the fat from cows is oleic acid, the same healthy monounsaturated fatty acid found in olive oil (5). Oleic acid has been shown to decrease cholesterol, lower blood pressure and decrease risk of stroke (5). CLA is a polyunsaturated fat found in beef fat as well with health benefits discussed earlier (5).

Grass fed beef has less palmitic and myristic acid and more stearic acid then its grain fed counterpart (5). This means that grass fed beef should be less influential on cholesterol levels. Grass fed beef has less fat in general because grass fed cows tend to have less intramuscular fat (5). This means you are getting less saturated fat per serving of beef and the fat that you do eat has less of an effect on your cholesterol levels. If saturated fat does actually affect your risk for heart disease, eating grass fed over grain fed beef should decrease your risk for heart disease. In reality, the fat is where many of the beneficial nutrients discussed previously are stored including CLA (5). This along with the heart healthy oleic acid beef fat contains could make you rethink trimming all the fat from your steak.
6. Grass fed dairy products contain more vitamin K2.


Vitamin K2 is a form of vitamin K that has been getting some very interesting attention lately. This vitamin should not be confused with its brother vitamin K1 which is present in certain vegetables. K2 has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease (21) as well as reducing fracture occurrence in the elderly (22). Unfortunately vitamin K1 does not have these same health benefits. Vitamin K2 is found in cheese, eggs, butter, liver, beef, chicken liver and fermented foods like natto. Vitamin K2 is believed to be highest in animals able to range freely on the pasture and eat the grass and plants around them, although there is no research I have found t support this position. Dr. Weston A. Price popularized this idea.

Whoa! Information overload. I think it helps to look at some published research when you are making the decision to decide what is good and what is bad in your own diet. Conventional wisdom may tell us that meat is bad but a lot of research says the contrary. Hopefully this is some food for thought and can help give you some direction with your nutrition. I don’t believe that marketing, politics and rumors should make up the majority of what we know about health. Lets try and take a more scientific approach!

Remember, the source of your food and what your food eats has everything to do with your health as a result.

Disclaimer: Consult your physician before embarking on any major changes in your dietary regime. That's it! I greatly appreciate any and all feedback from everyone.

Friday, December 16, 2011

16 Tips for reducing stress



Let’s face it, stress sucks. No one likes to constantly feel overwhelmed and powerless. Chronic stress is a destructive force that’s tough to deal with. Stress has been linked to numerous illnesses including cancer, fat gain and decreased sex drive, all super fun stuff. A character from Woody Allen’s movie once said, “Angry? I don’t get angry, I grow a tumor instead.” Funny but true!

Fortunately, you can make positive choices in your life to help reduce stress. If you’re looking to optimize your health and wellness, this is a vital and often overlooked area of important. Here are some tips to help reduce stress.

1. Acceptance - Things that are not within your power to control are not things worthy of worry.

2. Assertion - You are who you are and that is a wonderful thing. You can not and should not be ashamed of the person who you are.

“I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam”
- Popeye

3. Find the modifiable causes of stressors in your life and make changes accordingly - These can be things like a stressful job or a toxic relationship.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. - Reinhold Niebuhr

4. Figure out what you want to accomplish in your life and spend each day working towards that goal - Life tends to be much more enjoyable when you are working towards something that excites you.

5. Practice pleasure - Give yourself time to enjoy things you are interested in outside of work.

6. Surround yourself with people who share your own interests and passions in life - Build social networks with these people. Avoid those who have a negative influence on your life.
7. Don’t let your emotions control you - Try to think logically and rationally instead of emotional reacting to situations.

8. Get enough sleep at night - Usually somewhere between 7 and 9 hours. Find what works for you to wake up feeling energized and ready to tackle the day.

9. Exercise - Any type of exercise is fine, choosing what you enjoy most is best.

10. Manage your time efficiently - Practice tackling chores in priority of importance and keep a to do list. Entire books and courses have been devoted to this subject.

11. Avoid hurry - Slow down, take some time to smell the roses. Prepare for situations before hand so that they become more predictable and less rushed.

12. Make decisions and act on them - Being in a state of limbo between making decisions creates anxiety.
13. Use caution when accepting responsibility - Putting too much onto your plate all at once is a surefire cause of stress.

14. Love and Laugh more

15. Meditation - Practicing meditation can decrease stress both immediately and in the long term.

16. Spirituality - This is often a great source of peace for many.

I took this last piece directly from Robert Sapolsky. As is true in a lot of other cases the 80/20 rule applies to stress management. 80% of stress reduction can be attributed to the first 20% of effort. Choose the strategies here that most apply to you. Applying 20% of these strategies will most likely account for 80% of your stress reduction. I personally think the first few strategies are most powerful in your life but I’m sure it will differ from person to person.



For a more in depth look at stress’s affect on the body and more ways to deal with stress check out:

1. Full Catastrophe Living - Jon Kabat-Zinn
2. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers - Robert Sapolsky
3. When the Body Says No - Gabor Mate

Take your health into your own hands!

Resources:

1. Trivieri, Anderson (2002) Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts
2. Sapolsky R, (2004) Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping. New York: St. Martin's Griffin
3. Mate G. (2003) When The Body Says NO: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A personal story that hits close to home.


I hear all the time about how expensive it is to eat properly, find time to exercise and manage stress in people's lives. I get it guys, its hard to do! I'm with you and I understand that.

A family member of mine recently went to the doctor and found out that they had a heart condition. I want to keep this private so I won't mention any names or specific illnesses.

The doctor prescribed a specific medication for the problem as is very common. This may be a drug this family member will have to take for the rest of his / her life. The price of the drug is $75 per month. $75 per month adds up. Keep in mind that the general trend for the population is to begin adding more expensive drugs to their daily list over time. This adds up to a bigger hit on your wallet as time goes on and your health declines.

The amount of money spent on pharmaceutical drug prescriptions, surgeries, hospital stays, insurance plans and doctor visits is staggering. Don't believe me? Ask anyone you know over the age of 65 how many drugs that they take on a daily basis. Its very common for this demographic to plan their entire lives around doctor visits. I've known many people who have lost their entire life's savings on prescription drugs, hospital stays and eventually nursing homes and long term care facilities.

The problem here is that the majority of our health problems are preventable. Things like Heart Disease, Cancer, Stroke, COPD and Diabetes have a very strong correlation to your lifestyle choices. Keep in mind that I just rattled off 5 out of 10 of the leading causes of death in the US. Disorders like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Multiple Sclerosis have a very strong genetic component, but recently we are starting to realize that there may be some environmental triggers at play in causing these disorders.

Its very possible to age gracefully but it requires your action from a young age. These problems tend to creep up on people and when they occur, they often can't be reversed. Take Parkinson's Disease for example. Patients don't begin showing symptoms of the disease until 80% of the portion in their brain responsible for movement is destroyed. By the time they have been diagnosed they are already missing 80% of that part (Substantia Nigra) of their brain! Parkinson's may be a bad example because we truly don't know the real cause of this disorder. However, diseases like Diabetes and Heart Disease follow a very common trend caused by poor lifestyle habits that are truly preventable. That's a sad reality.

One thing I've noticed is that people tend to take their health for granted. I've been guilty of this many times. Youthful people who currently have their health are notorious for this. Here are some of my favorites: I'll put off exercising until things lessen up at work. I don't have time to make lunch so I'll grab something from the vending machine instead. Work is really piling up, I'm not going to be getting any sleep the next few weeks. For whatever reason, humans tend to put their health last on their list of priorities.


Working in healthcare exposes you to people who don't have their health. You get exposed to people who would do anything to have their health back. You see people who can't walk across the room because they get so short of breath. The disorder is COPD and it is the 4th leading cause of death in the US. What causes it? Smoking. You see patients who routinely come into the hospital to have portions of their limbs amputated because they lack good blood supply to their feet. The disorder is Diabetes, and I'm sure you all know that poor diet applies here. Diabetes is also the 7th leading cause of death in 2009.

I implore everyone to realize the significance of eating properly, exercising regularly and managing your lifestyle beginning today. Spending the money on better foods and eating properly today will cost a fraction of what those prescription drugs and hospital bills will be in the future. Worse even will be the cost of a nursing home where the cost might not even be coming out of your pocket. Unless you've accumulated a small fortune in your life time, the burden may fall on your children and family.

What's even worse is that you lose your quality of life when your health declines. Not only will your pocketbook be lighter, but you might not be able to enjoy the same things in life that used to give you pleasure.

It's time for a change. Let's rework our priorities. The bottom line is that WE have control over our health. If you enjoy your life and have others in your life that love you, it would be wise to start investing in your personal wellness. It is MORE EXPENSIVE to eat poorly now and forgo a healthy lifestyle because it will catch up to you later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A week filled with farm animals, loud music, bro activities and cold barbells


This one's for you Greg

Training this week was excellent and is definitely going in the direction. More big things to come. Better BELIEVE it baby!

It was a deload week (no deadlifts or bench press) but I still managed to have some fun and hit some new bests. It's getting cold outside so the alapacas have been coming in to hang out during training some times. Definitely the perfect storm for optimal training.

12/8/2011 - Dynamic Warmup + prehab

video
Fat Bar Dumbbell Press
140 x 3 - PR I think
110 x 13

Weighted Ring Pullup
45 x 4
55 x 4

Fat Bar Dumbbell Curls
3 x 8-10 @ 40lbs

Incline Bench "Y"
3 x 10 @ 10lbs

Round Robin Ring Dip Set - Me, Matt, Greg, Cameron, Juelz Santana (did anyone get that reference?)
10 x 10 reps

12/10/2011 - at crossfit MTL
Dynamic Warmup and Prehab

Push Jerks from rack
255 x 1
275 x 1
305 x MISS - I was feeling rowdy, ended up failing. Next time.

Power Clean
205 x 3
225 x 10 - New best?

video
Thruster
135 x 3
185 x 8 - PR

Met-con - something dreamed up by Pat Byrnes over at Crossfit Tribe - 2 rounds for time
15 Handstand Pushups / 20 Pullups / 25 Box Jumps / 30 deadlifts at 185 / 35 Burpees

16:55 - I had trouble bending over for the rest of the day.

12/13/2011 - Dynamic Warmup and Prehab

video
Overhead Squat - This was a terrible weakness for me, finally starting to improve
225 x 1
250 x MISS
250 x 1 - Hooty Hooo! about a 50-60lb PR

Turkish Sit-up
40 x 10/arm
60 x 10/arm

Band Punch Press - I'll get a video of these two exercises sometime soon.
Green Band 2 x 10/side

Met-con - 3 rounds for time
5 muscle-ups / 15 burpees + touch the ceiling 9' / 20 Lunges + 45lb plate overhead
7:40

Great week. I'm planning on competing in the crossfit open over at Crossfit Tribe in Pennsauken. I'm looking forward to ramping up my training in the next few weeks. Look forward to some big things! I'm still doing small sessions throughout the week working on skills and weaknesses. My eating has been on point too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Are you looking to get fit and currently live near Mt. Laurel?



Me, Tommy (the owner of the gym) and Greg. Looking good fellas. Looks like I forgot how to smile but Greg makes up for it with his musctachio.

One of my training partners and good friends Greg has been telling me about his friend Tommy for some time now. Tommy happens to run a cross fit gym over in Mt. Laurel. Over the weekend I finally got a chance to meet him and check his gym out.

I must say, this gym is massive. It’s a space in a warehouse and it is BIG! What was even more impressive was the amount of people in this place. It was packed. I must say, Tommy must be doing something right, most likely a lot of things right.

Tommy is a very knowledgeable and down to earth guy. He let Greg and I go through with our own lifting program and then joined us for a nausea inducing workout. We shared some lifting ideas and in general, had a blast


If you are looking for a no-nonsense place to train with a balanced and creative program to follow check out Tommy’s place in Mt. Laurel. You will get into phenomenal shape and have fun doing it. The atmosphere is exciting and friendly, yet challenging and competitive. As with most cross fit gyms there is a strong sense of camaraderie and members care for the progress of one another. Go check it out!

Monday, December 12, 2011

6 Reasons to Eat Grass-Fed, Pastured and Wild Animal Products over their Grain-Fed Brethren: A Case for Eating Healthy Animal Products: Part 2



Alright guys and gals, here's part 2. I hope you had time to digest all of the information from the last post because here comes another dose! If you at any point want to order some grass-fed meat for yourself you can get some delivered to you by clicking the banner on the right hand side of my page labeled EAT GRASS FED BEEF. I get a lot of my food from there. Great company.

If you missed part 1 you can find it here:

http://strengthfoodlife.blogspot.com/2011/12/6-reasons-to-eat-grass-fed-pastured-and_05.html

As with the last part I'm providing a cliff's notes portion to get a quick dose of the information.

Summary:

Grass-fed/pastured and organic animals have healthy livers
- Grass-fed/pastured organic liver contains fewer and safer levels of toxins and heavy metals, giving you the benefit without the negative side effects.
- Great source of Vitamin A, CLA, Vitamin K2 and a modest source of vitamin D
- One of the only natural sources of Coenzyme Q10 (heart healthy compound)
- Statin Drugs inhibit your body's ability to produce CoQ10

Grass-fed / pastured meats are higher in vitamins and antioxidants
- Grass-fed / pastured beef contains 7 times more Vitamin A (beta carotene) then grain-fed
- Grass-fed / pastured beef contains 3 times more Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) then grain-fed
- Grass-fed beef contains higher levels of the anti-oxidants glutathione and super oxide dismutase
- Food sources of vitamins and anti-oxidants are superior to supplemental sources.
- Vitamin A and E in supplemental form may actually be detrimental

Without further ado!

3. Grass fed/pastured and organic animals have healthy livers

Organic, pasture raised animals graze on what they were biologically evolved to eat. Because of this their livers contain safer levels of heavy metals and other toxins (8) when compared to grain fed meats. Keep in mind that all meats will contain some heavy metals regardless of source (8). Liver contains an enormous amount of easily absorbable Vitamin A, modest amounts of Vitamin D, CLA, Vitamin K2 and some nifty nutrients not found from other food sources like Coenzyme Q10.

Vitamin D has recently been in the news because it appears that many Americans have been becoming deficient in vitamin D for a variety of proposed reasons including underexposure to the sun, use of sun blocks, suboptimal levels of vitamin D in the diet and obesity (9). Vitamin D is incredibly important in the body and has even been linked to reduced risk of bone diseases, cancers (23-25) and muscle weakness. It is believed to have a link to multiple sclerosis (26,27), type 1 diabetes (28) and even may have performance enhancement benefits for sport (29). For more information about the health benefits of vitamin D check out this link. ( http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/.fulltext/10/2/94.PDF )
Unfortunately, due to getting less Vitamin D in our diets and underexposure to the sun our vitamin D levels have declined in recent years (9). Keep in mind that as much as 50% of the population appears to be deficient in Vitamin D (9) and it may appear wise to seek out additional sources of vitamin D in the diet. Vitamin D is found in very few sources of food, the main reason why we fortify our foods with it. The best sources of dietary vitamin D are from liver, especially fish liver and other fatty fish (30).

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is another useful compound that is only really found in a few select food sources including animal liver and heart. Coenzyme Q10 has been found to be helpful in reducing hypertension, heart failure, as well as decreasing your risk of atherosclerosis after a recent heart attack (11, 12, 13). Your body naturally produces CoQ10, but its ability to produce it declines with age (as your risk for heart disease rises). Another interesting factoid is that statin drugs inhibit your body’s ability to produce CoQ10 by inhibiting the same pathway used by the body to produce cholesterol (10). Given the prevalence of statin drugs being used in the US it might be
prudent to add some of this nutrient to our diet.

Liver, especially fish liver is particularly high in essential fatty acids like Omega 3. Omega-3 fatty acids are discussed in detail in part 3. I guess grandma was right about eating liver. I personally really enjoy liverwurst and braunschweiger from US Wellness Meats. Its a delicious and easy way to get this health food into your diet. For ordering information click the banner at the top right of my page.



4. Grass-fed / pastured meats are higher in vitamins and antioxidants

Grass fed beef has been shown to contain higher levels of vitamin A and E as well as the antioxidants glutathione and Super Oxide Dismutase. This study (14) provides evidence that 50% of the US population gets less then 50% of the RDA for vitamin A. By the way, vitamin A and E are found in large amounts in liver, pate anyone?

Research shows that there is up 3 times more alpha tocopherol and 7 times more beta carotene in grass fed beef then grain fed (5). Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A in the human body and alpha-tocopherol is a heavily researched form of vitamin E. Beta Carotene is also a well studied antioxidant. If you are afraid to consume meat because of some of the proposed deleterious effects and decide to supplement with vitamins A and E instead you may want to rethink that idea. An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (16) looked at 68 randomized trials and 230,000 participants to take a look at the effect of supplemental beta-carotene, vitamin A and E on mortality (deaths). Unfortunately, the usage of vitamin A and E supplements significantly correlated with increased mortality (16)! This means that taking long term vitamin A and E supplements may lead to death earlier then without it. Utilizing supplemental vitamin A and E products may not be advantageous, but we still need vitamin A and E in our diets. Eating whole foods from sources such as animal products seems to fit the bill here.
Another reason to get your nutrition from whole foods, ie: vegetables, fruits and pastured animal products come from a 2009 article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (17). They offer the concept of food synergy. In other words we don’t completely understand the complex interaction of nutrients contained in food once they enter the body to be digested (17). The nutrient mixture found in whole foods appears to have benefits above and beyond single nutrient supplementation that in many cases is not fully understood yet.

With all the information that has been presented in this article as well as the health benefits vitamins and minerals have in the human body it makes sense that a multi-vitamin would be essential to optimal health right? Well maybe not (18). In a 2009 study from the Archives of Internal Medicine following 160,000 post menopausal women over 8 years, multivitamin supplementation had little to no influences over common cancers (breast, ovarian, endometrial, colorectal, lung), cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and all cause mortality (18).
Supplementation may not be the best way to get the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that our bodies need. Maybe we should just be eating high quality real food to achieve optimal health?

Stay tuned for 3rd and thrilling final post next monday! Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Meeting Dan Gable: The most inspirational man of all time?





I saw Dan Gable Speak this weekend at my old high school.

Dan Gable is easily one of the most inspirational people to have ever walked the planet Earth. For those who are not familiar with Dan, he is a wrestler and a coach. Anyone who has ever wrestled competitively before can attest to the fact that this wrestling stuff’s not easy. Being successful in wrestling requires rock solid determination, discipline and mental toughness. Dan Gable is the definition of these words, and that is still an understatement. Here’s why:

Dan Gable’s wrestling accomplishments:
- Undefeated record throughout high school with 3 state championships
- 181-1 collegiate record (His only loss was the NCAA national championship his senior year
- 2 time NCAA national champion wrestling in college
- 1971 World Gold Medalist
- 1972 Olympic Gold Medalist - No one scored a single point on him throughout the Olympics

Dan Gable’s Coaching Accomplishments (University of Iowa)
- 15 team NCAA national championships
- 21 straight Big Ten titles
- Team record of 355-21-5

That’s freaking ridiculous. It takes a special personality to accomplish the things Dan did. Dan reported training 7 days per week for 7 hours per day (That's not a typo). He said that he, himself wasn’t even a good wrestler until he suffered his first loss in college. Keep in mind that in college he would routinely go up to 30 match streaks where he would pin every opponent and he was also routinely winning matches 25-0. The day after his first loss in college, after his team won the national championship, he was back on the mat training again with renewed passion.

As a coach he would have his athletes do conditioning on aerodyne bikes (the ones where you can simultaneously pump levers with your arms while cycling with your legs and it would power a fan on the front wheel). The athletes would do 1 minute of work to 1 minute of rest and while cycling they were required to pedal hard enough to max out the intensity settings on the bike. His athletes were wiped after doing 20 minutes of this 1 minute of work followed by 1 minute of rest. Dan would get on the bike and pin the intensity to maximum in the same way he had his athletes do for just 1 minute at a time but he would go for 45 minutes straight. He did this just to show his athletes the power of mental intensity.

Dan is one passionate dude and he’s well respected, for good reason. He received a standing ovation before and after his speech. I truly believe he could have went to the podium and said absolutely nothing for 45 minutes and people would still have shown him the same respect just because of what he has accomplished with his life. That's powerful.



Dan’s Key Points:

- Discipline makes being the best easy.

- Believe in those who tell you that you can become great, really, believe it.

- The most successful people are the ones who show up first and leave last.

- Welcome adversity. eg: turn injuries into opportunity - Dan injured his knee 6 months before the Olympics and changed his wrestling style completely because of it allowing him increased scoring opportunity.

- Make issues a non-issue, you can’t succeed fully with anything in the way holding you back.

- Discipline, discipline, discipline

- Have a solid support network

- Think BIG! Dan’s new goal is trying to reach and motivate as many people as possible through his passion for wrestling

I think the take home message here is that anything is possible but the most important thing is to first make up your mind that you are going to do it. That is going to hold true in every facet of your life, especially making up your mind to change your health and fitness for the better. You have to believe in yourself and then put those thoughts into action, consistently. What I think was most impressive about Dan’s career is his mental power and focus. He made the decision to become the person he is today. Dan set very solid goals for himself for every single practice. He did this on a daily basis, and made improvements along the way, which added up to something very big. He believed in himself. Dan's story is that of a self fulfilling prophecy. His story reminds me of all of the possibility there is in the world if you can focus your attention properly.

Friday, December 9, 2011

THIS IS MY CHALLENGE TO YOU


Kanye West: I Wonder

I've been waiting on this my whole life, these dreams be waking me up at night.

A Psychic read my lifeline, told me in my lifetime, my name would help light up the chicago skyline.

You ever wonder what it all really means? You wonder if you'll ever find your dreams?


You know guys, I really have it easy. I was born with a natural tendency to get excited about things. I get motivated very easily. You can spark a fire underneath of my ass that gets me moving without even realizing that you did it. I understand not everyone has that tendency, I‘m really blessed in that regard.

Picture this. You are outside on a cool and brisk Sunday afternoon. Its raining gently and the leaves are just beginning to turn green for the year. You are gathered around hundreds of others who are humbly bowing their heads toward a man speaking at the front. The man is a priest. You have a hard time hearing what the priest is saying so you brush through the crowd to get closer. Unfortunately, the priest has finished speaking by the time you get close enough to hear him. Looking around at all of the sad faces you begin noticing old friends and distant family members. You can make out two sobbing women standing next to the priest trying to comfort each other. One is older, one younger. As you get closer you capture a glimpse of their faces. You gasp in astonishment, one is your daughter, the other your wife. Standing next to them is your son. You’re a ghost at your own funeral. Your son gathers himself stoically and draws a written speech from his pocket and turns to address the audience.

What does your son have to say about you? What memories have you left behind? Did you lead the life that you imagined you would? What is your legacy?

This story carries with it a lot of power. I’m sure I’m not the one to tell you that life is short, but there’s a reminder.

The main reason I write in my blog is to give everyone a sense of power in their lives. I want to empower people to take their health and happiness into their own hands. I want to share my own dreams and struggles getting there while showing people that it is possible to live the life you desire. I thoroughly believe that you can accomplish any goal you can set for yourself. Its going to take some elbow grease, but it can be done.

The first step toward living you dream is figuring out what you want out of life.

Where do you want to be in twenty years? Lets drop all the fears and barriers that may be holding you back. Where do you really want to be in twenty years? Sailing the world with your wife and kids? Hosting your own TV show? A world class chef? I’ll tell you where I want to be. I want to be a public figure that empowers others towards their goals. I want to enable others to reach their goals in health, fitness and in life in general. I want to show others the feeling of happiness that comes from leading the life that you desire for yourself.

Its an incredibly fulfilling feeling to wake up every morning knowing that today you are taking the steps forward in your life to achieve your dreams. When your actions in life align with your moral beliefs, values and goals something magical happens. You feel awesome, you enjoy life and you get closer and closer to the person that you want to be. I get chills just thinking about this stuff.

So lets drop the excuses. Think of how much you can achieve if you take down all the barriers in your life keeping you from progressing.

I challenge you to make a difference in your life. I dare you to sit down and think for a long moment about what you want to achieve in your lifetime and the legacy you choose to leave. Write it down and make a pact with yourself, I will devote my energy everyday toward this goal.

Find the courage to make it happen. Take that step today. I'm with you.

Stand up for yourself. Take charge of your life. Know that every decision you make in your life is taking you one step closer or further from the life you desire. Every action builds upon the person you want to become and the legacy that you choose to leave behind.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fun Fact #5: Training the lower back in the morning may put you more at risk for injury.


Intervertebral Discs sit between each vertebrae in the human spine. These are the structures you hear of when someone says they have a herniated disc.

Upon waking first thing in the morning your intervertebral discs are hyperhydrated or filled with a lot of fluid. This normally decreases throughout the day as you bear weight through your spine with normal activity.

Because of the hyperhydration, the discs are taller and ligaments that cross over the disc become more taut, and have less give, causing more stress on the discs with movement. This situation may set you up to be more at risk for lower back injuries when stressing the spine right after waking up.

So what does this mean for me?

1. Don’t stop exercising in the morning if you don’t have time to exercise at any other point.

2. If possible, train later in the day (McGill recommends waiting 2 hours after waking to train) or if not possible try to spend some time in a weight bearing position (standing, sitting, walking) before starting your session.

3. Save the exercises that are tougher on your lower back (ie: Deadlifting, Squats, Olympic Lifts, Abdominal exercises) for sessions later in the day.

4. As always warm up thoroughly and specifically to prepare your body for the exercises to come in your training session.

Resources

McGill S. (2007) Low Back Disorders. Human Kinetics Publishers.