Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Peace Lilies and Intermittent fasting: A day in the life of a curious trainer.

During my break this morning (string of cancellations), I made a trip to the vitamin shoppe and the local garden center.  I purchased some BCAA's (branched chain amino acids) and a peace lily.  You see I want to live as healthy as possible and for me that means lean and muscular while breathing quality air.

The peace lily is one of the top house plants for removing toxins from the air.  It is relatively easy to care for needing little sunlight and light watering (perfect for someone without a green thumb).  So I now have a peace lily next to my bed, and can rest easier knowing the air is a little cleaner in the room I spend most of my time.

I am currently experimenting with intermittent fasting.  Briefly, intermittent fasting is exactly as the title suggests.  Its a period of fasting (for me 16hrs daily) followed by a period of healthy eating.  I do not reduce my caloric intake instead I have a smaller window in which to take in all the nutrients I need.  The BCAA's are to prevent muscle loss and also claim to speed metabolism while I experiment with this eating program.

Promises of this diet include longer lifespan, fat loss, muscle gain and a more efficient body.  Research says it works, but it is not for everyone, including people with chronic disease or hypoglycemia.  It is also probably not for you unless you have a lot of control over your schedule (aka single or at least a very supportive spouse and family).  I am on my second day and my schedule is as follows:   12-1pm first meal of the day, 4-5pm second meal and around 8-9pm I feast for my final meal.  Yes, I said feast (I know this ruffles some feathers for all you don't eat after 6pm devotees).  Loading the body with quality nutrients before bedtime helps you sleep and promotes a great environment for the production of growth hormone later in the fast (think of Thanksgiving dinner and how hard it is to hold your eyes open).  However a minimum of 7-9hrs of sleep is a must (hence the single lifestyle).  Stay tuned to how I fare in the next 12 weeks.  Below is a list of the proposed benefits of intermittent fasting via Dr. John Berardi:

The proposed benefits of IF in animals and humans read like a laundry list of “look
better,” “feel better,” “live longer” physiological changes. These include:
blood lipids (including decreased triglycerides and LDL cholesterol)
blood pressure (perhaps through changes in sympathetic/parasympathetic activity)
markers of inflammation (including CRP, IL-6, TNF, BDNF, and more)
oxidative stress (using markers of protein, lipid, and DNA damage)
risk of cancer (through a host of proposed mechanisms; we’ll save them for
another review)
cellular turnover and repair (called autophagocytosis)
fat burning (increase in fatty acid oxidation later in the fast)
growth hormone release later in the fast (hormonally mediated)
metabolic rate later in the fast (stimulated by epinephrine and norepinephrine
appetite control (perhaps through changes in PPY and ghrelin)
blood sugar control (by lowering blood glucose and increasing insulin sensitivity)
cardiovascular function (by offering protection against ischemic injury to the heart)
effectiveness of chemotherapy (by allowing for higher doses more frequently)
neurogenesis and neuronal plasticity (by offering protection against neurotoxins)

The renegade diet book by Jason Ferruggia
Engineering the Alpha by Adam Bornstein and John Romaniello
Experiments with Intermittent Fasting by Dr. John Berardi

Until next time (EAT SLEEP TRAIN REPEAT)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Free Weights are the King of Abdominal Exercises

I can't remember the last time I did a crunch but I squat, I deadlift, I lift heavy weights, I swing kettlebells and my abs are as strong as ever. I like to compare crunches to the time spent waiting at the doctors office, in terms of productivity. As our knowledge of the body grows, the farther the scientific field separates itself from traditional abdominal exercises. However, if you google six pack abs you get hundreds of pictures of people with six pack abs doing crunches. (it never mentions the strict diet or the endless sets of deadlifts they peformed)

In a recent review in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research free weights were found to be the most efficient in activating deep abdominal muscles. Alwyn Cosgrove, popular author, fitness enthusiast and owner of Results Fitness has eliminated crunches and sit-ups from his programs and his books in past years. Stuart McGill, author and professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo can be heard crying every time a set of crunches are performed (along with that individuals spine). If science, authors, and the leaders in the fitness field are proscribing "traditional abdominal exercises" then why are they still so prevalent in gyms across the world?

Traditional ab exercises are a crowd pleaser. Recently, at the Ryman in Nashville, the Counting Crows performed. The crowd chanted "Mr. Jones" and Adam Duritz walked to the microphone and said "We will not play Mr. Jones until it's fun again." They stood up for their musical creativity and stuck to their beliefs. As a trainer sometimes I feel like we do not live up to our beliefs. Clients want to do traditional ab exercises and we let them as crowd pleasers. Heck, sometimes trainers ourselves do crunches.

It's time to make a stand. No more crunches until you prove to me they are effective again. Lets stand up for science, for our clients well being and for overall results. Who's in?

Monday, February 18, 2013


If you want to lose weight keep it simple.  Stick to the ABC's.  Remove alcohol, breads, and processed carbohydrates from your diet.  Combined with a strength training program you will see excellent results.  You can allow yourself a cheat day but once you get going you will notice you will not even want to cheat as much as you think.  Get in the zone and get healthy.  Try these meal alternatives:

1.  Breakfast:  Greek or coconut milk yogurt with fruit and Udi's gluten free granola

2.  Snack:  Green smoothie (try almond milk, plant source protein, fruit, kale or spinach and ground flax

3.  Lunch:  Salad with a protein source or chicken breast with sweet potatoes and spinach salad.

4.  Snack 2:  Apple with a tablespoon of almond butter for dipping.

5.  Dinner:  type of fish, steamed broccoli or sauteed collards, and brown rice.  Strawberries for dessert.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kettlebells are better at fat burning rather than strength building. Says who?

If you can't grab a barbell, grab a kettlebell.  Kettlebells are convenient, effective, and safe (with proper coaching and technique).   Kettlebells can be great for traveling, vacation, and just a break from the strain of heavy weights.  I still enjoy traditional lifts but rarely end a workout without using a kettlebell.  They are great for warm ups (wall squats, halos, get ups) and they are great finishers (metabolic training).  Do yourself a favor, find a specialist and and sign up.

Transference Of Kettlebell Training To Traditional Olympic Weight Lifting And Muscular Endurance

Pat Manocchia, David K. Spierer, Jackie Minichiello, Steven Braut, Jessica Castro, Ross Markowitz

PURPOSE: Kettlebells are commonly used across a broad spectrum of strength and conditioning programs, from novice or beginner recreational 

users to elite level athletes. Many of the movements conducted with kettlebells are of a ballistic nature, similar to that of Olympic lifts. Since kettlebell training and Olympic lifts display some similarities regarding the technique, we hypothesized that training with kettlebells would translate 

into a resultant improvement in strength and power during Olympic style lifts.  This may be of significance when deciding proper training regimens or seeking an alternative to traditional lifting. The research data purporting the efficacy of kettlebell training is, to our knowledge, scarce, 

and scientific examination as to whether this exercise modality positively correlates to Olympic lift strength/power is nonexistent. The purpose 

of this study was to examine the translational effect that a10 week Kettlebell training program would have on strength, power and endurance 

for Olympic style barbell lifts and bodyweight exercises. METHODS: Using a standard periodization model, 15 subjects, age range (20-72 years) 

with various levels of experience in physical fitness regimens underwent a 10 week, 2 day per week program using only kettlebells consisting of 

group (class) training sessions. Each subject was tested prior to (T1) and after the completion of the 10-week session (T2). To determine changes 

in strength, power and endurance subjects were tested on a barbell clean and jerk (3 rep max), barbell bench press (3 rep max), a vertical jump 

and a 90degree back extension to failure. RESULTS: Statistical analysis using paired t-tests were conducted on all dependent variables. Kettlebell training results in a translation of strength, power and endurance measured in traditional lifting techniques. Data demonstrate significant differences 

in bench press strength (51.7 ± 25.0 kg vs 56.4 ± 27.1 kg, p< .05) and back extension endurance (45 ± 5.7 reps vs 54 ± 9.3 reps, p< .05). Kettlebell 

training produced a highly significant difference in the traditional clean and jerk, (30.8 ± 16.7 kg vs 38.5 ± 17.1 kg, p< .001). No differences were 

apparent in the vertical jump. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest a signi´Čücant improvement of strength, power and endurance as a result of 

kettlebell training. Although gains in the traditional Olympic lifts were greater than that seen in lower extremity power, kettlebells proved to 

have a considerable transferability to traditional weight training and bodyweight exercises. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Our findings indicate that 

kettlebell training provides a measurable improvement of strength, power and endurance as measured by barbell and body weight exercises. 

Taking into consideration that our subject demographic was broad in regards to training experience and age, our data suggest that kettlebells 

can be used as an effective method for improving fitness and is not restricted to either highly skilled or elite level athletes. While further investigation into this subject is recommended, our data suggests that due to the positive translation of kettlebell training to that of Olympic lifts, the use 

of kettlebells as a training implement is an excellent alternative to traditional weight lifting. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Now Factor

I was watching a Nick Saban interview one day back during college football season.  Nick Saban is the coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide and arguably one of the greatest coaches in college football history.  He has 4 national championships with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.  So when he speaks, like most people, I listen.  He mentioned two words that really pulled my antennas up.  The words were "outcome oriented."  When you become outcome oriented you lose your edge.  Focus on the now and thrive or focus on the outcome and you will take a dive.  This also came to light in a Mark Twain quote I read recently which stated, "the secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming task into small manageable tasks, and then starting the first one."  Again focus on the now and not the outcome and then one day it will come if you truly put effort into it.  

I see this in clients all the time.  They want to lose weight and instead of focusing on their workout and nutrition they are focused on what the scale says in the mornings when they wake up.  Lose the scale and get your edge back.  I would love for the scale to drop 1 or 2 pounds a day for you but that is not realistic (even though the biggest loser tells us so).  The key to your own personal victory is in the NOW.  Do you exercise?  Do you give it your best effort? Do you track your calories or eat small portions?  Do you drink enough water?  Do you get enough sleep?  Do you handle stress appropriately?  Do you stop to breath deeply and meditate?

If you read all the questions above they become overwhelming but if you break them down into small tasks you can achieve, they all become reachable.  For example:
 Step 1 Wake up drink 2 glasses of water.
 Step 2 Have a healthy breakfast (feel free to list what you will eat and plan ahead)
 Step 3 Visualize your workout and picture yourself working hard
Step 4 Plan your workouts
Step 5 Keep your workouts quick so your energy and mental focus are always higher.
Step 6 Don't sweat the small things (getting rained on, being stuck in traffic, etc)
Step 7 Be in bed by 10pm even if you are just reading.

Your daily/weekly tasks could be shorter or longer than others based on your goal.  But try it!  Get out a pen and a journal and write down the small manageable tasks of tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2 months from my marathon

I tell you I am as excited as I can be right now.  My fundraising is going well thanks to some very generous people in my life and I am slowly starting to figure out this marathon training and what works for my body. I can't wait to get out there and give it my best.  I hope I am not getting addicted to running.   Check out my progress on my St. Jude page

Last week on Thursday I ran 7.2 miles in 60 minutes on the treadmill.  I was pressed for time but I did very well and averaged a 8:27 minute mile.  The treadmill was much less impact and a much needed break for my body and it was also very hot outside.

Saturday I had 17miles on my schedule.  I had to postpone it until Sunday however I completed the run in full.  I am attaching an image of the summary of my run (see below).  I started strong but dehydrated and ran out of energy by the end.  I have to be more creative with my hydration and fueling strategies.  I just ordered the camelbak marathoner hydration pack which holds 70oz of water.  That is about 46oz more than I am able to carry now so I think this will help a lot.  I also just purchased the new Brooks Glycerin 10 which are much more cushioned than my old shoes.  They feel awesome.  I think I am finally set for this race.  Now I just have to finish strong with my training and work on my travel arrangements.