The endless pursuit of strength, fitness and health

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Monday, January 2, 2012

New Website Achievemorefitness.com

Hello everyone! Thanks for being loyal and reading and supporting my blog. I've recently changed my website over to:

achievemorefitness.com

I'll be posting all of my blog there! Please join me!

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.