Tired, tired with nothing, tired with everything

“I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.”

Are you feeling this way? You are, and don’t know why? Eating well, you know, eating clean (I hate the saying ‘eating clean’ by the way because by people’s definition of eating clean doesn’t remove foods that cause illness and disease)? Getting adequate rest on most nights, working out so you are physically working your body? Yes? But you are still tired.

What about weakness? Not making strength gains and generally feel weak or weaker? Do you find it cold most of the times where as others around you are comfortable? Maybe mentally you aren’t feeling the best either, struggling at times with depression.

I don’t want to sound like a commercial for a drug but if this sounds like you, you might be experiencing thyroid issues, specifically hypothyroidism.

What

Hypothyroidism is an under active thyroid gland. Basically your thyroid isn’t producing enough of certain important hormones.

And this can take time. You may be having thyroid issues for quite a while but it isn’t until now or lately that the symptoms have manifested enough that they have become obvious. Let’s look at the symptoms that come along with hypothyroidism:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory

Do you have any of these? Do you have a lot of these? Have you been dealing with these things over a long period of time? If you have please see your doctor as soon as you can as left untreated hypothyroidism over time will cause the thyroid gland to enlarge and can become life threatening.

If you are dealing with some of these things it’s always a good idea to bring them up with your doctor. You could be dealing with some of these things and not have hypothyroidism. But you don’t know for sure until you see your doctor and have tests run. Hopefully you are someone who is in tune with your body, you are honest with yourself with respect to knowing what you eat, how you are sleeping and your workout ethic. Also being aware of when things change. If your life has remained more or less constant over a long period of time and you start sensing changes such as the above symptoms then for sure see your doctor. I’m fortunate that I live in Canada and going to my doctor is as easy and is as cheap as picking up my phone and making an appointment. We get used to this luxury and then get caught up in the difficulty of having to take time off of work to do this, and having to get to our doctor. But, the alternative is worse. If you happen to have hypothyroidism and leave it untreated it can get devastatingly worse. Take yourself a sick day so you are able to take care of yourself and not end up having to take a lot of sick days because of the consequences of something being left untreated.

Impact

Let’s look at what can happen over time if hypothyroidism is left untreated:

  • Heart problems: Your LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) level may rise possibly leading to an enlarged heart and heart failure
  •  Mental health: depression may occur and may even become severe. Hypothyroidism may also cause slowed mental functioning
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Pain, numbness in areas possibly in your legs and arms. Muscle weakness or loss of muscle control
  • Goiter: If the thyroid gland becomes enlarged you may develop a goiter which can interfere with breathing and swallowing

 

Part II

Hyperthyroidism

Unlike an under active thyroid gland, hyperthyroidism is the result of an over active thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your body’s metabolism significantly, causing sudden weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating, and nervousness or irritability.

What

Are you experiencing any of the following:

  • Sudden weight loss, even when your appetite and the amount and type of food you eat remain the same or even increase
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — commonly more than 100 beats a minute — irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or pounding of your heart (palpitations)
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
  • Sweating
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
  • Fatigue, muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin thinning
  • Fine, brittle hair

 

Lastly

Does this sound like you? Are you having to deal with some, or a lot of these symptoms? See your doctor.

Try to always be in tune with your body, with your health. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes it sucks to do that, to be honest with yourself but if you do it it only benefits you. It helps you to get to what the issue is. No one wants to be that hypochondriac. If you are honest with yourself and you are dealing with the above symptoms and you are pretty certain that its not due to other things such as a poor diet, lack of exercise, dealing with traumatic emotional issues then see your doctor.

Take care of yourself. Use those resources that are there for you to do this.

Don’t ever feel guilty about doing that.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

washing away that which doesn’t matter

We don’t always hear what is good for us. Most times it’s because money can’t be made trying to market and sell. Whenever someone finds out I’m vegan usually I’m asked where I get my protein. My news feed on my phone constantly has articles on protein: what kind of protein should you be taking, are you getting enough protein, what protein should you eat based on your goal, is plant based protein adequate. Stuff like that. But I have yet to see an article on the dangers to our health when we consume too much protein. But that doesn’t sell and make money. Let’s take fiber as an example. How do you make it look appealing to sell? It doesn’t sizzle, it doesn’t make your mouth water, it doesn’t have deep dark attractive colours.

 

What

I’ve never been asked and I’ve never heard anyone be asked where do you get your fiber? I’ve never heard people ask when someone discusses the new diet they are on, ‘are you getting enough fiber?’. Have never seen any articles come to my news feed, have never heard anyone talk about it when discussing what they are doing to eat well. Always protein, fats, and carbs but usually it’s the demonization of carbs.

All fiber comes from plants. All. It is what gives plants their structure. It creates the shape of the plant, and it makes up the bulk of the seeds. Our body cannot digest fiber but it benefits our body in so many ways and plays an essential role in good health.

There are two types of fiber,soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber will dissolve in water where as insoluble will not. Soluble fiber slows down digestion, giving us the satiated feeling after eating and insoluble is what promotes regular bowel movements. Pretty important things. We usually associate a high protein or fat meal to give us the feeling of fullness, or that satiated feeling. But fiber can do that too and it benefits our health greatly to get that feeling from fiber instead of protein or fat. The second benefit of fiber, the pooping more one will be touch on throughout this article.

Why

Why is fiber good for us? I’ve explained one benefit already, the satiated feeling. If we feel full after eating we are less to eat more thus consuming less calories and keeping our weight in check. But let’s talk about what other benefits there are.

Have you ever juice fasted or know someone who has? Did you end up having acne breakouts? It’s common for people who juice fast, or increase their intake of juice and thus eat less food and less fiber to experience acne break out. And it has nothing to do with the skin detoxing chemicals. It’s a sign of hormone imbalance. All toxins are expelled from our body via urine and feces, not the skin through sweat. All this is done through the liver. Toxins, extra hormones are sent to the liver and then picked up by the small intestine via fiber. If there isn’t enough fiber because we are not eating enough then the toxins, and hormones stay in our system, waiting for that fiber train to come by. When someone is juice fasting there isn’t enough fiber in their body to wash away the excess hormones and thus end up having a hormone imbalance which ends up in an acne breakout.

Fiber is also used by the liver to detoxify a bunch of other things: alcohol, medications, food additives, sweeteners, chemicals, etc. Again, without enough fiber these toxins stay in your body. Yikes!

So if you think about what fiber does for us in removing toxins, wouldn’t you want to remove those toxins as soon as possible? If you aren’t eating enough fiber those toxins remain in your body, sometimes for days depending on the person. That could be why not eating enough fiber is linked to an increase in diseases such as coronary disease, can lead to cancer, diabetes, and skin health issues.

How

According to the Institute of Medicine, the average female needs 25 grams of fiber a day, and the average male needs 38 grams per day. If you fall into the 97% of americans not getting enough fiber than your intake is probably no higher than 15 grams.

The easiest way to consume more fiber is to follow a whole foods plant based diet. As mentioned earlier, all fiber comes from plants. There is zero fiber in animal products. You wont have to spend time trying to understand if you are consuming enough fiber by measuring and counting grams, and you wont have to worry about all the bad things you would be consuming if eating animal products. If you think about it, fiber helps to get rid of extra hormones. Consuming animal products, especially dairy products introduces extra hormones into the body (cow milk is a product whose purpose is to provide the nutrients, and hormones to a new born calf to get that new born calf to about 500lbs in a year) and now your body has to remove those extra hormones. If you aren’t eating enough fiber to get rid of those hormones you could be experiencing some of these issues mentioned previously.

Whole grain foods, potatoes with the skin on, raw berries (try not to pulverize them in the smoothy machine), nuts, seeds, and anything else that is plant based. The more variety the better.

Cut down on processed foods. This is why I don’t say to follow a vegan diet. Veganism is more than what you eat, it’s main focus on not harming animals. So you could eat nothing but potato chips and be vegan. Whole foods plant based diet is the best way to go.

WARNING: If you are someone who has not been getting enough fiber, maybe none to 10, 15 or so grams and you make this switch I warn you now you will probably experience some bloating. Why? Because your gut does not have the proper bacteria because of not eating the proper foods. When you introduce this increase of fiber the gut bacteria you do have starts to ferment it and that fermentation produces a large amount of gas thus the bloating. Give it time, this will stop as new, healthier bacteria form. Think of it as a good thing. Your body is shifting away from harmful bacteria to protective bacteria. Ease into it. Increase the amount of fiber slowly if you feel you need to. Think of it as never running to all of a sudden having to run 5 miles.

And…

Take ownership of your health. What issues are you dealing with? Can those problems be addressed by a change to your diet, a change for the better? It would be like continuing to put low grade gas into my car and then taking the car to the mechanic to address the engine damage that has been done. Change the fuel and no more engine issues. Food is fuel and the higher quality fuel you eat the better your body runs.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Give me things that don’t get lost

Run around the same old town

 

Generalities, not specifics. There are guidelines when it comes to training and there are also rules. Just like a lot of things in life, guidelines are recommendations where as rules pertain to everyone. In the context of working out a rule would be not to lean forward when doing barbell squats and a guideline would be to rest a muscle group you just worked out for 48 or more hours. Make sense?

To a point, everyone is different. We are very similar but there are things that make us different and we need to be in tune with our body to understand how you as an individual is different. Sometimes we hear things or read things and think I’m going to do that, even though we don’t have all the important information. You’ll hear about successful people who only sleep maybe 5 hours a day. This is presented in such that you believe this is why they are successful. So what do you do? You start by feeling guilty that you are sleeping your life away instead of being productive and thus successful. And if you didn’t know that people who tend to do this without feeling like crap are able to because they don’t require more sleep then you are making a misinformed decision. They are able to do this without compromising their health. It’s a very small percentage of people who can do this and if you are not one of them you are setting yourself up for some serious health issues.

So let’s look at the 48 hour rule. A lot of thing influence how much rest you need between working muscle groups:

  • Are you getting enough sleep? If you are burning the candle at both ends then you may actually need more than 48 hours to recover from that workout. How do you feel when you wake up? Groggy, miserable, disinterested in things? Are you hanging on by a thread throughout the day? Sometimes we can’t avoid not getting enough sleep but if you can change your routine to get the sleep you need then do it. A good way to know how much you need is to go to bed when you are tired, wake up without an alarm and see how long that period was. Our body is smart and can manage how much sleep we need. Normally when you naturally wake up without an aid like an alarm clock or an external disturbance you have had enough sleep. Then, use that as your guideline. If you have had a more than normal intense day be it due to a work out, or emotional stress then you may need more. Try to adjust for that.
  • How intense was your workout? If your output is 100% and duration is more than an hour then you may need more than 48 hours to recover. If it’s a lighter then normal workout then you many only need 36 hours to recover. I can’t really tell you if you are working out intensely, you need to be the judge of that and for that I would recommend a personal trainer to monitor your workouts. Most people think they are working hard when really they aren’t. What some people perceive as intense usually is more in the moderate area.
  • What is your goal? If your goal is to lose fat or to be healthier and you aren’t a competing athlete then it may not be  a big deal if you don’t get the full recovery period once in a while. In the grand scheme of things if this happens once in a while, maybe once a month or two then don’t get worked up over it. If it happens too often then you may be increasing the risk of injury. We have to be flexible in our lives. I think it’s better to workout when this happens once in a while instead of missing that workout. If you are a competitor it may make more sense to forego working out that body part and try to work something else out knowing your schedule.
  • Are you eating healthy? A lot of my posts touch on eating as it has a lot to do with our fitness and of course health. It’s probably the largest influence on our health. What we eat has about an 80% influence on our body weight and make up. If you are beating up your body day in and day out it needs the proper foods to recover and repair the body. We tend to forget that. If you have a pet you probably know or see that when they are fed foods that are of low quality containing junk or filler. If your body needs to repair itself and it has nothing to do it with because your eating choices are poor then you are increasing the length of time for full recovery. If you are eating foods that cause inflammation, causing disease, and not providing the nutrients you need but instead providing the opposite your recovery times will be much longer. Here’s what a former NFL lineman had to say:
    • “It was hard for me to do bench press, it was hard for me to do push-ups,” Carter says. “Even lifting my body out of the bathtub, it felt like someone was taking a knife to my elbows and twisting that knife around and it was excruciating pain.” You can read more here about what he did to address this.
    • Check this out too on why professional athletes are changing their definitions of healthy eating, or ‘clean’ eating. Clean eating may not be what you think it is.

You

It’s really based on how you know your body. Feedback. What is your body telling you? Figure it out and listen to it. Educate yourself too. Too many people invest time in things that do nothing for their health but then seem to have the time for when they become injured or sick. Be proactive instead of reactive. You’ll feel better, get positive results quicker and in the long term be a healthier person.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Take all that you need

I’m locked away to defy and die

Welcome to today’s blog post. There are many reasons why we can be tired, but today I would like to focus on one specifically: iron. Iron doesn’t get as much publicity as lets say protein but it is really important and can affect our performance and also our well being. Without iron, your body can’t make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells and a lack of red blood cells we become anemic.

How

How do we get iron? We get iron either by eating foods containing iron, or by supplementation. You might have grown up being told to eat liver because it’s high in iron. People eat red meat to get iron. But green vegetables such as iron and broccoli also contain iron. I think you may know where I’m going with this.

Sources

If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet you may have been asked ‘what are you doing to get your iron’ or you have been told that ‘you will be iron deficient unless you eat red meat’. That’s a common myth out there and it needs to be busted. If you eat a whole food plant based diet (I purposely left out the word vegan since vegan goes beyond just what you eat) you are getting lots of iron, vitamin C, A, magnesium and something really important, fiber (post coming up on the importance of fiber).

But, the really important difference is you are not getting heme iron. Heme iron is the iron that we get when we consume meat. There are studies showing that consuming iron from meat increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Why? Because iron can oxidize cholesterol with free radicals causing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The risk has been quantified as a 27% increase per every 1 mg of heme iron consumed daily. Another study concluded that the intake of heme iron, not plant iron, was associated with the increase of stroke and diabetes. The conclusion states: ‘Higher heme iron intake and increased body iron stores were significantly associated with a great risk of type 2 diabetes. Dietary total iron, non-heme iron, or supplemental iron intakes were not significantly associated with type 2 diabetes.’ There are also studies that show an increase in cancer rates due to heme iron intake. Want to know more? Check this link out.

Why

So why is it that we always hear that we need to eat meat, specifically to get iron? I’ve written about this before and I think it’s relative here too. There’s a lot of money to be made to continue having people consume animal products. How do you make billions of dollars by marketing ‘your’ kidney beans, or your spinach, or your walnuts. Good luck, it’s not going to happen. But, run the commercial of your sizzling juicy stake on the bbq, party going on and everyone having a good time and you are on your way! There are cultural norms around consuming animal products, especially red meat. Don’t eat red meat, you aren’t a real man. Don’t eat grandma’s casserole you just offended the whole family.

We have been marketed to to death, from pre-school all the way through adult hood.

But it’s up to you to decide what you eat and that decision can have good or bad consequences when it comes to your health.

And don’t take my word for it. Just look at history. How is it, as an example, Okinawan’s were the longest living people? Pre 1950 their diet consisted of an average of 85% carbs, with very, very little red meat.

How is it there are many life time vegans, vegetarians who never consumed red meat yet they are healthy and they aren’t anemic?

Finally

Let me ask you this. Do you know any people who eat a whole foods plant based diet, and have been for a number of years? Do you know any people who eat red meat constantly, and other animal products? Who is dying from diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc.?

Do yourself a favor and take the red pill. There is so much information out there that will lead you to a healthy and long life. You just need to cut through the bro science and the bullshit. Bro science and bullshit is what sells products. That’s the world we live in, like it or not. But you have a choice. Make the right choice.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

beating ourselves up

And how to recover from it

Working out causes a lot of stress to our body. Resistance training is the process of over loading our muscles so micro tears happen. We stress our tendons, ligaments, joints by repeatedly over loading them. Generally working out as long as it’s done smartly is good for our body and our mind. But, if you are someone who trains at a more intense level, or maybe an endurance athlete then recovery becomes very important.

Endurance sports are more popular today then they were 20 to 30 years ago. It used to be uncommon to know someone who was a marathoner or a triathlete but people who run marathons, participate in triathlons are more common today. Marathons have evolved into ultra marathons and triathlons now come in different flavors testing the ultra endurance athlete. Take this for example, completing 5 iron triathlons in 5 days! Crazy! The ultra marathon is the new marathon.

It’s great if you want to do these things but you have to be even smarter with your training, which of course includes recovery. But if you are not an ultra endurance athlete, for sure you want to do what you can to reduce things that can impact your training and also impact negatively your day to day life.

Inflammation

So what is inflammation? It’s our immune system’s response to a perceived threat. When you stub your toe as an example, your body reacts by releasing immune cells, hormones, and nutrients to fix the problem. Blood flow increases, white blood cells are brought in to help fix the problem. This is your bodies natural response to an injury. Inflammation is the bodies response to injury, an attempt to heal itself, without it wounds would fester and infections could become deadly. But inflammation can become problematic causing excess swelling, mobility issues, swelling and redness.

The stress of training can cause inflammation in our body but so can what we eat. For over 20 years now studies have shown that consuming animal products can peak inflammation. Within 4 hours of consumption our body is put into a low level of inflammation. Then, 4 to 6 hours later we consume animal products again thus keeping the cycle of inflammation going. This inflammation affects our circulatory system, the heart and the lungs, causing internal damage not just decades down the road by also immediately.I’ll include the link here to information on this but basically study after study shows that you consume endotoxins when consuming animal products.

If you are someone who consumes dairy, you may notice this after having a glass of milk, or eating some ice cream and then later working out, especially a hard cardio workout. Find yourself having to deal with excess mucus, phlegm? Cut out all dairy and see if you still have this issue. I would say the biggest changes I have noticed myself after switching to a plant based diet over 4 years ago is no longer having to deal with phlegm after a hard cardio workout and generally a happier gut. I believe it every time I read it that all humans are lactose intolerant.

Reduce

Eliminate all animal products to reduce inflammation. Consume a whole foods plant based diet and be sure to eat lots of colourful foods such as deep greens, strawberries, blue berries, consume nuts like almonds, walnuts and add some pumpkin seeds. Eat lots of beans too. Try these things to see if it helps. In my opinion, the food we eat has a lot to do with our health. Think of food a health care, and medicine as sick care.

I know this is a somewhat controversial post because I’m advocating eliminating all animal products for your diet but don’t just take my words, look at living examples. Rich Roll, super endurance athlete and vegan who is in his early 50’s. John Joseph, lead singer of the CroMags, triathlete, vegan for about 30 years. This guy is nearing his late 50’s and still leads a punk band (high intense output needed for that) and still competing in triathlons. Here’s some more: Carl Lewis who is quoted saying: “My best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet.” , Scott Jurek an ultra marathoner who has been vegan since 1999. Think eating nothing but plants isn’t sustainable and your performance will take a hit? In 2010, 11 years after being vegan, Scott Jurek ran 165.7 miles in 24 hours, a US record, earning a silver medal.

If vegan ultra endurance athletes at world level competition are successful, maybe there’s truth to to this, and the corporations behind selling us animal products have been doing it lying to us the whole time, telling us we need their products to be healthy. Tyson foods, largest meat producer in the US recently increased their stake in the plant based company Beyond Meat. Canada’s largest meat producer, Maple Leaf Foods recently purchased a vegan meat company, Field Roast. If these companies felt so strongly about selling you healthy products, and selling you meat was the way to do that, why would they invest in plant based products? Money. It always comes down to money. You cannot market successfully potatoes, carrots, lettuce and other vegetables but you can for sure differentiate your milk, chicken, beef from your competitors. That’s why they are investing in plant based protein companies such as Beyond Meat, or Field Roast. It always comes down to money. Oh, and forget about the government having your health in their best interest. That’s a big mistake.

 

Finally

I’m not asking anyone to become vegan. I would love you to but being vegan is not just about what you eat, it goes beyond that. If you want to be healthier, reduce inflammation so you can train harder more frequently then change your diet to a whole foods plant based diet. Don’t believe me? Do your own homework. But be sure to read studies that are not industry funded, and don’t listen to crack pot doctors or bro science. Listen to real doctors who are experts in their fields such as Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Neil Barnard, Dr. Michael Greger and so on. Check out Nutrition Facts dot org also.

You can do it. You just have to be smart about it. Take the red pill and start to see what is really doing on. You and your body will be so much happier because of it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

And now it’s alright, it’s okay

And you may look the other way

 

What are the important things to keep fit, to meet your goals, to grow with respect to your physicality? I get asked this time to time. It’s a tough question to answer because whenever you place things above other things it tends to lessen the importance of those things below it. Implicitly they will be looked at as less important.

But, I have given it a lot of thought and this is what I have concluded: Consistency.

Why?

You can have great technique. You can work out with intensity. You can eat well. But, if you are doing those things infrequently or sporadically then those things preceding this just don’t matter, to a point. Of course if you are consistently going to the gym but standing around, talking, not working out then it really doesn’t matter. Taking into consideration that you are training when you do go to train then it’s really important that you go regularly. This applies to most things in our life. If we consistently study another language then we will get better learning that language sooner. If we consistently practice a music instrument we will be better playing that instrument, sooner.

That’s it. Not much more to say. I think we all know this, it’s just something I wanted to say.

 

Yours in health,

Darryl

There’s no connection to myself

Want to go for a ride?

My goal of this post is to help you get where you want, as quickly as you can. For you to do this, you’ll need to do two things: have a goal knowing what you want, and do the things that will get you there. Sounds simple but why do so few people achieve it? If it was simple everyone would be there. This post is more geared towards those who want specific performance based results, not someone who’s goal is to lose some pounds, or stay fit. Those are good goals that are easier to get to. If the latter two are your goals, you may find this post complicated but continue reading if you like.

Goal

As I have written before, having a goal can be a short term goal, something achievable in 6 months or less, or a long term goal (over 6 months to achieve) broken into short term goals.

Goals also need to be specific and should follow the SMART model: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. An example would be to run a marathon in 1 year. Let’s break it down using the SMART model:

  • Specific: I want to run a marathon in 1 years time, and have a finish time no less than 5 hours
  • Measurable: A marathon is a measurable distance of 26.2 miles, or 42.2 km’s.
  • Attainable: 1 year of training should be enough time for the vast majority of people not taking into people specific things like lifestyle, work obligations, etc. I recently watched a series on youtube of a guy who in 90 days of training completed a triathlon while at the same time changed his diet to a 100% plant based diet.
  • Realistic: If the goal isn’t realistic it may never be achievable. Goals should always be something you can achieve. It may take a lot of hard work, it should take a lot of hard work, but not be unreachable not matter the circumstance. If your goal is to run a marathon in 6 months of training, and under 3:30 hours, and you have never ran a distance greater than 5k, and live a somewhat sedentary lifestyle than this goal is far from being realistic. Goals that are not realistic only serve to demotivate you and end up doing a lot of harm. At our dojo, we only test students when they are ready or near ready to be graded. One of our goals is to motivate our students and if we graded students when they aren’t ready, they more than likely would fail the grading. Why would you do that? You now have a student that will be less motivated to train and maybe even less motivated to come out at all. Whereas when you test someone who is ready, or close to being ready the test becomes somewhat of a motivator to do better leading up to the test and becomes a sub goal of a larger goal of earning a black belt. You should treat your own goals the same. Keep them realistic. Training plays a big part of this and keep reading to find out more
  • Timely: Always have a time frame for your goal. In this example, the time frame is 1 year. Time frames, as long as they are realistic, are a great way of helping you achieve the goal. Time frames also help you to setup the program to achieve the goal. If you have the goal of running a marathon in 1 year, then you can setup a schedule knowing that you should achieve running certain distances at the 3 month, 4 month, 5 month etc. time frame. If I create a goal of running a marathon in my lifetime, I’ll probably never do it as I have not committed to a time.

The Training

You have your goal and now the training starts. Good luck 😉

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the training you do. I’m not talking about just training, I’m talking about the specifics of training. Years ago I never knew about ‘tapering off’, the reduction of miles near the end of training for a marathon when training for distance. Many years ago, it wasn’t until certain people and certain countries were winning Olympic gold that coaches realized you don’t run just distance to become faster at running great distances. They learned this because the people winning gold were also doing high intense interval training, something brand new at the time, no one else was doing it. Everyone else was running distance, and distance, and more distance. Once coaches realized this, and saw it was effective, marathon training changed from that point forward thus including interval training.

The same goes for you. How many world class legit black belt karataka or ju jutsu athletes do you see that are jacked? I mean really big, muscle bound. Now having said that this is a complicated area. It can be quite controversial as you can find opinions that will say you need to focus largely on strength training just as you will find opinions that you need to work less on strength training. But, this is where having a goal comes into play. If your goal is to compete at your current weight in ju jutsu then yes, you need to be strong. If you goal is to jump up in weight than yes, focus more on training to add muscle. Regardless, you also need to be flexible, fast, explosive, and have great cardio. If you have ever grappled you know how cardio intensive it is and you probably also know how flexibility plays a key role. Or maybe you don’t? If your training is geared to your abilities instead of what you need to do to win then maybe you don’t. Sometimes when I teach class I’ll introduce a technique because, well because it’s awesome, and some people will have a hard time to execute it because as an example they aren’t able to execute a high guard. They see the technique and they agree that it’s awesome but can’t pull it off. I’ll use this as a way to try to motivate people to increase their flexibility.

If you wan’t to be fast, you need to exercise using exercises that engage fast twitch muscle fibers the majority of time. If you want endurance, you need to do the opposite, train your slow twitch muscle fibers. If you want both then good luck. It’s not always easy though, especially if you are an elite athlete and if you are competing in MMA as an example you may need to be ready to compete in a 5 round, 25 minute fight. That’s tough because you need to be explosively fast and also last 25 minutes without gassing out. If you have too much fast twitch muscle fiber than you may ‘gas out’ because of the oxygen demand to feed those fast twitch muscle fibers. If you don’t have enough fast twitch muscle fibers than you may not be explosive enough to stuff that take down attempt.

Finally

Know what you want. Thinking is not enough, you need to know. Then, you need to know how to get there. I cannot emphasize enough that you need to train smart, not only hard. Long gone should be the days of running our bodies into the ground too many times, over working our bodies and not realizing the results we want. Work hard, eat well, and rest well.

Your longevity, happiness and well being depend on it.

Shameless plug for personal trainers time: not sure how to get there? Hire a personal trainer. Done that already and not satisfied? Then try another one, maybe one recommended by friends or peers. A good personal trainer can do a lot for you in reaching your goal.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

where it all happens…

anything is possible.

For something so simple it can become really complicated.

Sleep. Rest. It sounds simple enough but we can make it very complicated. It also can become complicated for other reasons that we can’t always control. But we need it to survive and we need it to grow, to realize the benefits we seek.

It is said without sleep we will go mad. Probably. And I do know without sleep we will not allow our body to recover. If you put in hard work exercising and pushing your body to extremes to do the things you want to do, to become that person you want to become, to be something you have dreamed about, then you need to get the sleep, the recovery time your body requires. Sleep is the tool your body uses to repair the damage done, to allow the growth to happen from the punishment you put yourself though.

How do you know you aren’t getting the sleep and recovery time you need? Feeling tired all the time? Getting injured more frequently? Aren’t able to do the things you used to? Exercising seems to be more demanding than before? Irritable more frequently? Feeling lethargic? Losing interest in things? All these things can be due to not getting enough sleep or recovery time.

Sleep gets neglected for many reasons: life gets in the way, we can’t sleep even though we try, work happens. You know why. But just like working out has to be made a priority so does sleep and recovery time. So what do you do?

Identify why it is you are not getting the recovery time you need. Then, address it if you can. I’m hot going to tell you that there is a simple answer. Sometimes there isn’t the answer we want, there isn’t a valid solution. Let’s look at common reasons why we don’t get the recovery time we need and what can be done about it.

  • Not getting enough sleep: Go to bed earlier. Done. That’s the solution. Put down the phone, close the laptop and close your eyes. If you need to go to bed at 10pm to get 7 to 8 hour sleep then you need to go to bed at 10pm! I get it! I struggle with this too. Sometimes it seems if I go to bed I’m going to miss something. But that is never the case so relax the mind before hand and ease into it. If 10pm is bedtime, relax and slowdown a half hour before. Don’t do things that require a lot of brain power, don’t do something that could be unsettling, don’t do something stressful right up before bedtime. You will end up laying in bed having these things go through your mind and will never get to sleep.
  • Nap: Nothing wrong with having a nap during the day or late afternoon if you need it. Most times if you are tired enough and feel like having a nap, that is your body letting you know you need a nap. So do it and don’t feel guilty about it.
  • Can’t sleep: Many reasons for this. If you fall into this category I think you need to analyze why this is. Are you not falling asleep due to stress in your life? Is it a physical reason why? If it’s stress try to address what it is causing you the stress. If you can come to terms with it, or eliminate it then that should help. If it’s a physical reason then maybe you need to see your doctor to help you with this.

Regardless, remember that recovery time and sleep are key elements to physical growth. Both reduce injury, facilitate muscle growth, help increase performance and also help us to deal with stress we encounter in our day to day lives.

If you can’t convince yourself, then let me convince you. Get your sleep and recovery time.

Yours in health,

Darryl

concerning the least of our attentions

 

Often overlooked. Hardly the focus. Do you know what I’m referring to? Probably not but that’s OK. I haven’t really given any clues. Let’s try this: No one does it, no one has time for it, it’s at the end of the workout (if you do it at all). Got it yet? You are correct: Stretching.

I’m writing this post because I realized how much flexibility is ignored and doesn’t get the due attention it should.  A student of mine came up to me and asked what could be done to get better at karate, grappling, sparring. The focus of the question was putting on weight to become stronger to do these things. When I asked the student some questions it became apparent that the goal of the student was to bulk up. Kind of funny because yes you need strength to grapple to a point (but it shouldn’t be the only thing relied on), and you need healthy cardio so you don’t gas out but how much strength do you need? And where does flexibility play into this?

History

Let’s look at a well known grappler, Royce Gracie. The story goes that Royce Gracie was chosen over Rickson Gracie for UFC 1 as Royce had a smaller physique compared to Rickson Gracie and winning UFC 1 would be that much more impressive since grappling was new to the MMA sport. Everyone though it would be a striker that would win and when a small grappler won ju-jutsu took off. It showed that you could defend yourself, defeat your enemy and you didn’t have to be huge to do it. You could protect yourself while having somewhat of an ‘average’ build. But what did that average build of Royce Gracie bring with it? Great flexibility. To be a great grappler you also need to be very flexible. If you watch professional level grappling it usually becomes apparent that flexibility plays a very important role. Watch no gi grappling, especially 10th Planet Eddie Bravo grappling and you can see how important flexibility is.

But the importance is so underestimated, so overlooked. When have you ever heard someone talking about getting healthier and mention flexibility at the same time? Never, right? And it doesn’t only live in it’s world of grappling. Everything we do requires a level of being flexible. And the older we get the more we lose it. Things tighten up. We don’t realize how inflexible we are until we try to do something and we can’t. I see it in people who are in their 30’s. Already they have stiffened up.

Why

Flexibility has never received it’s due. Tons of infomercials on building stronger abs, building a strong body, losing weight, getting that beach body. But tell me, what infomercial have you seen for getting more flexible? Crickets. That’s what I hear right now because there isn’t one. So if we never hear about it, it’s never brought up when you talk to a professional about getting healthier, losing weight then you will never give it it’s due.

But you need to. Want to be more injury free? Want to perform better? Then stretch. You need to. More range of motion means it’s easier to move when you need to. It means you are less likely to get injured when you move. And if you are looking to increase performance then stretching will give you that. Longer muscles perform better than shorter muscle.

What

So where do you start? I recommend getting an evaluation from a personal trainer. Ideally this will help identify muscles that are short and tight and need stretching. These are the muscles you want to stretch. These muscles are the ones that have tightened up over time due to our lifestyles. Muscles like the front of our shoulders, our ham strings. Don’t stretch the muscles that are already relaxed and long. Focus on the tight muscles.

You can stretch every day. If you don’t have time to work out then ease into it, giving time for the muscles to warm up. If you are working out, leave the stretching for the end of the workout. And stretch those muscles holding the stretch no less than 90 seconds per stretch.

Bored? Yep. I think that’s why most of us don’t stretch because it can be boring. Doing something else while stretching helps with this. Get on the floor and stretch while reading a book, or watching Netflix, or whatever. It doesn’t have to be boring.

Do it. And don’t make an excuse. You can  be more flexible if you work at it. And who wouldn’t love to be able to kick someone in the head and not have to lean way back to do it ;).

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

in your eyes I have read

‘And of mountains that burn in the night…’

 

My writing as of late, or more like the last 6 months has to do with attitude, has to do with our mental state. Why? Because I think of all things our mental state is the most important tool we have when it comes to our well being. Our health relies on it. That’s how important it is. I’ve really come to realize this over the last year as I have been struggling with finding motivation and I have been struggling to do the things I used to do. Most people wouldn’t agree with this because most people don’t see that in me. I’m really good at separating what I feel with what I show externally. I have to be. I teach martial arts 4 to 5 days a week to over 125 students and I have to be that motivational force. Teaching martial arts is not only teaching technique but also elevating students to be their best and mentoring our future leaders. But I know what it’s like to have self doubt. I know what it’s like to feel fear competing against others. I know what it’s like to listen to that voice telling you that tomorrow you will do your workout instead of today. If life was easy all of us would excel at it.

What

So maybe that’s why I have been focusing on these things. And it is in my nature to help people. I want to help people. I’m not the best teacher, I don’t have any formal training teaching and maybe my passion to help people makes up for that deficit. This is why I keep writing about this topic. I want you to be the best version of you you can be. That doesn’t mean you won’t fail along the way. We all fail. Failing makes us better, stronger and more resilient. Well, more specifically it’s how you handle your failure. Do you get back up on your feet and try again? I hope so. That’s the part that makes you stronger.

Let’s get to it then shall we?

How

I think inevitably you become more like the people you associate with or you end up breaking away from them. One or the other. Very much like the saying ‘the bad apple spoils the bunch’. Surround yourself with people who have overcome adversity and you will more likely overcome your adversities. Surround yourself with people who complain about how tough and unfair things are and you will become a complainer. You will never come up with a solution but instead live in that world of making up excuses as to why you can’t do this or do that or the world is so unfair. You will never change your circumstances.

I see a lot of this at work. I see people who have been at the same position for a number of years and complain about people who make more then them because they moved forward in their roll. One person I was in a meeting with had a perfect opportunity to grow in their roll by playing more of a manager roll but refused to asking me to instead. Why? Because they said I’m good at it and have been doing it for a long time. I tried to encourage that person to take on this roll, since they are the ‘lead’ on this item. It was a good opportunity for this since it was myself, a representative from a company on the phone and this person. No real pressure at all. It wasn’t like we were in a room with VP’s and a bunch of people. But they refused. They wanted to live in that comfortable world of theirs refusing to push on the walls to expand. I ended up being the manager on that call and that person lived in the safe, comfortable world they know and probably will always live there never grasping as to why they don’t move forward. And the continue to complain.

You have to get out of that comfort zone. Your comfort zone. You will never grow as a human being, as an individual if you don’t. As much as it sucks thinking about it at the time you have to tell yourself to get over the fear and do it. How else do you know what lies on the other side? How else will you become what you want to be?

I did this myself about 2 months ago. I was given the opportunity to train at an MMA club that trains amongst the general public, UFC fighters. Every week I go and every week I get my ass handed to me. This is top level grappling and wrestling. I expect this to happen but when it does it sucks. Sometimes I win and I have to remind myself not to make a big deal out of it, I have to keep it contained. But mostly it’s dealing with defeat. But I know I am getting better each time and I know if I don’t do this I’m living in that comfort zone I talked about. I’m not growing as a martial artist and I’m not growing as a teacher. How can I sincerely tell my students that they have to suck it up and deal with the defeat when I put them up against a stronger student? How can I tell them it will help them grow when I’m not willing to do the same?

Why

You become what you surround yourself with. Surround yourself with negative people and you will become negative. Have you ever been there? Something really good happens to you, something that is extraordinary and instead of support you get made fun of or the significance of that event is downplayed? They want to bring you back to their level because you just make them uncomfortable. You scared them because you may not be one of them anymore and that scares them. If you listen to them you will get sucked back in, you will continue to develop and reinforce your self doubt.  My dad was like that. As a kid I was constantly reminded how stupid I was and everything I did was wrong. It wasn’t until I was in my adult years that he was able to come to terms with what he did to me and my siblings and apologize for how he was back then.

It can be your dad, your mom, your best friend, your husband, your wife. It can be anyone. It can be you.

Change

So what can we do to change it? First you want to have to change it. You have to want it. That’s the start because you need to believe in it. You need to believe in yourself. Believe you can do it. You can follow on social media people who inspire you. There are many out there. Rich Roll, John Joseph, Paul de Gelder, Jack LaLanne, Nick Diaz and so on. There are many people who have faced adversity in their lives and have accomplished amazing things. If your friends are people who hold you back, don’t support you then they are not your friends. They only keep you as a friend to reaffirm their negative thoughts about themselves. Start surrounding yourself with people who believe in you, people who support you and say ‘you got this’, ‘you are awesome and can do it’. Those are the things you need to hear.

Stop listening to words of doubt. ‘You’ll never be able to do that, your too soft’, ‘You’re a woman, you can’t do that’, ‘You’re too old to do that’, ‘You suck’, ‘You’re an idiot’, ‘Why do you want to do that, it’s stupid!’, ‘You’re crazy, you’ll kill yourself doing that’, ‘You can’t do that, you’re not cut out for it’. We hear it in many forms, from many people.

Ask yourself this: What makes you different from anyone else who has done amazing things? What makes them so special? Are they different from you? Are they super human beings? I hope you came up with the right answer and if you didn’t you need to reevaluate. Just like those seeds of doubt were planted and were nurtured and grew, so can the seeds of positivity.

Free the mind and the body will follow.

I read this in a book and it really resonated with me. I think it speaks a lot to how we are afraid to break away from what is the norm and feeling accepted by our peers. If this happens to you then you might want to find new friends:

“There was once a beloved king whose castle was on a high hill, overlooking his shire. He was so popular that the nearby townspeople sent him gifts daily, and his birthday celebration was enjoyed throughout the kingdom. The people loved him for his renowned wisdom and fair judgments.
One day. tragedy struck the town. The water supply was polluted, and every man, woman, and child went insane. Only the king, who had a private spring, was spared.
Soon after the tragedy, the mad townspeople began speaking of how the king was acting “strangely” and how his judgments were poor and his wisdom a sham. Many even went so far as to say that the king had gone crazy. His popularity soon vanished. No longer did the people bring him gifts or celebrate his birthday.
The lonely king, high on the hill, had no company at all. One day he decided to leave the hill and pay a visit to the town. It was a warm day, so he drank from the village fountain.
That night there was a great celebration. The people rejoiced, for their beloved king had “regained his sanity.”
I want you to ignore that voice you hear telling you you can’t do it. I wan’t you to ignore that voice telling you that you are no good. I want you to listen to the voice you know is there. The voice telling you you can do it. That voice is the voice you need to hear all the time The other voice needs to be suffocated and distinguished.
I see it in you, I know what you can do, why don’t you see it?
Yours in health,
Darryl