perspective is relative

The journey is about to begin

My last post talked about a goal I have set for this upcoming year, 2019. I’ve committed myself to this goal be it a good idea or a bad idea but I feel it’s time. It’s time I’ve challenged myself because without challenging yourself you don’t grow, you become stagnant, and that’s not good.

And I love a challenge. Years ago I went through basic training and spent 3 years in the military. During that time I volunteered and completed the ships diver course, an intensive physical course that has a drop out rate of 60%. I went back to school in my mid twenties to get  a degree in computer science, not an easy thing to do going back to school as a mature student. Took up running, running long distances but never in an official event. Started training in Karate and received my black belt in under 5 years. Went back to school sort of to become a certified personal trainer. Recently started my course on plant based nutrition from Cornell University. And now I’ve signed up for a marathon at the end of April, my first ‘official’ marathon.

Why?

I’ve been asking myself that question. It wasn’t a compulsive decision, sort of. Because of my roll at the dojo, teaching all ages and being in a somewhat of an influential position, be it that I bring this on myself or because it’s been bestowed onto me, I am a believer that if you talk the talk you need to walk the walk.

I don’t bring up my position on eating a whole foods plant based diet when I am teaching unless I’m asked for nutrition advice, or it somehow comes up otherwise for numerous reasons. But, I’ve been feeling that I’m not a good role model in this regard. I want to be that person that when someone comments that a whole foods plant based diet is incomplete, that you can’t perform at your best, that you ‘need meat’ I’ll prove them wrong. I’ll show them what can be done eating nothing but plants. But I need a point of reference.

But I’m not doing this for me. This isn’t to stroke my ego, not a fan of ribbons, this is to help people become more than they are, to become the best they can be. I can’t do that right now because for too long I’ve neglected the physical side of my training.

Now

I’ve completed all of my physical accomplishments before following a vegan lifestyle. At this point I have no reference for comparison. But that is about to change.15 weeks of training and than time to run 26 miles fueled exclusively from plants.

It’s going to be tough, it’s going to suck. I’m not going to lie and paint this as a walk in the park. I’m heavier than I should be,  too much heavier. Too much beer and potato chips have added the pounds to my frame. But I’ll do it. I have to.

I want to do something that can make a positive change in this world. I want to be leading the 5 mile run on May 4th for our next group of future black belts. I can’t influence everyone but if I can show a few people what eating only plants can do than maybe they’ll see through all the lies perpetuated by the media and society, that we can’t survive without killing animals and consuming them. I know this. More will find out. I’m going to draw a picture the size of a mountain.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Check back here frequently for updates on my progress. This just might become a mini story.

the bridge came up short

Abdominals

Understanding how muscle contraction works can greatly help you in working the muscles you are trying to work. As an example let’s look at the bicep muscle. The bicep muscles (there are 2, hence bicep) originate at the coracoid process (part of the scapula, the shoulder blade) and has an insertion point of the radius bone in your lower arm. To work the bicep muscles we grab an appropriate weight be it a barbell or dumbbell and starting with our arm straight we then bend our arm, bringing the weight up towards our shoulder. Most muscles are worked this way. The muscles will typically cross a joint (the elbow in this example) and we work that muscle by using the joint it crosses. The same with the tricep muscles originating from the humerus (upper arm) and having an insertion point of the ulna (lower arm) crossing the elbow joint. We work the tricep muscles inversely to how we work the bicep muscles. Makes sense.

So knowing this can help in how you work the muscles as the primary movers or secondary movers or stabilizers. Our abdominal muscles are a good example of this. Our abdominal muscles are comprised of the rectus abdominis and the transversus abdominis. The rectus abdominis is what we all understand as our abs, this muscle group is what we see when we have an 8 pack (tough to get, most only achieve a 6 pack). The transversus abdominis we don’t notice that much as sits just below and beind the rectus abdominis but also behind the external and internal obliques. It sometimes is referred to as the girdle muscle as it wraps around transversely. Connected to our illiac crest (pubic area) and the cartilage of the lower ribs it does look like a girdle. With this large muscle having fibers running transversely it is a key component of the core. No joints being crossed.

The rectus abdominis originates at the pubis and inserts on the 5-7th costal cartilages (ribs), and on the xiphoid process of the sternum. No joints being crossed.

So here we have 2 muscle groups that don’t cross any joints in our body. How do we contract the muscles if they don’t cross a joint? Think of that when doing exercises such as leg raises. If the motion of raising and lowering our legs does not cause the concentric or eccentric contraction of our core muscles because those muscles are not connected to our femur (upper leg) bone then how is this an exercise for the core?

This is where it’s up to you. These abdominal muscles will play a stabilizer role in this exercise helping you to keep you core stable as you keep your back on the floor. But, you have to actively think of this, you have to focus on these core muscles engaging and stabilizing your body, your core. What also helps with this is using the isometric contraction to contract the muscles.

planking
planking comes in many ways

Isometric contraction is contracting the muscle without lengthening (eccentric contraction) or shortening (concentric contraction). How can you do this with the abs? Think of tightening your abs as if someone was going to punch you in the gut. The muscles are contracting but not lengthening or shortening. You can also do this: Suck in your abs drawing in your lower abdomen below your naval, and hold it. This is referred to as hollowing or vacuuming. You can do this, and isometric contractions anytime; sitting, standing, working, etc. Do this and hold it for 10 – 15 seconds to start, and be sure to continue to breathe. Then increase the time to 30 seconds, or a minute. Be sure to incorporate this into workouts when planking, etc.

Let’s look at some exercises we can do to strengthen these muscles:

  • Russian twist: Starting seated with knees together and bent, raise your feet about 6 inches off of the floor and lean back slightly. Twist from side to side keeping your core tight in that vacuum state and as you twist bring both hands over try to touch the ground.
  • Plank: Staring laying down on your belly lift your body up onto your elbows and toes. Keep you hips up imagining a line from your shoulders to your ankle and your hips intercepting that line. Keep the belly sucked in actively engaging the transversus abdominis. To add difficulty lift a hand up straight out ahead and to add even more difficulty do the same with a leg lifting the opposite foot off of the ground  keeping the leg straight.
  • Crunches: If is very important to keep a neutral spine while doing crunches. This means not pulling on your head and curving the spine while crunching. Most people do this because it makes it easier and makes us feel like we are being successful. Doing more of something that can hurt us is not being successful. Keeping your spine in a neutral position put your hands by your ears and look straight up. Now, bending at the hips, contracting your abs, lift your shoulders up off the ground. Now, lower back down but don’t let your shoulders touch the ground! Keeping the load on the abs by not letting your shoulders touch the ground thus eliminating the rest is really hard but this is what will get you a strong  transversus abdominis and will help prevent back injuries and will also help in giving you that flat stomach most people are looking for. Technique is key as always

Working muscles that don’t cross a joint is harder as it requires much more concentration and focus since it’s not as easy as moving a limb. YOU HAVE TO ACTIVELY ENGAGE THE MUSCLES BY ISOMETRIC CONTRACTION OR BY HOLLOWING. Not doing these things will result in putting in lots of time but not getting the results you want and need.

This post is just the beginning of building a strong core. My plan is to break it down even further in upcoming posts. But this should get you started and covers enough to give you a strong back supporting core.

And remember, if a muscle does not bridge a joint, bending a joint does not work it directly.

Yours in health,

Darryl

We’re gonna vent our frustration

You want to make the time but you can’t. If you have read my posts you may have read one that talks about prioritizing the things that are important to you in your life and to make the time to do those things. It looks great on paper but not easily done.

I’d like to think I have all the answers.

 

You want to make the time but you can’t. If you have read my posts you may have read one that talks about prioritizing the things that are important to you in your life and to make the time to do those things. It looks great on paper but not easily done. It can take some time to change your habits and have the new things you do become your habits. But lets not get too deep into that and instead here is a post on how to maximize the time you do have so you aren’t taking a hit physically.

 

The workout

Let’s start by warming up. PRO TIP: Never start exercising without warming up the body. Not warming up can lead to immediate injury or incurring an injury later. To warm up you can do things like jumping jacks, mountain climbers (at a bit of a slower pace), rotating your arms backwards/forwards, leg swings, etc. The goal is to keep everything moving and to also get your heart rate up to about 120 bpm’s (beats per minute). Here is a simple warm up to do that.

*WARNING* The following is a high intense workout. Consult with your doctor before starting any physical program and also before changing your workout to something more intense.

The warm up

Exercise: Jumping Jacks. Duration: 30 seconds. If you don’t know how to do Jumping Jacks then google it. Doesn’t everyone know how to do these?

Exercise: Arm Crosses. Duration: 60 seconds. Cross your arms like you are giving someone a hug then swing back to open up your arms. Alternate each time which arm is the upper arm. Gradually let your arms open up a bit more each time, dynamically stretching the front of your shoulders.

Exercise: Leg Swing. Duration 60 seconds. Starting with the left leg, bring it as far back behind you then swing forward trying to touch your outstretched right hand. Then do the other side. The goal is to increase gently the backwards and forwards motion of your leg swings. Keep switching from one leg to the other.

Exercise: High Knees: Duration: 60 seconds. Using your core and leg muscles, raise a knee up as high as it will go keeping that foot under the knee, not behind close to your bum. Then do the other leg. The objective here is to do this in a controlled fashion, using the muscles to raise the knee, and not bending forward crunching up. Change back and forth from one leg to the other at a pace that isn’t too quick as again we want to maintain control and also keep our heart rate at 120 bpm as we are warming up.

Exercise: Arm Rotations: Duration 60 seconds. You can do this using both arms at the same time or alternate back and forth. Swing arms up and behind you like you are making big circles. Don’t go too fast as you don’t want centrifugal force to take over possibly causing an injury. You can change direction to a forward rotation half way through.

Exercise: Mountain Climbers. Duration: 30 seconds. Position yourself like you are in the starting blocks for a 100 meter dash, weight on your hands, one foot forward, one back. Now alternate quickly which foot is forward and which one is back. Keep this alternating, back and forth motion going like you are running nowhere. Think of your knees driving forward and backwards. Keep the pace at a rate that keeps your heart rate around 120 bpm.

Summary

Here’s what the warm up looks like:

Jumping Jacks:  30 seconds

Arm Crosses: 60 seconds

Leg Swings: 60 seconds

*Mountain Climbers: 30 seconds

Arm Rotations: 60 seconds

High Knees: 60 seconds

* You can substitute Jumping Jacks for Mountain climbers if you find the load too much on your wrists or shoulders.

Workout

Now that our body is warm let’s get into it.

*WARNING* The following is a high intense workout. Consult with your doctor before starting any physical program and also before changing your workout to something more intense.

The following workout is a high intensity interval training workout. Specifically because this is meant to be done with little time this is a Tabata workout. As with any workout, it is very important to follow the spirit of the workout, of Tabata. 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for a period of 4 minutes. The 20 seconds is 100% effort while the 10 seconds is 0% effort. Basically the 10 second rest period should be spent trying to get your heart rate back down quickly by focusing on deep breathing and quieting the mind.

One more time. Tabata: 20 seconds 100% effort, followed by 10 seconds 0% effort intervals for a duration of 4 minutes. There are plenty of free Tabata apps for smartphones. I would recommend using one of these.

You will know if you truly adhered to what a Tabata workout is if when you were done you were a big pile of goop. Really. Although a short period to exercise (4 minutes) you should be exhausted because during the work phase of Tabata you really did give it 100% effort. Read here to find out the benefits of this type of exercising.

Exercises

Burpees. That’s it. You really need only one exercise for a good Tabata workout. And the great thing is you can do burpees pretty much anywhere. No special equipment, no large space needed. I like to use burpees for this because it’s an exercise that increases our heart rate to max as quickly as possible and also keeping in mind constraints like space, equipment. Be sure to always use full range of motion, lowering yourself down into the squat all the way before kicking your feet out behind you, to almost the same position as a plank.

Can you do other things? Sure. You can sprint for 20 seconds. You can do alternating lunges with a really quick foot change. It has to be quick. If you do your lunges without the quickness your heart rate is taking longer to get to max. And again, you have only 20 seconds. High Knees at a fast pace? Maybe, if you really push it. I’m not a fan of this because high knees end up being middle knees then lower knees. It’s too easy for the intensity to slip. It’s hard to do that with burpees if you keep moving. You are forced to move your whole body. It’s excruciating. That’s why everyone hates burpees.

Done

Now that you have completed your Tabata and you are dead, don’t just stand there. Jog lightly or just shuffle the feet so you are still moving and focus on breathing. Stay loose, let the arms move. Deep breaths (and I mean deep) in through the nose and then force the air out via your mouth. This has to be active breathing, not passive. Forcefully breathing in and out using the full capacity of your lungs will get rid of the residual air in your lungs and replace it with fresh oxygen full air thus bringing your heart rate down to a lower level quicker. Also by moving your body around you prevent blood from pooling. Keep this up for whatever time it takes you to get your heart rate back to about 120 bpms. You can then let your heart rate come down to about resting rate as you spend 5 minutes for stretching. Don’t want to stretch? Read this and maybe you’ll change your mind.

Stretching

I’ve done many posts on stretching and hopefully you have read them and are an avid stretcher. Because of this I’m not going to spend much time on this. Try to spend at least 5 minutes stretching. The payoff will be huge with benefits such as injury prevention, better quality of life due to increase in mobility. One thing I will say is don’t stretch the muscles that don’t need it. Spend time on your weak areas. Not sure what those are? Hire a personal trainer.

Lastly

That’s it. 5 minutes to warm up, 4 minutes of work, 2 minutes to cool down, and 5 minutes to stretch. 16 minutes of your day, ahh, let’s round up to 20 minutes. And this isn’t some crappy thrown together work out that you won’t see results from. THIS GETS YOU RESULTS.

It’s intense and demands a lot of you. Because of that be sure to get your rest. And because of the intensity you cannot do this every day. How often you can do Tabata is based on things such as your current level of fitness, age, injuries, health issues, etc. If you are not sure hire a personal trainer. But be sure to understand these things to help prevent injury or health issues.  And again:

*WARNING* This is a high intense workout. Consult with your doctor before starting any physical program and also before changing your workout to something more intense.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

same time, different year

I think each of us deal with two primary voices we hear from our brain. One voice, the voice that tells us to stay in bed, the voice that tells us that there will always be tomorrow to get up and go running, the voice that tells us to indulge more than we should.

Will it be different?

 

Clocks have been set back an hour, darkness upon us earlier into the night. Getting colder and colder as the weeks go on.

This time of year along with the deep winter months can be tough to keep yourself motivated. The darkness can effect us in a bad way, and during the day when it’s not sunny out, that can keep us in the dumps some times, or most times. What can be done about it?

The voice

I think each of us deal with two primary voices we hear from our brain. One voice, the voice that tells us to stay in bed, the voice that tells us that there will always be tomorrow to get up and go running, the voice that tells us to indulge more than we should. We have another voice, the voice that tells us how better we will feel after the work out, the voice that tells us we will be closer to our goal if we work out, the voice that in a sense lets us know what the right thing to do is. But, the first voice is very strong. It’s strong on it’s own but can be strengthened by events from our life, things that have shaped us. And it can be hard to ignore. The first voice is the voice that we should ignore and not pay attention to. Some times the messages from that voice can be really hurtful, the messages like we’re not worth it, we don’t deserve it, it’s too scary, what if I fail, and it doesn’t matter anyway.

That voice is 100% negative, not benefiting us in anyway. It’s hard to ignore, I know, but we have to. We have to not listen to it as it does us no benefit to listen to it. It will never be the voice that gets us to where we need to be to cross the finish line in our next race, to complete our next triathlon, the voice that gets us the job we want. It’s the voice that will stop you from doing all of those things, if you listen to it.

How

How do I know? Because I honestly believe that all of us can do those things. All of us have the parts, the tools, the capabilities to do anything we want if we work at it and do what is needed to accomplish great things. 30 years ago running a marathon was a HUGE deal. You were an elite athlete if you completed a marathon. Today? It’s not uncommon to know people who have done that. Now, people are running ultra marathons, multiple day endurance races. People are completing 5 ironman triathons in 5 days! But of course these must be gifted people, people who genetically are superior. Nah, I don’t think so. These people are no different that you or I. They have struggled like you and I. They still struggle, everyone does. They decided though to not listen to that first voice but listen to the voice that is the positive voice, the voice that says if you want this then do it. Get up in the morning and do it. Tomorrow is there but what are you doing today? The voice that says you can do it, why not?

Why Not

And why not? What is holding you back? Really, what is it? Fear, intimidation, lack of time, self doubt? Whatever it is you will never get started and do these things if you don’t address them. Fear of failure? I’d rather fail at something than not try at all. You learn about yourself when you fail, you learn the good things about yourself. Failure should be something we accept especially if we tried our best. And if anyone criticizes you because of it then maybe you don’t need to hang around those people any longer. It is so easy to sit back on the side lines and criticize people for falling, for failing. But if you fail than so what? You TRIED to do it. And there’s next time. Look honestly as to why you failed and make changes. And what was the failure anyway? Did you fail to complete the marathon but completed half of it? Wow, you just completed a half marathon! Pretty awesome!

Be honest with yourself be it a success or failure. Analyze and determine what things could have been done differently for a better outcome. And move forward. You only harm yourself dwelling on failures.

Lack of time can be remedied by reducing time spent doing things that do not get you to your goal. We all love spending time on the internet but if that is preventing you from reaching your goal than it’s not helping you. Sometimes we do these things because we can zone out, relax. Try meditation to relax. There are many more benefits to this than passively watching vids.

Self doubt is a real killer. I think most of us, or maybe all of us have that in us. Sometimes self doubt is used to stop us from starting something new, or making a change in our lives. We’d rather go through life dealing with the same shit every day, knowing how much we detest it instead of making a change. It’s familiar, comfortable even though it’s harmful. I had an opportunity to become a ship’s diver, a 6 week course with a 60% failure rate. As it got closer to the course I was scared shitless! I heard so many stories of so many failures that I almost pulled out. To this day I’m glad I didn’t. I became a member of an elite team and also had the opportunity to become  a full time commercial diver. I finished first in my class. Now, if I did pull out I would never have had the opportunity to learn these things about myself.

The other voice

Listen to the voice that tells you what you need to do to achieve your goals. Listen to that voice that says to get out of bed even though it’s cold and miserable outside. Surround yourself with positive people who encourage you to do these things that make you grow as a person. You will become a passive influencer. Become that roll model for younger people. We need more of those. Too many people of lesser quality are influencing our younger generations. No longer is the message to push yourself hard, to do great things with your life, to strive to achieve that huge goal. Instead they are learning that money is everything no matter what the cost. Shallowness rules the social media networks.

Become someone you want to be and let that rub off onto others. It’s awesome to do that and give back what you got. Be that person you need, or needed in your life for someone else.

Lastly

I didn’t think this post was going to be this long. I only meant it to be a post about helping you with this time of year but if it helps you get that kick in the ass you need than it was worth it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Savin’ the world from Solomon Grundy

I’m probably guilty of it just as much as anyone else. I try to incorporate exercises that work parts of our body that we neglect but I too sometimes forget about the lower back. I’d think it’s a safe bet to say most of us don’t exercise our lower back. When was the last time you did supermans? That long ago eh.

To carry on, …, and keep goin’

 

I’m probably guilty of it just as much as anyone else. I try to incorporate exercises that work parts of our body that we neglect but I too sometimes forget about the lower back. I’d think it’s a safe bet to say most of us don’t exercise our lower back. When was the last time you did supermans? That long ago eh.

And I’m also going to say if you did them you probably did them incorrectly. Some of us when we exercise want to go full in, are not happy with small subtle movements. That’s primarily the problem when people do supermans, they want to put too much into it that they end up not even building the muscles they are trying to build. Let me explain.

What

Supermans is an exercise that everyone should be doing. Supermans targets the erector spinae, a group of muscles that extend from the base of the skull to the sacrum. Sitting a lot? Having back issues once in a while? Posture not that great? Been neglecting the lower back? Then supermans is what you need. A strong core is not only the abs, but also the back.

How

I think we know the exercise supermans. It’s done how it sounds. Lay on the floor and project your body just like superman flying about, arms, legs out like you are flying ready to save the world! Right? Not really. It’s more sublime than that unless you have been doing them for a long time and have mastered not letting your body engage your glutes because that’s what the body wants to do. That’s the hard part, easing into it so the glutes don’t end up taking over.

Easy

But who doesn’t want to look cool, arms out in front, legs up off of the ground. The problem is when you put your core into a situation where there is a large load, muscles kick in to help you support that load. Muscles such as the glutes, and abdominals. But we want to work the lower back, not these muscles. And being honest with you, the way I want you to do them actually looks quite silly. But, it’s a great way to learn how to engage your lower back and not the glutes.

Here we go. Laying on your stomach, I want you to put your hands under your chin. Now, staying really relaxed, concentrating on your lower back, with your hands under you chin, touching your chin, raise your head up from the floor about 2 to 4 inches. Do it slowly constantly thinking of your lower back doing the work, not your glutes. Hold for about 30 seconds to a minute. Relax for about a minute then repeat, relax again and repeat again. Did it work? Did your lower back do the work and told your glutes to eff off? No? Then try again. Actively think of the lower back engaging and actively think of the glutes staying relaxed. It takes time so keep trying and don’t give up. You will get there.

That’s it! It’s that simple!

Ok, not really. It’s hard to get your lower back to do the work and stop your stupid glutes from wanting to take over. But doing it this way keeps the load light and makes it easier to do the exercise properly. Once you get really good at this you can then actually do the exercise while looking like a proper superman, or superwoman, superman’s cousin.

Finally

You’ll hate doing it this way, looking all silly and stuff. I know, believe me. Whenever I have my class do this exercise I have to tell them over and over to keep their feet on the ground, and the looks I get, man lasers burning holes in me. Everyone wants to jut their arms out in front, get their feet up off of the ground but you can’t do it this way. When I see this I know everyone just engaged their glutes and their lower backs aren’t doing anything.

So don’t do that. You’re not benefiting by doing the exercise incorrectly.

Be a real superman, or superwoman and build that lower back properly!

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

 

 

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

 

Some are born to sweet delight, Some are born to endless night.

And when this we rightly know

Thro’ the World we safely go.

How can you be better if you choose not to listen to someone you trust? People read blog posts, they listen to their expert friend, they hear something on the radio, as they listen to their morning show on their way to work. The 15 second sound bite followed by humorous banter. And it’s all that much better when they are the echo chamber.

I think this is the first post where I am providing my perspective. The perspective of a personal trainer. Someone who is on the other side of the workout. I’ve officially have been training people for 4 years, unofficially for about 8 years. I’ve read thousands of articles by professionals in the field. I’ve read thousands of articles from medical experts. Articles that have been peered reviewed and also articles that are non-industry funded.

Yet I find people constantly look at themselves as the expert when it comes to what is best for them when they are working out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going through a phase of self pity. I’m not the only one who feels this way.

This mainly happens with the martial arts and combat fitness classes I teach. It’s pretty normal to have people come to these classes, make some initial gains, then plateau. I want to help them. That’s in my nature. I want them to continue to progress but when suggestions are made they are ignored, or met with excuses.

Sometimes I think people think I just stand there and bark out orders, oblivious to what they are doing. I watch everything. I see every time the knee going down after 20 seconds of mountain climbers just like it did a month ago. I see the pause taken when the legs come back in on a burpee, the pause before the jump from the squat. The same pause you’ve been taking over the last two months.

I don’t call you out but instead I mention to the class how to do the exercise focusing on what you are doing incorrectly. You know, something such as ‘You should see an improvement from 4 weeks ago. If you paused when doing mountain climbers at 20 seconds a month ago you shouldn’t be pausing now till about 40 seconds’.

Some of the reasons I hear are interesting. ‘I can’t do this because I’ll fall over’, ‘I can’t move that way’, ‘I’m tired’. ‘I read that I shouldn’t do it this hard’.

It’s human nature isn’t it. It’s tough to push yourself and not everyone wants to. But why are you paying money for this? Why are you paying money to not listen to an expert? Save your money, go to a gym and do what you want there. You won’t have to listen to someone telling you how to exercise and you can then do what YOU want.

Will you get the same results then if you listened to your trainer? No, of course not. But that doesn’t seem to matter to you anyway.

 

Life is not easy. It’s full of adversity. Understand that and change your thinking. You’ll be better for it. Or don’t and keep being the same person you don’t want to be.

Yours in health,

Darryl

And I tread a troubled track

My odds are stacked…

Primary movers. The muscles we primarily work, and think about when doing a particular exercise. For example, when doing leg squats, we are thinking about our legs, our quads. Same when doing push ups, we are concentrating, or maybe thinking of other things, of working our chest muscles.That’s pretty normal. But, we should realize that there are other muscles at work when doing any exercise. These muscles are the secondary muscles involved in the exercise. It’s good to be aware of this because it can help you.

This is one of the reasons why I’m a proponent of full body exercising and an opponent of exercises that isolate muscles. Let me be clear, I don’t oppose all isolation exercises. Some isolation exercises will involve secondary muscles but some isolation exercises totally isolate a muscle. Look at the preacher curl, or the seated leg press for example. You are leg pressing weight while seated, removing your core muscles from the exercise. How often do we use our legs without using our core? Probably never. So why would we exercise our legs removing our core from the exercise? Personally I think it’s out of fear. People can be intimidated by the squat rack. Or afraid of losing control while doing the exercise. So people then go to the seated leg press to work their legs, and then end up injuring their back while doing something trivial. Why? Because the core muscles have not been built up along with their legs. They still have a weak core. And speaking of core, let’s remember that the core is not only the abs. They are your muscles from the neck down to the knees. All muscles; back, abs, etc.

I often see people put their hands on their knees when doing alternating leg lunges. They just removed their core from the exercise and passed on the opportunity to build their core along with their legs. When doing pushups, often people will let their middle drop. The hips sink below the line from their shoulder to their heal. By not focusing on their core along with their chest, they lost the opportunity to build their core.

Let’s go back to isolation vs full body. How many times in our day to day do we do something where the muscles are isolated? Not too often. Full body exercises, engaging the primary movers AND secondary muscles (stabilizers) help us in our day to day by strengthening the muscles that are involved when lifting something heavy, or doing something of a lengthy duration, such as a long strenuous hike.

Lastly

Remember, train hard but train smart. Training smart will result in benefits sooner, and will result in more benefits. If you are going to take an hour out of your day to exercise, make that hour count. Maximize it and get the most out of it. You are the one who benefits so why wouldn’t you do this?

And lastly, I don’t know how many posts remain in the future. I’m coming up to 4 years of writing this blog. I’m actually surprised that I have written as many posts as I have.

My goal in doing this was to help people. I don’t think it’s working though as you need people to read your blog to benefit from it. Sometimes it feels like I’m yelling into a canyon, my voice travelling far out there, but no one to hear it. Comments are comprised of spam, and nothing more.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

We have a remedy You’ll appreciate

No need to feel so bad…

 

It’s been a while, hasn’t it. I’ve been busy with work, and I officially no longer have a night free during the week as I am now a student of Para Bellum MMA and my free night is now occupied grappling. That’s ok though as it makes me a better teacher and it helps me to be a better martial artist over all.

But that’s me. Lets get onto today’s topic. You.

We are almost at the end of the 1st quarter of the year of 2018. How are you doing? Are you meeting your goals? I hope so. If you are on track, meeting your goals and happy with your performance than you can stop here as there is no longer any need to read any further. And congrats! If you have been having a hard time then continue reading.

During teaching today’s combative fitness class to get my students to work even harder I reminded them that it’s hard work that gets results. Absolutely you also need to be following proper technique, resting, eating well but if you are not working hard then don’t expect gains. That’s it. It’s not as complicated as people want you to think, or make you think they have the ‘secret’ so they can get your hard earned dollars.

The fundamentals of working out have been around for a long time. They get re-branded and books,dvd’s, subscriptions get sold.  People pay the bucks and then they fail. For the most part I don’t think they mean to fail, but they do. The good intentions are there but they are missing the knowledge that ultimately there is no magic pill, there is no panacea. Maintaining a strong cardio base requires hard work. Maintaining strength requires hard work. Becoming a strong striker requires hard work. Becoming a better grappler requires hard work. Just like mastering a musical instrument requires hard work and dedication so does fitness. A famous martial artist one said: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”. Hard work, dedication will usually end in results.

We are almost at the end of the 1st quarter of the year of 2018.

Are you working hard?

Yours in health,

Darryl