Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday morning motivation

Monday Monday, so good to me,
Monday Monday, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Monday morning, Monday morning couldn't guarantee
That Monday evening you would still be here with me.

Here is a video of the Mamas and the Papas performing this great song (email readers need to navigate directly to the blog for the video)

Your attitude will set the tone for the hour, the day, the week. Wake up on Monday morning excited, energized and positive.

 If you are doing something that prevents this, change it. 

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." - John Wooden

"You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good." - Jerry West

"Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines." - Leroy Paige

"Being a winner is more than getting a first place trophy, it is acting like the effort was an honour and the trophy is just a decoration." - Bryan Moseley

"I learned that the only way you are going to get anywhere in life is to work hard at it. Whether you're a musician, a writer, an athlete or a businessman, there is no getting around it. If you do, you'll win--if you don't, you won't." - Bruce Jenner, Olympic Gold Medalist, Decathlon

"You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, rest when you know that it was a one hundred percent effort that you gave - win or lose." - Gordie Howe

"I learned that if you want to make it bad enough, no matter how bad it is, you can make it." - Gale Sawers

"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will." - Vincent T. Lombardi

"The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self improvement, about being better than you were the day before." - Steve Young

"If you don't invest very much, then defeat doesn't hurt very much and winning is not very exciting." - Dick Vermeil

"Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it." - Stan Smith

"The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination." - Tommy Lasorda

Monday, Monday, so good to me. 
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fat Loss

Posted by PicasaA friend of mine said to me "It's easy for you to lose body fat".  She was serious.

I want to publicly state for the record, that I never said it was easy to lose all your body fat. I am sorry if I ever implied it was easy or if I ever gave anyone the impression that it was no big deal.

It's hard as hell.

It's probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done. But I have done it many times and I am always successful. This doesn't mean it is easy though.

Anyone can lose body fat and get down to a ridiculously low figure, in the picture above I am fairly low, it's a week before a competition so I am about 6%. I am at the gym practicing my posing and laughing as one of the other members cracks a joke.

It takes will power, determination, patience and the desire to win. It also takes a huge amount of support from the people around you.

It means being hungry. That's hard, people don't deal with hunger very well. A lot of it is psychological, I mean, we are really an over fed nation, but we are greedy and want it all.

It means not partaking of meals with friends and family, you bring your own and are happy with it or you isolate yourself.

It means not having a great deal of energy at times, depending on where you are in your diet. You just want to give up.

It means learning to not be a whiner. No one likes to listen to you complain about your damn diet!  You chose to do this, so do it and shut up! (special dispensation is allowed for fellow competitors in the same boat, sometimes we need to chat each other to make it through the day).

But you can do it, anyone can. I don't want anyone to fail because I made them think it was easy. It's one of the hardest things you will ever accomplish.

Take the journey with me, follow along and you will experience my hills and valleys along the way.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Compliments and Cars

I was driving to work Tueday and as I pulled off the freeway, a Valley Transit Authority bus pulled up next to the passenger side of my  car.

He slid his window open and popped his head out, and with a big grin said "And the car is pretty nice too!"

That made me laugh out loud, I smiled, waved, and zoomed away when the light turned green.

There really is something magical about a blond in a red convertible BMW, not quite sure what, but it is there.

The bus driver made my day. He didn't have to pull aside, open his window, stick his head out and shout down to me, but he did and I loved every single minute of it.

Then later that morning I was helping with a project for another department, and we were setting up tables. A fellow I didn't know stopped and looked at me and said "you know, you are in really good shape! I just want you to know that".

Yes, I know that but I still like to hear it.

I thanked him and told him that I work very hard at it.

I think we all forget how much a compliment like that can do for us. On a day when we are upbeat it just makes the day all that much brighter, but on a day when we are feeling down, it can change our whole outlook on life.

It may even determine if we keep going.

If you see someone working hard at the gym, struggling with their diet, or looking great- give them a compliment, tell them it is obvious how hard they have worked, it shows! Tell them you admire their tenacity, tell them they are doing a good job.

You will feel better about yourself too.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Cleaning up the diet

Posted by PicasaI started my "diet" on Monday, here I am on Tuesday. I am at 127 pounds and in my opinion, not carrying a great deal of fat. As you can see, my stomach is where it all is, and I have no problems with my hips or thighs, its all right there in the tummy.

I have to lose body fat for a May 7 competition.

I compete anywhere from 118 to 120 pounds, it all depends on how much lean body mass I have. I really worked hard this past winter to add muscle and keep off the fat, I think I did a really good job, but it won't really be evident until I drop down to about 4% body fat, where I get at competition time.

I get unusually low body fat, and yes, it has been verified with calipers and hydrostatic testing.
I have some friends who have gained quite a bit. They will have a harder time losing it. There was a time the school of thought was to "bulk up" and pack on all you can. Some people still hold on to this, but many have proven that you can successfully add mass and not a great deal of fat if you eat properly.

To gain muscle you need to ingest more calories than you expend. That's how you gain fat too. So how do you ensure you gain muscle and not a great deal of fat? You eat the right foods, not a bunch of crap. You also need to figure out how many calories you are expending and then eat more, don't just guess and keep loading up your plate!

Typically a competitor will start their diet 12 weeks out, that gives them time to slowly lose the fat at a safe rate to keep the skin tight and elastic and maintain muscle. Lose too fast and your skin gets saggy and loose, and the muscle drops off with the fat.

I am starting a bit early because I will be in Mexico on vacation for a week, and I am not sure if it will totally trash my preparation or not. I certainly don't plan to diet on vacation, but I will eat healthy as I do year round anyway.

I figure if I start a bit early, maybe vacation won't set me back too far.

So what do I mean by "cleaning up my diet"?

I stick to a good, clean diet year round. When I am not purposely eating to lose body fat (what most competitors like to refer to as the off-season. I don't care for that term, makes me think of a dog in heat), I will eat some things that I wouldn't normally, but not many.

For instance, when my son and husband have ribs, I will have a couple bites. When they are eating chips I might snag a couple as I walk by. I will eat bagels after training, and sandwiches occasionally.

I will eat some fruit, and a glass of wine on weekends.

But now, I won't do any of that. I will stop snagging bites and won't drink any alcohol. Bye bye fruit and bread.

I will adhere to my regular diet and portions, so it's the same thing basically without all the snacks in between. And that will make me drop body fat fairly quickly.

I will start doing a bit more cardio, but never much. For instance, today I walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes, it was all the time I had. If I can drop the fat without a lot of extra cardio, I will.

I still run my stairs and jump rope at lunch, but that is only 20 minutes and is necessary for my sanity, it's about the only time I get out of the office!

I will keep you posted with progress, you can count on me to have more pictures!
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Want to be a Bodybuilder part 3 and REAL part 2

Two more videos, so if you subscribe via email you need to navigate to the blog to see these.

I really need to be more observant. I posted "I want to be a bodybuilder" parts 1 and 2 yesterday, but part 2 wasn't by the same creator of part 1. I did notice it wasn't quite as funny.

So, I must now post part 2, by the creator 407muscle

Part 2

I must add my own personal funny note to this. When I first started competing, I did what I suppose everyone does, I listened to all the seasoned veterans, I read all the forums, I asked everyone everything I possible could.

The hair part can be pretty darn funny.

The idea is you lose all your body fat, you rid your body of all hair (except head) and if you are a male, perhaps facial hair- women on steroids will need to shave their facial hair......

You get a really dark tan painted on and basically you are a sleek, dark, hard muscle. It looks pretty damn awesome (at first).

So I decided all the hair had to go. Every last bit, except the long, flowing tresses on my head.

I had a complete body wax. Talk about pain! It was right up there with natural childbirth, and just about as messy too.

Have you ever tucked your ankle up behind your head? Yup, gotta do it to get every last bit of hair, not fun.

It was an aha moment when, after all the pain I took some time to think about the fact that not only am I a natural competitor (no drugs), I am a natural blond. This means that all of that hair I paid a fortune to have ripped off my body with hot wax and muslin is soft, white and downy. What an idiot.

Now, it's the razor for me. If I can reach it, off it goes, and if I can't, well, you probably cannot tell anyway. They do call me Kristy "contortionist" Wilce now though!

Part 3

Is there truth to this one too? Heck yes! I get comments because I grunt quite a bit, in fact I am told I can be heard in other rooms, but that may be because I lift heavy weights!

I have been "chastised" for my choice of clothing, and people comment on my food. My gym actually has a liquor license, and they have cocktail parties and wine tastings!

The part about getting very tired near the end is oh so true. You get tired as your body doesn't have enough fuel, yet you have to keep pushing and training. You all get emotionally fatigued as the date gets closer and closer.

Some people handle it well, they get into a zone. Others? They whine and complain and make everyone around them miserable.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I want to be a Bodybuilder

I want to be a Bodybuilder. Well, not really but this is funny. (Email readers will need to navigate directly to the blog to see these videos).

If you are a Bodybuilder or Figure competitor, no doubt you have seen this, it has been all over Facebook for weeks. But, there are some folks who don't get sucked into the social media websites and who may not be Bodybuilders or Figure competitors.

These two videos are so accurate it is hysterical. The person who created them is either a Bodybuilder or lives with one.

Are there any inaccuracies? A few, for instance, posing trunks may only cost $50.00 but a custom suit for a Figure competitor starts about $350.00 and goes way, way up. I have one, some people get a new one each show (yeah, I know, I just don't have the money to burn like that).

The suit I am wearing in the picture above? $380.00 and then, I decided I didn't like the first bottom that I had made, so  had a smaller one made and that set me back $160.00.

These are not swim suits, they are custom made to fit you very tightly, and show off your physique. The material is velvet with sparkles in the fabric, and then rhinestones set into the fabric, those stones don't pop off, and if they do, the person who made the suit shouldn't be in business.

I can pose in a swim suit and look like a different person in my competition suit, it does wonders!

The farting from the egg whites, ummm I don't believe I experience that.

This is even accurate about the $100.00 fee to the National Physique Committee (or other similar organization) just to be a member who can pay to enter a competition. Here is a picture of my 2011 membership envelope, just about ready to be mailed in.

The cost to do all this is crazy, and sometimes I wonder why I do it. Now, I realize, that I will never be a model, or a supplement spokesperson, or famous. That's not what motivates me, hell I am going to be 50 years old in April, I am thrilled just to look the way I do.

There are some women I know who do think they will be discovered doing this and then become famous, and I support them 100%, but it is like the poor kid from the projects who dreams of becoming an NBA star, it just doesn't happen to that many people.

For most of us, it is a hobby, and like most hobbies, it gets expensive.

This also brings up a lot of good points about the bad part of competing. You cannot go out and enjoy restaurant foods, you do have to go to bed early, get up early to train, or train late.

Pack your food everywhere you go, limit your foods at times to a very few things.

Pay $150.00 for a spray tan that turns you very dark for one day, pose nearly naked on stage (this doesn't bother me, or most people with a great physique though), stand around backstage and hours for hours and what do you get?

A plastic trophy..

But there are so many rewards, and that will definitely be another post!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ground Turkey Breast

Posted by Picasa I found this at Smart and Final. I have never seen EXTRA lean ground turkey breast!

Now, to most people this isn't a big deal, but to someone like me, who is just starting to diet for a Figure competition, this is a fantastic treat!

There is a huge difference between losing weight and losing body fat. I never want to lose weight, I only ever lose body fat.

When you lose weight, all you do is drastically cut calories, do way too much cardio, and you become smaller.

A "mini me"

So, if you have ugly saddlebags now, you will still have them when you lose weight, but they will just be smaller. (I guess this is a whole other post).

When dieting down to lose all your excess body fat, you retain the lean body mass and lose the fat only, so those saddle bags? Gone, like magic.

The trick is eating the right foods. And one of the "must do's" is limiting your fat intake. I didn't say eliminate, I said limit. You still need some "good fats" (and I suppose this is yet another post).

Fat has more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrate. It's really easy to be fooled by labels, so you need to learn to read them.

For instance, many people think "ground turkey" is fine. Well, it is not. Ground turkey is loaded with skin and fat. very, very bad, might as well eat a nice tasty piece of beef.

Ground turkey BREAST is what you want. But it comes in different fat percentages, just like ground beef does.

Usually I can find 93% fat free, but this is 99% !!!

You cannot always count on the label to give you the low down though, you need to know how to figure it out for yourself. Here is how:

Look at the label for the grams of fat and the calories. In the instance of this turkey, the fat grams are 1.5 grams and the calories are 120. Figure out the percentage:

Grams of fat x 9 = fat calories

divide by Total calories= % Fat

1.5x 9 = 13.50 fat calories
divided by 120 total calories = .11% fat

Ideally you want to eat foods that are 10% or less fat.

What did I do with my extra lean ground turkey? I made chorizo, and then sauteed it and mixed it with egg whites and spinach. Yum!

In a bog bowl combine (hands work great) the 20 ounce package of turkey, 2 Tbsps chili powder, 2 Tbsps chipotle powder, 3 Tbsp white vinegar, 1 Tbsp oregano crumbled, pepper and 3 cloves garlic crushed.

This is not science, use more or less, all one kind of chili, use garlic powder instead of salt. I then formed it into patties and froze them, except for the 2 ounces I had with my egg whites and spinach.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday morning motivation

Why do we do what we do? What makes us tick?

I know that I am successful because I always push myself hard, harder than most people. I need to feel that I am making a difference. But am I making a difference in the world or just in MY world?

I think that I am making a difference, the world needs people who strive to push the envelope, people who make us all sit back and gasp, people who make us wonder if WE need to do something!

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.
Vince Lombardi 

Some people say I have attitude - maybe I do...but I think you have to. You have to believe in yourself when no one else does - that makes you a winner right there.
Venus Williams 

Everyone has the desire to win, but only champions have the desire to prepare. 
Author Unknown

Success isn't permanent and failure isn't fatal. 
Mike Ditka

If you believe in yourself, have dedication and pride and never quit, you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards.
Paul "Bear" Bryant

Show me a man who never failed and I'll show you a man who never tried anything hard enough.
Allen Waimsley

Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is aimless. Vision with action will achieve.  
Author Unknown

Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.  
Author Unknown

If not you, who? If not now, when? 

Garry Herbert

It's Monday, treat it like royalty. We are all lucky to have the chance to wake up to a new day, to do what we want, to do the right thing. 

Tackle the day, make a difference, feel good about yourself. You are a champion.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oh Happy Day....Glute Ham Raise

Oh Happy day! Oh Happy Day! When Jesus washed, oh when he washed, he washed my sins away....

Don't worry, this post is exercise related.

Do you remember that song by the Edwin Hawkins Singers? This song makes me feel oh, so alive! Here is a fantastic version:

(Email readers- there are two videos so you must navigate directly to the blog to view them.)

So what am I so excited about?

A Glute Ham Raise also known as  GHR.

My gym got one on Friday night, I have been asking for it for three years now. I came in Saturday and something was different in the weight room. A new leg press, looked nice, but not the hack squat I had asked for (it's all about me, see?). I looked further, and there it was, in all it's glory taking up a huge footprint in the very back room.

Most commercial gyms don't have one of these, they are found in professional athletic facilities, colleges and hard core gyms, ones that allow chalk and grunting!

But Courtside just got one and it is all mine....(because I doubt anyone else knows what to do with the thing).

So what the heck is GHR? What is it for?

It helped developed this wonderful butt of mine, it is the best piece of equipment available for your posterior chain: lower back, glutes, hamstrings, calves.

It's also one of the toughest workouts you will ever mess with. I am a little scared about what I shall feel like tomorrow, I haven't been on one of these in about 9 months, since I was training with SC, and we had quite a long session Saturday morning.

Here is a short video that shows a few variations of exercises that can be done on the GHR.

My training has just taken on a whole new life....I am so excited, I cannot wait to use the GHR every week, the bands are killer, I have done those, and SC taught me several variations, sometimes my entire body would be shaking as I stepped out of the machine.

He used to laugh and laugh and laugh, it was always a great source of entertainment.

If your gym doesn't have one, ask for it!
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Curried Chicken and Cauliflower Soup

This recipe is from the January issue of Clean Eating magazine. I enjoyed it quite a bit! 

I added more curry than the recipe called for, I seem to like things spicier than the average person.

I am a sucker for coconut milk and will make just about any recipe with that as an ingredient. I have never purchased the full fat version, there is no need to, the lite is just fine. 

Even then, it does have a large number of calories but this uses just a small amount. Not wanting to open a can and then throw everything but a couple tablespoons away, I decided to get an ice cube tray and fill it up with coconut milk! Each cube is 1 tablespoon. I froze them then popped them out and filled up a zip lock bag. I was actually quite surprised at how much flavor just a small amount adds to a dish. I will try this trick with other soups, especially since I have a bag full of frozen coconut cubes!

This serves 6 (makes 8 cups)

Total time is 25 minutes, a real quick dish.


  • 1/6 cup Coconut Milk, Light
  • 12 oz Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
  • 4 cups Cauliflower,raw
  • 1 cup Red Bell Peppers
  • 9 oz Potato
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth-fat Free, Low Sodium
  • 4 tsp Spicy Curry Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • Plain fat free Greek yogurt


In a 4 qt pot heat coconut milk over medium heat, do not let it boil. Add cubed chicken breast and curry powder. Cook for about 6 minutes until lightly golden. Add cauliflower, bell pepper, potato and broth, cook on medium high until it boils. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.

When cauliflower and potatoes are tender, uncover & simmer for 1-3 minutes to thicken slightly. Season with black pepper,

Spoon into soup bowls, top with green onion and cilantro cilantro. Finish with 1/4 c nonfat plain Greek yogurt.

One serving is 1 1/2 cups soup and 1/4 cup yogurt

Calories: 186
Total Fat 4 grams
Saturated Fat 2 grams
Carbs 15 grams
Fiber 3.5 grams
Sugars 3 grams
Protein 24 grams
Sodium 131 mg
Cholesterol 33 mg
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Friday, January 21, 2011

I Just Wanna Tone

What do you like to do in the gym? I am always stunned by people who say "I don't want to get really big and muscular".

Do you know how hard it is to get muscular? How hard you have to push yourself just to add some lean mass to your frame? How strict you need to be with your nutrition to add the lean mass and not the fat?

Seriously, most people cannot get big and muscular even when they try! You must eat lots of food, (the proper food), and lift heavy weights, over and over and over.

Women really drive me nuts when they say they want to "tone". I hate that phrase "I just want to tone".

There is no such thing as "toning", you need to build up lean muscle, period. Actually, I think Wikipedia does a great job describing "toning", they explain you need a combination of weights and cardio to "tone".

You can lift those itty bitty weights and burn through your cardio, but you aren't "toning" you are simply ensuring that you are a smaller version of your current self. Little weights won't produce hypertrophy, and that's what you need!

skinny=unhealthy and unattractive 

muscles=healthy and beautiful

Below is a funny video that is a bit critical of people who want "to tone" and are afraid they may "get too muscular" by lifting weights....(email readers must navigate directly to my blog).

I would love to have a gym like this near my home, I would be in there every single day! Actually, I am thinking of retiring in the not too distant future, and this is what I want to do with my time, open a gym just like this!

Not only would I toss people like this out in the snow, but along with them, perfume wearers, gum smackers and people who don't wash their workout gear and wear the same gym clothes every single day!

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cookie Gilchrist

I am astounded by how people idolize our athletes, especially football, basketball and baseball players. In my opinion, most don't deserve the status they are awarded. They are just exceptional athletes, nothing more.

There are some athletes that do contribute more to the world than their athletic prowess, and often we are not aware of the impact they have had, either directly or indirectly.

Cookie Gilchrist, a bruising fullback who as one of the American Football League's first star players helped lead the Buffalo Bills to a championship in 1964, died of cancer on Monday, January 10 at the age of 75.
What many people don't know about Cookie, is he was huge player in the desegregation of New Orleans.

For all his on-field accomplishments, Gilchrist should perhaps be best remembered for his role in the boycott of the A.F.L. All-Star Game after the 1964 season, originally scheduled for Tulane Stadium in still-segregated New Orleans.

The Hall of Fame offensive tackle Ron Mix explained: “The black players were having a hard time getting cabs from the airport. Cab drivers wouldn’t pick them up. Then, when they went out to try and get food, they were turned away from all the restaurants.” (Ken Rappoport, “The Little League that Could: A History of the American Football League).

All 21 black players who were scheduled to play in the game met at the Roosevelt Hotel. These were some of the biggest names in football at that time, including Bobby Bell, Willie Brown, Winston Hill, Clem Daniels and Ernie Ladd. Mix urged them to play the game in New Orleans to bring national attention to the situation, but they refused. “No, it’s gone too far,” Gilchrist said. “We’re not going to play in this town. Time to take a stand.” (Rappoport)

One day later, A.F.L. Commissioner Joe Foss announced that the game would be moved to Jeppesen Stadium in Houston. Mix believes that the boycott helped desegregate New Orleans, paving the way for the N.F.L. to expand there in 1967. “They knew now they weren’t (going) to get an N.F.L. franchise unless they desegregated the city,” Mix was quoted as saying in Rappoport’s book. “That’s what they did. It was desegregated ahead of schedule.”

Cookie was an athlete worthy of his status.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to Eat Flow Chart

I am often asked "what should I do to look like you?", now they don't mean LOOK like me, they mean get nice full muscles with little body fat. I tell them they need to lift weights and eat right, it's the eating right that actually makes or breaks the deal.

You can lift weights for a long time and not look very good. But start eating properly and all of a sudden, a goddess (or god) emerges. It's all about the food, seriously.

I can have a couple glasses of wine and some of the fatty or sugary snacks everyone else is munching on and my body looks different for the next few days. It's not that I gained weight, it's just that putting crappy fuel into my system makes my engine miss and look like, well, crap.

Just like a database: Garbage in, Garbage out.

To expect your body to look healthy, tight, vibrant and strong without providing it with the necessary nutrients, and/or expecting it to function on inferior nutrition is ridiculous and you won't ever succeed.

So just what should you eat to look like me?

My friend posted this on facebook the other day and it really sums it up.

Darya Pino of Summer Tomato prepared this terrific flow chart to help navigate the supermarket.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Music and Sex



I cannot train without my iPod, I literally cannot function. I change my music at least once a week, moving songs around, adding some new ones, just mixing it up sort of like my training.

I read this article the other day and now I understand why I need my music.
Whether it’s the Beatles or Beethoven, people like music for the same reason they like eating or having sex: It makes the brain release a chemical that gives pleasure, a new study says.

The brain substance is involved both in anticipating a particularly thrilling musical moment and in feeling the rush from it, researchers found.
Previous work had already suggested a role for dopamine, a substance brain cells release to communicate with each other. But the new work, which scanned people’s brains as they listened to music, shows it happening directly.
While dopamine normally helps us feel the pleasure of eating or having sex, it also helps produce euphoria from illegal drugs. It’s active in particular circuits of the brain.

The tie to dopamine helps explain why music is so widely popular across cultures, Robert Zatorre and Valorie Salimpoor of McGill University in Montreal write in an article posted online Sunday by the journal Nature Neuroscience.
The study used only instrumental music, showing that voices aren’t necessary to produce the dopamine response, Salimpoor said. It will take further work to study how voices might contribute to the pleasure effect, she said.

The researchers described brain-scanning experiments with eight volunteers who were chosen because they reliably felt chills from particular moments in some favorite pieces of music. That characteristic let the experimenters study how the brain handles both anticipation and arrival of a musical rush.
Results suggested that people who enjoy music but don’t feel chills are also experiencing dopamine’s effects, Zatorre said.

PET scans showed the participants’ brains pumped out more dopamine in a region called the striatum when listening to favorite pieces of music than when hearing other pieces. Functional MRI scans showed where and when those releases happened.

Dopamine surged in one part of the striatum during the 15 seconds leading up to a thrilling moment, and a different part when that musical highlight finally arrived.

Zatorre said that makes sense: The area linked to anticipation connects with parts of the brain involved with making predictions and responding to the environment, while the area reacting to the peak moment itself is linked to the brain’s limbic system, which is involved in emotion.

The study volunteers chose a wide range of music — from classical and jazz to punk, tango and even bagpipes. The most popular were Barber’s Adagio for Strings, the second movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Debussy’s Claire de Lune.

Since they already knew the musical pieces they listened to, it wasn’t possible to tell whether the anticipation reaction came from memory or the natural feel people develop for how music unfolds, Zatorre said. That question is under study, too.

Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, an expert on music and the brain at Harvard Medical School, called the study “remarkable” for the combination of techniques it used.

While experts had indirect indications that music taps into the dopamine system, he said, the new work “really nails it.”

Music isn’t the only cultural experience that affects the brain’s reward circuitry. Other researchers recently showed a link when people studied artwork.
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Halibut Soup

Posted by PicasaI love soup! I made this and enjoyed it quite a bit. It is an adaptation from a recipe from my cookbook "Gourmet Nutrition" by Dr. John Berardi.

I love his recipe but didn't have all the ingredients and I rarely run to the store for something when a craving hits, I just make due with what I have.

So how did I make this?

I first started out by hitting the fish market on the way home from work for some halibut, one of my favorites. Then I went home and looked in the fridge to see what jumped out at me.

I sauteed some chopped onion in coconut oil, then added garlic, smoked Spanish paprika and a few tablespoons chicken broth.

I added a few cups more chicken broth and an 1/8 cup quinoa and then simmered about 10 minutes, until the quinoa was cooked.

I added some chopped carrots, some peas and lots of chopped dried kelp. The kelp is a fantastic flavor! Then I let is simmer about 5 minutes.

I sauteed my halibut in a separate pan until just cooked through and then poured the soup into a huge bowl, pulled the fish apart into large chunks and added it to the soup.

Soup is so easy to make, by using some strong flavored ingredients such as onions, garlic and paprika, you are guaranteed a great broth.

The peas and quinoa serve as the starch, get used to eating your soups without bread!

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Athlete's Biological Passport

This is a very interesting article I received from AST Sports Science. I am anti-drug, and I especially despise it in competitive sports, it's cheating. I work hard to get where I am and I don't want to compete against a pharmacy, and unfortunately, in many cases, I am doing just that.

As SC once told me "drugs" work!, any idiot can succeed with them"

The Athlete’s Bio-Passport is Here: Drug cheats beware!

 By Paul Cribb Ph.D. CSCS

Competitive athletes take note, testing for banned substances has reached an entirely new level. Late last year the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a document describing the long-awaited "athlete’s biological passport" – a new dimension in drug detection.

Under usual testing procedures, an athlete would provide a urine or blood sample for the direct detection of selected banned substances. However, with the athlete’s biological passport the entire composition of an athlete's blood is under scrutiny for illegal doping, even if no substance is found.

The fundamental principle of the Athlete Biological Passport is based on the monitoring of selected biological variables which indirectly reveal the effects of doping.

Under the guidelines approved by WADA, an athlete provides a series of samples which become a biological ‘fingerprint’ for that individual. Regular updated records of blood measurements for each athlete are obtained, compared and contrasted throughout their entire career.

Biological monitoring throughout an athlete’s sporting career should make any prohibited preparation much harder to implement.

The athlete’s biological passport was first suggested in 2002 and is already being piloted by several major sports federations. The International Cycling Union (UCI) has been piloting biological passports for the past two years on 840 cyclists in Italy and Spain. The UCI has already found five athletes whose passports have been deemed suspicious and are awaiting a doping verdict in coming months.

This method is already used by the International Skating Union (ISU) and has resulted in a guilty verdict, a first for this kind of monitoring. After some unusual blood-cell readings, German speed skater Claudia Pechstein has been banned from competing for two years – a very important legal precedent.

The ISU detected spikes in the proportion of Pechstein's blood cells that were reticulocytes, young red blood cells recently released from bone marrow. Normally, about 1% are reticulocytes, but the proportion climbs to 3% following doping with substances such as erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that promotes the development of new red cells.

The ISU accused Pechstein of illegally enriching her blood. Pechstein claimed the abnormal counts were because of a blood disease, and appealed the decision.

There are natural causes for altered reticulocyte count, such as anaemia. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world authority for adjudication on doping cases, ruled in favour of the ISU, rejecting Pechstein's claim that she had a blood condition after a haematologist (selected by the athlete) was unable to find any signs of disease.

How do you assess blood doping?

Heamatocrit is the proportion of blood volume occupied by red blood cells. Red blood cell count is the number of red blood cells per volume of blood. Changes in these alongside an increase in haemoglobin mass can be indicative of doping.

Other measures such as the mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC), which is a measure of the concentration of haemoglobin, can be used to reflect and support these changes in red blood cell count and heamatocrit.

Normally the proportion of reticulocytes in adult blood is about 1% of all red cells. However, use of erythropoietin (EPO – an illegal substance) will characteristically boost this to 3 or 4%.

WADA is hoping for widespread adoption of these biological passports because they have the ability to detect signs of doping without identifying specific substances, which can be elusive. They might also detect doping that doesn't involve illegal substances but produces measurable effects on the body, such as blood transfusions or even gene doping. It may never replace the assessment of banned substances. However, one pertinent aspect, is that every reading is retained, the bio-passport never forgets.
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Interesting Health Facts

90 percent of back problems can be solved through physical therapy and lifestyle changes instead of with surgery.
~ American Association of Neurological Surgeons

You need to perform 420 minutes (that's 7 hours for those who may be math challenged) of moderate intensity exercise per week to maintain a healthy body weight without making any changes to your diet.
~ The Journal of the American Medical Association

Dieters had to sleep 8.5 hours a night in order to lose seven pounds (mostly fat) over a two week period. When they slept less, they lost the same amount of weight but mostly in the form of muscle. Te shed fat and keep muscle, get your ZZZ's!

~Annals of Internal Medicine

Being a couch potato may increase your likelihood of catching a cold. A new study from Appalachian State University in North Carolina found that exercise reduces the frequency and severity of colds more than any other lifestyle factor. Participants in the study who exercised five times a week took 43% fewer sick days. And when they did get sick, their symptoms were much milder than their more sedentary peers'. Experts believe that exercise triggers immune cells to temporarily circulate, fighting infection.

See a pattern? Anything you need to start doing? Feel good, get some exercise every single day! Jump rope, walk, play tennis, football, lacrosse (above) or my favorite: lift some heavy weights!
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Friday, January 14, 2011


I am going to Mexico on vacation soon, and the video below was posted on Facebook by the proprietor of the hotel where we stay. It does have some foul language, so be prepared. It's awfully funny though.

Above is a picture of David and Cooper sitting right outside our room,  they were playing chess and looking out at the view. Nice huh?

I do not travel to Puerto Vallarta, in fact, I haven't been there since my son was 3, so that is 13 years ago! It just got too crowded for me, I like a much quieter place, no discos. no lights, and no crowds just off cruise ships.

I travel to a town called Troncones, it is located on the Pacific Coast. We fly into Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa and rent a car, then we drive about 45 minutes north.

It is just almost sunset when we arrive at Hacienda Eden, we stay in the same room every year, so walk directly there. The staff are expecting us, and wave as we walk by, it is a very small place. We will greet Eva the manager with hugs.This is the view from our room.

We drop our bags, kick off our shoes and walk over to the bar and get two margaritas (not sure what Cooper will have this year) and walk out to the beach, sit back on a chaise lounge to wait for the sun to set.

We will probably talk with other guests we know, it's usually about 3/4 the same people every single year. One year we helped rescue and release sea turtles. Sea turtles return to the same beach they were born, to lay their eggs.

My exercise routine will consist of rising every morning by the sun, and I will change into a swimsuit (yes, it's that warm) and run, skip and jump along the water and shoreline. I will do squats, crunches, push ups, plyos. Just be free and active.

About an hour later guests will start wandering out with coffee, I know it's time to go get mine then.

The rest of the time is laying, reading, talking, and swinging in the hammock. I will have a couple 90 minute massages on my patio in the warm breeze. There will be lots of great food at the small restaurants along the beach too.

I look forward to me one week of relaxation very, very much. David does too.

Although I get some activity in, I don't do much and I don't stress about it. One week out of the year is not going to hurt me, I look at it as "de-training" so I can attack the weights with more strength and vigor when I return.

Mexico is safe, there is no need to be afraid, you are missing a wonderful paradise if you skip it!

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stanford Cancer Center

I spent some time today at the Cancer Center at Stanford Hospital. It certainly is a beautiful facility. I mean, it is several stories high, lots of windows and light, they even had a pianist in the lobby and valet parking.

Unfortunately, everyone there is there for one reason, either they, or a loved one has cancer.

My sister and I went with my father to meet with the surgeon who will perform his surgery. We had questions, and he had answers, not necessarily exactly what we wanted to hear each time, but still, answers.

We have gone through this before, with my mother.  There are things you feel proud to be an "expert" at, but cancer is not one of those things.

I looked around the waiting room, scanning the faces of the people. There were old people, middle aged people and some young ones. Cancer does not discriminate, it likes everyone, the rich, the poor, the fit, the not so fit.

No one has control over whether they may be a victim of cancer or not, but we all have control over how we can ensure that we are able to respond well if we do get it. We all have control over our general health, our lives are actually in our own hands.

I started thinking about my health, how I treat my body, how I have grown to value this amazing piece of machinery, that does whatever I ask of it, and hardly complains. What would happen if I no longer had this body? If I were to become ill?  I don't think we think of things like this until we are faced with the possibility. Sometimes it has to smack us right across the cheek before we listen.

Studies have proven that those who exercise regularly don't get sick as often as "regular" folk. I have been told that I have more NK (Natural Killer) cells than the average person, in part because of the amount of exercise I do, and have been doing for many, many years. Because I have more NK cells, I don't get sick, really, ask anyone who knows me.

We should all exercise every single day. We are living beings, not robots and are meant too move and expend energy. No one should ever come home from work and plop down on the sofa, unless of course they work performing physical labor or got a good hour of exercise in before work!

Besides regular, strenuous exercise what else should you do? Don't smoke, even 'just occasionally". I am blown away at how many young people smoke. Can the world be any more in your face about how stupid smoking is? No! Yet I see young people lighting up, they think they look cool? They not only look un-cool, but stupid.

Eat right. You all know what that means. You may not know how to eat to drop all your body fat, like I do for a competition, but that is a whole different world, and frankly, I don't even think it's that healthy!  It certainly isn't a diet you can live with.

You should eat a balanced diet. What the heck IS a balanced diet anyway? It means that you don't go off on some idiotic fad diet that cuts whole food groups out! Potato chips and beer are not food groups by the way...

Eat fruit, nuts, vegetables, grains, lean meats, lean poultry, fish, low fat dairy. The obvious things.

Don't poison your body with drugs and alcohol. I know, an occasional glass of wine is fine, but I am talking about "pickling" yourself. 

You body is amazing, it will serve you well if you treat it right. If you are one of those who should make some changes, do it now before it's too late.

Consider yourself just slapped, across that right cheek. It may sting, but you will remember it for a long time.

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