Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dragon Flags

You may not have heard of Dragon Flags before, but I didn't make them up, I assure, you. SC first taught me these several years ago and as he showed me and then helped me do them, all I could think is he made this crap up!

But I went home and searched on the Internet and discovered, no indeed, they are real and not only real, but probably the most difficult ab exercise you can attempt to do.

Dragon Flags were introduced to us by Bruce Lee and later by Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV. They are also called Bruce Lee sit ups and Rocky sit ups.

You lay on a bench, and grasp the bench behind your neck, and will perform a reverse crunch- sort of. This makes the reverse crunch a piece of cake! You will bring your legs up, keeping them straight and then slowly lower them, again keeping them straight, never  allowing anything but your upper back and shoulders to touch the bench.

I used to be able to do three sets of five, oh maybe two years ago and had completely forgotten about them until the other day. How many can I do now? Two sets of three, and they aren't even straight legged anymore. I will need lots and lots of practice again!

They are a great way to impress people, because when performed properly these are pretty awe inspiring. Every time I do these I always sit up and find someone staring at me with their mouth agape. 

My abs are sore and it's all due to my Dragon Flags. I will be practicing again every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the mornings, those are the nights I train with Roy, so mornings are my own to play with, cardio, stretching, abs and boxing.

Maybe soon I will bring my camera to the gym and get myself on video for you!

Take a look at this fellows video, he does a good job explaining how to start learning and progressing. (Email readers will need to navigate directly to the blog to view the video)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Saturdays Training

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I am back! I am really, honestly not a whiner, but I am sick so infrequently that it just blows me away to wake up feeling...well, sick! I usually bound out of bed like an obnoxious energizer bunny, and it was a week of no bounding, but believe me, I still got up and tried my best. 

There was no hop in this bunny's step.

Saturday I finally felt like my ol' self again. I hadn't missed any training, but the intensity just wasn't there before. I was at the gym at opening as usual.

Warm up by walking a few minutes then lots of stretching, I had all the time in the world and it was leg day, so I needed to warm up a lot. My adductors were still quite sore from Wednesdays quad workout with Roy. 

I hit the hams first, low reps, heavy weight. They need to be trained with as much weight as possible, which means that I cannot possibly do many reps each set. Charles Poliquin once said something like "Show me someone who has huge hams and their training consists of light weight with high reps and I will show you someone who is on steroids".

Hamstrings don't respond with lots of high reps, they need heavy weights.

Seated leg curls
Kneeling leg curls ( I do more reps and sets on the left)
Romanian Deadlifts

I get very excited near the end of the kneeling leg curls, my left is incredibly weaker than the right. So much that it is almost laughable. But I do 8 reps on the left and 6 on the right to help catch it up. The 4th set my left all of a sudden has strength! It is not a struggle! Could it have all of a sudden wised up? I cannot wait until Monday to test it with Roy.

Then the Quads, high reps, lighter weight. (Quads, on the other hand, require high reps).

Back squats (lots of them, I mean like 60)
Front foot elevated split squats

Tom walks in and says "I see you are killin' it as usual!", yes I am back in the game! We chat a bit and he is telling me about a Saturday Night Live repeat episode he and his wife saw the night before, I need to Google it. Something about "a box" (I did, and it was hilarious). I told Cooper, David and Lauren about it at lunch and Cooper almost spit his food out, he had already seen it. 

If you want to see it, feel free to take a look at this link. It's potty humor, I must warn you, but pretty darn funny! How did we get there talking by the squat rack? I have no idea....

I finished with 3 sets of 10 on the Glute Ham Raise. I have to do this at the end, it is just too brutal to do any other time. But I LOVE it!

20 minutes on the stairmill

Boxing in the gym. I walk in and there are many men playing basketball, and several sitting on the bleachers. I count, there are 21 men. 6 have no shirt on, and I can periodically see the bodies of those with shirts on too. Oh I am off topic.

I will go 5 rounds of boxing, 2 minutes on and 1 off. I am practicing more with my left as this is my weaker side, I need to develop the strength. I am sweating, and although I have a headband on to keep my hair out of my face, it's useless, I am a mess. I am wailing on that bag like my life depended on it.

One of the guys stops by as he walks to the water fountain "Good workout huh?" "Yes" I respond, "It's a great workout!"

5 is enough, that is a total of 10 minutes, I will go one more round on Sunday, soon I will be able to go a half hour. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Morning Motivation

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“The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused.”
 Shirley MacLaine

“Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”
 William Saroyan 

"Seven days without laughter make one weak."
~ Joel Goodman

"You grow up on the day you have your first real laugh, at yourself."
~Ethel Barrymore

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures in the doctor's book.
~ Irish Proverb 

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life's realities.”
Theodor Seuss Geisel

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wednesdays Quads

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I was off work, it was the day prior to Thanksgiving and I was meeting Roy earlier than usual, 4:30 pm. It felt odd, like the day went by very, very slowly. Roy changes our training every few weeks, and today would be something new. It was very difficult and I am not sure if it was me that day, or it really was hard, but it was only the second time I can recall that I actually felt like quitting in the middle, it was that hard.

But I was sick, I had a cold and it was the first one I had had in a year I think. I was pissed off because I rarely get sick and here I was with a rotten cold that hit me Saturday and on Wednesday I was still feeling the effects of it. I hate taking medication but the evening before I had to, David and Cooper were mad as I had been coughing all night and I couldn't breathe. I succumbed to sudafed and I know it is why I had such a hard time training.

We started out with squats with chains. I love squats. These were fairly light, I think when you add the chains to the weight it was maybe 95 pounds. I might be off, it could have been slightly more. I really wasn't thinking clearly. But Roy said he would tell me when to stop, and he didn't say stop until 20 reps. That was intentional too. We would do set after set after set of 20 reps, all the way down to the ground and a very short rest period in between. I was breathing hard. We did 4  sets, which is 80 squats. And halfway through he doubled up the chains, which means the weight increased by 20 pounds.

Then we went into the killer- front foot elevated split squats. But by now you know Roy and it wasn't just any split squat. I had to make sure that the front knee extended way out front to his hand, but he kept pulling his hand farther and farther away. The back leg had to have a strong stretch, and I had to feel this all in my front quad while holding 20 pound dumbbells. My right adductor was tight, it pulled.

20 reps on the left leg and 20 on the right. I actually dropped the weights after the first 20 and begged for a break. I am not a whiner, these made me whine, I was angry at myself.

I had to find a place my head could be so I could get through this, I did, but it's not a place I want to visit again. 

4 sets on each leg, that's another 80 reps per leg. My legs were shaking, my quads were pumped and hard. Roy said he could see them swell from across the room, and I am sure he could, I could feel the blood gorging in my legs.

Roy said he wanted to see me collapse on the ground, I told him I would not. I refuse to lose the battle, I did all the reps as required. 

I joked about my upcoming night out- I had clothes set out to go straight out to dinner - I would need to get pants with bigger legs tonight, surely my regular jeans would not fit.

Rest...and I thought that I won't be looking forward to Wednesdays for the next three weeks. It only means heavier weights or more reps, either one would surely kill me.

Time for the sled, it would be 135 pounds added and I was to push it across the room and back, driving the knees up, powering as fast as possible. How many sets? Take a guess..4

The next day was Thanksgiving, my legs were tight and squatting down hurt, so each time I basted the turkey I hauled it out of the oven and onto the cooktop, it was easier. The following day both adductors were tight and sore and now for some reason bending over caused my hamstrings to talk back, everything was a bit sore.

At least when I woke up on Friday, my cold seemed to be almost gone, it lasted a week, and if all goes according to history, it should be another year or even longer before I get another. I started thinking about Saturday, it's leg day. I wonder if I can make myself do those split squats?

Next Wednesday is actually looking a little more interesting to me now!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I asked Cooper if he had any gloves he didn't need, and he gave me these. They are 12  ounce gloves. I like boxing, it is a really good cardiovascular workout and good for shoulder development.

It's also important to vary your training so your mind and body don't get lazy. I finished my lifting, it was shoulder day, and then I walked down to the basketball courts located in the gym.

I set my gymboss to 3 minutes on, 1 minute rest and approached the heavy bag.

I quickly found out that 3 minutes by myself slamming that bag was too much, so I changed it to 2 minutes, and thought I would try the speed bag a bit too. This is much harder than it looks, the darn bag just doesn't cooperate, it just ends up spinning around in circles. I know this will take quite a bit of practice. 

Back to the heavy bag, there are two so I alternate between the two, moving my feet, changing my stance, concentrating on starting the power from my hips and through the shoulders, not a fling of the fist like a "girl".

I am out of breath, I have only gone 5 two minute rounds and 2 on the speed bag, this is going to be a challenge I can see. But I will do this on my cardio days and weekends and days off, which means I have lots of time to perfect my skills.

When I tell Cooper about this he laughs at me, he has been doing it for years. He said I don't need the speed bag- speed bags are stupid. I question him and he looks me in the eye and says "Mom, there is not one speed bag at AKA".....oh, OK then, screw the speed bag!

When I went to see Roy the other day he asked if I had trained already that day- my shoulders were pumped. Nope, but I had boxed in the morning, and the effects are still evident.

If your gym has heavy bags, I suggest you give this a try, I am loving it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Belly Piercings

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If you are anything like me, and probably most of the world's population, you are always looking for the allusive "flat abs".

A while back Roy told me that Charles Poliquin did studies that indicate belly piercings make your belly fat. Swollen, inflamed, puffy. I laughed and told him that was silly, I have had mine for years. 

Well a couple weeks ago I read the article, and it was enough to convince me to give it a try. I do believe that my body is very sensitive to foods so why wouldn't it be to a piece of metal rammed into it?

Here is the article, my belly looks better, really, its been about two weeks and I honestly think it looks better. I will keep you posted with an update in a couple weeks.

From Charles Poliquin website:

Don’t get pierced! Body piercings can raise cortisol levels and lead to fat gain, and no site is as susceptible to fat gain as your abs! If you have a navel piercing, remove it and chances are you’ll lose fat in the abdominal area. I’ve seen it numerous times, and anyone who has been to my Biosignature classes has probably had the benefit of witnessing the dramatic drop in belly and total body fat over just five days when attendees remove their navel piercings. 

“You Can See Their Abs”
At a recent Biosignature course in Toronto, four women with navel piercings had their body fat taken on the first day of the course. I suggested they remove their jewelry because they would likely drop fat not only in the umbilical area, but all over the body. The women removed them, and on the last day of the course, we took their body fat measurements again.  As one amazed attendee said loudly, “You can see their abs. Check out that definition!” 

The fat just fell away during those five days—two women decreased their umbilical measurement by 36 percent, while the other two lost 24 and 21 percent. Other body fat sites also dropped remarkably, particularly those that are very susceptible to elevated cortisol, such as the suprailiac. 

Body Piercings Mess with Hormone Levels 
Body piercings alter hormone levels, and increase toxicity in the body. In simple terms, having metal permanently inserted into the body over stimulates the pierced area, resulting in increased stress hormone production. The body pumps out cortisol and fatigues the adrenals in response to the piercing, leading to fat gain and an all-around unhealthy state. In addition to raising hormones like cortisol, a piercing may overstress the immune system and other organs—it won’t kill you right away, but it will keep you from reaping the benefits of training, decrease energy levels, can impede reproduction, and may result in poorer health. Plus, because piercings alter the body’s homeostasis, they make it harder for your body to detoxify and having metal inserted into the body for long periods has been shown to increase toxicity.

Certain piercing sites on the body such as navel piercings are particularly stressful on your system because they directly disrupt the body’s energy flow. The navel is the center of the body’s central meridian in Chinese medicine, and in acupuncture, it is forbidden to put a needle in the navel because doing so would impede energy flow. By piercing the navel or other key energy sites on the body, you are directly impeding the life-force energies that keep you healthy, lean, and energized.

Body Piercings Impede Energy Flow and Alter Endocrine System
According to Chinese medicine, to be healthy you need a lot of flowing energy and it needs to be balanced and unhindered. And even though the principles of Chinese medicine don’t speak directly to a balanced endocrine system, they do focus on getting your organs to function optimally. By supporting organ and gland function, acupuncture also supports hormone function, which in turn influences all body processes, including sleep, hunger, fat gain and loss, muscle development, and sex drive.

In acupuncture, it is discouraged to pierce most parts of the body, with the lower earlobe where conventional ear piercing occurs being one of the safest, most accepted areas because the earlobe is a low energy site. Acupuncture and related practices, such as acupressure, focus on small skin areas that are considered energy vortexes, which have been shown to have significantly less electrical resistance than other parts on the body. The high-energy sites along the main meridians such as the tongue (the meridian for the central nervous system), and the navel are always avoided in acupuncture. Rather, the energy flow of the body is managed by inserting a needle into the low energy areas to rebalance the body. And even though the Chinese framed acupuncture around realigning “energy,” research shows that acupuncture also supports endocrine balance. 

Acupuncture Improves Physical Performance 
There’s a wealth of research into how acupuncture improves health, and it can even improve performance and support recovery from injury. In fact, one study of animals showed that muscle that has lost its nerve supply can be regenerated with acupuncture. It has also been shown to improve strength and endurance performance, and may decrease the pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness. 

A review published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that of 15 studies, all but two showed improved muscular strength after acupuncture. The only two that did not were assessing the immediate effectiveness of acupuncture using one session. In the case of endurance activity, acupuncture can improve heart rate and blood pressure response, but this modification hasn’t shown to translate into better performance. One possible reason why results have not supported acupuncture for endurance training is that Chinese medicine traditionally deals with individuals, not groups of athletes, and is accordingly varied based on particular pathologies of each individual. 

Acupuncture Improves Hormone Response to Exercise
Nonetheless, acupuncture has been shown to improve endocrine response and physical state in athletes after important competitions. For example, a study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that giving elite female soccer players acupuncture after games led to lower cortisol and less muscle fatigue. Players were also in a better mood after acupuncture.  Another study in Acupuncture Medicine found that acupuncture can support the immune system and inhibit the natural decrease in the hormone immunogolobin A that occurs with intense exercise.  

Aside from physical performance enhancements, research shows that acupuncture can support reproductive function in men and women, and is particularly effective in treating polycystic ovary syndrome in women. It’s been shown to decrease anxiety, support the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, and help with weight loss. All of these surprising results are linked to the manipulation of energy flow in the body that leads to positive alterations in hormone levels. 

I’ve demonstrated that acupuncture and manipulation of the body’s energy flow can positively support endocrine response and improve health and performance. Conversely, if you impede the energy flow by inserting foreign objects into the body, the opposite effect will occur: health problems, poor performance, and unfavorable endocrine response. This negative effect is not exclusively associated with body piercings—rather, any overstimulation of the high energy zones on the body will cause problems.

Navel Piercings and Chinese Medicine
The navel is right at the middle of one of the central meridians of the body, called the Conception Vessel in Chinese Medicine. It runs from the bottom of the throat down the body through the navel to the pelvis. Having a belly piercing is similar to having a needle permanently inserted into the forbidden central point of a primary energy line. Navel rings cause a chronic energy imbalance and aggravate the body, leading to greater cortisol production as your system tries to defend itself from the foreign object. In fact, there are instances in which the body will reject a piercing and literally push it out, indicating that it is just too much to handle.

According to traditional wisdom, it isn’t that all piercings should be avoided. Rather, piercings wrongly placed can negatively affect emotional and physical health, and a belly button ring is one of the worst locations you could choose. Humans have pierced themselves for over 5,000 years, and in some cultures piercings are used to cure medical problems and support emotional states. Nose piercing in Indian women is probably one of the most commonly known traditional piercings aside from ears. It is customary for Hindu women of reproductive age to wear a nose stud in the left nostril to support reproductive health according to the principles of Ayurvedic medicine.  

Improperly placed piercings impede health and optimal body composition just as properly placed piercings may support health. Research into health benefits of piercings is lacking, but there is significant support for acupuncture to treat obesity. A new study in the Chinese journal Zhongguo Zhen Jiu found that acupotomy, a new variation of acupuncture, was highly effective at decreasing fat in a group of overweight subjects. Acupotomy had a 91 percent success rate, while electroacupuncture that electrically stimulates acupuncture sites was 71 percent effective, and regular acupuncture was 43 percent effective at significantly decreasing body fat. 

A review of previous studies into the effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss in the Journal for Traditional Chinese Medicine found that by performing acupuncture to the ear (the most common kind) and to the whole body, treatments were highly successful and produced a 93 percent success rate of inducing weight loss and balancing energy in the body. Ear acupuncture alone was effective only 50 percent of the time, while whole body acupuncture without the ear produced an 81 percent success rate.

A third study published in the Journal of Women’s Health showed that acupuncture can lead to a much more favorable endocrine profile for optimal body composition. This study looked at the effect of six weeks of ear acupuncture on body weight and waist circumference. The women in the study did not significantly lose weight, but they did have a substantial increase in ghrelin, which is a growth hormone that supports metabolism and can decrease hunger. Leptin, a hormone that is a product of fat tissue and is related to obesity, decreased. Elevated ghrelin and lower leptin is a much more preferable hormone balance that would likely support reduction in body fat over a greater period of time. Additionally, this evidence highlights how the placement of needles or foreign objects in the body can modify hormones, in this case favorably. Naturally, researchers and Chinese medicine practitioners aren’t going to test the effect of improperly placing a needle into a site such as the navel because it is “forbidden” and would be unethical. 

More Reasons to Remove Your Piercings
There are a number of research reviews documenting the health problems caused by body piercings. Serious infection that requires antibiotics is the most common complication of piercings. Navel and “high” ear piercings that are above the bottom earlobe have very high rates of serious infection and inflammation. Navel piercings are commonly rejected by the body, probably because this is such a key energy site on the body and because it is so close to the essential internal organs. Other complications include swelling and tooth fracture from tongue piercing, and keloid formation in the upper ear. More serious health problems include navel piercings leading to intestinal adhesions and ovarian cancer, both of which required surgery. Additionally, eyebrow and lip piercings have become infected, inflamed, and caused damage to the eye along with extreme swelling of the cheek and face! And there have been instances of diseases, including hepatitis and HIV, being passed through unsterilized piercing needles or jewelry

Three Takeaways
1)    Remove navel piercings and you will lose abdominal and total body fat. Fat loss will likely be dramatic and you’ll be able to see your abs, have better balanced hormones, and feel better. 
2)    Consider acupuncture to improve performance, health, and offset energy and endocrine imbalances. In Poliquin Instant Muscle Strengthening Technique (P.I.M.S.T.) courses, learn the points that when stimulated briefly improve maximal strength, speed, and range of motion.
3)    Be balanced. Ideally, you’ll remove all foreign objects from your body, but think of it as everything in balance. Don’t worry about your pierced ears if you’re chowing down on carbs, gluten, and skipping your workouts. Be smart. Be balanced. Think for yourself.

Akimoto, T., Nakahori, C., et al. Acupuncture and Responses of Immunologic and Endocrine Markers During Competition. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. August 2003. 35(8), 1296-1302. 

Ahmedov, Shahin. Ergogenic Effect of Acupuncture in Sport and Exercise: A Brief Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 24(5), 1421-1427.

Bone, A., Ncube, F., et al. Body Piercing in England: A Survey of Piercing at Sites other than Earlobe. British Medical Journal. October 2011. Published Ahead of Print. 

Chen, M., Shi, X., et al. Clinical Observation on Acupotomy for Treatment of Simple Obesity. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. June 2011. 31(6), 539-542. 

Hsu, C,., Wang, C., et al. The effect of Auricular Acupuncture in Obese Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Women’s Health. 2009. 18(6), 813-823.

Jedel, E., Labrie, F., et al. Impact of Electro-Acupuncture and Physical Exercise in Hyperandrogenism and Oligo/Amenorrhea in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Physiological Endocrinology and Metabolism. January 2011. 300(1), E37045. 

Lacey, J., Tershakovec, A., et al. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Obesity: A Review of the Evidence. International Journal of Obesity. 2003. 25, 419-427.

Matsubara, Y., Shimizu, K., et al. Effect of Acupuncture on Salivary Immunoglobin A After a Bout of Intense Exercise. Acupuncture Medicine. March 2010. 28(1), 28-32. 

Meltzer, D. Complications of Body Piercing. American Family Physician. 2005. 72(10), 2029-2034.

Antoszewski, B., Szychta, P., et al. Are We Aware of All Complications Following Body Piercing Procedures? International Journal of Dermatology. 2009. 48(4), 422-425. 

Pelham, T., Holt, L., et al. Acupuncture in Human Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. May 2001. 15(2), 266-271. 

Qunli, W., Zhicheng, L. Acupuncture Treatment of Simple Obesity. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2005. 25(2), 90-94. Ventolini, G., Kleeman, S. Adhesions Caused by Umbilical Piercing. Journal of the American Association of Gynecological Laparoscopy. May 2003.10(2), 281.

Reiss, M., Reiss, G. Piercing-Medical Problems from Otorhinolaryngological Point of View. Medical Monatsschroff Pharm. December 2007. 30(12), 4410447. 

Antoszewski, B., Szychta, P., et al. Are WE Aware of All Complications Following Body Piercing Procedures. International Journal of Dermatology. April 2009. 48(4), 422-425. 

Wu, M., Hsieh, J., et al. Central Nervous Pathway for Acupuncture stimulation. Radiology. July 1999. 212, 133-141. 

Zhao, Z., Zhao, G., et al. Acupuncture Attenuates Anxiety-Like Behavior by Normalizing Amygdaloid Catcholamines During Ethanol Withdrawal in Rats. Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine. 2001. 429843. 

Copyright ©2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Cooper was in a tournament this past Sunday- it was sponsored by N.A.S.S.A, North American Sport Savate Association at AKA, American Kickboxing Academy where he trains with Jerome Turcan.  

He won first place in the kickboxing division and best fighter at the tournament (there was also some submission wrestling matches). 

I think competition is a healthy, great way to boost self esteem for all of us, and I am glad that Cooper has gotten into it too! Growing up is difficult for all of us, and some of us never feel confident in our own bodies, or just as "us". We are constantly comparing ourselves to others, or sizing ourselves up, and when we enter a competition, it shows we care enough about ourselves, that we like ourselves enough to go against everyone else!

Cooper has another tournament in two weeks.  He started kickboxing because I wanted to do it, but never had the time. I would go to AKA and just watch the fighters. They are amazing athletes, almost like svelte animals in the jungle. The facility is located near a store where I shop, so for years I would stop by and just watch them all in action, just for a few minutes.

One day I made him go with me and talked him into taking lessons, and he liked it! Shortly after he started training one on one with Jerome, and has been for a few years now.

The fights were easier than I thought to watch, maybe because he is good. If he was getting hurt I may not have been so relaxed about the whole thing. We are lucky that AKA is just a couple miles from our house, and Cooper has such a great trainer. Many of the top fighters train from AKA, although most of them now train at the newer AKA facility recently opened in South San Jose.

The tournament consisted of two one minute rounds, with a 30 second rest in between. He had 6 opponents. The tournament was judged on technique, agility, finesse, actual kicks and hits that made contact, but not on pummeling your opponent. 

There was one female fighting, but not in Cooper's division, she was a beginner and was competing against two other beginners.

The submission wresting was odd for me to observe, it just didn't make much sense to me, Cooper attempted to explain it but the kickboxing was more exciting. 

Can you imagine what it must be like to be 17, win 1st place for kickboxing, and the Best Fighter out of all the fighters, and have your girlfriend there watching?  She even kissed him with his mouth guard in, now that's love!

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If you have kids, I encourage you to get them involved in a sport where they can feel successful, and one that they can compete in. It can be individual or team based, some people prefer one over the other.

Cooper's sense of accomplishment was evident to anyone around, and although I really don't want him to grow up to be a fighter, I am happy to see he can hold his own! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Active Release Technique

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I'm cured! Those are the exact words Dr. Leahy used after three ART sessions. Yahoo! Previously I wrote about Active Release Technique, and now I will explain what I went through.

I first visited Dr. Leahy and explained my issues, I have very tight hip flexors and I have an anterior pelvic tilt, probably due to tight hip flexors. It was aesthetically unpleasing and probably causing me issues with quad development. In addition, this can be a cause lower back pain.

I also had issues with lack of dorsiflexion and this was causing me problems with squatting and perhaps calve development. 

Dr. Leahy had me stand and looked at me from the side, he could see the "sway back". He had me squat and immediately saw the ankle mobility issue and said that really needed to be addressed first.

Onto the table and he played with my feet. It didn't hurt at all. Onto my stomach and he worked on my glutes, specifically these areas:


Superior Gemellus

Inferior Gemellus

Then onto my back and these areas:

Quadratus Femoris

Vastus Lateralis

The final was the psoas, this was the hip flexor area that was causing the issues.

It took about 10 minutes and he said I would need to come back three more times probably, all within the next two weeks. The next day my left shin was fairly sore, the muscle running up it all the way to the knee was tender. 

I saw Roy and it was squat day, I could go right down to the floor with ease. Roy said he could tell by watching me walk, everything moved with ease, I wasn't stiff or tight anywhere.

When I saw Dr. Leahy two days after the first appointment we talked about the tenderness of the shin, he said it was due to the increased range of motion. 

At the second appointment he said I held onto quite a bit of the treatment, my pelvis was in a better position.

I felt great after the treatment and particularly after the second one. The third treatment he announced that he liked the curve of my back, it was perfect and normal. He performed the treatment on my psoas and talus (ankles) and said I should cancel the fourth appointment, there was no need for it. 

I felt great. 

I asked when I should come back, and his response? "You're an athlete, you will know when and if you need to return."

Will I go back? You bet, if I need to! Did my insurance cover it? No, they did not. I have an HMO and they do not cover this treatment, but I am worth the investment.

Here is a video to give you an idea of what might be done in an ART session for the psoas. You can watch the entire video, but my treatment consisted of what is shown starting at minutes 3:37. (Email readers will need to navigate directly to the blog to view this video)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shoulders and Boxing

Fridays at noon I meet Roy and we are training shoulders. The last couple weeks we have done some boxing too- that is a really good workout! I have a new respect for my son.

First we did seated barbell shoulder press, the back is straight up on the bench, no incline or decline. We are doing 1 1/4 presses, so bring the bar down very slowly all the way to the chest, then up 1/4 of the way, back down and then power all the way up.

You cannot push as much weight this way, I think I had 75 pounds total, 5 sets of 8 or 9. I lost count. Roy has it all written down though.

Then over to the dumbbells, un supported dumbbell press, bringing them all the way down to get a good stretch in the shoulders, then power up. I started with 25 pound dumbbells and ended with 30. 4 sets of 10.

Then lateral raises, three different weights to hit all the different muscle fibers (slow twitch to fast twitch). He has some micro weights that we use but I don't have those at my gym.

I think it was this: 8 reps at 12.5 pounds; 12 reps at 10 pounds; 20 reps at 5 pounds. 4 sets of this, the shoulders do really start to burn.

Then it was boxing! 3 rounds of 3 minutes with a 1 minute rest in between. Punches, jabs, hooks, and I have to duck when he shouts duck and swings at me. I am pretty good at ducking, not so good at the upper cuts...

I was breathing hard! He would move around the room, pads on hands moving his hands so I could keep throwing punches. I have to do this more often!

When I got home that night David was commenting on my size, I have gotten a bit larger in the last couple months. He is very supportive, but always wants to make sure I have a good idea of what I actually look like, since my own vision can get a bit skewed. Here is what he said:

"When you have dieted down for a competition, you look like a Wide Receiver.
When you start putting on a little weight, you look more like a Running Back. But you know, you have put a lot of weight on now and you are starting to look a little like an Offensive Lineman."

Hmm, time to cut back on the food?

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Morning Motivation

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"Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless - like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."
~ Bruce Lee

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible."
~ T.E. Lawrence

"Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be."
~ Grandma Moses

"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power."
~ Lao-Tzu

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Turkey Chili

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I love chili, but make my own healthy version. It is simple and can contain whatever you happen to have on hand. Virginia brought by some produce from her CSA and there was a giant head of kale in it. Kale is one of the healthiest things on earth that you can eat. 

One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K -- and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.

Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.

Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.

So...I added kale to my chili and you really couldn't even tell!

24 ounces extra lean ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, chopped
1 large bunch of kale, very finely chopped 
3 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes (you can use flavored ones, or fresh if it is tomato season)
2 cups chicken broth or water
4 Tbsps chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 small can or jar or fresh jalapenos, chopped

I start with extra lean ground turkey and saute it until no longer pink. I then add the remaining ingredients (except the kale) and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add the kale in the last few minutes, continue simmering until kale is tender. As with all vegetables, the less you cook them, the healthier they are for you.

I don't add beans, but you could if you like. 

I like to serve it alone, with a big dollop of fat free Greek yogurt, and fresh cilantro on top. A good squirt of hot sauce and I am a happy camper!

I will divide this into 6 serving portions, package into ziplock bags and freeze it for a quick meal after work.

Do try adding kale, it is the "Queen of Greens", filling and will taste great.

It feels good to feel good!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Active Release Technique

Have you ever heard of ART or Active Release Technique? Roy suggested that I look into it- I have not been having pain, but I do have a anterior pelvic tilt because my hip flexors are really tight, and I cannot dorsiflex very well. Even SC used to tell me "your dorsiflexion sucks!" It's pretty hard to get into a good deep squat if you cannot dorsiflex. 

Here is an explanation from Dr. Leahy's website, it explains much more concisely than I can. Dr. Leahy is the physician that I worked with recently.

Most healthcare providers use techniques of massage, trigger point, electrical modalities and ultrasound with varying degrees of specificity to treat soft tissue problems. These all provide reasonable results but there is a much better way.

ART is patented because it is different than anything else. This protects the public from healthcare providers who are willing to do it half way. To learn ART you must be serious enough to invest a great deal of time and effort to learn over 500 treatment moves or "protocols." More important than that, you must be able to develop a very advanced "feel" for the tissues and their texture, tension and movement. You must come to understand and evaluate the movement of each tissue relative to the one next to it and as an absolute value unto itself. This is an anatomy class like no other.

The basic premise is simple, just not easy. Shorten the tissue, apply a contact tension and lengthen the tissue or make it slide relative to the adjacent tissue. It's as simple as playing a piano and just as difficult. 

Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important ways:

acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc),
accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia).

Each of these factors can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.

What is an ART treatment like?

Every ART session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements.

These treatment protocols - over 500 specific moves - are unique to ART. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient. ART is not a cookie-cutter approach.

ART has been developed, refined, and patented by P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP. and I am lucky enough that his brother, Dr. Joseph Leahy has his practice just a few miles from my home! If I need to see someone, I want to go to the best of the best!

I had three ART sessions now, and have noticed incredible results already. I will write about my experience in the next few days.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kung Pao Chicken

This is another recipe from the Clean Eating magazine "Comfort Foods" and I of course altered it.  David was at a meeting and he doesn't care for Chinese much, so that's what I made. You know: When the cats away the mice will play...

I increased the greens and spices and I eliminated the rice (I had it with Romano beans instead), although my son had it with rice. 


Cooper loved it! I went to bed before David came home, but when I woke up at 4:00 a.m. he rolled over and said "that Kung Pao Chicken was delicious!" and he fell back to sleep.

David liked this because it was light and fresh, it didn't have a thick coating of a sauce, it had more of a light meat jus. This takes less than a half hour from start to finish. If you are having rice, that will take longer than anything else to cook! I will be making this again soon.

(This served three of us)

12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup raw, unsalted peanuts
6 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsps low sodium soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsps grated ginger

First chop and mince your ingredients as it will cook very quickly. Heat the oil in a skillet or wok over medium high heat and add pepper flakes, chicken and peanuts, cook 5 minutes stirring frequently.

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Stir in 1/4 cup water, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, green onions and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink inside.


Serve over rice or along side vegetables of your choice.