What is Krav Maga? – A Quick look At The Famous Self Defense System With A Detroit Area Instructor

In this episode of “I’ve neither died nor fallen off the fitness wagon” I bring to you my first ever attempt at video editing.  One of my regular physical activities is training in Krav Maga – Because what good is all this fitness if I can’t actually protect myself or loved ones? (I’ve actually started teaching a small group of my own students once a week at another facility) .   This was just for fun on my part – I have no financial interest.

I Give To You My Latest Project – GymCompass

Gym Compass - Reviews of Gyms and Trainers in the Detroit Area

Gym Compass – Reviews of Gyms and Trainers in the Detroit Area

So…Not that I’m the most reliable blogger.  I’m busy…I train a lot, eat a lot, work a lot, socialize a lot.  But I try my best to be straight with you when I do find time to get something off my chest.  Anyway, cutting into my ranting/blogging time has been my latest project – which came about when someone asked me for help picking a personal trainer and I realized that it happens ALL THE FRIKKIN TIME.  So I decided to start writing my objective reviews of the various trainers and gyms that I know and start going to ones I don’t know just because….I’m not sure why.  It sounded like fun and perhaps could be helpful.  So for any of you in Southeast Michigan, please check out and follow my new page, GymCompass.

Peace!

The Day You Started Your Sport, is the Day You Decided to Suck Forever

Running.  Not every day is your best day, but never forget to see the progress you've made.

Running. Not every day is your best day, but never forget to see the progress you’ve made.


A friend of mine was really beating herself up for a 5 mile training run that went terribly.  I had to remind her that when I met her a year ago, she couldn’t run 1/4 mile and that she’s even programming 5 mile runs is a sign of amazing progress. 
Of course, I speak as if I’m not constantly guilty of the same sort of thing… But I confess – I suffer from massive fitness envy.

And it’s not just running…it’s lifting, it’s Crossfit, it’s rock climbing, it’s martial arts.  I forget that there was a time tying my shoes would get my heart thumping.  That my first mile was something like 14 minutes and my first attempts at squatting left me maxing out at 95 pounds.  Instead, I look at others around and decide I need to be at least as good as _________ or I suck.

Let’s be real.  It’s good to have competition and goals.  It’s good to have high standards and strive for constant improvement.  But when you find yourself thinking “I’m just not cut out for this” or “I’m wasting my time trying” you’re starting down an unhealthy path that leads to the opposite of what physical activity is supposed to do for you.

If your activity is only satisfying when you’re better than someone else or meeting a certain standard, then I have bad news:  No matter how far you go, you will always find something faster, bigger, better that you want.  I love the following meme, because it’s so completely true even if it said “The day you started running is the day you became forever slow” or so many other things.  Instead make sure you enjoy the journey and every new accomplishment.  You know what else will increase your enjoyment of your favorite fitness?  Following me on Facebook ;) 

Love this meme from Dom @brosciencelife, because it could just as easily apply to runners and speed or any doggone sport you find yourself in.

Love this meme from Dom @brosciencelife, because it could just as easily apply to runners and speed or any doggone sport you find yourself in.

The Loose Skin Fix: Weight Loss Success Problems

Congratulations!  You’ve done it!

Or you’re still on your way but you’re serious, committed, and nothing is going to stop you from doing it!  Either way, you have my best wishes, respect, and a kind of camaraderie and understanding those who haven’t been there will never really understand. Part of that understanding is the loose skin problem…I don’t know why I’ve never talked about this before.

It’s a horrible fact and life-long reminder of who you once were – if you loose a significant amount of weight, you’re going to end up with extra skin. You’ll look better in clothes, but will always be self-conscious naked. Even in some clothes, it can give a little extra jiggle you’d rather not have and I wouldn’t fault you one bit for having it surgically removed – although that would come with some scars and much pain.  That’s not a financially viable option for many, anyway.

What is a viable option is managing loose skin from the get go and I think I’ve done pretty well (I frequently get accused of having had the surgery because of my relative lack of jiggle – look at my before and after pics).  Here’s a few things about the loose skin problem:

  • Some believe you can minimize it with creams and by staying very well hydrated during the weight loss process.  I’ve never seen real science done on this and tend to think it’s BS.  Staying hydrated is super important though, so do it anyway.
  • Wraps are temporary – like squeezing a foam thing that slowly expands.  I also have to wonder if the squeezing restricts your lymphatic system – which is super important for removing bad stuff from your body.  It’s like clogging a hose by pinching it.
  • How much you end up with varies not only with how much weight you had to lose, but also age and even genetics – some people just have tighter skin than others.
  • There is a way to tighten up after the fact or better yet- get a head start as soon as you start the weight loss process because like weight loss, this isn’t an overnight fix.

You might not like the answer, but you don’t you dare roll your eyes at me until you’ve finished this post – then roll your eyes only after you’ve told me I’m wrong.  Which I’m not.

Ready?  The answer is weight training.  I’ve already nagged at you a hundred times to start lifting weights, but we’re not here to talk about it’s zillion health benefits – we’re here for good old fashioned vanity!  (although strength training’s improved fat loss over the long term vs only cardio training might be relevant).

Step One:  I want you to stop focusing on “losing weight” as in the number on the scale, and start focusing on losing fat and putting some muscle in it’s place.  Yes, I said in it’s place.  Look at the three pics of me below…what if I told you that I weigh almost the same in each of these pics?

Weight loss loose skin solution: I weigh almost the same in all of these pics. The difference?  Weight training instead of constant cardio or dieting-only weight loss.

Weight loss loose skin solution: I weigh almost the same in all of these pics. The difference? Weight training instead of constant cardio or dieting-only weight loss.

Sorry for the resolution, I couldn’t find the originals.  What matters is that in the first pic, I weigh 195 pounds right after a year of Ironman triathlon training – almost all running/biking/swimming.  In the second, I weigh the exact same but 6 weeks or so of switching to mostly strength training.  In the third pic, I had lost 3 lbs to weigh in at 192, but I’m so much stronger and tighter even in places you can’t see.  Legs/butt less jiggly and although you can see my chest, you may not realize at first how much building back and shoulder muscles help to minimize the chest sag from my previous man-boob – it all pulls that skin back and up.  While it’s true that washboard abs are made in the kitchen, working them and well as your lower back and oblique muscles pull that skin tight and the extra muscle just helps them pop out visually a percentage point or two of bodyfat sooner than if they were teeny wimpy abs – double bonus!

Step Two:  Ladies – don’t run yet because you’re afraid of looking too muscular!  (Becoming very muscular is not going to happen for a woman unless you really want it and dedicate yourself to exactly that).  Want beautifully tight thighs and buns?  Weight Training.  Toned tummy and Michelle Obama arms?  Toned means “having firmness” and that means having some muscle – anything else jiggles.  Well toned is beautiful, functional, and trust me – there’s nothing in the gym that’s sexier than a girl lifting some weights like she means it.

Step Three:  Step two isn’t really another step… is it?  Don’t give me any shit for my writing style – I’m up way past my bedtime and I’m much better at fitness than I am at writing anyway.  Just soak up the information, and send me a thank you card later.

Anyway – thought of one more illustration.  On the left is my original weight loss pic.  I weighed 182 lbs and 12-13% bodyfat. On the right is a couple years later weighing 192 lbs and 13% bodyfat.  You can clearly see that adding 10 pounds  made me look better (especially in person), and gave me a boatload of strength.  Again, the pics don’t do it justice and pics of my butt just don’t exist – but I get a lot more compliments on it from the girls, lol.  STOP. OBSESSING. OVER. THE. SCALE.

I may look similar, but I'm actually 10 pounds heavier in the picture on the right!  The scale doesn't matter - lift weights

I may look similar, but I’m actually 10 pounds heavier in the picture on the right and less jiggly in ways the pics don’t show! The scale doesn’t matter – lift your weights to keep loose skin in check after weight loss.

The perfect, complete solution for all?  Maybe not, but I promise you it goes a long way to controlling the jiggle and there is absolutely no downside.  I know a ton of men and women who have lost weight, and the ones who have lost a lot by dieting and cardio alone look the sloppiest.  Sorry to be so blunt.  They also have higher incidences of injury and/or regaining their weight.

I’m not trying to hate on cardio – I’m an endurance athlete by nature and fought picking up the weights until I didn’t have a choice, but there is way too much evidence to ignore the health and vanity benefits.

I don’t know about you, but I love me some vanity.

Insert “Please follow me on Facebook” plea here. Find motivation, pearls of wisdom, and the occasional profane outburst.  Also, I want people to think I have friends.

 

Can You Help Me? – Seeing Food Differently

I need your help!

I have this coworker… Not obese, but could stand to lose a few. The thing that really matters is that he is not happy with himself.

Anyway, he is reasonably active with coaching and playing soccer.  It shouldn’t take a whole lot of extra working out to get him lean – Except for his doggone love for food.  In particular, he loves to try new “healthy” recipes… So what’s my problem with his healthy recipes?

“Healthy” in no way means necessary, and if your body doesn’t “need” something, it’s going to store it as fat.  At the end of the day, my buddy consumes too many calories.

My key to weight loss.  Is your key different?

My key to weight loss. Is your key different?

Best advice I’ve got? Stop this relationship with food. Love to cook and create? Take up woodworking or painting.  Stop looking at food as something you reward yourself with or go to for comfort or enjoyment .  Get satisfaction out of being a disciplined athlete and looking at food as fuel –  If it doesn’t offer you progress towards your goal, don’t eat it.

I’m afraid that’s the all I’ve got… As much as I love to eat food and have extreme carb addictive tendencies if I don’t keep my head in the game, I’ve never been one to peruse recipes or substitute say…a brownie with an organic-paleo-cleansing-health muffin-thing (or five).   I would just eat the brownies and not bother fooling myself into thinking “this isn’t so bad because…”  It works for me, but I’ve never claimed to be normal.

This is where I need your help – I want to learn what has worked for you or someone you know or have coached or whatever.  Please offer your experience or advice so I can share it with others – there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing someone who wants to change find their way!
(leave comments here, or join the Facebook discussion. Don’t forget to click “like” and “follow” while you’re there :)  )

Detroit Area Krav Maga Training Reviewed, pt 1 – Troy, MI

When you don’t have a lifetime to master an ancient martial art but still want to walk the streets with the confidence that you can protect yourself, your family, girlfriend or boyfriend, etc – you want to learn Krav Maga. It’s not a combat sport that you’ll be able to compete in – doing the attacks and counter-attacks you’ll learn are designed to be quickly devastating and even crippling so you can walk away, not earn points. I’m not here to sell the system, though – just tell you what I’ve learned about the training that’s available in the area.

The first thing you’ll notice is there isn’t a lot to choose from. Unlike MMA training that has popped up everywhere, Krav is a bit of a niche and there are only a handful of places to learn it in the Greater Detroit Area. I hope to visit every gym from Rochester to Detroit to Ann Arbor soon, but it’s going to take some time. For now, I’ve trained at two places and both happen to be located in Troy, MI: Krav Maga Detroit – The big name in town, and Instructor Aaron Hoke at Crossfit Deviate South in Troy and Crossfit Deviate in downtown Rochester (membership is good for classes at both locations).

Two of only a small handful of places to learn Krav Maga in the Detroit Area - Krav Maga Detroit in Troy, and Crossfit Deviate in Troy and Rochester

Two of only a handful of places to learn Krav Maga in the Detroit Area – Krav Maga Detroit in Troy, and Crossfit Deviate in Troy and Rochester

Instructors:

If you’ve used google to look for Krav in the area, you’ve already heard of Krav Maga Detroit run by Pawel Cichowlas. Pawel himself is a 2nd dan black belt in the krav system made popular by Krav Maga Worldwide, a large organization that licenses individuals to teach their particular krav system (there are a number of krav systems out there that have each evolved differently from a common parent system developed by krav founder Imi Lichtenfeld). Pawel has a handful of other instructors helping out with a full class schedule.

Also in the area is Krav Maga Instructor Aaron Hoke at Crossfit Deviate South in Troy and Crossfit Deviate in downtown Rochester. A former USMC special forces (MARSOC) guy with several combat deployments under his belt, Aaron actually taught hand to hand combatives to other special forces guys and holds not only MCMAP (Marine Corp Martial arts Program) and SOCP (Special Operations Combatives Programs) instructor ratings, but also earned his Practitioner Instructor rating in the latest evolution of Combat Krav Maga right from the Israeli army’s elite “Red” unit while working with them on Special Unit Weapons and Tactics. He also has a background in Muay Thai.

Classes:

Classes at Krav Maga Detroit are 60 minutes long, and are run pretty military/boot camp style with a heavy PT warmup and yelling about team work and doing thing over and over until “we do them as a team.” I later learned that we got extra “warmup” as punishment because a couple of the students weren’t wearing the official krav clothes. Yes – you are required to buy KMD shirts and shorts.  The students seem to love the place, though.

In my first class I thought “Am I in a krav class or basic training all over again? Are we going to learn ANY krav?” I love working out, but our “warm up”  literally lasted FORTY MINUTES and I came here to learn krav – I spend enough of my own time getting fit. We very quickly went over 3 strikes and did a drill that lasted for 30 seconds. The large class was too big and moving too quickly for the instructor to do any individual coaching on technique.  In my 2nd krav class we did more like 15-20 minutes of PT, and thus had closer to 40 minutes of krav.  The drills tended to be short with 30-60 seconds of intense striking – sometimes with a strobe light and loud music like you’re in a club.  That was kinda neat and I can seen the value in occasionally training in that disorienting environment.  All the krav classes are the same for the whole week – what you learn on Monday you’ll learn Tuesday through Saturday.  That gives everyone a chance to hammer skills home and keep up with your buddies even if your schedules are different.

The krav classes at Crossfit Deviate run for 90 minutes, and you do a LOT of actual krav! The atmosphere is much more laid back, and like any good military instructor, Coach Hoke injects enough humor to at least make himself laugh while you sweat your ass off.  Usually warming up with some movement drills and basic strikes (There is great attention to detail paid even when teaching the basic strikes so each strike is maximally effective), you then move on to weapons defenses and drills that can include anything from striking combinations, multiple attackers with and without weapons, or both. I quickly noticed the lack of PT things like pushups and situps – Aarons says “I’m not here to teach you how to do pushups. I can make you make you exhausted with krav so you’re hammering in techniques, conditioning, and learning to stay in the fight while you’re exhausted all at the same time. Maybe it’s a bad business decision on my part – but I’m interested in teaching you as much krav per class as possible, not wasting your time with stuff you can do on your own.” I like it.

The classes are smaller which is mostly a pro, In my opinion.  While having more training partners is always good (everyone will “attack” you differently, forcing you to drill and be comfortable with all the little variables), the smaller class allows for the much more personal attention.  There is a lot of individual technique correction, and he even pulls students aside and work with them one on one to help correct technique flaws. Oh – Aaron doesn’t care what you wear, and encourages everyone to train is their normal work/street clothes at least sometimes.  (I have, and it definitely changes how you move)

Curriculum:

I really don’t want this to be a “which system is better” article, but I feel like some opinions I have are going to show through a little.  To be clear – I feel that every system has it’s strengths and weaknesses and everything you learn should be just another tool, not your entire toolbox. Also, I don’t claim to be a tremendously experienced martial arts master – just a guy with some experience in a couple traditional martial arts (Karate and Kuk Sool Won), BJJ, and most recently Krav Maga.  A person who commits to either of these systems will be miles ahead of almost anyone else in a real world self defense scenario.

Krav Maga Detroit teaches a system popularized by Krav Maga Worldwide.  My biggest problem with Krav Maga Worldwide is that it’s marketing tends to bolster an elitist “If it isn’t Krav Maga Worldwide then it isn’t legit” attitude, when in fact:

  • It is only one lineage that evolved from the original
  • It isn’t sanctioned by the Israeli government, military or police as the “official” version of krav
  • Large organization necessarily get “stale” regarding new, potentially superior techniques/technique tweaks.  They have to remain consistent, and how do you retrain thousands of paying licensee/trainers at the same time?

At the core of the Krav Maga Worldwide curriculum is the 360 defense – a system that, while it can be effective, I think has some weaknesses in that it takes some time to master and I just don’t see it working when there is a large disparity in strength (or from your back on the ground…I was really surprised to see this).  Look – If anyone tells you something is the standard just because it’s taught the most, we should all look to Tae Kwon Do for self defense.  Remember – no one had ever heard of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu before Royce Gracie whooped everyone in the octagon for 4 years. (But no, neither BJJ or MMA training – although I love them both dearly – are not ideal for street defense either).  Sorry for rambling – I just have a severe distaste for misplaced elitism.

So anyway, at Krav Maga Detroit there is a belt or level system.  At first, you can only take level one classes and learn some blocking and basic punches and a couple chokes. After about 4 months/40 classes you can test to level 2 where more strikes and chokes are added and “You start to learn to hit back.” according to one of the instructors.  A good year until level 3 where you first see weapons defenses and the instructor I talked to said it took him about 2 years to unlock level 4, where serious sparring and weapons training begins.  I suppose that’s not too different than a traditional martial arts program, though.

I do have one real beef with the KMD level system – I need to train for a year or more before I’m qualified to learn to defend against a gun or knife, unless I pay extra for the separate “weapons” class, in which case I’m qualified right now? Hmm…
Back at Crossfit Deviate, Aaron is not affiliated with any large, official organizations and has no rank system… so if you’re looking for pretty certificates or colored belts to display, you’re outta luck.  Nor are any techniques held back until you’ve unlocked a certain level – You’ll be working on defending yourself from guns, knives, and multiple attackers from day one at no extra charge.

There is also an emphasis on teaching one to be an effective fighter in the shortest amount of time – after a few sessions, you begin to see patterns where the same movements are used for a number of defenses.  This may be because US Marines and Israeli soldiers don’t have a lifetime to spend training – they have short enlistment periods and need to be effective asap.  Aaron points out that it takes years of dedication to learn how to stand there and block punch after punch and play the bob and weave game – and even then you still get hit in the face.  He has some genius ways around that.

It takes about a year for Aaron to cover his curriculum, with plenty of redundancy built in.  Classes also tie in together in mini-cycles…you may cover a couple defenses/attacks on Wednesday, review them and add on Friday, then review and have a ridiculous drill using those movements with people hitting you with pads and random guns stuck in your face, knives or sticks swung at you on Saturday…you never know.  Long term, I couldn’t be sure – both systems will make an attacker sorry he didn’t pick an easier target – but I do feel Aarons techniques and curriculum will make someone a more devastating opponent in a shorter period of time.

Facilities:

Krav Maga Detroit is a krav-centric facility.  Two separate rooms so they can have more than one class at a time.  Nice locker room…forgot to check if there was a shower.  All the krav training stuff you need…plus some weight/conditioning stuff.  This excited me until I learned that you can only use that stuff during their limited weight/conditioning classes with no open gym time to do your own thing.  As my guide explained “We’re a self defense center, not really a fitness gym.”  Fair enough.

Both Crossfit Deviate locations are fantastic, fully-equipped Crossfit gyms (and are crossfit-centric facilities, although the south location has a room dedicated for krav training).  Plenty of weight and conditioning equipment, and full schedules of Crossfit, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, yoga, and most importantly to me – open gym time where I can be a gymrat and do my own thing.

Memberships and Schedules (as of November 2014):

Krav Maga Detroit is significantly pricier, but they do have a great  krav-centric facility.  $129 per month if you sign a one year agreement gets you the krav-only membership ($159 per month if you want to stay month to month).  At first, that gets you access to just the level 1 classes. As you graduate to different levels, you get more classes available to you.  The Gold/VIP membership thing runs $189 per month with a year commitment, or $245 monthly.  That gets you all the krav classes (up to your level), plus the separate weapons class, conditioning classes, kickboxing, something called fight club – which isn’t what it sounds like (it’s really just some extra stuff…the two I went to included some grappling, although my BJJ snob came out about the techniques, and some fun focus-mitt work), and everything else on the schedule.  I really wanted to continue my current training and do drop-ins or a punch card to cross-train at KMD, but that is not allowed.  Go all in or go home.

Meanwhile at Crossfit Deviate,  you can get memberships for either Crossfit or just krav, or a really sweet deal on both as a package. If the krav schedule works for you, Crossfit Deviate/Deviate South wins hands down for the value.  A typical Crossfit membership in the area runs $150, and Deviate is right on that mark for Crossfit only but includes a whole bunch of classes like Olympic lifting, yoga, gymnastics, open gym and other stuff except for krav.  Unlimited Crossfit AND Krav membership? Just $200!  It’s a huge selling point to people like me that can’t afford their Regular gym and Krav gym memberships.  Krav only has a couple of price options – $80 for two days per week, $100 for unlimited (which is really 3 days per week because that’s all that is currently scheduled, although that should increase as class sizes/memberships increase).  Drop ins and punch-cards are available, although I’m not sure the price.

Krav classes are Wednesday/Friday evenings at Crossfit Deviate South, and Crossfit Deviate in Rochester on Saturday Mornings.  There is one krav-conditioning class every Sunday that isn’t included.  It’s $10 per session.

Calling BS on Destiny, Fate, and The Setpoint Theory of Body Size and Weight

Fate, much like the weight Setpoint Theory, is anything but uncontrollable.

Fate, much like the weight Setpoint Theory, is anything but uncontrollable.

Just a quick rant after I saw this little pic on Facebook… If you haven’t heard of it yet, you will soon – the Weight Setpoint Theory.

It’s an idea that’s gaining popularity that basically says that no matter what you do, you are bound by destiny, genetics, or psychology to end up at some weight and size. OMG…MAKE IT STOP.

In spite of what some call evidence in the form of some studies showing that a great majority of people end up at some weight they aren’t happy with, the Setpoint Theory has two major flaws.

1. It’s irresponsible and even dangerous.
Not that a theory itself is wrought with danger, but the increasing publicity it’s getting…ridiculous. So called “health researchers” touting something in a manner that reinforces a feeling of helplessness in a population that desperately needs to get off their ass and fight for better health, fitness and quality of life – is appalling. Fear of failure is one of the key obstacles that keep the unfit anchored to their couch (along with food addiction and the discomfort of physical exertion). Why would an overweight person attempt to face discomfort and the already overwhelming fear of failure if they believe there is no hope of success?

2. It’s Wrong.

There have been a few observational studies that would appear to indicate a tendency to return to obesity even after a period of success… but if there were a predetermined setpoint, why is obesity a relatively new epidemic? Did our genes evolve in just the past 50 years to make us fat? No dumbass (not you – the researchers that support the theory), it was our culture that changed. I’m going to argue that these studies show nothing more than a symptom of what other studies have already shown us –

a. Our levels of physical activity are at all time lows

b. Our caloric intake and intake of carbohydrates are at all-time highs

c. People tend to focus on losing weight rather than changing their body composition to include more muscle and a stronger/healthier skeletal system. (focusing on weight loss leads to loss of muscle tissue which in turn means lower metabolism, decreased ability to do work, harder to keep fat off, and a greater percentage of bodyfat for a given weight)

These 12 graphs show real data that points to real contributing factors to our obesity epidemic. Note that none of them says destiny has decided it prefers fatties.

What are the “setpoint theory” pushers not taking into account? A gazillion success stories, including my own. The researchers don’t ask us “what makes you special?” Because the answer would cost them the entire premise of their research and all the grant money that goes along with it – WE THAT HAVE SUCCEEDED IN LOSING WEIGHT AND KEEPING IT OFF ARE NOT SPECIAL. I don’t know a single person who has lost weight the old fashioned way, and regained it without reverting back to old habits. Those that maintained their new lifestyle kept their new appearance.

We’ve dug deep and worked hard. We’ve counted calories. We’ve learned to be comfortable and even embrace being uncomfortable in a workout as empowering and we then began to enjoy our new lives and a whole new world of excitement and fun that we’d never felt when we were obese. You can read more about that here.

I’ve asked you to do this before and I’m going to keep making you do it until you believe in yourself… Repeat after me: “My body is exactly what I trained it to be, and I’m ready for it to be something else.”

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook! for updates, insights, and to see some more of the stuff my new fit life allows me to do!

Reviews of Detroit Area Coaches, Personal Trainers, Martial Arts Instructors and Gyms

Do I know any personal trainers in the area???
Ummm…Lady – I’m pretty sure I know all of them.

I realized three things yesterday after writing the above Facebook status: 1. I know a LOT of coaches and personal trainers. 2. I’ve trained at a pretty good number of gyms. 3. People are always asking me for referrals to gyms, workout methods, and trainers.

So I bring you something new (that I know of) for the Greater Detroit Area: I shall begin to provide you with reviews of area coaches, trainers and facilities. The many trainers I know work across all levels and modalities of fitness from bodybuilding, crossfit, general fitness, weightlifting, yoga, martial arts, powerlifting, endurance sports, strong man stuff…the list goes on.

You’ll learn about what kinds of workouts are happening, equipment used, the coaches temperaments/methods, the level of fitness the coach mostly works with (whether they are best-suited for beginners or for advanced athletes), where they do their training, and I’ll hopefully interview them for some personal touches as well.

The whole goal of my blog is to help people find their own way in all things health and fitness, so I’m excited to add this with regularity. Follow me on Facebook to get notifications of new reviews. (Also, Facebook is the best place to message me if you’d like to be included. Follow me while you’re at it ! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Body-By-McDonalds/168974686538257  )

Stop Failing at Dieting and Weight Loss

“If we wait until we are ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives” – A female facebook friend who most certainly stole it from someone famous.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet – You need to quit waiting for the right time to overhaul your diet and start making small changes today. Like a Race car designer said – “You don’t look for one place to shave off 100lbs, you looks for 100 places to shave off one pound.”

Fact: Your life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

You can spend all the prep time in the world so you can go in whole hog from a crap diet to a super balanced, all natural, gluten free raw-paleo-vegan super diet and 98% of the time it lasts for two weeks before it becomes overwhelming…you feel deprived, or you don’t know how to cope with dining out or travel.

Another fact: Something as simple as switching from mayo to mustard can save you 100 calories/day. Is 100 calories even meaningful? Well, if you have a sandwich for lunch every day that comes out to a pound every seven weeks you either lost or at least didn’t pack on. Maybe switch from your normal bread (at 70-110 calories per slice) to a higher fiber light bread at 70 calories for two slices (I like Aunt Millies Fiber for Life breads, but I’ve been seeing other brands lately). Bam! Now you’re talking 170 calories per day with changes that won’t break you. Once you’re used to your little changes and barely thing about them, it’s time to find another.

What are some of your small changes?

Jedi Mind Tricks – Training an Athlete to do the Impossible

So my world champion couch potato of a 17 year old asked me to train him. “Train you for what?” I asked. He replied by gesturing at his somewhat pudgy, video game-playing physique with just a bit of disgust and said “To be… Not This.”

I’m not kidding you when I say Michael has been epically inactive for most of the last 4 years. By doing one of those internet based schools, he’s managed to limit activity mostly to walking to the block to the corner store for doritos. No joke. We chose a few very lofty but achievable goals but step one is almost unreasonable for someone with his current fitness level: Couch to 5k in 26 days – and he’s determined to run, not walk, the entire 3.1 miles.

While I’ve always given new athletes watered-down workouts for a couple weeks (as an adaptation and evaluation phase), I knew we wouldn’t have that luxury with only 3 1/2 weeks until race day. Fortunately for the boy, I’ve got a jedi mind-training trick up my sleeve that will teach him to dig in and do more than he should be capable of. Unfortunately for the boy, I learned it from some Special Forces guys and that means it hurts. A lot.

Training started today and I wanted it to be a killer on him… I wanted him to want to quit. I wanted him to decide that asking me for help was a mistake and to think that training for a 5k wasn’t worth it because no way could he repeat the suffering for another workout. I wanted him to question his very existence and wonder if he wasn’t destined to be an overweight video game junkee that would never be happy with himself. He needed to reach his breaking point and be sure that he couldn’t continue, then I had to push him wayyy past that. And break he did.

We started the day with running for a distance goal that he’s never done before. He managed at most 400 meters (1/4 mile), but usually more like 200 at a time. He was allowed to stop and walk any time he wanted, but he had to walk in the opposite direction of progress. (that warmup sure took a while!) With no time for coddling…it was time for hill repeats.

Gasping at the top of the hill a short while later, he declared he couldn’t do any more. A-hah! Just what I was looking for! With a little pep talk he managed a couple more hill repeats, after which he could tell his legs were going to stop listening to him any minute. What he didn’t know yet was that he was only at the half way point and he kept naively asking them for more. Finally done with hills, he limped triumphantly towards the car.

You should have seen his face when I told him he could refill his water and then we were repeating the distance we had started with. (Is there an adjective that describes disappointment, fear, and certainty of failure all at once?) Broken, walking funny, and in complete disbelief, It took more than a little coaxing to convince him to risk falling on his face with dignity over walking with shame back to the car in defeat.

Michael dug deep and set off in spite of knowing that he’d never make it. It was a fight for every step but I’m thrilled to say that he finished the impossible, very happy and proud of himself (hopefully as much as I was).

Today was a huge deal. It was about mental training more than physical training. It was about pushing off bullshit limits that we put on ourselves because most of us have no idea what we are capable of and just as much about feeling a sense of greatness by accomplishing something most people never will when all you’ve ever felt is inadequacy.

He now has a taste for the accomplishing the seemingly impossible. I’ve found that taste to be like sugar – it’s pretty addictive. I think he’s hooked.

***It’s been several days since I wrote this, and for the first time ever – he’s doing workouts without my being there to hold his hand. He’s actually hounding me for them every day. For the first time in many years, the boy believes in himself.***