Saturday, November 1, 2008
I love it when seasons change, for a few weeks you get to see your body adapt so readily to anything nature throws your way. I was just thinking of all the changes that we get to experience in fall. Unlike spring, when everything wakes up, the fall is a time of relaxation, reflection and conservation. The cold of seasonal change gets offset by new preferences for food and drinks. This is also where most of my clients will stop losing bodyfat, unaware that they had two extra cappuccinos, three spoons of honey in their tea and a few extra bowls of hot soup. Your body knows how to call for heat. You rarely think digestion takes energy, but cold foods need to start falling off the breakfast menu. If you've been listening to your body, you probably had something like this today:
PB vanilla oatmeal
1 cup cooked oatmeal
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tbsp crunchy all natural peanut butter
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
Once you're done cooking your oatmeal, set your pot outside so it cools off fast, but keep the lid on. It would take about 10 minutes till its the right temperature. Stir all other ingredients into it, then eat with patience. A great way to enhance this would be to heat up two tablespoons of butter (if you have clarified (ghi) butter, it's best), then add the spices for a few seconds and pour on top. This adds extra calories, but it also lets your neighbors know you are serious about your spices.
Other spices for cold weather that you can play with:
mustard seeds (careful when you heat those up in butter, they tend to explode)
Things that warm you up you didn't know about:
Something else you didn't know:
Oatmeal actually cools you off on its own, so adding any of the above to it will both neutralize and bring it up in energy.
Listen more, eat warm, and if you have no cold mornings where you live, you can always turn your AC up.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
I came back to Indianapolis a month ago to get reassessed. I would like to say we've had great progress, but we've also narrowed down new areas to work on. I never thought of Bill as a personal trainer, he is a brilliant coach and physical therapist, those who call him "the smartest man in fitness" know what I am talking about. I have never seen a combination of such an analytical mind, keen eye for detail, and ability to keep open to interpretations.
I would like to say that Bill is my coach, but to me he's like a portal to another dimension, every time I get to see him I get to peek in through a little door and see world of knowledge that I had never believed existed before. He gives you paradigms to work within, where you can try, test, expand, and see your body and your mind change.
Bill just got a new facility together with Mike Robertson and it rocks! They will be training both athletes and health and fitness oriented clients, but the facility looks like it can accommodate any need, both in terms of assessment and rehabilitation and athletic performance.
What you can't tell from the picture is that I am working hard on keeping my shoulderblades back and down, stuck to my ribcage. It hurts right under the medial border and right through the lower traps, right at the spot that you're supposed to activate.
I feels both good and bad knowing it will be about a year before I see Bill Hartman again and see how my new issues have resolved, but in all honesty I look at my year truly happy knowing I have an awesome future of successful and effective training ahead.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Today's circuit, as designed by Mike Wessel, who was kind enough not to call me a wimp after all the curses I used to describe how I feel.
I warmed up learning how to do sledgehammer slams, then did 1 minute of each with 30 second break of:
med ball twists
single arm chest press
assisted pistol squats
By the third circuit I was ready to see my breakfast again. It was a humbling experience. Makes me dream about doing rack pulls tomorrow.
Monday, June 16, 2008
It is a great day of pride and joy to see our very own Boris Bojinov win a gold medal. I was proud of him when he won bronze a few weeks ago, too!
Long jump is hard, I get frustrated every time I watch him compete, especially on failed attempts...I just want to go...damn that plaster thing that he steps on, such a minuscule thing to screw up a long jump like that...and we are talking millimeters here, where the actual jump is like 8 meters and above...but I love the consistency, the perseverance, the character and all the hard work him and Milko have put into this. We all love him, go Boris!
We'll see that guy at the Olympics, mark my words :)
More Boris on POWERWINS
Friday, June 13, 2008
"Pain never precedes dysfunction, it follows it"
So think about this today, become aware of dysfunctions and take action to avoid pain.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Look at the sky:It's estimated that we do as much as 90% of our daily activities using matrices and patterns than we have adopted in the past, without much thought of reason, feeling or understanding. Putting awareness back into simple things is key to success in a life that moves faster than we do. Whether you want to be a better trainer, father, partner or manager, putting awareness back into simple daily tasks will bring you amazing insight, free you of the pressure of tasks and bring joy back.
My favorite awareness drills:
1. Looking for small detail, for example, checking out the patterns in floor tile and details in shoes.
2. Listening to your own breathing and being aware of the feeling of breath on your lips and in your nose while lifting weights.
3. Smelling minor smells
4. Listening for sounds that are covered up by louder sounds, like birds singing in the city
5. Listening to your heart before falling asleep
My favorite thing today is to look at color. For more color:
Whole site here!
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Sometimes you end up doing two things simultaneously that just fit together perfectly. I was listening to Norah Jones and at the same time I was reading the story below, it's a classic worth passing on!
If you need to, take a day like that. If you don't have time to, make time, life is short.
“The Turn of the Tide” by Arthur Gordon
Arthur Gordon tells of a time in his life when he began to feel that everything was stale and flat. His enthusiasm had all but disappeared; his writing efforts were fruitless, and the situation was getting worse day by day.
Finally, he decided to get help from a medical doctor. Observing nothing physically wrong, the doctor asked him if he would be able to follow his instructions for one day. When Gordon replied that he could, the doctor told him to spend the following day in a place where he was the happiest as a child. He could take food, but he was not to talk to anyone or to read or write or listen to the radio. He then wrote out four prescriptions and told him to open one at nine, twelve, three, and six o’clock.
“Are you serious?” Gordon asked him.
“You won’t think I’m joking when you get my bill!” was the reply.
So the next morning, Gordon went to the beach. As he opened the first prescription, he read, “Listen carefully.” He thought the doctor was insane! How could he listen for three hours? Nevertheless, he had agreed to follow the doctor’s order, so he listened. He heard the usual sounds of the sea and the birds. After a while, he could hear the other sounds that weren’t so apparent at first. As he listened, he began to think of lessons the sea had taught him as a child—patience, respect, and an awareness of the interdependence of things. He began to listen to the sounds—and the silence—and to feel a growing peace deep within.
At noon, he opened the second slip of paper and read, “Try reaching back.” “Reaching back to what?” he wondered. Perhaps to childhood, perhaps to memories of joy. He tried to remember them with exactness, and in remembering, he found a growing warmth inside.
At three o’clock, he opened the third piece of paper. Until now, the prescriptions had been easy to take, but this one was different; it said, “Examine your motives.” At first he was defensive. He thought about what he wanted—success, security, recognition—and he justified them all. Yet then the thought occurred to him that those motives weren’t good enough. That perhaps therein was the answer to his stagnant situation. He considered his motives deeply and thought about past happiness, and at last, the answer came to him. In a flash of certainty, he wrote, “I saw that if one’s motives are wrong, nothing can be right. It makes no difference whether you are a mail carrier, a hairdresser, an insurance salesperson, a home-maker—whatever. As long as you feel you are serving others, you do the job well. When you are concerned only with helping yourself, you do it less well—a law as unrelenting as gravity.”
When six o’clock came, the fourth prescription didn’t take long to fill. “Write your worries on the sand,” it said. He knelt and wrote several words with a piece of broken shell; then he turned and walked away. He didn’t look back: he knew the tide would come in!
Friday, March 28, 2008
As personal trainers and coaches, we work as problem solvers, so we tend to classify people. We live our professional lives very much like we live our social lives, we have our hidden fears, prejudices, ways to feel secure. We dissect, piece things up, find solutions and look for results. We are goal driven.
Today, take a minute a think what drives each person that you meet. How can you treat them as responsible, growing, learning and searching individuals, barring all prejudices and personal judgment. Look for their inner fire and don't put it out by being a problem solver.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
To me, food is just one more way to experience the world, very much like music. Every now and then you hear a new song and you play it every day until it gets old. These shakes have had the exact same effect on me, that's why they are my favorites!
All you need is a blender and 30 seconds :)
1/2 cup cold coffee
½ cup milk or 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp walnuts
dash of cinnamon
Green tea rise and shine
1 cup strong green tea - cold
4 cubes of ice
1 scoop protein powder
1 cup yogurt
1 dash vanilla extract
1 tsp sweetener (Stevia)
½ cup frozen berries
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
Mint lemon shake
1 cup yogurt
Zest of 1/3 lemon
1 tbsp mint leaves
½ cup ricotta or cottage cheese
1 tsp Stevia
Strawberry and protein bar shake
1/2 protein bar (chocolate)
1 cup strawberries
1 cup yogurt
Enjoy shaking things up :)
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Yesterday I ate 7 meals and 4,500 calories.
Yet millions of people in the US and Canada didn't eat one.
What a contrast!
And trust me, the irony isn't lost on this big eater.
Most people think of hunger as something that only affects
remote areas of the world, or the homeless you see living on
Call me a slow learner, but I recently realized that this
is FAR from the truth.
Recently, I learned that tons (millions, in fact) of
everyday people, especially children, single parents, and
the elderly, go hungry each day right here in our own states
The amazing thing is that these children are kids we know,
these parents include some we hang out with, and these
elderly are your peers, your parent's peers, and your
Sure, they hide it well. But that doesn't make them any
Learning all this, and being touched personally by hunger,
inspired me to take action.
As a result, for the last year, the entire Precision
Nutrition team and I have spent a lot of time thinking about
how we can help bridge "the gap."
>>The gap between those who buy and eat the best
>>foods . . .
>>. . . and those who can barely afford to buy any
>>food at all.
In the end, we came up with something we're very proud of:
>>The Healthy Food Bank.
And although we've been working hard behind the scenes for
nearly a year on this project, this month we're officially
spreading the word.
So, what's the Healthy Food Bank?
>>The Healthy Food Bank is a registered charity that
>>purchases nutritious staples - good food - for local
>>food banks and shelters around North America.
And today, I'd like to send you to our new web site:
In doing so, we'd like you to know about the new project
and we'd also like to give you access to some food articles
we think you'll find very interesting.
Further, we'd like to announce something special.
>>For the next 45 days, if you purchase a copy of our
>>highly acclaimed Gourmet Nutrition cookbook, 10% of
>>the sale will go directly to the Healthy Food Bank.
What this means is that by boosting the health quotient of
your own food, you'll also be helping to boost the health
quotient of the kids, the single parents and the elderly in
your own city who can't afford to eat tonight.
Hey, I hate clichés, but if there ever was such as thing as
a "win-win," this is it.
So pick up a copy of Gourmet Nutrition today, and let's help
do some good for a lot of people in need.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
It seems like a waste to just bake a whole salmon. First, I don't see 6 lbs of meat go in one day, because we are a one fish eater household, second, there is something to steamed salmon fillets that I just love. So there I had it in front of me, shiny, cold and ready to go.
I found a great link that shows how to cut salmon fillets.
I took it a step further, and cut a couple of cutlets, too. Once you get to the thickest part of the fish, you can cut beautiful cutlets, and save the rest for fillets.
What I had left in the end was 4 cutlets, 6 fillets, two smaller fillets from around the head and the spine, tail and head. The last three are turning to soup in a few hours and all the rest went in ziplocks to be frozen for easy cooking during the week.
I usually cook all my meals the night before, so here are two simple steamed one person salmon recipes:
Put the fillet in steamer, cover and steam for 12-15 minutes. You can do this directly with frozen fillets, and it takes a few minutes longer. While the fish is steaming, prepare the sauce:
1/2 cup pineapple (chopped up)
2 tbsp fresh ginger (chopped up)
2 tbsp coconut milk
1 tbsp butter (or ghi)
Melt the butter and quickly stir in the pineapple and ginger. Simmer with the coconut milk for 2-3 minutes on medium heat, occasionally stirring.
Put the fillet in steamer and cover with fresh or dried rosemary leaves on top and bottom. Steam for 7 minutes. Open, cover with 2 tbsp of sour cream, sprinkle some black pepper on top and cover again to cook for another 5-7 minutes.
I intend to cook my mother's fish soup later, that includes carrots, peeled tomatoes, onions and celery, depending on the outcome, I will be posting the recipe here later :)
Sunday, March 16, 2008
А story about who you are, and about how you persevere is more important than what anybody says to you. I love it. It's also a story about how you should never sell your dog, unless it ends up with a movie part.
The cool thing is that the fish oil had an effect on lipid metabolism genes, as well as lipid metabolism related enzymes. The fish oil group also had higher levels of fatty acid ß-oxidation. Even though this study was looking at one of the mechanisms in which fish oil could lower body fat, namely intestinal lipid metabolism, it's another piece to the puzzle that will let us appreciate the many ways fish oil reduces fat levels.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I am glad Lyle has a blog now, where I can get more critical insight into topics that move me. He makes it a light read, and certainly one that you cannot regard as blogging for blogging's sake.
My favorite so far:
How many carbohydrates do you need?
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Treadmills - if you look at the reports, the program that most members choose would be Quick Start. Time they spend on the treadmill - 20 min. What trainers told them - "Get on the treadmill and do 20 minutes of cardio. See you later".
Since I own a PT studio, I've never thought of this non exact prescription as being detrimental membership retention. First, we have no treadmills (there is a park across from us and we invested in learning all the fun tracks instead). Second, we don't lose members, so I never have to think about what cardio has to do with it.
The quick start option could be chosen by one of two people: one who memorizes and plans out their workouts (like I do, well, my coach does), or someone who has no specific idea about what time, resistance, incline, speed, etc, they are going to use. If you don't know those variables, you are screwed for two reasons: first, you work without a goal, that means pretty soon you'll be bored out of your mind and see your results through a "crooked macaroon" (the Bulgarian way to say "never"). Second, you have no way of knowing whether you've improved, and without improvement, no one would stay in the gym anyways.
So, how do you get out of this? Give specific instructions to the person involved in aerobic training. Assess their needs, their level. Write them a program, make it fun, and make them follow it. Chances are, if you have planned a nice 4 week progression, they will be excited to get to the next phase. And in the next phase, they will get an even greater fun out of more advanced protocols, like intervals, fartlek, etc.
Most cardio machines nowadays offer a myriad of programs, you can sure use those, but make sure you plan progressions in intensity and duration during the different phases, this way you can focus on intensity this month and on duration next month, one building on the other, to make sure your client is in better shape at the end of the program. Have them on a good nutrition program, and they will also see considerable fat loss. A client who is getting fitter, seeing results in the mirror, and enjoying a goal oriented workout plan, is most likely going to stay a member.
The next time you see someone use the quick start program, make sure they are doing it for a reason, that they have a goal in mind, if they don't, it is your calling to give them one. If you are someone who has hired a trainer and all they tell you is : " give me 20 minutes on the treadmill", it's time to look for a new one.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Intuitive eating led me through a spice filled counter, where I found a few attractive stalks of lemon grass. Then I thought how wonderful, there are no lime-leaves in Bulgaria to make Thai coconut chicken soup, but I can modify and see what happens. An hour later, we ate an absolutely mouth watering-second-helping-for-everyone soup, the recipe follows:
1 lb. raw chicken breast, diced
3 tbsp butter
2 cans coconut milk
2 fresh lemon grass stalks, white part only, chopped
1.5 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp lemon pepper
1 cup hot water
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime
sweet salt to taste (I used Himalayan pink salt)
Melt the butter and cook the chicken in it. Add all the spices and the lime zest. Stir. Add the coconut milk and water, cover and boil at medium heat for 20 minutes. Serve with cilantro on top.
I love coconut and coconut milk, because the fats are very nutritious, while the chicken is too lean, so these two complement each other wonderfully. Medium chain fatty acidsfgive me a lot of sustained energy, lemon grass is antibacterial and antifungal and chicken is very calming. I claim this the perfect anti-stress food.
Friday, February 15, 2008
...it's what it can do for your blood sugar!
When a 200-some lb. guy says half a packet of Stevia gave him low blood sugar after a meal high in protein and fat you can't but think twice about all the research you've read. I truly like to sum it up like this:
- Stevia is sweet. Sweeter than sugar.
- Stevia is safe compared to other sweeteners like aspartame.
- Stevia has an effect on pancreatic beta cells, thus lowering blood sugar (both acute and in long term studies)
- Stevia can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- It has a mild diuretic effect
Any or all of the effects could have caused him to feel hypoglycemic, he could have been had low blood pressure, but never checked.
In addition, Stevia is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, to kill fungi, bacteria and viruses. It's also known to help ward off caries. Coming from a cavity-prone genetic tree, and a culture where Calcium was not added to anything in my young years, I find this pretty cool.
I have used Stevia many times, in food preparation (it's heat stable), and in drinks (lemonade, shakes). I have never ever experienced any acute blood glucose lowering effects.
If you are suffering from treated diabetes whether it's type 1 or 2 I would suggest you measure your blood glucose after ingesting Stevia, and check with your endocrinologist about the dosage of your medication. If you are healthy, see if having a non caffeinated drink with Stevia causes you to feel sleepy, lethargic, or weak, nauseated and shaky. If it does, check if drinking it on a full stomach makes a difference. I think feeling low after Stevia would be a concern for people following either a low carb or a lower carb low calorie diet, as it naturally causes them to have lower blood glucose. Then again, I have been following a lower carb plan for over 4 years and have never been hypoglycemic because of Stevia.
I believe that if used in moderation, Stevia extract is a great alternative to sweeteners and sugar, but like everything else, bear in mind that individual reactions may vary.
To read more about Stevia and check out a list of studies, follow this source!
The Stevia product I enjoy most for taste and convenience is made by Now Foods.
The box has little packets you can take anywhere, they are flavor free, which makes them great for cooking purposes too. I am not a fan of the liquid versions as I like containers I can transport safely and easily.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I was very nervous about this scene. I had to do a lot of visual facial acting, not so much doing acting. I had to scream, I had no idea how.
When it came right down to it, I produced a series of very loud scary screams, ones I had no idea I could do. What really amazed me is that waiting between cuts, I was shivering and scared. Screaming made my hair stand on end, I was defensive and felt a bit like an animal being chased.
That reminded me that I had another lesson today.
It's what you perceive as real, not what is real, that shapes your present.
Your body reacts to everything you think and do as if were the actual truth.
You don't have to prepare for situations you've never been in. If it's about staying alive in any sense of the word, you already know what to do.
All the more reason to get real in life, my friends :)
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Never be afraid of doing something for the first time
Whether it's talking up the guy next door, learning how to perform a task, studying a line, going for a job interview, pulling a heavy weight, it's all about doing it. If you are afraid, chances are you'll fail. There is nothing to be afraid of, when you are performing at your best.
Pay attention to detail
Because if you don't someone else will and eventually you'll have to do the same thing over and over and over again until you get it right. You get that special chance on camera, but in life it's rare, so keep your eyes open.
Look at things from all angles
See the big picture first, then try to see it from the point of view of each participant. Empathize, merge, relive. When you have it all covered, you'll make the best decisions. If you are stuck in a situation, always, always look at it from every point of view.
Know your whys
Whenever you do or say something, whenever you look at someone, smile, cry, touch or attack, always as yourself "why am I doing this?". And you better have a good reason, because how healthy , happy and successful you are largely depends on being you, a justified you, in every minute.
Look for the good in people and tell them about it
If someone just did something for you, don't just say thank you. Say why you appreciate it. Have you done that, today?
A great moment might be in store for you, but if you don't have the patience to wait for it, you might never enjoy it. Know that good energy put to work, combined with patience, will always get you more than just hard work. You'll have times when you're fed up with waiting, but do know that those times will end.
Rest like a king
When hard work is over, rest. Put your feet up, have a drink and look forward to another day of lessons.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
It's got a whopping 14 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat, and 21 grams of carbs. I am sure it's as satisfying as 257 calories get.
Next time your McDonald's eating buddy goes camping, you know what to get him :)
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Part of me has heard 'Oh, I just need something sweet in the afternoon" and answered "No, you just need real food, because you're hungry for nutrients" so many times that it wants to say c'mon, leave the new age BS behind. Another part makes interesting spontaneous choices at the grocery store or the fruit stand.
Consider these occasions.
Last winter I was walking home feeling a bit nauseous. I walked by the fruit stand and saw a pineapple. I hadn't bought one in a year. I ate pineapples all week, then got tired of them. At the time of choice I was convinced I needed it. After eating it, I felt great.
A few days ago I bough salmon and spinach. Just like that. There was nothing else I wanted. There were plenty of options.
Today I bought eggplant and garlic and made a rich and quite smelly salad that tasted great. I hadn't made it in 6 months. I had the conscious conviction that this was the best for me at the moment.
So here comes the question? If part of me believes that the need for "something sweet" in the afternoon means that you are just hungry and if a part of me believes that you cannot 'need" processed foods, then does another part believe that you can intuitively choose what's best for you at the moment.
Is there a way that food may connect us to past experiences. When your brain says "pear", does your memory say " eating a pear with Peter on the bench and feeling happy!". When your brain says "pineapple" does it need the digestive enzymes or your childhood memories of feeling safe and cozy?
Is there a map in our subconscious minds of what foods are good when, and if so, is it possible that we can only read it when we don't abuse our bodies with processed foods, alcohol, sodas, etc?
Does the map change with our beliefs?
Sunday, January 20, 2008
The winter blahs. The cold time downs. Whatever you call it, it feels exactly the opposite of how you want to feel.
I don't have the energy for a workout, yet I want to get back in touch with my tired body.
So I pull out the ingredients:
1. A soft chill out mix
2. A few candles
3. A mini resistance band
4. A foam roller
5. A chair
I spend a few minutes focusing on the candle light. Amazing how much it changes. Hopefully by now my mind is not racing. I stretch all the muscles gently, holding for 15 to 20 seconds. I use the mini band to stretch my hamstrings and calves, the peroneals and ITB. The foam roller is a great finisher for all this, and I follow it with some cat camel and sun salutations. 20 minutes of peace and lack of intense light and I am back to normal. My body feels better, nothing is too tight. I feel in control. I should do this every day. With the chance of some quiet time reducing stress levels, that should help fat loss, work performance, and improve sleep quality.