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Monday, December 23, 2013

Everyone knows how to train (and eat), right?

Walk in to any gym (even the ones with squat racks) and you'll hear it or see it.  Everyone is an expert.

Don't think its true? Just listen to them.

When we were in LA some of it was so good I actually took notes. No, for real, I did.  Pulled my phone out and typed it right in there so that I would remember what I wanted to share with all of you.

Two guys doing tricep pushdowns; the one directing says to the one doing the work: "turn your left toe in." No, I am not joking, and just to clarify the guy was standing pretty damn straight.

Younger guy talking to a gentleman maybe 20 years his senior is going on about how he is bulking but come January 30 he is going to "start cutting" (love that terminology).  So the older gentleman tells him: "The first rule is to get up in the morning and run on an empty stomach."

I giggled to myself as I reflected on just how interesting it is that everyone in the gym knows everything.

No need to seek a professional, clearly anyone who has ever joined a gym, lifted a weight, lost a pound, gained a pound, ran a mile, or did a jumping jack knows exactly what to do to lose body fat, gain muscle, or improve performance. And they know how to do this IN the gym and IN the kitchen.

What I find so very interesting is that no one seems to think anything of this.  It somehow seems perfectly normal and acceptable especially to those on the receiving end.

Weird, I don't think those same people would take advice on how to fix their car from a 13 year old who just drove for the first time.  I don't think that they would take french cooking lessons from someone who just attempted their first soufflĂ©.

These same people would think nothing of taking a tennis, golf, or ski lesson.  Heck, most people brag about that going on about how much they spend in an attempt to become better at these sports yet very few do the same with they gym.

So let's see if I am getting this right- in order to become better at tennis, golf, or skiing folks hire a professional that will teach them the best, fastest, and safest way to reach their goal in those respective sports...did I get that right?

Ok, so why then do people wish, and hope, and dream about being stronger, or in better shape, or healthier yet take advice from anyone?

I just don't get it.

I mean, really if YOU wanted to reach your goal wouldn't you seek out the best possible person you could to help you reach it???  I would.  But maybe I'm just crazy. Or maybe you like to waste your money.

"But Michelle, there trainers everywhere, how do we know who is a good one?"

Great question...

You can't know..especially if you have no (or very little) experience in the gym.  Everyone who calls themselves a trainer may look and sound like they know what they are talking about....but they don't.

I will tell you this. If you are looking for the top trainers who know about nutrition and training then you are looking for a Metabolic Precision certified trainer.

Most certifications send hopefuls a text and an exam..yes, at the same time...and ask them to answer multiple choice questions.  Some send a text and require and exam to be taken at a testing center..again asking folks to memorize things and then regurgitate them on a multiple guess test.  Not MP.

MP requires that all hopefuls not only learn the material, but also that they demonstrate the understanding of it through its application via essay exam as well as practical application.  MP is a science based and research proven method for reaching your goals.. I don't care if it is body fat loss, muscle mass gain, performance improvement, or something else the certified MP professionals are the ones that can get you there.

As the new year approaches no doubt you or someone you know will be making THAT New Year's Resolution... you know the one I talking about.  Why not hire someone that can get you there safely and teach you how to sustain and maintain the results you achieve? I mean, unless you want to get there and then back slide..

For those of you that are really serious, use this link to find the best trainer you'll ever meet. But only if you are really serious.

Can't find one in your area? No problem these folks are ridiculously good at doing things on line as well. Need help finding just the right person? Just ask, I'm more than happy to be a "match maker".
Find a Metabolic Precision Trainer

Do it.  You'll be glad you did.  No worries, you can thank me later.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Where have all the good gyms gone?

Have you ever heard something, and you know you heard it, but later on it comes back around and really slaps you in the face??

Yeah that's kind of what happened this weekend.

I mean, it isn't anything that I didn't already know, or something that I hadn't noticed before, but this time it really hit me.  And then it was almost as if a panic of sorts set in.

Training is disappearing.  Real, honest to goodness training..with real weights..not inflated balls, rubber bands, or hollow cheap metal equipment.

You may look at me and think: "oh come on, you have no idea what you are talking about" but you would be sorely mistaken.  My roots in the industry go way back, as does my love of the gym and training with real weight; iron as we like to call it.

It goes back to the good ol days when there was only bodybuilding in the bodybuilding world.  No, fitness, figure, bikini, physique...just the real beef- bodybuilding.  Guys like Quadzilla Paul DeMayo, Tom Platz, and the like were all over the magazines.

You could walk into almost any gym and find a squat rack and plenty of plates to load the bar with.

Fast forward to this weekend.

We walk in to a 24 Hour Fitness (yeah, ok I know..but that is part of the point) and have to search for anything resembling a squat rack.  Finally, after having walked up 4 flights of stairs, through a labyrinth of rooms chock full of machines did we find one lone squat rack.  It was aaaaaaaaaallllllll the way in the back.  Literally.

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that we walked through at least 4 rooms chock full of suspension training equipment, inflated balls, rubber bands, cheap machines,  and virtually every other piece of equipment you can think of except olympic bars and plates (and squat rack).

I thought to myself: "damn, they really don't want anyone to even know they have a squat rack."  The image this gym (and most others these days) presents is one of cardio and toys; nothing serious or intimidating.  Well, at least nothing that could be interpreted as such by Joe (or Josephine) Q. Public...don't want to scare them away.

What on earth has happened???

When did it become so scary to see a squat rack, or to see someone squatting, or deadlifting?

Is everything going the way of Planet Fitness? I call it the "aim for mediocrity" mindset.

Hasn't anyone noticed that we, as a society, are moving further and further from a state of health?

Interesting that this shift away from health mirrors the shift away from real training with real weights in a real gym.

This is what hit me like a ton of bricks all over again.

I've been there before, having the thought that all of the real equipment in the gym has been moved to the back, out of the line of sight of anyone just walking in the door.  Keep that stuff in the back and no one gets scared.  Riiiiiiiiight.  Keep it in the back and no one gets leaner, healthier, or fitter either. Spending your time doing endless hours on the less intimidating cardio equipment will do little good.

So came back to me the words of a good friend, Shawn Phillips, in one of his recent musings on The Kryptonite Report in which he discussed the disappearance of real gyms.

What gives, where have they gone?

Is it coincidence that more people hit the gym today than ever before yet the number of overweight and obese continues to grow??  (pun intended)

Clearly something isn't working.

Maybe getting back to hitting the iron in a real gym would help....
Just a thought.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Coffee, coffee, coffee.. Your BulletProof coffee is full of holes!

Coffee, the nectar of the Gods as it has often been referred to, definitely has a place in my life.  I love it.

Yes, I realize some may think love is a strong word to use to describe my relationship with coffee, but  the thought of it can bring a smile to my face, it never lets me down, and it is always there for me.  So yes, I say love.

My relationship with coffee, or anything coffee flavored goes back to my childhood days.  I have fond memories of sharing coffee flavored ice cream with my mom.  Good times for sure.

Mom and I still share coffee although these days it is usually the drink, not usually the ice cream.

Those of you that know me know that I love coffee.  You guys also know that one of my missions in life is to bring the truth to light.  I dislike half-truths and deceptive marketing especially when it comes to exercise, nutrition, health, and healthy living.  Just. Can't. Deal.

Spreading these half truths makes it harder for all of us to reach our optimal health status.

So what's got me all wound up now?


Yes. Coffee.  My love.

Coffee is so much more than a smile in a cup, it has a laundry list of positive effects on our health as well.

When I say health benefits, I mean proven by science.  Cast all doubts aside.  No guessing. Just facts. Good for you.  Period.

Coffee consumption helps to lessen depression.
Pham N. Green tea and coffee consumption is inversely associated with depressive symptoms in a Japanese working population. Public Health Nutr. 2013 Mar 4:1-9

Drinking coffee is associated with decreased risk of all cause mortality.
Malerba S. Turati F. Galeone C. Pelucchi C. Verga F. A meta-analysis of prospective studies of coffee consumption and mortality for all causes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Eur J Epidemiol (2013) 28:527–539

I could go on and on, and most likely will at some point.. but not before I get to the actual point of this post.... the bull$hit that is Bulletproof Coffee.

There, I said it.  

I am tired of the BS that gets thrown around by the folks that have been duped into thinking that: 1. there is some magical 'non-toxic' coffee bean that one man has a special hook up with 2. that the rest of the world's coffee supply is fully of mold and toxins 3. that drinking butter and oil in your coffee is a good idea.

This is an excerpt from his website "Upgraded Coffee is the result of an obsessive pursuit to find the absolute highest performance coffee beans on earth. It's taken me more than 10 years to identify every step of performance-robbing toxin formation in coffee and to find a reliable, perfect source of beans that always make me feel great — even though "normal" coffee gives me a headache and jitters and makes me cranky. This coffee makes you feel noticeably better than anything else you'll find. You'll never go back to Starbucks again. These beans are meant for drinking black or best of all, for making Bulletproof Coffee with coconut oil. "

Really? Your coffee is so good you can drink it black ....or drown it in oil? Ummm, I'm sorry but that just seems kind of silly to me.  If it IS that good, I shouldn't have to add anything to it.

"Performance-robbing toxin formation"-- wow really an extraordinary claim there.

Ok, Mr. Special Guy.  Show me your science! 

What? You don't have any?  

Huh. Didn't think so.  

FYI folks, the very worst coffee in the world- which makes up maybe 20% of the supply may have very small amounts of molds in them.  You would need to drink coffee from almost a kilo (2.2pounds) of those beans to get ANY small amount of insult to your system.  

(**Keep in mind not all mold is 'bad'. What we have here is fear mongering-- nutritional terrorism as a good friend would say.  Heck you EAT mold- blue cheese!!!  Penicillin, one of the most widely used antibiotics, is derived from a fungus and has saved countless people from illness!)

Beyond the claim of his super special coffee is the claim that adding fat to our coffee will somehow make us leaner and even build muscle.  Hmmm... nice thought.  Got any science to back that?

Didn't think so.

MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) sound like a really great idea as far as energy production and glucose sparing goes- but unfortunately all things that sound good don't always pan out in the science.  MCTs are one of these things- just doesn't hold up in the studies. Soooooo, while it may sound good it just doesn't work that way.  

One thing it MAY do is send you running to the nearest restroom.  Have fun with that.  

Drives me nuts.  

C'mon people, you're smarter than that.  When people make extraordinary claims, they should have extraordinary evidence to prove their claims.  This guy does not.  Period.  He alludes to some studies that were done, yet provides no further information or links to them.  

...because he doesn't have any.  His science doesn't exist.

I could've guessed he didn't have much of a science background after reading his musings.  But the fact that he sells a bag of Glutathione really sealed the deal.  News flash- taking glutathione does not lead to increased levels of glutathione in your body.  So sorry folks, but you've been duped yet again.

Your welcome.  

Now it is time for me to finish my cup of coffee :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Scariest Marathon Training Ever...

You've probably heard I've run a few marathons.. heck you may have run a few yourself, or maybe you are gearing up to train for one. Either way, you'll want to check out the scariest marathon training plan ever.  I mean straight up ridiculous scary.

For this to be scary I guess you need to know how most people train for marathons (especially if you are new to this or even just reading for fun).  Definitely need a reference point from which to measure the level of scariness.

Ok, so here's how most marathon training plans go:

Monday- run
Tuesday- run
Wednesday- run faster
Thursday- run slower
Friday- maybe cross train on the elliptical machine at the gym
Saturday- run really far
Sunday- run for recovery

Yep, that's pretty much it.  The distances may change a bit (read: they all get longer) but things generally follow that plan.

Weekly mileage depends on the person but may average 40-60 miles or more.  Yes, you read that right.  Forty to sixty run 26 miles.  OHHHHHHKAY, its 26.2 but that's not the point.  The point is that people do a TON of running to get ready for, well.. running.  Seems logical, maybe?

Here's what I want to know- where is the science that supports that rationale; because I haven't found any.

Let me say that again- I haven't come across science that supports this method of marathon training.

What I have come across is a plethora of research that shows shorter duration, higher intensity work improves endurance performance.

You may also be interested to know that it (shorter duration, higher intensity work) reduces visceral body fat (that's the worst kind-the kind on the inside-surrounding your organs), improves VO2, and improves speed at lactate threshold.

What does all of that mean?

It means you perform better and you are healthier.  Nice.

Add to that the fact that shorter duration, high intensity exercise also helps to maintain (and can even help to build) muscle...

Why should you care about muscle?

Maybe because muscle mass actually helps to maintain your health and your immune system.
A slow, steady loss of muscle as we age is actually a predictor of disease (and injury). Yup, its a fact.

Running, running, running does little to preserve muscle, in fact it can speed up the loss.
Sad, because i really like running.

Well, it is a good thing that I also like resistance training.  Yes, lifting weights. Those things can help you build muscle and avoid disease.  But guess what?? They can also make you faster!

True story.

Having strong, powerful muscles can actually help you in your marathon training.

I know i've just thrown a big monkey wrench into your marathon training plan...but I'm only doing it because I like you and I want to help you.

So what is this, the scariest marathon training program that I alluded to earlier??

It involves resistance training and shorter duration, higher intensity runs instead of just running, running, running. And not running, running, running is really scary for people who are used to it.

What does this scary plan look like?

It may look something like this:

Monday- Squats (and a few other key leg movements)
Tuesday- Track speed work
Wednesday- Upper body work at the gym
Thursday- short Tempo, or interval run
Friday- Deadlifts (and other key movements)
Saturday or Sunday- your ONE 'long' run

While something like this may be the scariest thing ever- it may also save you from injury and illness during your marathon training.

Have questions, or need help with your training? You know where to find me :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Zen of Running

There is something magical about an early morning run.  Whether it is under the moon and stars, or the first glints of sunlight, the quiet morning is quite cathartic.

Each stride brings my foot in contact with the ground.  Each time an opportunity to transfer energy to and receive energy from the earth. I am not running ON the earth, I am running with it, because of it.

This time is my moving meditation. My time to find peace, calm, happiness, and focus. My time to lose the pressures and worries of the outside world.  A time to look inward, to what really matters.  To remember why all of this started in the first place.  To have a sense of calmness, connectedness, peace, and freedom.  To remember my calling and reaffirm my willingness to live it.

Slowly the sun rises and people begin to stir. The once peaceful, quiet connection to nature begins to fade.  The hectic energy of those running in the proverbial hamster wheel of life is once again aiming to overtake the peace of those living in the moment. Like the background static of a radio station not quite in tune, the message is still there, but unable to be discerned.

Stop.  Find quiet.  Connect with nature. You will hear the message.  You will  find your calling and together we can make the world a better place.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The science of healthy living

Happy 2013 everyone! This is it, this is the year that you will put it all together and embrace the science of healthy living.  Yep, I said science and I meant it.

Every single thing that we do is the result of a billion (or more) chemical reactions. That sounds like science to me.  No matter if we are sitting at the computer typing, running a marathon, lifting weights, grocery shopping or eating dinner we are nothing but a bunch of chemical reactions. Got it?

Ok, good.

Now let's jump back to the end of 2012 where I was writing about Exercise and Weight Loss (Exercise and Weight Loss Part 1 Exercise and Weight Loss Part 2).  We talked about not counting calories, hopefully that rings a bell.  Today we are going to talk about chemical reactions. THAT is what dictates how we function.  How many calories we burn (or don't burn), how much muscle we build (or don't build), how well our brain can communicate with our hands to type this information, that is all a function of the chemical reactions in our body.

Want to make anything work better or differently, then you must manipulate the chemical reactions in your body to do so. How do you do that? Simple.  Pay attention to the nutrients you put in your body- NOT the calories.

Think about it like this.  My car has a 25 gallon gas tank. In order for me to drive a long distance I had better fill it up, all 25 gallons.  If I put 25 gallons of milk in the gas tank, how far will I get? Probably not too far at all.  But why? It was 25 gallons, the tank was full.

I know, you are thinking- duuuuhhhh, because you can't put milk in your car, it was built to run on gas (I'm old-school, mine is not electric).  If I put milk in it then all of the other reactions that are dependent on the gas do not occur and something pretty terrible may happen. That is pretty easy to see right?

Ok, what if I only put 2 gallons of milk in there? Nope, still not going anywhere.

Ok, now let's look at you.  Maybe you need 2,500 calories a day.  Can we fill you up with 2,500 calories from motor oil? Duuuuhhh, of course not.  I know, you think I am being ridiculous.  I'm not.  What about 2,500 calories of Twinkies? Well, you may get a little further than with the motor oil, but not by much.  Your body was not designed to run on Twinkies.  If you fill your tank with things that your body was not intended to run on, the chemical reactions that take place within you are changed.  Different things happen, and some really important things don't happen.

HERE IS THE KEY- this happens even if you don't get all of your calories from Twinkies. Eating non-nutritous foods, things your body was not meant to run on, affects you each and every time you do it.  The more you do it, the worse it gets...independent of the calories consumed!!!

KEY #2- Lots of things you think are nutritious foods are not! How do you tell the difference? Simple. Avoid things that come in a box. Your meals should be comprised of vegetables, fruits and meats.  Can't get much easier than that.  Those are the things your body is meant to run on.

It isn't a function of just the calories, just as your car's performance isn't just a function of the gallons. Putting the right nutrients in your body keeps it running just as putting the right gas in your car keeps it running!

Focus on nutrients, not calories.  You're welcome.