Monday, November 24, 2014

New blog!

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Not only does cover health, fitness, and nutrition.  We cover positive thinking, relationships, goal setting, and anything you need to become the best version of you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

BJJ Hygiene (warning contains graphic images)

This post comes at the request of one of my friends from back home in Indiana, he mentioned that there are some smelly guys where he trains BJJ currently.  Nobody likes rolling with the stinky guy in class, but even more so, no one wants to be the stinky guy in class.  So you want to learn how to stay clean?  Read on below.

Rule #1.  Wash and dry your gi!  No one likes rolling with someone who's gi stinks, if you wore it last night for class don't wear it again the next day before washing it even if "you didn't sweat much".  A gi is a perfect place for bacteria to culture, and bacteria causes things to smell.  Since I have been training at Alliance in ATL, my workouts are very intense each class, and this cause me to sweat a lot.  In the beginning I was having some issues getting the smell out of my gis, I would wash them right after class yet when they came out of the dryer they would still smell.  Since then I have been using 1 cup of baking soda added in with the detergent at each wash and my gis come out smelling like a gi, not like a sweaty gi.

Rule #2. Wash yourself.  With all of the horror stories of things like staph, MRSA, and ringworm, it is imperative to take a shower after a BJJ class.  There are sometimes 50 guys all on one mat, sweating in close proximity, and it is hard to tell what everyone there may have living on their skin.  Certain people have higher natural levels of staph on their skin than others, they have developed an immunity to the staph that lives on them, but if you come in contact with it, and it gets into an open area on your skin you can get very sick, or get a nasty infection.  I am a nurse and I have had staph myself, I have seen how quickly a MRSA or a staph infection can spread through a group of people, the best practice is to shower immediately after training, or if you live very close to the gym, right when you get home.

This is what a serious staph infection looks like, shower after class to avoid getting something like this!

Rule #3.  Wear deodorant (not antiperspirant)  Men (and women) have different sweat glands in their pubic areas and under your arms, these glands produce a much stronger smelling musty sweat.  This is typically the sweat that cause people to stink, as normal sweat glands produce less pungent smelling sweat.  This has lead to the development of stronger and stronger antiperspirants.  Although at the surface antiperspirants sound like a good idea they come with a hidden danger, their active ingredient is aluminum.  Aluminum is a heavy metal and is absolutely not something you want to put into your body, especially since the primary way for the body to excrete heavy metals is by sweating them out.  The sweat glands become clogged with aluminum with antiperspirants and it becomes impossible for your body to rid itself of the heavy metal.  I suggest getting regular deodorant, it still smells nice and covers the sweat smell but, it is less likely to cause you serious problems like cancer or Alzheimer's disease.  Be sure to check the label and buy something that says deodorant and not antiperspirant.

Rule #4.  Clean your mouth.  Before a BJJ class its a good idea to drink a lot of water, this can help keep you hydrated and also keep your mouth clean.  On top of drinking water everyone knows you should brush your teeth at a bare minimum of once per day.  Hey we all forget sometimes, I won't judge you, but you can still grab some gum, grab some mouthwash, or worst case scenario brush your teeth with your finger and rinse for 30 seconds with water.  All these things will help keep the bacteria at bay and your breath smelling better.  We have to be in close proximity to other peoples faces in BJJ and no one likes talking to someone who's breath smells like a dogs mouth.

Now these tips aren't really to chastise anyone, we have all forgotten to brush our teeth, had to leave the gym in pinch, or forgot to put on deodorant, but if everyone tries to follow these guidelines everyone can have a better (and better smelling) BJJ experience.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Building muscle on a budget- Potatoes

Potatoes can be your best friend if you are looking to bulk up and add muscle to your frame.  Foods that would normally be eliminated from your diet (like white potatoes), can help you add carbs and serious calories to feed your growing muscles.  Here are some the benefits that make white potatoes an excellent food for those looking to get jacked!

1).  Price.  Potatoes are cheap, you can pick up a 5lb bag of organic russet/red/or Yukon gold potatoes for around $5 at most stores.  When I am looking to bulk up I usually buy a bag per week and aim to eat  1-2 servings every day.

2).  Calorie dense.  Potatoes are very calorie dense.  One large potato packs 280 calories and 58 grams of impact carbs.  Adding just two large potatoes per day to your diet can add 600 calories to your diet, and 120 grams of quality carbohydrates that will fuel muscle growth.

3).  Nutrient dense.  Not only do potatoes pack a calorie punch, but a nutritional punch as well.  Potatoes are loaded with B vitamins, contain around four times as much potassium as a banana, about 50% of your RDA of Vitamin C, and are high in magnesium, fiber, iron, and phosphorous, and that's not all either!

4).  Taste.  I have always heard the things that taste the best are the worst for you, but it's not always the case.  Like I mentioned earlier, potatoes are actually very nutritious (as long as they aren't cooked 3 times and deep fried like some french fries are).  Although they aren't a good choice if you are looking to lose weight they are great for gaining it.

5).  Insulin response.  Potatoes (white potatoes), can cause a significant insulin response, this triggers growth hormone and IGF-1 release in return.  These three powerful hormones can increase protein synthesis, stimulate muscle growth and recovery, and raise energy levels drastically.  Make a white potato part of your post workout meal and you will begin to see some serious results!  You can read more here

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Are you journaling towards your BJJ goals?

I'd like to cover one one of the tricks I have been using over the last few months to really help my Jiu-Jitsu progress more quickly.  I have had several of the world champions at my gym tell me about the benefits of journaling for BJJ gains, including multiple world and pan american champions Jonathan Thomas, and Jordon Schultz (you can check out his website at  Both of these top level competitors have told me personally about the benefits of journaling, and I have also heard many other superstars in the sport recommend journaling to speed progression.  First I will tell you about some of my own experiences with journaling, then I will explain how to organize it for maximum gains, and lastly I will give you a great resource to journal with especially if you are new to BJJ.

Since I have begun journaling I have experienced a good amount of success.  I have done journaling before, earlier in my BJJ journey, but because I did not know what I was doing I was not able to reap measurable results from doing so.  Since giving it another shot I have made some changes that have made a huge difference in the results I receive from journaling.

When I journal the format is something like this.  First I cover any problems that I had during sparring, I try to be as specific as possible and completely describe the position, whether I was submitted, couldn't finish a move, or got hit with someone Else's move I try to recreate the situation as vividly as possible.  Next I look at the roll more generally and try to look at other issues I may have had during class that aren't as specific such as, I didn't push the wrist across when going for omoplatas or I turtled several times and gave up my back.  These things fall under the need to work on category, I read these things before the next class and remind myself not to turtle, or to push the wrist across.  So I end with two categories, specific "problems", and things to remember "work on".

Next I take everything that fell into the "problems" category and add them into a large master list I entitle problems.  Each time I encounter a specific problem I add it to the master list.  Over time you will begin to see trends in your rolling, maybe you got hit with 7 armbars in one week, from one specific position.  After you have identified a trend, you can now begin to solve the problem, this will make your game much tighter and you will begin to see less and less of that problem as you begin to learn what you are doing and how to stop it.  The easiest ways to figure out how to solve these problems is to: ask a higher level belt or your instructor about the problem, take private lessons (highly effective, and very easy), or watch competition videos and try to see what top level athletes do in that position.

Now, for the "work on" section, I basically just refresh my memory before class on what I need to do or not to do.  I'll tell myself before every class don't turtle no matter what, or don't accept half guard, or be more aggressive with submissions, etc...

After you have identified problems in your game, and have found a way to solve the issue it is important to drill the solutions at least a few times a week until it becomes like second nature.  If you can't set aside time for drilling grab a buddy before or after class and just run through some reps for 10 or 15 minutes.  This will help your body become used to doing or not doing what ever it is you need it to do or not to do.

If you follow this system I promise you will be able to identify problems, strengths, and weaknesses in your game and begin to strengthen them all into strengths.  You can learn a lot about your game from this form of training and you will see excellent gains in the process.

Lastly I would like to mention a book I learned about during the 2011 Miami Open.  I met with the creator of this book, and spoke with him for a while after I had finished competing.  I think this book is an excellent resource for a white-blue belt student, and even for purple-brown if you don't journal already.  Please check out the book and order one if you want to see the power of journaling for yourself.  Please feel free to like their facebook page as well.

Make sure to check out the BJJ notebook a great new book for students of the game!

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Pan seared lodon broil with sweet potato and greenbeans.

Mom's Pan-fried London Broil Steak

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Time to prepare about 5 minutes, time to cook about 5 minutes.

What you will need:
4 oz of grass fed London broil
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen green beans
1 medium sweet potato
8-10 grape tomatoes
Olive oil or organic canola oil
Himalayan pink salt or non refined sea salt

This recipe will produce a steak that is around medium rare depending on thickness of the meat, if you would like your steak more well done you should add about 15-90 seconds on each side as desired.

First take about a 4 oz serving of London broil out of the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Next, place a pan on the stove top on medium-high heat without any oil.  Quickly wash off the sweet potato making sure to scrub off as much visible dirty as possible, poke five sets of holes in the potato on both sides and place in the microwave on high for 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Your pan should be hot now, so while your potato is cooking, lightly salt and pepper your steak and throw it in the pan.  The pan should be very hot and there may be some smoke while your steak cooks (this is normal just turn on a fan).  Let your steak cook for 1 minute and 30 seconds on one side making sure not to move it until the timer goes off.

Quickly put some olive oil in a pan and set it to medium heat and allow the pan to heat up.

Your timers should be going off now so flip your steak over to the other side and set the timer for another 1 minute and 30 seconds.  Then flip over your sweat potato, lightly cover in some oil and put back in the microwave for an additional 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Your second pan should be hot now, so add the green beans to the pan with the oil.  Lightly season the beans with some salt and pepper and stir them occasionally with a spoon or spatula.

After your steak has cooked for 1 minute and 30 seconds on each side place it on a plate to rest for five minutes and place the sweet potato on the plate next to your steak when they are both done cooking.

After cooking your green beans for 3-4 minutes add the grape tomatoes to the pan along with a small amount of additional salt, pepper, and oil; and cook for another 1-2 minutes as needed.  When they are finished place the green beans on the plate with your potato and steak.

Before eating your London broil cut it in thin strips with a serrated knife going with the marbling of the meat.
Put a cut down the middle of your potato and add cinnamon and a little organic butter if desired.

You have here a quick, simple, and healthy meal.  This meal is loaded with: fiber, healthy fats, protein, complex carbohydrates, and nutrients.  For more healthy 10 minute meals, make sure to follow Chasing the Dream on facebook or subscribe for email updates!

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Power lifting for women? You must be crazy... right?

Today I'd like to talk about something that might make you uncomfortable, especially if you are a woman.  Today I want to talk about something the mainstream fitness world is completely wrong about, women lifting weights.  I want to show you how you can get the toned and sexy body you have always wanted, (and men, this is the secret to getting your girl to look like a fitness model), become stronger and more confident, and feel good about yourself everyday.  To your surprise it doesn't involve endless cardio on a treadmill, or sets of 50 repetitions with a 2lb dumbbell, it involves one main thing... HEAVY WEIGHT TRAINING.  Read on and I will prove to you that most of the things you know about weight lifting for women are a lie.  I believe in heavy lifting enough to recommend it for my own wife, and she has seen some seriously positive results since switching up from high rep, low weight workouts.

I would like to start off by telling you ten reasons why lifting heavy weights will NOT make you bulky (like most trainers would tell you it will), but instead tone, and give you your dream body.
1) Women do NOT have the levels of testosterone that men do.  Unless women have an abnormally high level of testosterone (naturally or from steroid use), they will NOT gain muscle mass like a man will.  It just isn't in a women's genetic code to be 180lbs of solid muscle.
2) The women body builders you see on magazine use testosterone, this is the only reason they are as big as they are.  You can tell that their levels of testosterone have been modified just by looking at them, evidence of this can be found in: increased muscle mass, deepened voice, increased hair growth, and acne.
3) Toning is developed through strength training.  Toning essentially means that as a muscle becomes trained to handle higher loads it becomes denser and more easily excitable at rest, this causes muscles to look more defined and causes your body to have a more desirable shape.
4) High volume exercise causes muscle gain, not heavy weights.  Reps in the range of 8-20 (what most trainers would recommend for a female looking to "tone up"), are actually what cause muscle growth (hypertrophy), for instance a body builder will typically use 3 sets of 8-12, with about four exercises per body part, this type of training causes significant micro trauma and as a result, bigger muscles.
5) Heavy weights promote strength not bulk.  Lifting heavy weights within 20% of your one rep max primarily works thorough training the Central Nervous System, this leads your muscles to be able to perform more weight and stay more "tense" during rest leading to increased strength and muscle tone, without significant muscle gain.
6) Your personal trainer probably is not your friend!  Most personal trainers are frauds, yes complete frauds! Trainers have been taught to make you sweat, make you sore, and most of all make you come back for more!  There whole program revolves around pushing you, but not too hard so that you stay happy and keep coming back.  Let's face it, heavy weights are tough, especially when you aren't used to them, most people won't actually do what will help if it's "too hard", but a true friend will tell you truth whether it pisses you off or not, that's why I am telling you not to always trust what your trainer says, ultimately they want your money not your satisfaction.
7) Getting huge muscles takes time.  Getting "huge" isn't an overnight process, it takes many men months just to add 5-10lbs of lean muscle to their frame, even if you somehow start getting bulky it won't be irreversible and it takes time for it to happen.
8) Bulking up is dependent upon calorie intake.  If you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight, if you lift heavy weights and eat more than you burn you will gain weight, if you do high reps and eat more than you burn you will gain weight.  If you are lifting heavy weights and "bulking up" it is because you are eating too much (unless you are looking to get bigger).  Eat less, eat a better diet, or add some cardio to your training and you'll stop gaining weight.  If you want a great looking body you are going to have to work for it, a small and lucky group of people look great without exercise or diet, but for the rest of us the path is hard but the reward is great!

Heavy lifting will help tone your muscles, make you stronger, and make you feel better, but it won't magically melt fat away.  Unfortunately for women, one of the side effects of having high estrogen levels is fat storage.  If you have extra body fat, you will need to take in less calories than you burn.  The most effective way of doing this (in my opinion) is not calorie restriction but through the metabolic diet, and restricting carbohydrates.  You can read more about the diet and carbohydrate intake here>

If you have extra body fat you want to lose, I recommend doing heavy weight training for 6-12 weeks with a mild calorie restriction and some light cardio a few days per week.  Gaining strength and subsequent muscle tone will be easier to achieve without a strict diet change.  After you have begun to see the results of your hard work (more toned muscle, more shapely curves, and some fat loss), you will be more motivated than ever to stick to a diet and really dig deep and work hard in the gym.  Depending upon how much extra fat you have to lose, you can begin to see significant changes in your body in 3-6 months by following the strong lifts lifting program, changing up your diet, modifying your carbohydrate intake, and adding some cardiovascular training, you will be well on your way to getting the body of you (and every guys) dreams.  Make sure and check the link below to another post in my blog to help you plan out your lifting schedule.

Lastly I'd like to add a few pictures of women who used power lifting to get their bodies into a shape that any girl would be jealous of.  Just some inspiration if you are still on the fence.

Jean Fry 415lb Squat, 375lb Deadlift, 250lb bench press at 123lbs bodyweight.

Simitah Sing, mother and powerlifter

If you still don't believe me then check out the links below on three different (very attractive) females (pictured above) who use heavy weight training/power lifting in their fitness routines both to look good, and in two of their cases to actually compete in power lifting.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Building muscle on a budget- Chocolate Milk

Horizon organic chocolate milk is my choice for post workout for price, convenience, and taste!
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Chocolate milk is in many ways the perfect post workout drink, and its incredibly affordable if you are on a budget.  I'll give you some of the top reasons why making chocolate milk your post workout drink is a great idea for your muscles, and for your wallet.

1) Taste  Who can deny that chocolate milk tastes great?  Seriously, I have never met a person who doesn't like chocolate milk (no offense if somehow you don't like the taste).  I personally drink chocolate milk at the end of my weight lifting sessions, and even though it always tastes great to me, it tastes even better right after a workout when your blood sugar levels are low and your glycogen stores are empty.

2) Price  Chocolate milk is pretty cheap.  Milk and eggs are about the cheapest sources of complete proteins you can buy.  You can pick up a 1 gallon jug for about $3 or $6 for organic milk (which I use), both have 16 servings in a container, for less than 40 cents you can get a quality serving of carbs, protein, and healthy fats (if you go with organic).

3) Protein As I stated above, chocolate milk is an excellent source of protein.  Protein is important to take in post workout to help promote muscle growth and repair.  Working out puts stress on your body and causes an environment where fat, glucose, glycogen, and even amino acids are burned for energy.  As muscle breaks down from the stress of a workout it is important to give it a serving of protein immediately after a workout to promote recovery and repair of muscle.

4) Simple Carbs  Simple carbohydrates like sugar are not only good after a workout, they are ideal.  As you workout (especially during weight training) your body burns blood glucose and then glycogen (your body's store of carbohydrates for energy) to fuel the work.  Towards the end of a workout your glycogen stores may be completely diminished, taking in simple carbohydrates post workout can help replenish glycogen stores, provide an insulin response that can shuttle nutrients and amino acids into the muscles, and promote muscle repair and recovery.

5) Ideal protein to carb ratio  There is some debate over what the "ideal" protein to carb ratio actually is, some say 2-1, 3-1, or 4-1.  Whatever the ideal ratio is, most studies have shown that a ratio of carbohydrates to protein somewhere in this range promotes recovery much quicker and more effectively than consuming either carbs or protein alone.  This combination also triggers a stronger insulin response and has been shown to cause up to 100% more glycogen to be retained in the muscle.  A glass of chocolate milk has about 8 grams of protein to 22 grams of carbohydrates, about a 3-1 ratio.

I always recommend choosing organic foods especially when dealing with animal products like eggs, meats, and dairy, but you must weigh the costs and benefits of organic versus traditional grown food on your own.  If you are interested in learning more about carbohydrates and how they affect the body check out my five part series on carbohydrates here.

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