Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays!



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I would like to let all of my readers know that I have not fallen off the earth, but I will however be taking a break from blogging until after the January 1st, 2012.  I, like the rest of you, will be spending some time with family, celebrating my one year marriage anniversary, and of course training some BJJ.

Alliance ATL, will be relocating sometime in January and Lucas Lepri will soon be here teaching classes full time.  More mat space, a new instructor (along with Jacare), and the same awesome environment that has made Alliance world champion team 4 years in a row will all contribute to 2012 being a big year for alliance, and for me personally.  Look for big things in 2012, make your New Year's resolutions good ones, and dream big.

Happy Holidays!

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vibrations (Part 3) The law of attraction


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The law of attraction is simple, like attracts like.  Negative thoughts attract negative results, while positive thoughts attract positive results.  Life for the most part is not some random coincidence, every single day we make decisions to do or not to do things, to think or not think things, to keep going or to give up on things, all of these decisions affect our lives and our futures...Every single one of these decisions starts out as a thought.  The first step to becoming rich is deciding to acquire money, the first step to being a champion is to decide to become a champion, the first step to FAILURE is deciding to quit!

Success is transient and hard to obtain in any form, success can come and go, as can opportunities to be successful, success does not usually happen by chance, it happens through sacrifice, hard work, and of course heart break.  If you form and idea, think of that idea constantly, and turn it into an obsession eventually your subconscious mind will give you the plan to achieve your goal, then the rest is up to you.  After all these things have come to pass you must create a plan of action for your idea, and you must follow that plan no matter how difficult it becomes; you must always continue to focus upon the end result (your success).  Some people, through their personalities and how they were raised, have these qualities ingrained in them naturally, while others may need to work harder to change their thinking into a positive manner.

If you want money don't think about being poor or not having money, instead think about being rich, see yourself in possession of more money than you could ever spend.  You will begin to see yourself with this money in hand and your mind will begin to generate the ideas and plans that will allow you to become rich beyond imagination.  It all starts with your thoughts, if you focus on being poor you will always be poor, if you focus on being rich you will become rich.  If you want success you must see yourself in possession of that success, eventually your thought will become reality.

Please ignore those that would have you believe that you cannot achieve your goals, only you can decide your future!  Opinions are the most abundant resource on this planet, and most people have far too many of them they throw around at others.  Learn to control your thinking, block out the naysayers, keep your eyes on the goal ahead of you, create a plan and stick to it, before you know it you will have arrived at your destination...YOUR SUCCESS.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vibrations (Part 2) What is thought?


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As science has progressed we have learned more about the universe and more about ourselves.  Scientists and Doctors can now measure a thought.  This could only be possible if thought is an actual energy, if a thought is energy, then that means it is only a small step away from being a particle, a particle is what makes up matter.  This has the greatest significance, because if a thought is energy (it is energy) the greater that energy becomes the more likely it is for that thought to become a reality.  Imagine one person thinking a thought once a month, "gee it would be nice to end world hunger", that thought may never become reality, but take 1,000,000 people and have them think that thought 30 times per day every day... pretty soon a lot of people will be making strides toward ending world hunger.

Energy is a wave, a wave is a vibration, a vibration is a frequency... know this!  Every single thought has a frequency and the more finely tuned you can make that thought the greater its chance at becoming reality becomes.  This is how ideas became some of the greatest achievements of all time, one person had enough passion to follow an idea, to obsess over an idea until it become their single defining task in life, after enough times of failure and setback finally the idea became a reality.  Simply by thinking of something enough you can make it a reality, but only if you want it enough to work for it.

The human body has an incredibly complex system called the nervous system.  Tiny pulses of electricity are constantly moving from your sensory organs (skin, eyes, nose, tongue, ears, etc...) towards your brain, and they are also moving from your brain to your muscles, organs, and cells.  Think about this, anytime your brain produces an idea to move, it creates energy, a tiny pulse of electricity, and that pulse travels down your spine, down your arm, and all the way to your finger, then the proper metaboliuc funtions are performed by your body to allow your finger to move.  The human mind is so incredibly complex, and most people use only a fraction of it.  The greatest power of the human mind, over everything else, is to literally think an idea into existence.

The last thing I would like to briefly talk about is something that my be a little bit touchy.  Whether you believe in God, spirits, higher knowledge or what ever you would like to call it, it seems incredibly clear to me that there is something beyond the human world as we understand it.  Napoleon Hill talks about this and often refers to it as higher intelligence or collective conciousness, the culmination of every single mind, and thought all in one very alive and very vivid collective energy.  I would like you take a look at the picture below and realize the amazing simililarities between the brain and the universe.  Many quantum physicists believe that the universe could not even exist without conciousness, Albert Einstein touched on this slightly in some of his work.  I am not preaching any religion here, but please look around out society and see the spirit of people is very alive!  People of all different: religions, languages, colors, and cultures are united in one thing... HUMANITY, we are all human.  A spirit of harmony towards our fellow men and women is very necessary for ultimate success as the universe will gravitate towards an idea formed by love before it will gravitate towards an idea born of hate.







 If you can come to realize that anything you want from life you can have, then nothing in this life is out of your reach!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Six benefits of raw foods.


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There are many benefits to eating raw foods.  The majority of my diet is composed of raw fruits and vegetables and has been for several years.  Ever since I began to eat this way on a daily basis, I began to experience: increased energy and recovery, eased digestion, less indigestion, and even enhanced sleep.

#1- Higher nutrient levels.  Many nutrients are destroyed at the temperatures required for cooking.  By cooking foods (and especially overcooking foods) many of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can be destroyed, this means less of the things you need are actually getting into your body.  This is why eating a large amount of raw fruits and vegetables can contribute to a better nutrition status.

#2- Better digestion.  Raw foods contain natural enzymes that allow them to be more easily broken down for the body to use.  When we cook foods, the high temperatures destroy these naturally occuring enzymes.  Then it is necessary for our own bodies to produce these enzymes, adding additional stress to our bodies.

#3- Better acid vs. base balance.  Most raw foods are alkaline in nature.  Alkaline foods are very beneficial for the body since the body's regular PH must be maintained between 7.35-7.45 to maintain life.  Alkaline foods encourage the body to stay in this alkaline range, which is optimal for good health.  Acidic foods like meats, dairy, and grains should be eaten sparingly as they can leech minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorous from your body.

#4- Low sodium.-  Raw foods are naturally low in sodium.  Over consumption of sodium can contribute to: hypertension, high cholesterol, and bloating and water retention.

#5-  Easy to prepare.-  Raw foods take zero prep work (other than maybe peeling a fruit or veggie).  Just peel and eat, or grab and eat is all that's required to eat a raw food.  Of course you can actually prepare a raw meal (raw foodism), but it definitely is not required.

#6-  High fiber.-  Most of the foods you eat raw (fruits and veggies), are naturally high in fiber.  Fiber aids in digestion, weight loss or maintenance, decreases some cancer risks, and helps to detox the body.


If you shoot to make 75% or more of your diet raw fruits and vegetables I am positive you will be feeling better in no time, so give it a try!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Vibrations (Part 1) What is matter?


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Everything in existence is composed of one of two things, either matter, or energy.  Interestingly enough as we explore the universe (and the microverse), it is becoming increasingly more likely that even matter is created by a not completely understood form of energy.  Even something as solid as steel is made up of trillions upon trillions of tiny atoms;  these atoms are composed of neutrons bonded with protons (the nucleus) and surrounded by electrons which spin around the nucleus at incredibly high speeds.  These protons, electrons, and neutrons are now believed to be composed of even smaller particles called quarks.  These tiny particles which have properties of both energy and matter make up most of the known matter in the universe.  To get back to the steel from the previous example, even though the steel is incredibly dense as far as our understanding goes, it is incredibly empty and made up of tiny moving particles with lots of space in between; amazingly these particles are moving so quickly that it creates an illusion of sorts of actually being solid.

When examining light this conundrum once again presents itself, what is matter, and what is energy?  Light was once believed to be only a wave (energy), a wave is, put simply, a displacement of matter as energy tranfers through it (vibration).  This theory created several problems, if space is a giant vaccum consisting of absence of any particles or mass, then how could a wave of light travel through space all the way from the sun to our distant planet, how could a strange property known as gravity allow celestial bodies to influence other bodies thousands or millions of miles away?  We then were introduced  to a particle called the photon (a particle of light which has no mass yet sometimes reacted as matter, yet was also was a wave). I would like to point out that it was also believed at one time that electrons had no mass, but this was later proved wrong, so it is still very possible that photons do have mass.  This helped to form the theory of Wave-particle duality (which states-all particles exhibit both wave and particle properties).  This again leads us to the question of what is matter, and what is energy?  What really does compose our universe?  My personal opinion is that everything we can: see, breathe, touch, smell, taste is all energy.  Through a process we cannot completely understand everything in existence is created by energy.  This is not a far stretch in my mind, consider again the hunk of steel made up of a countless number of tiny fast moving particles of something in between energy and matter.  I believe that everything around us is made up of something ethereal, something pulsating and constantly vibrating at the highest frequencies!  How would you feel if we someday learned that everything in our entire universe is made from only tiny vibrations and that matter is simply a state created by incredibly high and exactly tuned frequencies?  Ponder this... maybe we are not as real as we think we are, or maybe our concept on what is real and what is false is based solely on what we can see with our eyes.


The whole point of this is to introduce to you the thought that maybe our perceptions can deceive us, maybe everything we see, is not really as it seems.  Maybe a thought can be more powerful than a machine gun. Maybe an idea can cause more destruction than the most powerful nuclear bomb, or more good than all the worlds greatest charities.  Maybe everything in your life is under your own control, and your own thoughts can influence the entire universe around you.







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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Creatine, the most tried and tested supplement of all time!- Part 2 (How to take it, and what to take)

Doses for creatine depend on several different factors including: type of creatine, body weight, and phase of dosing.  The most well known and reliable form of creatine is creatine monohydrate, but I will also talk about my favorite types of creatine, and also what I have used without any success.  I will also give you some general tips on how to take creatine to receive maximal results and what to avoid with supplementation.

Creatine Dosing Table
Creatine dosing table for creatine monohydrate. (courtesy of http://www.creatinemonohydrate.net)

Creatine AKG is my personal favorite type of creatine.  Since this creatine is bonded to AKG (a well documented transporter that easily travels through the cell wall) it becomes much more potent than creatine monohydrate.  Because of its efficiency, it takes much less of creatine AKG to yield the same beneficial results as creatine monohydrate.  Since you don't have to use as much you have less of the negative side affects of creatine use and also less stress on the kidneys.  Creatine AKG has yielded the same results for me as creatine monohydrate, but with taking much less of the supplement, and I also have a little bit less of the associated water gain.  Creatine AKG is very affordable and easy to find in pure powders without fillers, artificial sweeteners, flavors, or dyes.

Creatine monohydrate is the form of creatine most often used in testing and is the most basic of all types of creatine.  Creatine monohydrate is often associated with bloating (which as I mentioned in an earlier article is actually a benefit not a side effect).  Creatine monohydrate is my second favorite form of creatine that I have used, right behind creatine AKG.  Creatine monohydrate has been very effective for me, but does add a very high amount of water weight which isn't always preferable with BJJ training or when you do a lot of heavy cardiovascular exercise.  Below is a chart showing dosing for creatine monohydrate.  This is a highly recommended, highly effective, highly studied, and inexpensive form of creatine.  Creatine monohydrate is also very easy to find in a pure powder without any added ingredients.

I have tried many other forms of creatine, some successfully and others without success.  I had moderate success with creatine ethyl ester, this form of creatine is a very "lean" form and causes very little water gain, but as mentioned this is actually one of the benefits of creatine.  I have also tried kre-alkilyn, and despite it's rising popularity I experienced ZERO results with this product (I used both capsules and liquid, neither with any results).  I have NEVER experienced any noticeable benefits from any form of creatine in pill or capsule form.  The most successful creatine cycles I have done involved pure powders with no other ingredients.

If you should choose to give creatine monohydrate a try then use the dosing chart above.  Creatine monohydrate usually requires a five day loading phase in order to saturate muscles with creatine.  For five days you take the recommended dose for your body weight divided into 4 equal doses at least five hours apart (this helps increase absorption).  On the sixth day you begin taking the maintenance dose, one dose each day.

If you choose creatine AKG it does not typically require a loading phase due to it's increased absorption.  I usually take 3 grams per day, everyday.  After about a week I begin to notice a huge difference in my strength and endurance.


Tips

If you decide to give creatine a shot there are a few things you should know to ensure you are getting the most out of your supplementation.  

1) Cycles should last no more than 4-6 weeks (some studies suggest long term supplementation may affect your body's natural production of creatine)
2) In between cycles you should take at least 4 weeks off from creatine (this is called a wash out period and allows muscle creatine levels to completely go back to normal)
3) Creatine should be taken first thing upon waking with breakfast on off days.
4) Creatine should be taken immediately post work out with a high GL carbohydrate to maximize absorption.
5) Always drink at least 8oz of water with creatine.
6) Follow dosing instructions on containers as manufacturers know best what it actually in their product.

Here is my personal favorite.  It is effective, cheap, and doesn't bloat too badly.







Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lucas Lepri coming to Alliance, ATL, 2012!!!


If you thought Alliance in Atlanta was dead without Cobrinha, you are DEAD wrong!  Join hands down one of the best gyms in the country where world champions are on the mat in every class!

Alliance lives and the level of training will only continue to grow with our new co-instructor Lucas Lepri.  Look for many of our guys to be on top of the podium again this year.

Alliance 
OsssssSSSS!






How carbohydrates affect your body. Part 5- Putting it all together (Building Mass)


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If building muscle is your primary goal then your carbohydrate plan is quite the opposite of someone who is trying to lose fat or slim down.  The same hormones that are responsible for fat storage play a strong role in muscle growth.

Insulin is a powerful hormone that not only turns glucose into fat, but also turns it into glycogen (a complex form of sugar stored in your liver and muscles for energy).  When your body produces insulin it also produces a hormone called insulin like growth factor one (IGF-1).  IGF-1 production is also triggered by growth hormone secretion.  All of these powerful hormones, along with testosterone optimization, should be used together to create a highly anabolic environment for muscle growth.  Combining a caloric excess with plenty of carbohydrates, and heavy weight, high intensity, compound exercises you can being to see lean mass add up on your frame.  Read more about weightlifting here>http://everystepblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/strong-base.html or here>http://everystepblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/beginners-guide-to-power-lifting.html

When building muscle is your primary concern you want to choose plenty of foods with high GL especially after a workout.  Foods like: pasta, white bread (organic), fruit juices, white rice, and white potatoes are good choices as they lead to increased insulin, and ultimately increased GH, and IGF-1.  Insulin has the powerful capability to super saturate muscles with nutrients, amino acids, and glycogen making them able to recover faster and ultimately grow through increased protein synthesis.

The most important times to eat high GL carbohydrates for muscle gain are: morning immediately after waking up, immediately post workout, and 1-2 hours post workout.  I recommend a complex carbohydrate mixed with simple carbohydrate for breakfast for a spike with sustained energy; a high GI high GL carbohydrate like fruit juice, chocolate milk, sugar, white rice, or white bread immediately after your workout, and then a complex carbohydrate 1-2 hours after your workout.  Basically when adding mass is your primary goal you want to eat, eat a lot, and eat often.  The foods you usually want to limit during a cutting phase become your best friend during a bulking phase.


There is a fine line between a clean mass building phase and a dirty mass building phase.  You can gain a lot of muscle by lifting heavy and eating McDonald's three times per day, but the proportion of fat to muscle that you will gain may be undesirable, however if you keep your diet pretty clean (still include a lot of fruits and vegetables, slightly decrease fat intake, increase healthy fats, and increase lean protein), you will be able to gain much leaner mass with a higher percentage of it being muscle as opposed to fat.

This concludes my five part series of carbohydrates.  Please like my page of facebook, subscribe to my RSS feed, or subscribe for email updates if you are interested in the content I provide here in my blog.  By adding my page facebook you help me to reach more people in your friends list and increase traffic to my blog!  I am always more than happy to answer any questions from my readers just comment below or on the Chasing the Dream page on facebook. Thank you to all of my readers!

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What's the perfect game plan to beat you? (turning weakness into strength)



An extremely important part to achieving any goal is self examination.  You know yourself better than anyone on this earth, if you can learn to look at yourself objectively and identify your weaknesses you can become virtually unstoppable.  Pride is often a byproduct of being blinded by your own success and if you only focus winning you may forget what helped you win in the first place, or worse yet, forget what has made you lose.  It seems to me that one of the best ways to improve at anything is to constantly observe areas that need improvement.

In Jiu-Jitsu I believe it is of incredible benefit to keep a journal of how your training sessions go.  Lets say everyday you keep a journal and it becomes obvious after a week or two that you are constantly getting hit with armbars.  Chances are there is something you are doing, or not doing that is causing you to get armbared repeatedly.  You may never have realized this problem unless you took the time to journal, now that you know your weakness you can begin to solve them.  In order to succeed or improve at ANYTHING in life, it is of paramount importance to realize that there is no such thing as failure unless you give up.  Every time you get tapped in class be happy because now you can learn to defend that submission, every time someone passes your guard rejoice, because now you can learn to defend that pass.  It is important to keep a log of all of your problems and immediately address them.  Ask an upper belt how to counter your issue, watch videos of black belts competing, do drills with the position until you get it, this is how you really improve.  People don't become champions by rolling to beat everyone in class all the time, they don't succeed by only doing what they are good at, you might be tall man on the totem pole in the gym, but how do you do in tournaments?

If you want to be the best at anything, you must understand your weaknesses and overcome them.  If you want a promotion at work, you need to know what your strengths are, but it is most important to know your weaknesses.  People will see your strengths clearly and if they must compete with you they will avoid your strength and attack your weaknesses.  Your bosses know your strengths, they hired you for them, but what will really impress a boss is improvement!  Maybe you know tardiness has always been your problem, you have justified it to yourself making excuses for it:  I always stay late, I always pick up when they need it, I am always on call on the weekend, but trust me your boss will remember you are always tardy.  If a promotion is what you are after you better start showing up on time, then it will show your employer that you are improving, and you are turning your weakness into a strength.  This is one of the secrets of everyone who has truly been successful in life, being humble enough to observe yourself and find your shortcomings and turning them into strengths.

A great way to find where your game needs improvement is to pretend that you have an evil twin.  They think just like you, they roll just like you, move just like you, and they know your game inside and out.  What would this twin do to beat you?  Would they pull guard first?   Would they go for the take down?  Would they play de la riva?  Would they counter your spider guard?  If you ask questions like these and answer them honestly you will begin to find your weaknesses, make note of your problems in every class, because this is one of the best ways to improve.

Getting back up is the number one indicator of any one's determination.  Many people stay down when they fail, and so they are defeated.  If you truly want to succeed you must turn failure into success, one way or another you must realize that every failure is a chance to improve, and a chance to succeed.  A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.  Maybe you don't want to be a world champion, but you should know what your goals are and they should be definitive, if you don't know where you are going you will NEVER get there.  Keep going, keep learning, stay positive, and keep rolling!




Monday, December 5, 2011

Creatine, the most tried and tested supplement of all time!- Part 1 (What is creatine?)


What is creatine?

Creatine is one of the most popular supplements of all time.  In countless studies creatine has shown the ability to increase muscle mass, increase strength and endurance, increase metabolism, decrease belly fat, and even increase testosterone.  With all the benefits of creatine supplementation the only real question is why aren't you using it to help you achieve your goals?

Creatine is composed naturally in your body out of several amino acids.  The main source of creatine, however is meat, especially red meat.  It is worth note that in studies where vegetarians were observed they had significantly lower levels of creatine than non vegetarians, but after supplementation both groups were equal, making creatine supplementation important for vegetarians.  Of all the creatine in your body over 95% is found in the skeletal muscle.  Creatine is responsible for increasing production of ATP in the muscle cell (the first source of cellular energy);  this leads to an immediate increase in strength and endurance once the muscle cell has been saturated with creatine.  Creatine supplementation has been shown the ability to greatly increase ATP supply of the muscle cell.

A little more on creatine.

Research performed on creatine has repeatedly shown that oral doses of 5-20 grams per day are extremely safe and associated with only very minor side effects like: dry mouth, minor cramping, and stomach upset, and most of these side affects can be mitigated if you use creatine properly.  Creatine should always be taken with at least 8oz of water.  If you are supplementing with creatine you should drink at least 32oz of additional water per day.  When you take creatine it should be COMPLETELY dissolved in water or juice, if there are visible particles of creatine then it can increase stomach upset.  Creatine pulls a tremendous amount of water along with it (which is also one of its benefits), but if particles are left intact and not completely dissolved it can pull additional water into the intestines which can cause gastric upset and diarrhea.

Creatine enters the muscle under several different mechanisms.  Since taking creatine orally elevates plasma levels of creatine it enters the cell through osmosis, where concentrations of less dilute composition move into more dilute areas.  Creatine also enters the muscle cell via insulin transport, this is why creatine's benefits can be multiplied when taking it dissolved in juice, or taking it with a simple carbohydrate like table sugar (this stimulates insulin response and increases uptake of the creatine into the muscle cell).

How does creatine work?



As I stated before, creatine works through several mechanisms to increase: strength, endurance, and recovery.  The primary effect of creatine is that it increases production of ATP (the cell's first source of energy).  Creatine is converted in the body into Phosphocreatine, this allows ATP to be regenerated and recycled more efficiently.  The amount of ATP in the muscle cell is the main limiting factor in muscle fatigue, since creatine extends the life of the ATP store, it can immediately increase the amount of time your muscles can perform a maximal contraction.

Creatine also contributes to a state called "muscle volumization".  When a muscle cell is volumized it is super hydrated with nutrients and fluids from the blood stream.  This added circulation immediately increases muscle endurance and size (this is also the thing most people complain about, claiming to feel bloated with creatine supplementation).  This effect usually will contribute to somewhere between 2-6 lbs of weight gain, strictly due to the extra fluid in your muscles (this weight gain is temporary and will be lost when creatine supplementation ceases).

Creatine increases protein synthesis.  Protein synthesis is the process of converting amino acids into new muscle cells.  Protein synthesis will only occur in an anabolic environment.  Creatine contributes to this environment through both muscle cell volumization, and also through increasing endurance which allows you to work harder and stimulate a stronger recovery response from your training.

The other effects of creatine are less widely studied, but are still believed to be a very important component of why creatine is so effective at building strength and muscle.  These benefits include: increased testosterone production, increased growth hormone and insulin like growth factor, and some research has also shown that creatine is a powerful antioxidant.

In my next article I will cover some of the different types of creatine and which kinds I have used with the most success.  I will also cover dosing, cycling, and ways to increase the effectiveness of creatine.  Please make sure to like Chasing the Dream on facebook or sign up for email updates so you don't miss this important article!

Here is my recommended creatine.  It is affordable, effective, and doesn't cause too much water gain.





Sunday, December 4, 2011

How carbohydrates affect your body. Part 4- Putting it all together (Losing fat)


Now that you understand a little bit on how carbohydrates affect your body let's put together a loose guideline on what to do when you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle.  It is not impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, but it is incredibly inefficient and not very likely.  If you are overweight I suggest building a solid muscle base first and then losing extra fat (this will be easier because muscle burns fat).  It is nearly impossible to do both simultaneously, because burning fat requires caloric deficit while muscle building requires caloric excess, or at minimum a caloric balance.  Through following the principles I have described and will describe in this article, it will become possible to gain very lean muscle and also to lose fat while maintaining your muscle mass. You can read more about weight training here http://everystepblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/strong-base.html, and here http://everystepblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/beginners-guide-to-power-lifting.html
Know that weight training is incredibly important for body changes and is much more effective than cardio for changing your body composition.

1) Losing fat.  When losing fat is your main concern there are several key things to consider.  The goal here is to keep your glycemic load fairly low.  The best way I can suggest doing this is with a diet called the metabolic diet.  This consists of a low, moderate, and high carbohydrate diet that alternates each day.  For example: Mon.-low carb, Tues.-moderate carb, Wed.- high carb, Thurs.- low carb,  Fri.- moderate carb, Sat.- low carb, Sun.- high carb (with one all out cheat meal).  The basic idea behind this idea is that you keep calorie intake relatively consistent while you switch up the amount of carbs you consume each day.  By keeping the body in a state of confusion you can maintain fat burning hormones while keeping fat storing hormones like insulin low throughout the week.  One day per week you allow yourself one all out cheat meal (this is especially important if you are training intensely in BJJ, doing cardio and weights, or both).  There are other modifications you should make when you are looking to shed fat, but I will save those for a later post.

By using an alternating diet you can confuse your metabolism and keep your sanity at the same time.  It is much easier to keep a diet where you know: you will have two days a week to have some carbs, and you'll get one cheat meal each week.  It is important to make all of your carbs throughout the week quality carbs, which mean low glycemic index.  On low carb days avoid all grains, limit fruit consumption, increase vegetable consumption, avoid tubers (potatoes), and increase your fat intake (omega-3s, poly and monounsaturated fats, and quality saturated fats from organic dairy, eggs, meat, or coconut oil).  On moderate carb days limit grains to one serving (whole grains only), increase fruit consumption slightly, keep vegetable intake the same, one serving of sweet potato is allowable as well.  On high carb days 2+ servings of grains, increase fruit intake, slightly decrease vegetable intake, sweet potatoes are acceptable, and decrease fat intake.  One meal per week is to all out eat what ever you want, eat as much as you can, this will keep you sane and keep your metabolism white hot.

Try to eat 6 meals a day minimum and never eat a carbohydrate by itself.  If you have bread, eat nuts or peanut butter with it, eating carbs with protein and fat slows digestion and lowers the GI, which decreases fat storage (due to decreased insulin response).  A good rule of thumb is to try to consume between 0.5-1 grams of protein per lb of body weight, but this of course varies due to activity level.

I could be much more specific about this, but I would have to create a tailor made program based off your specific needs and metabolism (instead I am giving you a rough guide to follow), just be aware that dietary modifications may need to be made based off: activity level, age, sex, weight, and personal goals.

Please feel free to comment with any questions below.  If you haven't liked Chasing the Dream on facebook yet please do so and help my page to grow!




Friday, December 2, 2011

Why buy organic?


Organic foods have a ton of benefits to offer anyone interested in buying them.  There has a been a huge surge of interest in organic foods as documentaries like Food Inc. have shown the horrors of factory farming and some of the terrible conditions our foods are grown in.  Here are six quick reasons you should look to buy organic foods whenever possible.

1) Reduces toxic chemicals in the environment.  This is good for: water quality, soil quality, air quality, animals, and ultimately good for you and the foods you eat.

2) Better soil.  Since organic foods can't be grown in soils with artificial nutrients or fertilizers the soil is free from harmful chemicals and is more naturally full of nutrients.  Farmers must use sustainable farming practices to keep soil healthy, which leads to more nutritious food as well.

3) More humane for animals.  Animals raised on organic farms live much better lives than those raised on factory farms.  Factory farmed animals are:  raised in tight living quarters, often never see sunlight, fed hormones and antibiotics, and fed unnatural diets.

4) Free from GMOs.  While still controversial GMOs are genetically engineered foods that are produced in a laboratory by mad scientists.  Monsanto says that they are just as healthy and totally safe, but some independent studies have shown otherwise.  Since legislation to label GMO products was struck down, the only way to be sure you aren't eating franken fish or franken beans is to buy organic (GMOs are banned).

5) Supports sustainable agriculture and small farms.  Most organic foods come from small independent farms that respect nature and the earth.  By buying organic you help support the farmers that create food for people while giving back to the earth instead of destroying it.

6) Organics are healthier.  Not only do organics have higher nutrient values, but they are free from pesticides and other chemicals that harm your body and it's cells.  Plus as foods age they often lose nutrients.  Organic foods are usually sourced from local farms which makes food fresher too!

These are just some of the benefits of buying organic foods, I try to buy everything I eat organic.  Start buying organic today and start eating for a healthier earth, and a better you!




Thursday, December 1, 2011

How carbohydrates affect your body. Part 3- Glycemic Load

Glycemic load is the combination of two factors: a food's glycemic index, and a standardized portion of 100 grams.  What this means is glycemic load uses the glycemic index of a food along with the portion of carbs to create a more accurate measure of how a food will affect your blood sugar. Glycemic Load = GI x net carbs/100.  Since glucose is used as the standard these equations are divided by 100 to find glycemic load.

The glycemic load of a medium apple is 5.7.

A GL of 20 or higher is considered high, 11-19 is considered medium, and 10 or less is considered low.  I do not actually take the time to measure out the glycemic load in every meal I eat, even when I am looking to lose weight, the point of this is to help you actually understand what effects the food you eat will produce so you can plan accordingly.

The main point of this article is so that you understand that a small portion of a high GI carbohydrate will produce a response equivalent to a medium or large serving of a low GI carbohydrate.  This is important for several reasons; when you are trying to lose weight no one likes to starve and its not productive to do so, if you understand that 1 cup of brown rice will have the same effect as 1/2 cup of white rice, you can eat more  and still maintain weight, or eat the same amount but with a lower GI food and lose weight.  The main reason this works is because of the hormone insulin I mentioned early.  Less insulin is produced with a lower GL food, which means less fat storage.  This is how you can eat the same amount or even more and still lose weight.

The basic idea is to take a look at the nutrition labels on your food and find out how many carbohydrates are present.  On the label it should list protein, fats, and carbohydrates, present in grams, in one serving of the food.  The best way to gauge how many carbohydrates are actually in a serving, is to find the total carbs and then subtract fiber, which will give you the net carbs present (the carbs that will actually affect blood sugar).  For example a food has 25 grams of carbohydrates in a serving with 9 grams of fiber, you subtract 9 from 25 to get 16 grams of total net (or impact) carbs.  If you already know that this is a low GI food then it would be an excellent choice for a carbohydrate source.  Without even thinking about it much at all you should be able to take a look at a label, look at sugar content and fiber content and tell if the carb source is a healthy one.  Labels that show a lot of sugar (5 or more grams) comparitive to total carbs is usually a bad choice, while a label that lists a high amount of fiber (2-10 grams) is usually a good choice.

Glycemic Load combats the main problems with Glycemic Index.  For instance, a carrot is actually a high glycemic food, however the amount of net carbs present in a serving of carrots are low so the glycemic load ends up being small as well.  If you would like an excellent resource to find glycemic loads along with nutrition data check out this site. http://nutritiondata.self.com  They have an extensive collection of foods with in depth nutrition data and they always show glycemic load as well.  Start out looking up the foods you eat, after a while you will have a good understanding of which foods have a favorable glycemic loads and can make better choices based off that knowledge.  Remember, if you are looking to lose or maintain weight, or lose extra fat always avoid processed and refined carbohydrates: white bread, white rice, white potatoes, sugars, sweets, and white pasta.

Avoid these for a smaller waist.

Now that you understand: what carbohydrates are, the types of carbohydrates, the glycemic index, glycemic load, and net carbs, I will show you how to put it all together in my next post to lose weight or build muscle.




Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How carbohydrates affect your body. Part 2- Glycemic Index

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I mention Glycemic Index fairly often when talking about nutrition and carbohydrates.  Glycemic Index is also being mentioned increasingly often in the media as well, so what is glycemic index (GI) exactly?

GI is the measure of how certain foods (mainly those with high carbohydrate content) affect blood sugar levels.  The basic idea is that scientists give 10 people equal portions of a food and then measure their blood glucose levels in intervals over the next two hours.  Foods that create a higher blood sugar level or a spike inside the two hour window are rated with a higher GI, while foods that have minimal effect of blood sugar levels are considered low GI.


The standard accepted scale rates glucose at 100 (being pure sugar) and everything else is based off of this baseline.  For example: white bread is generally rated around 70 while an apple is around 40.  Foods are generally classified as either: high GI (70 and above), medium GI (56-69), and low GI (1-55).

The basic idea is that by consuming foods with a lower GI you can control your blood sugar levels which provide you with several benefits.  Lower blood sugar levels means less insulin,and less insulin means less fat storage.  Consistently elevated blood sugar levels also lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, while lower levels are associated with less frequent development of type 2 diabetes.  Lower blood sugar levels are also linked with lower levels of cancer, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.

There are still other factors that affect blood sugar levels such as: the time of day you eat, the amount of carbohydrates you eat (glycemic load), what you eat with the carbohydrates, and even herbs and spices can affect your blood sugar levels after a meal.


By choosing foods with a lower GI over there high GI counterparts you can control blood sugar levels and improve your health very quickly.  Always choose: whole wheat over white bread, whole grain brown rice over white rice, sweet potatoes over white potatoes, and whole wheat pasta over regular white pasta.  Just by making these small changes you can look and feel significantly better each day.  Not all high GI foods are bad especially not in small amounts.  Glycemic load is the actual amount of carbohydrates while GI is only the speed at which your body absorbs the carbohydrates.  5lbs of whole wheat pasta is just as bad as 2lbs of white pasta if losing weight is your main concern.



Carbohydrates are not the evil that most nutritionists and trainers portray them to be, but understanding carbohydrates and how they affect your metabolism and hormones is the key to controlling your weight.  By using both glycemic load and glycemic index together in planning your meals you can have better control of your weight.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How carbohyrdrates affect your body. Part 1- What are carbohydrates?


Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy.  All carbohydrates are converted into glucose which is released into the bloodstream and used readily by the body to fuel metabolism.  The body can function without carbohydrates, but maintenance of bodily functions become more complex without them.  When glucose is not present in the body it must convert fats and proteins into glucose, which is not as efficient as utilizing carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are typically classified as either simple or complex.  Simple carbohydrates are usually either starches or sugars and are present in: fruits, fruit juices, sugar,white rice, white potatoes, and refined carbohydrates like white bread.  Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains like: rice, breads, quinoa, spelt, oatmeal, as well as in legumes and vegetables.  The distinguishing factor is that simple carbohydrates are digested rapidly and hit the blood stream quickly (high GI), while complex carbohydrates are not as refined or processed and take longer for the body to break down (low GI).  Unless you are looking to gain weight your goal should always be to limit simple carbs and replace them with complex carbs.

Excess carbohydrates that your body does not use get either stored as fat or stored in the muscle and liver as a complex carbohydrate called glycogen.  When glucose is stored as glycogen it is basically stored in a complex form and is readily available for energy anytime your body needs it.  If your blood sugar begins to get low then your body releases a hormone called glucagon which release glycogen into the blood stream as glucose.  If your blood sugar levels get too high then your body releases insulin which stores the excess sugar as fat or glycogen.  This is why refined and simple carbohydrates have a greater effect on weight gain, since it is in a simple form the body breaks it down quickly causing a spike of blood sugar, which the body then must store. When you consume complex carbohydrates they are absorbed more slowly keeping your blood sugar levels more steady and so you end up storing less as fat as a result.

These are basically the fundamentals and basics of carbohydrates.  I will cover more in depth Glycemic index, glycemic load, and then I will summarize in my fourth post and help everyone to understand how carbohydrates are the key to controlling your weight, whether you want to gain muscle or lose fat it is all influenced by carbohydrates.




11 year old boy fends off sister's kidnapper... with Jiu Jitsu!


An 11 year old boy saves his sister's life with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  If you don't understand how a young boy can fend off a full grown man, then you haven't taken a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class!  If you would like to learn the art there has never been a better time to start then now, whether you are 6 years old or 60 years old, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a ton of benefits to offer you!

Watch the interview of the 11 year old boy who was able to fend off his sister's kidnapper.
http://www.wxii12.com/r-video/29869381/detail.html

If you are still not convinced check out my previous post on Jiu Jitsu and why you should give it a shot.
http://everystepblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/what-is-brazilian-jiu-jitsu-and-why.html




Monday, November 28, 2011

8 common household foods you shouldn't be eating.


1) Farm raised fish.  Farm raised fish are often raised in terrible environments with little space to move around and are also fed diets that are completely different than anything a wild fish would eat.  These packed living conditions makes them more susceptible to disease so the fish are given high doses of antibiotics to combat sicknesses.  Farm raised fish are given more antibiotics per weight than any other farm raised animal.  Farm raised fish are also fed unnatural diets of corn or pellets (made of chicken feces, corn meal, fish oils, and fish parts laden with mercury); as a result farm raised fish have on average seven times as much heavy metal and mercury contamination as their wild counterparts and far less of the beneficial omega 3 fatty acids.  Farm raised fish (salmon) are also fed artificial dyes to give them their brilliant pink color, because of the poor diet these fish are fed their flesh is often a dull grey color and they are fed dyes to make their skin look healthy.

2) Corn fed beef (hamburgers).  Corn fed beef shares some of the same problems as farm raised fish.  A diet of corn is not natural for a cow and this causes a host of problems.  For one, corn fed cows are often fed corn to make it cheaper and more efficient to raise a cow.  Imagine if you sat around all day and ate nothing but cornbread you would get fat pretty fast, especially if you were used to eating nothing but spinach.  Since these cows don't need open pasture to graze for grass they can be kept on less land, which means the same overcrowding and disease problems as farm raised fish experience, which leads to... you guessed it, more antibiotics!  Corn is not a regular part of a cows diet so it can affect the cows digestive system and allow it to harbor ecoli, since these cows are full of antibiotics to keep them from getting sick the ecoli becomes resistant to antibiotics, and this leads to some of the major outbreaks of ecoli we have heard about in the news over the last couple of years.  Corn fed beef is also: lower in omega 3 fatty acids, usually washed with bleach to kill microscopic organisms, lower in many vitamins and nutrients, higher in saturated fat, and often fed chicken feces and litter mixed with corn meal.

These are not healthy cows, welcome to factory farming 101.

3) Non organic dairy.  Non organic dairy products can be full of all kinds of things you wouldn't want in your body; this is along the same lines as the corn fed beef above.  Non organic cows are pumped full of antibiotics, live in cramped quarters, are full of disease, eat unnatural diets affecting nutrient content of dairy, and also are pumped full of growth hormones to increase milk production.  When I was in nursing school we learned that almost anything a mother eats or puts in her body can and will be passed on to her baby through breast milk.  If you are drinking milk from a sick, poorly nourished, antibiotic injected animal, you WILL receive all of those things through the milk.  Non organic cows also are usually fed corn and grains which are GMO or non organic, leading to contamination of the milk with any pesticides or fertilizers that bio accumulate in the cow.

4) Refined sugars.  Refined sugars and especially those that are not grown and processed organically can be linked to many health problems.  Some scientists and nutritionists actually believe that sugar acts as a poison in body destroying the liver.  Sugar consumption has been directly linked to: obesity, type two diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and dental carries.  While unrefined organic cane sugar contains some nutrients the white table sugar we often find sitting on the kitchen counter is nearly devoid of all nutrients.  If you must have sweets try your best to buy organic ones or make your own with organic ingredients.

5)  Artificial sweeteners.  The use of artificial sweeteners in food is highly controversial.  Studies have shown relationships with artificial sweeteners to contribute to: various cancers, rebound hypoglycemia, neurological disorders, and migraine headaches.  Though the FDA has currently banned only one artificial sweetener, (cyclamate), many people believe that others such as aspartame and acesulfame potassium should be removed from shelves as well.  The bottom line is this, artificial sweeteners are artificial, they are chemicals made in a laboratory and if it was made in a laboratory then it was never part of nature's plan for us to consume it.  Artificial sweeteners may provide a sweet taste with zero calories, but hey, I have heard that antifreeze tastes sweet too and you won't find me putting that in my tea in the morning.


6)  Soda.  Soda is a very poignant evil in our world today.  That's right, despite all the jobs cola companies have provided, I truly believe there is absolutely ZERO benefit to consuming cola and that by doing so you are voluntarily consuming a poison and toxic substance.  For starters, there is a strong link between osteoporosis and cola consumption; this is why we live in a country where we have the highest calcium consumption in the world, yet we have also the highest rate of osteoporosis.  Colas are extremely acidic in nature, so acidic in nature, that your body must release alkaline minerals into the blood stream to maintain your PH balance.  Guess the main alkaline minerals in your body... calcium and magnesium,and these minerals are the main components of bone.  Now you can see how drinking 2 or 3 sodas per day can cause broken bones.  Soda is basically liquid sugar so everything I stated above about the harmful effects of sugar applies to cola as well.  If you value your: bones, teeth, liver, pancreas, or your shape, you should avoid  soda at all costs.

7). Potato chips.  Potato chips are almost totally devoid of any nutrients while being loaded with fat and carbohydrates.  One serving of chips (11-18 chips) can pack a whopping 150 calories.  11 chips is not even going to put a chip in your hunger and the starch content of the chips will spike your insulin levels leading you to crave more and store it all as fat.  Chips are also usually highly processed with dyes and chemicals, loaded with salt, seasoned with MSG (monsodium glutamte), and fried at ultra high temperatures in hydrogenated oils which contribute to heart disease.  Although there are some healthier options out there, you would do best to leave this american snack on the shelf.

8). White bread.  There are quite a few reasons that white bread is much more unhealthy than it's darker cousin whole wheat.  Wheat consists of three parts: the bran (husk), endosperm (starch), and the germ (embryo).  White bread removes the bran which provides most of the fiber of wheat and also removes the germ which provides most wheat's nutrients and leaves only the endosperm which is basically pure starch and empty calories.  To top it all of the refined endosperm is then bleached with chemical agents and dried at extremely high temperatures destroying any nutrient value that may have been present in the flour before.  Most flour also has added gluten which is becoming more and more known as being a strong allergen in people's diets.  Before baking, sugar or high fructose corn syrup is then added to feed the yeast that allows the bread to rise and become fluffy.  White bread is highly refined, processed with chemical bleaching agents, empty of any nutritional value, impacts blood sugar negatively, raises cholesterol, and high consumption can be linked with increased belly fat and colon cancer.

If you eat any of these foods on a daily or weekly basis you may want to reconsider your food choices.  Eating any of these foods can contribute to an array of health problems later on in life.

Thank you to all my readers and as always, make sure to add me on facebook or like my articles if you enjoy the content I cover.
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thank you to my readers.

I want thank my readers and fans for helping my blog to reach 2,000 views in it's first month.  Even with the holidays slowing traffic I was still able to reach my goal.  This month I am looking to double traffic to 4,000 views so please be sure to add me or like my page on facebook, send recommendations to your friends, like my posts, and share them facebook.  The bigger my blog gets the more I will strive to add new content and articles.

Thank you again to everyone! And look for a new post on Monday!

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Observations on a black Friday.


On my home page today I saw several stories of mayhem that occurred on this year's black Friday.  It seems like every year we hear of horror stories of people getting trampled, shot, killed, robbed, and beaten for items at rock bottom prices.  It saddens me that we live in a society where people value saving 30 dollars on a flat screen more than they value human life.

At my last job I was making over 2 grand per month and since moving to Atlanta to train full time I do not even make half as much, yet I am happier than I have ever been.  The pursuit of your dreams in life is what provides true happiness.  We don't all dream of becoming world champions, celebrities, or politicians, but every one of us has inner hopes and dreams.  Most of us choose to silence these inner voices and whether we see it or not, when you kill your dreams you kill a part of yourself as well.  There is a light within all of us, every single person on this earth has a purpose, every single one of us is on this ship called earth and we have the power to steer our lives, we hold the power to shape our destinies.

Material possessions cannot make you happy, far from it, material possessions are like weights tied around your waist.  You are in a giant ocean of life and you have to swim to stay afloat, every thing you own weighs you down and makes it a little harder to float until you can't float at all.  Truly, the things you own, own you.  I do believe that money can buy happiness to a certain extent, but I do NOT believe that any amount of possessions can ever make you happy for long.  Money can buy freedom, and freedom allows you to follow your passions, it allows you to follow your dreams fully, but this in itself is the problem.  Money allows you the freedom to follow your dreams, but most people expect money before they follow their dreams, they want to own everything they want and be wealthy, then they can write their destiny.  People expect to: be successful without trial, have money before they are broke, win without defeat; and sadly this is not how the universe usually works, on the contrary most people only become wealthy as a BYPRODUCT of following their dreams.  If you want true wealth of body, spirit, mind, and finances it must come as a result of following your own dreams.  Your success will only come after a time of trials and tribulation.  You must endure to the end for what you want, you must be willing to take anything life gives you and use it to become closer to your goals.

Your happiness cannot be purchased in a Walmart on black Friday no matter how much you are willing to pay for it.  Not until you can throw away desire for physical things and truly look at yourself can you ever be complete, not until you learn to work with all people in a spirit of love and harmony can you ever achieve your dreams, not until you say you are willing to suffer to have your victory will you ever win.

You are not the clothes you wear or the car you drive, you are not the house you live in or the country you were born in, you are not the color of your skin or the god you worship, you are whatever you desire to be.




The wonders of seaweed.


Seaweed is truly an amazing gift from nature.  Sea water itself is incredibly similar to blood plasma in composition, and it contains almost every single mineral needed for the human body.  Seaweed takes these amazing minerals and concentrates them into a tasty treat.  Seaweed is a wonderful salty snack packed with nutrition.  Seaweed can be used in place of salt in soups and broths, added to salads and stir fry, or baked into delicious seaweed chips.

Seaweed has powerful cleansing actions on the body.  Studies have found that seaweeds can actually bind to toxins in the body and help remove them from your system.  Seaweed is packed with potassium, fiber, vitamin A, chromium, iodine, iron, and the b vitamins.  Seaweed has been found in several studies to: possess powerful anticancer properties, boost the immune system, lower cholesterol, and help speed fat metabolism.  Dulse, kelp, and nori are all fairly easily accessible types of seaweed in America.

Seaweed has been eaten for hundreds of years in Japan and throughout Asia as a staple in their native diet.  Give some seaweed a try I know you will like it and it will probably become a new favorite instantly!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Six ways to control your waistline this thanksgiving.


American culture has chosen a lot of foods that aren't always the best for you for this holiday.  I'd like to do a quick post on some common foods you will find served on turkey day, which ones to chose and avoid, and also some tricks you can employ to avoid overeating and feeling like one giant gas bubble.

1). Before you eat anything, drink 8-16 ounces of water.  Not only does water speed metabolism and help you feel more full, but it also aids in digestion.  Water will help you to avoid overeating and help you digest the food if you do over eat.

2). A good tip to start off would be to try to make at least half of your first plate vegetables.  Vegetables are loaded with fiber and help you feel full so eating them first will encourage you not to overeat on the bad stuff.  Common vegetables on thanksgiving are broccoli, green beans, salad, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash.  You can basically feel free to eat all of these foods that you want guilt free, but a few words of caution would be: avoid green beans in the form of green bean casseroles they are often loaded with sodium and fats, avoid canned yams as they are often drenched in syrup and sometimes even covered with marshmallows, and although corn and white potatoes are vegetables if you are looking to stay lean this year you should limit these veggies.

3). Turkey is a good source of protein and the white meat is usually extremely low in fat, making it a good choice for your dinner, but be warned that this meat is loaded with tryptophan which is a naturally occurring amino acid commonly sold as a sleeping aid.

4). Avoid eating excessive carbohydrates if you wish to maintain your waistline this year.  I am not demonizing carbs here, but be warned that carbohydrates can cause: water retention, indigestion, heart burn, bloating, and gas, especially in large amounts.  If you don't want to look or feel like the blimp flying over the thanksgiving day football game, then try to limit these foods: macaroni and cheese, stuffing, white potatoes, rolls, cornbread, and other breads.


5). If you have followed the previous tips in the article so far, then at this point you are probably already pretty full from: water, veggies, some turkey, and of course a few of your favorite not so good for you foods as well.  Now its time for dessert... I won't tell you you can't have dessert, but I'll recommend eating only one or two servings tops if maintaining your weight and waistline is important to you.  Fruit is usually a good choice if its available, and even with pie, a pie with fruit or pumpkin is usually better than say, Boston cream pie, or pecan pie.

6).  So the meal is over now, and you aren't feeling too guilty, you drank water, ate veggies and turkey, and limited your carbohydrate and sweets consumption, but you still can't help but feel full, uncomfortable, and bloated... Have no fear!  You remembered your raw, unfiltered, apple cider vinegar right?  Raw, unfiltered, apple cider vinegar (I usually buy Bragg's), contains tons of active enzymes that help break down food, its also acidic which helps break down foods even more, and it is also highly alkalizing for the body so it will help to restore your regular PH balance after a big meal.  Take 1 or 2 tablespoons of this vinegar mixed with 4-8 ounces of water after your meal to help with digestion, and to avoid gas and heartburn.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers.  I hope this post will help you make healthier choices and not feel too bloated after your meal, but if you go overboard anyway, try not to be too hard on yourself... it is Thanksgiving.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Can you be a vegetarian and an athlete?

People become vegetarian for many different reasons;  these reasons can range from health maintenance all the way to animal rights.  I have personally tried different vegetarian diets and did not feel like my performance was optimal without any animals products in my diet, but that doesn't mean that I think being a vegetarian is wrong, or even non optimal.  I have come to the point where I am happy to say I am a flexitarian (a person who eats a mostly vegetarian diet with occasional meat).  I'd like to share some stories of athletes that are very successful with a vegetarian life style and explain some of the pros and cons of a vegetarian diet so that you can make your own decision.

UFC star and strict vegan Jon Ficth.

The first group of athletes I would like to mention are: Jake Shields, Nate Diaz, Nick Diaz, Jon Fitch, and Mac Danzig, these men are all combat athletes at the highest level and are all vegetarians.  Jake, Nate, and Nick are all training partners and Jake Shields (a life long vegetarian) convinced his buddies to start up a lacto-ovo diet (these vegetarians eat dairy and eggs but no meat).  They all make strong claims that their vegetarian diets speed recovery and allow them to work harder than anyone else.  Jon Fitch is a fairly recent convert to vegan ism after his wife slowly convinced him about the benefits of a vegan diet.  He has also made claims about recovery time being decreased and also says he feels better in his training than he ever has before.  Mac is a strong advocate for animal rights.  He has stated in interview that at age 13 he witnessed a pig being slaughtered and they made eye contact, which made a profound effect on his life.  Mac is a strict vegan and also claims to enjoy a host of benefits from a vegetarian diet.  None of these men exhibit poor performance or seem hindered by their diets in competition, on contrary they are all well known for being exciting and dynamic fighters.

While there are many athletes who enjoy vegetarian diets that I could cover I want to mention just one more, his name is Brendan Brazier.  Brendan is a professional iron man triathlete, while this is impressive enough in itself he also follows a very strict, raw, vegan diet.  Brendan participates in super long distance running, biking, and swimming.  He recently even set a record for longest distance covered in 24 hours of straight running.  Not only does he eat a vegan diet, but also a diet where about 95% of his food consists of raw uncooked fruits and vegetables.  I personally own his book and recommend it as a good read for anyone considering a vegetarian and especially a vegan diet.  Another impressive quality is that in opposition to most triathletes and long distance runner Brendan sports a healthy looking and muscular frame.


So if you were to decide to become a vegetarian there could be some potential problems that lay in wait for you down the road;  these problems can include: iron, calcium, vitamin b12, and omega fatty acid deficiencies.  These deficiencies can be avoided but will require some pretty involved planning on your part to do so.  You must learn the sources of these nutrients and ensure that you get significant amounts of them each day to prevent deficiency.  Vitamin b12 and iron deficiency can both cause anemia, which can impact athletic performance extensively, while omega-3 fatty acids are important for: brain function, healthy joints, immune health, and to fight off inflammation.  You must also ensure than you get adequate protein intake from plant sources including: nuts, beans, lentils, and soy.  Pea protein isolate and soy protein isolate are both excellent supplemental proteins for vegetarians.  While it is not impossible to consume adequate protein through plant sources it is much more involved than when you consume animal products.

On the flip side, vegetarian diets can bring with them a whole other set of benefits including: lower cholesterol, a healthy heart, lower blood pressure, lower incidence of Type 2 diabetes and cancer, and also a longer life span.  Vegetarians often report increased energy levels, mental clarity, and increased recovery, although these are subjective and not easy to measure.  Vegetarians also enjoy the peace of mind that they do not eat animals that were raised in poor living environments.  Whether you are an advocate for animal rights or not, I doubt there are many people who can watch the horrors of factory farming on FOOD INC. and not become disgusted with the current meat and dairy industry.

I'd like to close with my personal beliefs and experience with vegetarianism.  The most accurate definition for my diet would be flexitarian

I am not saying that I don't agree with a vegetarian diet, only that a vegetarian diet does not agree with me.  I know plenty of people who enjoy vegetarian diets and the list of athletes I provided should serve as a way to reinforce the idea that a vegetarian diet CAN be a viable diet even for professional athletes, but you must learn and be knowledgeable on the subject.  The only way to know for sure is to give vegetarianism a try and see how you feel with it.  There is a good chance you might never go back.

I recommend getting or renting Brendan Brazier's book THE THRIVE DIET if you are interested in learning more about raw foods or becoming a vegan.  Please feel free to comment here or on my new facebook page if you have any tips, suggestions, or personal experience with a vegetarian diet.

Here is a food blog by fighter Jon Fitch where he runs through a day with a vegan diet.




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