Thursday, July 31, 2008

Christian Athlete Fitness Training - Home Gym!

"Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, (his speech should be) like the oracles of God; if anyone serves, (his service should be) from the strength God provides, so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 4:10-11

As I've mentioned before, I have a home gym that I set up to train myself and others. I began building my own home gym in July 2004 because I no longer wanted to train at another gym or fitness center, and I wanted to train using methods that were not always accepted in some fitness centers (Olympic lifts, heavy deadlifts, athletic-based training, etc.).

I started my home gym with a very basic but effective set up that included a Body Solid Power Rack, flat bench, 300lb Olympic Barbell set, a weight tree (to hold and organize the Olympic weight plates), two 4'x6' rubber mats from a feed store, some 2'x2' interlocking rubber mats along with a few pieces of equipment I already had on hand including a dragging sled, a 16kg kettlebell, jump rope, medicine balls and a few other small pieces of equipment. I purchased most of my equipment from Play-It-Again Sports for less than $600!

At the time, I lived on the second floor of a luxury apartment community. Luckily, I never had any problems training for the next 8 months despite the fact that I performed heavy deadlifts, squats, bench presses and other lifts. I was always careful to set the weights down carefully as to not disturb my neighbors, and I never received any complaints.

During this time, I made some great progress. I was able to focus on many basic exercises and work on increasing my strength and size.

Over time, I continued to add more equipment to my home gym including a lat/row attachment for my power rack, a 40lb X-vest, the Ironmaster Super Bench and Adjustable dumbbells and attachments, sandbags, various bands, boards, kettlebells, etc. I had also moved a couple times so I was able to expand my home gym and keep it in a garage (see photo of me squatting below).

Or on the first floor of another luxury apartment community (see photo below).

Last December, I moved into my new home and set up the gym and all the equipment I had purchased during the last four years in an organized and efficient manner. Since I have so much more equipment now than when I first started, I needed nearly half the garage to organize everything and give me the required space to perform a variety of exercises. The extra space also allows me to train 2-3 people at one time.

I'm very pleased with the equipment I've purchased, as I have been able to add plenty of variety to my workouts. I'm also able to use a variety of training methods that get results while using a very small amount of space (I have less than 200 square feet for all of my equipment). And I'm still able to fit my car in the garage along with everything else that is on another shelf or hanging on the opposite wall (house and yard tools and supplies).

Although it can be very hot training in the garage during the summer, I enjoy it because I'm able to get some fresh air while technically training outside. Luckily, I have two fans that I use on high speed to help keep the heat from becoming overwhelming, but that doesn't stop me from being completely drenched in sweat after the end of a training session or after dragging the sled, pushing the car, performing heavy farmer's walks (see below) or sprints outside on the street.

I enjoy training at home and having the opportunity to train others. I look forward to opening my own training facility one day so I can offer semi-private and group training to many more people and help them meet their health and fitness goals.

Christian Athlete Fitness Training offers strength, conditioning, fat loss, nutrition and health tips without all the nonsense. My goal is to help others succeed with their training and nutrition to get the results they desire. I also train people at my private garage gym to help them lose fat, build muscle and become athletic, strong, fast, fit and mentally tough using results-proven intense training programs.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Low-Carb and Mediterranean Diets are Both Winners for Fat Loss!

"You cause grass to grow for the livestock and plants for people to use. You allow them to produce food from the earth..."
- Psalm 104:14

In one of the longest and largest studies comparing dueling weight-loss techniques, a low-carb diet and a Mediterranean-style regimen helped people lose more weight than a traditional low-fat diet.

The low-carb diet also helped improve cholesterol more than the other two. All three approaches (the low-carb diet, a low-fat diet and a Mediterranean diet) achieved weight loss and improved cholesterol, but the low-carb diet and Mediterranean diet were the clear winners.

Average weight loss for the low-carb group was 10.3 pounds. Those in the Mediterranean diet lost 10 pounds and those on the low-fat diet dropped 6.5 pounds. The low-carb group had the most improvement in several cholesterol measures, including the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (the "good" cholesterol).

Most of the participants were men and all men and women in the study got roughly equal amounts of exercise (but it did not state what type or how much exercise).

As for how the diets were broken down, the low-fat diet restricted calories and focused on low-fat grains, vegetables and fruits with no more than 30 percent of calories from fat.

The Mediterranean diet had similar calorie, fat and cholesterol restrictions, with an emphasis on poultry, fish, olive oil and nuts.

The low-carb diet set limits for carbohydrates, but none for calories or fat. Dieters were encouraged to choose vegetarian sources of fat and protein (and not a lot of butter, eggs and cream).

Once again, low-carb diets prove to be healthier and more effective for fat loss. However, I should clarify that a low-carb diet doesn't mean you no longer eat vegetables and fruits. In fact, a low-carb diet should include as many fibrous vegetables as possible along with low-calorie, low-sugar and low-carb fruits such as berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries), apples and oranges.

A lower carb diet is easy to follow if you remember the following tips:

  • Eat protein with every meal from lean meats (organic beef, chicken, fish, bison, venison, etc.), eggs (whole eggs, preferably organic) dairy (organic milk, yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese), raw nuts and protein powders
  • Eat plenty of vegetables with each meal - the greener and more colorful the better (broccoli, spinach, green beans, asparagus, peas, zucchini, brussel sprouts, green peppers, lima beans, squash, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, etc.)
  • Eat plenty of healthy fats from olive oil, raw nuts and seeds, avocados, natural peanut butter as well as fats from lean meats, whole eggs, dairy products, etc.
  • Limit starchy carbohydrates such as grains (bread and corn), potatoes, rice, pasta and sugar.

In fact, Mike Roussell recommends following the six pillars of nutrition:

  1. Eat five or six times a day.
  2. Limit your consumption of sugars and processed foods
  3. Eat fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
  4. Drink more water and cut out calorie-containing beverages (beer, soda, juice, etc.)
  5. Focus on consuming lean proteins throughout the day.
  6. Save starch-containing foods (in small quantities) until after a workout or for breakfast.

If you follow the tips above and consume a lower carb diet, you will be able to lose fat and improve your health. Adding exercise to your nutritional program in the form of resistance training and high-intensity interval training will increase the benefits to your health and body composition.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Florida Gators Charity Challenge!

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power, put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." - Ephesians 6:10-12

Stacey and I attended the The University of Florida Gators Charity Challenge on Friday. The strongman competition showed fans how hard they’ve worked this summer and helped raise money for charity.

The Gator team, which usually holds a strongman competition toward the end of every summer, chose to open this year’s competition to the public for the first time while raising money for a good cause.

We saw our favorite players excel in team and individual events such as a tire flip, sled push, Torpedo hold, medicine ball toss and two obstacle courses.

The inaugural UF Football Charity Challenge raised $6,000 for six charities. Six booths set up inside the stadium represented each charity and accepted monetary pledges while the activities occurred on the field. The charities represented included the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Children’s Miracle Network, the American Diabetes Association and the March of Dimes.

Stacey and I decided to donate to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation as a friend of ours was recently diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer and had a double masectomy just a day before the strongman competition.

We supported and cheered for the Gator team wearing their pink breast cancer awareness shirts. Ironically, the team we picked, led by Gator team captain and offensive lineman Jason Watkins, ended up winning the challenge!

At the end of the competition we even had a chance to snap a couple pictures with Tim Tebow. I only had a brief moment to talk to Tim as he had already spent a lot of time after the competition signing autographs and taking photos.

When I called him over for a photo, I expressed my appreciation of him as a role model and invited him to attend our church if he was ever interested.

As he began to leave, I asked him for another photo, this time with Stacey. I mentioned that she was a big fan and would really appreciate it.

I joked with him that Stacey said she was going to divorce me to marry him (she had joked about that earlier that evening!). He got a good laugh out of that, and I think I embarrassed Stacey just a little.

I wish I had a few more minutes to speak with him, as there have been many things I've wanted to talk to him about regarding God, Christianity, his humility and how his actions have even helped me humble myself (no easy feat!).

I've seen Tim on campus in the past, and I'm sure there will be another chance for me to see him and speak with him.

Tim is an incredible role model and exemplifies what being a Christian is truly about. He has a passion for children (he chose the Children's Miracle Network as his team's charity for the strongman competition) and has been on many mission trips to various countries.

He was brought up in a good Christian home and taught Biblical values and beliefs. Tim is very humble and Christ-like. He has his priorities in order (1. God, 2. Family, 3. School, 4. Football) and has been blessed by God in so many incredible ways.

He is an ambassador for Christ, and I can see that God will use him for many special things beyond football.

Read more about the Strongman competition here - Click me!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dara Torres Ignores Doubters And Reveals "Secret" to Success!

"So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing." -1 Thessalonians 5:11

Dara Torres, Olympic swimmer and former Gator, continues to confront whispers and questions about performance-enhancing drugs as the reason for her record-breaking performances and sculpted physique.

"It stinks," she said recently at the U.S. training camp on the Stanford campus. "I'm trying to be as open as possible and let everyone know that I'm clean. Unfortunately, once you get past that point, then they start questioning other things."

At the end of the U.S. trials - where Dara won the 50- and 100-meter freestyles - she revealed the "one little secret that I have."

She said she takes an amino acid supplement that is currently available only in Europe. Her coach, Michael Lohberg, introduced Dara to the product that was developed by former swimmer Mark Warnecke, a bronze medalist for Germany at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The amino acids, which Michael said are pure and have been approved by a drug lab that works with swimming's international governing body FINA, help Dara gain muscle and allow her body to recover quickly after workouts.

"That really helped her quite a bit in not getting big and bulky and recover quicker, and look the way she looks right now," Michael said.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein (often called the building blocks of life). Of the 20 standard amino acids, 8 are called essential amino acids because the human body cannot synthesize them from other compounds at the level needed for normal growth, so they must be obtained from food.

Protein-containing foods include meat (beef, chicken, fish, bison, deer, duck, etc.), dairy products, nuts and protein and amino-acid supplements (protein powders and BCAA supplements).

I believe that Dara is free of performance-enhancing drugs and can attest to the fact that amino acids do help with recovery as well as muscle and strength gains. I eat a diet consisting of high-protein whole foods and also use protein supplements. One particular supplement I use, Surge, is specifically made for post-workout and contains a specific ratio of amino acids to help promote recovery as well as muscle and strength gains.

Amino acids and protein powders are not illegal supplements and they are not harmful to the body. If taken in the correct amounts, they can definitely improve your performance and body composition.

But amino acids, protein powders and other supplements will do nothing for you if you don't already strength train and eat correctly. As I mentioned in a previous blog, that is something Dara has taken very seriously, as she follows a regimented strength training and nutrition lifestyle to achieve the success she has accomplished, even now as a 41-year-old mother and Olympic contender.

God designed the human body in such an amazing way that if you follow his instructions from the Bible, you can find all the "secrets" to a healthy lifestyle. With proper physical training and nutrition, you can improve your body to its true potential, even if you don't contend for an Olympic medal.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Children's Activity Rates Decline with Age!

"The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old." - Proverbs 20:29

In one of the largest and most comprehensive studies of its kind funded by The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, American children become less active once they hit the teen years: While 90 percent of 9-year-olds get a couple of hours of exercise most days, fewer than 3 percent of 15-year-olds do.

The study suggests that fewer than a third of teens that age get even the minimum recommended by the government - an hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise, like biking, running, swimming or even brisk walking.

The study reported that the sharp drop raises concerns about inactivity continuing into adulthood, which could endanger kids' health throughout their lives.

Inactivity is linked with greater risks for many health problems, including heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

What's the cause? According to the study, they cited schools dropping recess and gym classes and kids' increasing use of video games and computers (something I mentioned in a previous blog).

The 6-year study, which tracked more than 1,000 U.S. children from 2000 - 2006, coincided with the rise in popularity of video games, DVDs and Internet use - all the types of things that take children from outside and put them on a couch or in front of a computer.

The message being sent to parents is that it's important to teach their kids to balance computer time with more active pursuits, like walking the dog, shooting some hoops and playing other games and sports.

Now is the time for parents to step up as the role models they should be for their children. Parents should become more active and encourage kids to get out and play more. It doesn't take a structured training plan to become more fit and active. Simple family activities like walking the dog, going for a bike ride or playing games like tag, dodgeball, kickball, volleyball, basketball and flag football will all lead to positive changes, both physically and mentally.

There is one organization that is trying to make a difference: International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Obesity Reigns in the South!

"All people spend their lives scratching for food, but they never seem to have enough." - Ecclesiastes 6:7

According to a new government study, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee lead the nation in obesity. More than 30 percent of adults in each of the states tipped the scales (no pun intended) enough to ensure the South remains the nation's fattest region.

The findings are similar to results from the same survey the previous three years. Mississippi has had the highest obesity rate every year since 2004. But Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia and Louisiana have also clustered near the top of the list and the difference is so close between their rates and Mississippi that it may not be statistically significant!

Why is the South so heavy? The main reason is the traditional Southern diet - high in fat and fried food. The South also has a large concentration of rural residents and black women - two groups that tend to have higher obesity rates - according to Dr. William Dietz, who heads the nutrition, physical activity and obesity division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In addition to a poor diet consisting of Southern favorites like fried chicken, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, white bread, barbecue and other fried and processed foods, there is a lack of physical activity.

Some people in the South who live in rural areas may not have money or access to biking and hiking trails, fitness centers and other fitness-related activities and programs. In addition, many public schools have cut recess and physical education classes from the budget. Overweight children tend to grow up to be overweight adults. If parents are obese, their children are very likely to follow in their footsteps.

Without a drastic change in the Southern diet and increased physical activity levels, obesity will continue to grow in the South and other areas as well.

Colorado, meanwhile, is a state with a reputation for exercise. It has plentiful biking and hiking trails, and an elevation that causes the body to work harder. Colorado is also the least obese state with 19 percent of the population dealing with ever-expanding waistlines.

The top 10 states with the highest levels of adult obesity (according to the CDC's 2007 report) are:
  1. Mississippi - 32.0%
  2. Alabama - 30.3%
  3. Tennessee - 30.1%
  4. Louisiana - 29.8%
  5. West Virginia - 29.5%
  6. Arkansas - 28.7%
  7. South Carolina - 28.4%
  8. Georgia - 28.2%
  9. Oklahoma - 28.1%
  10. Texas - 28.1%

At Christian Athlete Fitness Training, we utilize individualized training programs that assist with fat loss and provide overall strength and cardiovascular benefits. In addition, we encourage sound nutritional planning and choices to help meet an individual's goals.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Upside to Higher Gas Prices!

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
-1 Peter 1:6-7

It's hard to believe that there could be a benefit from the higher gas prices, but there is! Gas has now become so costly that people are starting to drive less and walk and bicycle more. This means they are beginning to exercise more, and it's a good thing for our nation's health.

According to a recent report in the ACE Fitness Matters magazine, if the price of gasoline went up an additional $1 a gallon, obesity rates in the United States would decline by 15 percent over five years!

The rising cost of gas (and food) is getting more people to exercise and also eat fewer meals in restuarants. We already know that after years of eating fast food and supersized portions, more than 30 percent of Americans are obese. Cooking and eating at home more often means healthier and less expensive meals.

Now is a good time to find more fuel-efficient modes of transportation, get more exercise by walking, biking or running and prepare healthy and delicious meals at home to save money and lose weight.

Here's a tip: Bringing your lunch to work each day can save up to $140 or more per month! Not only that, but it's a lot healthier than the offerings from fast food joints and other restuarants.

Monday, July 14, 2008

An Update on My Training!

"The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory."
- Psalm 118:14

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I'm currently training three days per week following Alwyn Cosgrove's Afterburn 2 training program.

Here's a recap: I performed the first phase (weeks 1-4) of Afterburn 2 during April and early May. Then, Stacey and I started the Warp Speed Fat Loss program for a month. Then I went back to Afterburn 2 beginning with phase 2 (weeks 5-8) in June. I'm on the last phase (weeks 9-12) of the 12-week plan. The current phase looks like this:

Workout A & B (Alternate each workout throughout the week)

Week 1:
Mon - Workout A
Wed - Workout B
Fri - Workout A

Week 2:
Mon - Workout B
Wed - Workout A
Fri - Workout B

Repeat for Weeks 3 and 4

A) Barbell Complex 5x6 (a different barbell complex is performed for Workout A and B)

B1 - B4) Weight Circuits (four exercises using different sets/reps each training day)

C) Ab exercise 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps

D) Finisher x1-2 sets of the Pushup Matrix or Leg Matrix

Recently, I've given myself the time and flexibility within my schedule to train with my Bulldog Kettlebell and Outlaw Rope or to perform some extra bodyweight exercises or go for a bike ride.

Also, I've decided not to perform the metabolic conditioning portion of the original Afterburn 2 workouts (intervals or Tabata's) during the last part of this phase for two reasons:
  1. I have already used interval training and Tabata's at a high intensity 3-5 times a week for the past 12 weeks, and
  2. I'm playing ultimate frisbee on Sunday evenings and need the rest between workouts so I can play well.
Luckily, the past 12 weeks of intense interval training and Tabata's has given me the conditioning needed to play ultimate frisbee with no issues. In the past, even though I was performing intervals 1-2 times per week, I was not prepared for ultimate frisbee and I found myself having problems getting through the game without feeling winded or suffering hamstring soreness and cramping.

Although it has been very difficult, I'm glad I spent the last 12 weeks increasing my conditioning through the use of intervals and Tabata's. And I am able to maintain that level of conditioning now through my weight training sessions (they are metabolically demanding) and from playing ultimate frisbee (and I will add various intervals to my training again in the future).

This has helped me to continue with my fat loss and conditioning goals while not having to train as often as I did during Warp Speed Fat Loss. I am still following the meal plans from Warp Speed Fat Loss and will continue to do so as I like the principles behind how the plan is set up. I have made adjustments as needed (varying the ratios of carbs) to fit with my current training.

I'm also working on designing my next phase of training which will give me a break from what I've been doing and help me continue to make good progress.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Giving God Thanks!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love is eternal."
- Psalm 136:1

Kerron Clement is headed for the Olympics in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles after finishing second during the Olympic Trials on June 30.

Kerron struggled growing up in Trinidad. Despite poverty and having to work hard for every meal he ate, he was blessed with the God-given talent of speed. He has used his talent to set records while at the University of Florida and at various events.

And although he is now financially stable thanks to a sponsorship from Nike, Kerron has never failed to thank God for his ability and the opportunities bestowed upon him.

"I'm financially stable. I’m just happy at this point in my life. I came from having nothing, so I’ve just been thankful to God that he blessed me with opportunity and he gave me favor with man," Clement said. "Every single time I cross the line I say 'Thank God,' because he made it possible."

When was the last time you thanked God for what he has given you?

See the article about Kerron Clement here - Click me!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dara Torres Overcomes Age With Exercise!

"God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect."
- Psalm 18:32

At 41, former University of Florida swimmer Dara Torres has qualified for her fifth Olympics - despite taking several years off, giving birth just two years ago and undergoing two surgeries within the past eight months.

Many people are amazed at this feat (or screaming "performance enhancers"), but exercise experts say Dara's success at least partly reflects advances in training - and that many of us could come closer to similar achievements than we think.

Sure, we can't forget about genetics and other advantages such as opportunity, motivation and incentive to train hard. But besides genetics, those advantages are not impossible for anyone to achieve.

It shows us what we can do. It's just that most people won't push themselves to do what Dara has done. Instead, I hear people in their 30s, 40s, 50s (and some in their 20s) who make excuses for the fact that they've gained weight, lost strength or no longer have the athletic physique they once had in high school or college.

Rather than doing something about it, they act and respond in a way that is self-defeating and shows that they don't have the motivation, desire, dedication, discipline or work ethic to make changes (or they suffer from "paralysis by analysis" and spend more time thinking or debating rather than doing).

For athletes at any level, a gradual decline in endurance and speed occurs in the 30s and 40s, roughly half a percent a year, even with continued training. However, strength can be gained and maintained well beyond the 30s, 40s and 50s (look at Jack Lalanne!). Not everyone will make it to the Olympics, but with plenty of hard work, a proper nutritional plan and a few of the traits mentioned previously, a lot of improvement can take place. Healthy people can significantly improve their athletic performance with the kinds of exercises Dara does.

So how does Dara do it? Her training regimen includes a lot of resistance training. This includes free weights, bodyweight exercises, weight machines and other tools to strengthen her entire body in addition to skill specific training (swimming, in this case). Dara's intense resistance training program has helped her achieve the best shape of her life, allowing her to beat competitors half her age.

Resistance training works. The key is to follow a customized training program built for your individual needs while avoiding overtraining and taking time to warm-up and cool down.

So what are you waiting for?

Here's a good article about Dara's recent accomplishments - Click here!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Torn ACLs, Other Big Injuries Hit Little Athletes!

"Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." - Proverbs 22:6

In a story reported by the Associated Press yesterday and again today, an alarming new trend is being seen by doctors around the country: Injuries once seen mostly in adult athletes are becoming distressingly common in youth athletes - not just in high school, but in Little League and Pee Wee Football.

These aren't simple injuries. In the past decade, "Tommy John" surgeries to repair elbows blown out playing baseball - an operation named for a Hall of Famer - have almost tripled among adolescents.

Worse, some injuries don't have good treatments for young patients. The surgery that fixed the torn ACL in Tiger Woods' knee, for instance, can thwart the growth of a young child's leg.

An orthopedic surgeon at Children's Hospital Boston is about to begin a government-funded study to figure out the best treatment for children who tear their anterior cruciate ligament while growth plates around the knee are still active. However, long-term consequences for little joints is unknown.

Why the sudden influx? Orthopedic surgeons say that today's youth sports are more intense, with players often picking just one sport to specialize as young as 8.

I have a different theory. I believe it's due to a lack of physical education classes in public schools and proper physical conditioning. In the past 10-15 years, many schools have cut physical education classes from the curriculum. Children no longer play (run, jump, climb, skip, wrestle or participate in playground games and sports) on a daily basis. Not just at school, but also after school.

This also includes physical labor. How many children perform physical chores like they used to 50 or more years ago? These days, it's very rare to see a child have to do anything more physical than setting the dinner table or picking up their clothes off their bedroom floor. In the past, many children were expected to help out on the farm by feeding the animals, carrying buckets of water, bailing hay or even raking the yard, mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, chopping wood, etc.

Another reason is due to the advancement of computer and video games like Nintendo, PlayStation, etc. More children are playing video games on the computer or TV rather than going outside and playing.

Without proper physical activities at a young age, children will not develop the necessary skills and abilities to play organized sports. Muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones need to be used on a daily basis and stressed with a variety of resistance in order to build strength, muscle, flexibility, speed, power, balance and coordination.

Simple things like jumping, climbing, playing hopscotch, running and other similar movements all help children strengthen their bodies and avoid injury.

Our society needs to place more emphasis on physical activity with our children. If school budgets won't allow physical education classes, then the parents should be encouraging their children to get out and play rather than watching TV or playing video games. In fact, more parents should be outside with their children playing games and encouraging physical activity.

More physical activity will help lower the incidence of adult injuries in children that have been taking place more and more. Also, adolescents shouldn't specialize or focus on one sport until much later (junior or senior year of high school).

Parents, encourage your children to participate in a variety of sports throughout the year. It will help lower the chance of injury and burnout.

For more information about youth training, be sure to visit the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My Visit To The Chiropractor!

"My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever."
- Psalm 73:26

When Stacey returned from her one-week mission trip from Nicaragua through our church on June 29, she was dealing with tremendous leg and back pain that kept her tossing and turning most of the night (keeping me up as well!).

This was most likely a result of sleeping on a very hard and uncomfortable bed for a week (at least she had air conditioning and in-door plumbing while she was there!).

We decided to go to the chiropractor because the pain hadn't decreased and because Stacey doesn't have medical insurance (they have an affordable cash plan for those without insurance).

The chiropractor we chose was affordable and happened to be a friend of mine from high school. During Stacey's initial exam, Dr. Powell talked with her about the pain, took x-rays and examined her neck, back and feet. She began treatment the following day after seeing that she had some neck and back issues that needed adjusting in order to help relieve the pain.

I also decided to get examined since I hadn't been to a chiropractor in more than two years. I've been to another chiropractor for neck and back pain from a car accident in 1995 (I was rear-ended) and then again in 2005-2006 for shoulder and knee pain.

However, I felt it would be a good idea to keep myself healthy and avoid future shoulder and knee pain. After the initial exam and x-rays, I came back the following day for the results and first treatment.

We looked at my x-rays and my neck looked pretty good. It had a nice curve with only a small area near the base of my skull that needed some adjusting. I was joking with Stacey that my neck looked better than hers (as her neck has no curve, it's completely straight - not a good thing!).

Then, we looked at my spine. To say that I was surprised is an understatement. I couldn't believe the x-ray that showed what looked like a snake in my back. Dr. Powell immediately told me that I have scoliosis.

What I couldn't believe is that I've never known this. No one ever told me or diagnosed me with it. I don't recall my previous chiropractor ever mentioning it. And it wasn't like it was a minor case of scoliosis. I have an 18-degree curve, which is considered fairly severe.

Dr. Powell said that if he can reduce it to 12 degrees (a 5-degree difference), that would be a huge improvement and most likely the best that could be done without surgery.

If I don't address it, it could cause a lot of pain and problems in the future. I believe that the only reason I haven't had as much pain as others with scoliosis is the fact that I have been weight training for more than 15 years. Dr. Powell agreed that my physical activity has definitely helped me.

Knowing that I have scoliosis also helps clear up a few things. I have always had uneven shoulders, a common symptom (I thought it was a muscle imbalance between my traps) and slight rounding of my mid back. From the exam, I also found out that there is a 4-degree difference between my right and left hips (they should both be 0 degrees).

In the past, I have had mid- and lower back pain that would come and go. I always attributed it to working out too hard or just straining myself from heavy squats and deadlifts. Although my weight training workouts have helped me gain strength and muscle, they have not completely offset the fact that the scoliosis can cause back pain and problems.

This also explains why I can't seem to hold the bar straight when I perform back squats. For as long as I can remember, the bar is always slightly over to one side. I have tried to fix it, but it doesn't feel right and I end up going right back to my "normal" position. I believe the scoliosis is also the reason why I've had problems with heavy back squats throughout the last several years. It's one reason why I've switched to front squats for the past year.

I've also had knee issues that could be a result of the scoliosis and the fact that my hips are off balance. All of these things play a role in how everything functions in the body. Something as simple as a curve in the neck or spine can carry down through the legs, knee and feet.

I'm not going to use scoliosis as an excuse, but it does shed some light on some of the above issues I've had (and a few others I've noticed in recent years). I plan on continuing to train as hard as usual while receiving chiropractor care from Dr. Powell to hopefully help reduce the curve and keep me pain free and healthy.

I'll post more about this as things improve with treatment and see how it affects my training.

Monday, July 7, 2008


"On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work." - Genesis 2:2

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted a blog since last Saturday. I was on vacation this past week, and I also didn't get online very much (which was actually a nice break since I'm always online!).

Although I didn't go anywhere, I did enjoy the rest at home. It gave me a chance to work on a few projects around the house and yard, read some books, watch some DVD's and movies, take care of some doctor appointments, visit family during the Fourth of July weekend and also sleep in each day.

Stacey and I spent time together and continued to strengthen our relationship during the week away from work and the computer.

It was nice to not have any pressure or stress of places to go or things to do. We took one day at a time and did what we wanted.

I managed to fit in all my workouts during the week even though I didn't do them on my normal training days and times. My diet wasn't as good as usual because I wasn't following a daily routine. Instead of 5-6 meals each day, I ate 3-4 meals most days. I made healthy choices, but we did go out to eat several times (M'mmm sushi!!!!).

Even though I enjoyed dessert a couple times during the week, it reinforced that I don't have much of a sweet tooth and don't enjoy the way I feel after eating something sweet. My body craves good, whole, fresh foods. My cravings for sweet foods is usually only a result of me not eating properly (not eating enough protein and healthy fats - I'll talk about this in a future blog as well).

I also believe that you should treat yourself (in moderation) if you really want something (ice cream, cake, pie, pizza, etc.). But you have to be willing to deal with the consequences (sugar crash, irritability, low energy levels, digestion problems, etc.). If you eat healthy 80-90% of the time, the consequences are much more noticeable. It serves as a deterrant to eating unhealthy foods because the body reacts negatively when you consume something sugary, fried or processed. This is a good thing!

Despite a few meals eaten away from home and a couple desserts, the week went well, and I felt good coming back to work today. I have plenty of energy, I feel rested, I'm catching up on a few small projects while also getting back to my daily routine of healthy eating.

In tomorrow's blog, I'll post about my visit to the chiropractor last week where I found out something I had not known and how it explains a few issues I've had!