Monday, September 15, 2008

Weight Issues Can Affect Performance in Children!

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

A study published in the July issue of the journal Obesity found that overweight kids are at-risk for a host of health complications, including elevated cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. They may also perform poorly in school.

When grade-point averages were compared among 566 middle school students in a Philadelphia suburb, overweight sutdents came in at about half a grade point lower than normal-weight kids.

The study also found that overweight students had lower reading comprehensive scores on a nationally standardized test, ranking in the 66th percentile while normal-weight kids ranked in the 75th percentile.

Heavier kids were also five times more likely to have six or more detentions than their normal-weight peers, had more school absences and lower physical fitness test scores and were less inclined to participate on athletic teams - 37 percent compared to 75 percent of normal-weight students.

This is one of many studies that show how obesity is affecting today's youth. Something needs to be done about this - and soon. I hope to help make a difference once I earn my youth fitness specialist certification through the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA).

I will use the information I've learned with the IYCA to help reverse the effects of obesity and other weight-related diseases with our youth while having fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Book Recommendation: New Rules of Lifting for Women!

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker...She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: 'There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!'"
- Proverbs 31:17 and 25-29

For all the women who are reluctant to lift weights because they fear becoming "too big and bulky," this book is for you. The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler, Alwyn Cosgrove and Cassandra Forsythe dispells the myths that most women still believe about weight training.

This is the best book I have read about weight training for women. It includes a lot of information including some "new rules" all women should follow along with exercise descriptions, six months' worth of training programs, information on why aerobic training is not ideal for fat loss, a chapter on nutrition and numerous meal plans for breakfast, lunch, dinner, pre- and post-workout meals, snacks and dessert.

I highly recommend that all women (and men) pick up a copy of this book. It will change your life forever. You will finally realize that lifting weights won't make you big and bulky and will in fact make you lean, toned and sexy.

Get the book now! You won't regret it and will finally be able to get off the treadmill and other cardio machines and stop wasting your time and start making great progress while transforming your body into the shape you've always dreamed of!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Five Ways to Boost Your Fiber Intake!

"Then God said, 'Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.'"
- Genesis 1:29

In addition to sleep and time alone, here's something else most people don't get enough of: fiber.

The Average American gets 10-15 grams of fiber each day, about half of what is needed to meet the basic recommended 25 grams.

Here are five easy ways to get more fiber into your diet:

Fig-uratively Speaking
Add dried figs or other fruits (cherries, kiwi and the like) to salad.

Cereal Thriller
Start the day with a high-fiber cereal such as Fiber One or Kashi Vive or even old-fashioned oatmeal.

Hummus a Happy Tune
Dip carrots, snap peas and other veggies in hummus instead of ranch dressing.

Orange You Glad You Tried This?
Instead of drinking fruit juice, eat the fruit. More fiber, vitamins, minerals and more satisfaction with less sugar.

Wrap it Up
Instead of the usual tuna-on-white, wrap a sandwich in a whole-wheat tortilla. Make your own wrap using a variety of meats (turkey, chicken), cheeses and veggies.

Try these tips to help get more fiber in your diet each day!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Breakfast Ideas to Start Off the Day!

"She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls."
- Proverbs 31:15

As mentioned in yesterday's blog, eating a balanced meal in the morning can help keep you alert, improve your mood and not make you too hungry before lunch. Here are five breakfast ideas that will give you energy until lunchtime:

Oatmeal in an Instant!
Instant oatmeal is great on a cold morning and contains fiber and vitamins. Choose oatmeal that isn't already pre-sweetened (like Old-fashioned Quaker Oats). Sweeten it with raisins or fresh fruit. Adding a scoop of protein powder will make it a perfect breakfast meal!

Smoothie Madness!
Blend frozen fruit (berries are great), milk, cottage cheese and raw nuts (walnuts) for a quick, tasty breakfast smoothie with lots of nutrients.

Eggs - The World's Most Perfect Food!
Boil, scramble or make an omlette and serve on whole-wheat toast or mixed up with veggies and cheese. Eggs are packed with nutrition including protein, vitamins and healthy fat.

Go Nuts!
Spreading natural peanut, almond or walnut butter on whole-grain toast is a great way to get both protein and fiber.

Breakfast On-the-Go!
Don't have time to eat breakfast at home? Try whole-grain toast, nuts and fresh fruit taken in the car. Boiled eggs, apple slices, a banana or a smoothie are also easy and not too messy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Benefits of Breakfast

"When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread." - John 21:9

Researchers have found many benefits from eating breakfast and with school underway, now is a perfect time to get into the breakfast habit.

Breakfast Research

Among the recent research:
  • Children who skip breakfast make more errors and are slower to recall facts.
  • Children who eat breakfast solve math problems more quickly.
  • Children who eat breakfast do better on vocabulary tests.
  • Children and adults who eat breakfast are more likely to get the vitamins and other nutrients they need.
  • Adolescents who eat breakfast tend to have a lower body mass index, even if they have one or two obese parents.
  • Adults who eat breakfast eat less calories throughout the day and make better food choices.
  • Adults who eat breakfast lose more weight than those who skip breakfast.

The benefits of breakfast apply to grown-ups when it comes to the research shown above (less errors, better math and vocabulary).

Breakfast Guidance

  • Dinner leftovers don't have to be dinner again. Heat them for breakfast instead.
  • Put together an egg casserole the night before, and slip it into the oven when you get up.
  • Make a smoothie containing one cup of milk, 1/3 cup cottage cheese, 2-3 tablespoons of raw nuts and 1/3 cup fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries) for a quick, delicious and healthy breakfast meal
  • Scramble eggs with various vegetables and cheese or make an omlette.
  • If you decide to have cereal, choose a high-fiber, low-sugar cereal like Fiber One.

Five On-the-Go Ideas

  • Natural peanut butter and banana (or apple) slices on whole-grain toast.
  • Cheese wrapped in a whole-grain tortilla and some fruit.
  • Raw nuts (almonds, walnuts) and fruit (berries) stirred into yogurt.
  • A fruit smoothie blended with milk, cottage cheese and raw nuts (walnuts).
  • Two cheese sticks with a piece of fruit.

These tips should help you get into the habit of eating breakfast consistently. It really is the most important meal of the day!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Book Recommendation: What the Bible Says About Healthy Living!

"Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold." - Job 28:17

I recently finished reading "What the Bible Says About Healthy Living" by Rex Russell. This is a fantastic book that shows us what to eat and how to live a healthy life according to God's plan.I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book as it goes into very good detail about the various foods God has recommended that we eat. It's amazing to see how perfectly God designed our food and what effect it has on the body.

The book covers three main principles that are important for a healthy life according to God's plan for us:

  1. Eat only the food God has created.
  2. Eat only the food God has created in its most natural state before it has been altered by man.
  3. Do not become addicted to any food.

Principle one is fairly easy to figure out on your own as it pertains to all the natural, whole food God has created for us to eat. This includes vegetables, fruits, lean meats (from cattle, chicken, fish), beans and other legumes, raw nuts, olive oil and other natural foods.

Principle two gets tricky because many of the foods that we think are good for us have been altered by man in some way. Bread, rice and pasta may seem healthy and natural, but most of those products are highly processed and no longer resemble the original form that they were designed to be. The idea behind principle two is to only eat organic food as much as possible.

Principle three can be one that is hard to avoid. Many people are addicted to sweet or salty foods, fast food, alcohol or even foods that are good for us. So it is important not to worship any food or become addicted to it in any way.

I'm going to start a new series on my blog that discusses many of the things listed in the book including the topic of milk, meat, vitamins and more. I feel that many people have been led astray when it comes to eating healthy and nutritious foods.

In fact, I read an article in yesterday's paper that encouraged the consumption of white bread because it is fortified with folate and vitamins. If someone were to follow that horrible advice, they may find themselves justifying that it's okay to eat food that wasn't created by God and that is heavily processed and detrimental to the body in the long run.

I hope to clear up many misconceptions as we discuss a variety of topics related to food and how to live a healthy life. In the meantime, be sure to pick up a copy of the book. It's loaded with excellent information that will make a huge impact on your life.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Current Training Plan - Strength and Speed!

"I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." - 1 Corinthians 9:27

Earlier this year, I posted my 12-week training plan that helped me increase strength, conditioning and strength endurance while losing about five pounds. I posted the results of that training here - Click me!

Once I finished that program, I spent the next four months (April - July) on fat loss and conditioning programs that included Afterburn 2 and Warp Speed Fat Loss. I lost several more pounds of fat on those programs while increasing my conditioning tremendously, and I only lost a little bit of strength during that time.

Four months is about the maximum amount of time that someone should devote to fat loss training and dieting during the year, as it can be stressful on the body. Thus the reason that I decided to work on maintaining my conditioning and current level of bodyfat while focusing on my strength and speed.

I play ultimate frisbee once each week, so I need to make sure that I am well conditioned. Luckily, the last four months of training prepared me for all the running, sprinting and short rest periods during an intense game. I also know that gaining strength will help me with my overall speed and conditioning.

Currently, I'm on week four of my strength and speed program. I'm actually using the template that Joe Defranco posted in his "Westside for Skinny B*stards III" article. I've made some minor tweaks to fit my goals, but overall, I'm following the same template.

My training week looks like this:

MONDAY – Max-Effort Upper Body

Max-Effort Exercise – I work up to a max of 2-3 sets of 3 reps in some form of pressing exercise. I rotate the exercise every two weeks using a full-range of motion lift for two weeks followed by a partial-range motion exercise for two weeks and repeat every two weeks. For example, I'll peform flat barbell bench presses for two weeks followed by 2- or 3-board presses or floor presses for two weeks and then go to another full-range pressing exercise like close-grip benches or incline benches for two weeks, etc.

Supplemental Exercise – I perform 2 sets of max reps (15-20 reps) or 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps of some sort of pressing exercise (a similar movement as the max-effort exercise).

Horizontal Pulling / Rear Delt Superset - I superset a horizontal pulling movement (rows) with a rear-delt exercise for 2-3 supersets of 8-12 reps of each exercise.

Traps – I perform 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps of some sort of shrugging exercise.

Arms Superset - I perform 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps of a biceps exercise (curls) with a triceps exercise (pushdowns or extensions).

Finisher: I perform sled pushes or another short finisher similar to what I posted in a previous blog.

TUESDAY – Speed Training

General Warm-up / Movement skills (5-15 minutes) – The goal of this portion of the workout is to increase core temperature by performing basic movement skills and calisthenics. (Example: bodyweight squats, jumping jacks, skipping, back pedaling, etc...)

Ground-based mobility (5-15 minutes) – Once I've broken a sweat and my muscles are warm, I perform ground-based mobility drills for 5-15 minutes. (Sample mobility drills include: roll-overs into V-sits, fire hydrant circles, mountain climbers, groiners, etc…)

Frequency drills (2-3 minutes) – I conclude my warm-up with 1 or 2 drills that excite the central nervous system before beginning the speed training portion of the workout. These drills only last 5-10 seconds for 2-3 sets for each. (Example: low pogo jumps, wideouts, ankling, etc.)

Speed training – I follow speed-training techniques for non-athletes (distances of 60 yards or less with complete - or close to it - recovery between sprints). The goal of this workout is to get faster.

WEDNESDAY - Off (or light activity)

THURSDAY – Max-Effort Lower Body & Conditioning

Max-Effort Exercise – I work up to 2 sets of 3 reps or 2-3 singles with 90%. Just like my max-effort upper body day, I rotate the exercise I use every two weeks and use a variety of squatting and deadlifting movements.

Unilateral Movement - I perform 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps of a unilateral quad-dominant exercise such as lunges, step-ups or Bulgarian split squats.

Hip Extension Movement - I perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps of a hamstring/posterior chain exercise such as Pull-throughs, Romanian deadlifts, good mornings, etc.

Weighted Abs - I perform a heavy ab exercise for 2-3 sets of 6-12 reps.

Conditioning Finisher – I usually perform one of the following exercises:

1) Sled pushes – I perform 4-6 30-yard sled pushes with about 1 minute rest between sets.

2) Farmer's walks – I perform 4–6 sets of 40 yards with 1-2 minutes rest between sets.

3) Forward or backward sled drags – I perform 4-6 sets of 40-50 yards with 1-2 minutes rest between sets

FRIDAY – Repetition Upper Body

Repetition Exercise – I perform 3 sets of max reps OR 4 sets of 12-15 reps of some sort of pressing exercise.

Vertical Pulling / Rear Delt Superset - I superset a vertical pulling movement (chins, lat pulldowns) with a rear-delt exercise for 2-3 supersets of 8-12 reps of each exercise.

Medial Delts – I peform 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps of dumbbell lateral raises, L-lateral raises, cable lateral raises, dumbbell military presses or a dumbbell side press.

Arms Superset - I perform 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps of a biceps exercise (curls) with a triceps exercise (pushdowns or extensions).

Abs - I perform a bridging (planks) exercise with a rotational exercise (Russian twists) for 2-3 sets for time or reps.

Finisher - If I'm up for it, I'll conclude the workout with a short finisher similar to Monday's workout.

SATURDAY - OFF (this is the day I relax and watch college football most of the day - GO GATORS!).

SUNDAY - Ultimate Frisbee (game day)

Some of the tweaks I've made to Joe Defranco's Strength and Speed template is that I change my supplemental and accessory exercises each week. This is something new I'm trying. Usually, I'll use the same exercise for 4-6 weeks before changing. So this is definitely different than what most trainers may recommend. I've never done this before, so I wanted to see if I can "trick" my body from adapting to any exercise by changing it so frequently. I wouldn't recommend this for a beginner, but it may work well for me since I've been training for so many years.

Also, I change the loading parameters (sets and reps) for my exercises every four weeks. I break up my training (using the template above) into four-week phases. This allows me to use the same set/rep range for all my supplemental and accessory exercises for four weeks (using different exercises each week) before changing the loading parameters (sets and reps) during the next four-week phase.

So that's my current plan that I've been following for the past four weeks and will continue to follow for the next several months.