Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Breakdown

Since my first blog post 3 weeks ago I've made it to the gym more, eaten better (thanks to my fantastic girlfriend), avoided smoky bars, and overall I have much more energy!! From the various articles stroke blog posts all over the internet the key to loosing fat is to gain muscle that will burn calories long after your workouts over. I talked to some trainers at my gym and said the same thing.

A little bit about myself... I've always been active; wrestled for about 8 years growing up and played intramurals in college as well as lifted. I was probably in the best shape of my life freshman year. But once the gym visits slowed down and beer consumption kicked in, the belly started to fill out and that once flat stomach started to disappear. This picture was taken a few years back in Morocco, I like it because the water hides my small arms and the fact I'm sucking in my gut. One of my main goals right now, among other things, is to get that six pack back!! So what do I need to do first?? Increase my muscle mass and let my body work for me... 

I told myself that 2011, at 27 years old, I was going to be in the best shape of my life!! So I ran a marathon (finished in just over 4 hours), a mini-triathlon, and even signed up for kettle bell on the beach. But none of those penetrated my food pocket to expose my abs. Time to try something new!!

I wanted to understand how the body breaks down food and after reading various articles it seems like the place to start was the liver, which is the major distributor of nutrients to different part of your body... The liver breaks down carbohydrates to form Glucose or Energy. However, the liver will also breakdown any harmful substances that enter the body as a priority; various toxins, alcohol, and chemicals that are found in everyday food such as Mercury in Fish & High Fructose Corn Syrup in Soda. Even Diet Soda has artificial sweeteners that can be harmful. This function takes away from the liver's essential function of breaking down food to provide nutrients to the body.

HP Tip #2: Try to stay far away from the soda & processed foods!!

I will refer to the trusty Mayo Clinic and a personal Idol of mine... Lance Armstrong for support:

Despite the health risk identified by putting these consumables into your body, it takes away from another major function of the liver... The function I am trying to harness!! When you workout the primary energy source is Glucose, then it will draw from Glycogen previously stored by the liver. Once all of the G-energy sources are exhausted your body starts attacking stored fat which is turned into (darn another G-word) Glycerol which can be used as an alternate energy source!!

Now the beauty of this concept is that if your Metabolism is Strong and you Eat Healthy the liver will start breaking down the fat when its done working ie between meals and sleeping... Burn fat while you sleep? What a fantastic idea!! Your muscles can actually consume energy hours after the workout is over, one of the prolonged advantages of lifting compared to pure cardio workouts.

Obviously these processes are much more complicated than I expressed and apologies if I confused you. Honestly, I confused myself a little trying to digest (hehe) all the technical information which kind of seems like a foreign language to this engineer. However, here's the real scoop:

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Elixir of Life

Woke up this morning with a fuzzy head and chalky taste in my mouth after Laura and I polished off two bottles of red wine last night and a naked pizza... Brushed my teeth and ventured into the Dubai summer heat for a quick run around the marina. I normally try not to complain but, good grief, was it hot!! Temperature according to Google is 43°C, only just under 110°F, with 28% humidity. 

Definitely not the worst it's been but needless to say I didn't see any other runners out. I planned to run 5k but ended up taking the first bridge and only made it 3. Oh well, my head was starting to feel like a balloon so I went into the gym to meet Laura. Dreading the upcoming ab workout I grabbed a cup of water at the cooler and BAM!! immediately refreshed and ready for more. 

Growing up I was kind of a nerd and loved The Legend of Zelda!! You know the one: BanalumtalaLa DaNantDaNantDaNantDaNant. I felt like I drank that blue potion that gives you all your hearts back so you can shoot lasers out of the sword. Anyways, water just seems to have magical energizing properties, especially in the gym so...

HP Tip #1: Drink water, wherever and whenever possible!!

There are multiple ways to gauge your water intake and thousands of benefits aside from adding energy to your life; avoids hangovers from the alcohol replacing water in your blood stream, helps prevents diabetes and kidney stones, muscles recover from workouts faster, increases metabolism, helps the liver process fats instead of sugars and chemicals if you replace soda and processed juice with water, suppresses hunger, acts a natural detox, prevent illness by improving your immune system, reduces headaches, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, moisturizes joints for those with knee pain, prevents acne, brightens eyes, reduces wrinkles, improves overall skin quality and will ultimately puts me in a better, happy mood!!

If you're still skeptical or please read the Risk of Dehydration published by the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, if you will be working outside, hiking, or running long distances make sure to drink gatorade or add extra salt to your meal as sweating decreases your sodium levels which can be fatal. Stay healthy, keep hydrated!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Healthy Guacamole

Just for the record, if anyone read my blog yesterday, I did not make it to the gym this morning as I was wrapped up in a blanket battle last night. Tomorrow, however, is a new day and think I'll sleep much better after tonight's wonderful mexican food I miss so much. I credit Kalyn's Kitchen for the awesome tacos!!

On the recipe it suggests a variety of other condiments to put on the tacos; hot sauce, black olives, and my all time favorite... Guacamole!! However, spiced it up a bit with my patented recipe which I've been keeping a secret until so both of my blog followers can reap the healthy benefits of Avocados, Nuval Scope: 89...

The Press' Healthy Guacamole:

2 Fresh Avocados - The best are the squishy ones!! Mash with a fork before adding the rest...
100 grams of green salsa - Preferably from El Meson in Schaumburg IL but most will do.
100 grams of low fat cottage cheese - Great substitution for sour cream!! 

Mix well and add chili powder (or chopped jalapeños) to taste. I like mine spicy... Enjoy!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Hollywood Workout

I've been out of college for about 5 years now and my workout regime is like a roller coaster... I hired a personal trainer when I graduated which kept me motivated considering I was paying for it, but let to my own devises I tend to loose site until I look at a photo and think "Man my arms look small" then exert a bit more effort. I would definitely classify myself as a "Hollywood Lifter" the guys at the gym that only lift their chest and biceps. Yep, thats me...

Inspiration: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Goal: Lift all major muscle groups at least 3 times a week and abs at home everyday!!
Problem: I get home late from work and tend to be lazy on the weekend.
Inspiration: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Solution: Workout in the morning? Suck it up!!

Chest Sunday, Legs & Back Tuesday, Arms Friday. Try to fit in a couple klicks after to get the heart rate up a little. We'll see how that goes... No Hollywoods!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Forest

In the spirit of the holiday weekend, cheap plane tickets, and my new found ambition to get healthy Laura and I booked a last minute trip to Nepal... A nice resort in The Gokarna Forest just outside Kathmandu. A place to read and write and relax with amazing spa deals and spiritual enlightenments. Now I don't want to turn this into a travel blog by any means but this place was pretty sweet!! Mornings filled with Nature Hikes trying to avoid the leaches and monkeys while the Himalayan Massages consumed the afternoons.

I think more than anything the time away from reality... the opportunity to gather my thoughts was the major highlight. We woke up each morning to the sound of rain outside our open window, a situation I rarely find myself in these days, and went to the 8am yoga class. Now I've yoga'd before but by no means would I appear to know what I was doing. Luckily the class mainly consisted of some light calisthenics, some twisting, stretching, breathing funny, closing eyes, opening them slowly, etc... very minimal up dog tree airplane stuff. My favorite part, however, was the mediation... 20 minutes at the end of each session where we could escape to a tranquil place and relax our minds... relax our face, relax our arms and our legs. Our first instructor pretty much asked us to relax every bit and piece you can think of, with no filter. Quite entertaining. 

Either a run or a quick sauna session in 72 degrees celsius, depending on the rain, usually followed. Then onto breakfast filled with fresh juices, omelette guy, some nice morning curries, and an assortment of fruit. One in particular I recently found out is a superfruit, Papaya   along with Pears and Pineapples and Mangos and Cute Little Bananananas made me very happy as I prep'd for the busy day ahead!! 

That afternoon we took a trip through the winding dirt roads and into the heart of the city. Lots of shopping and strenuous negotiating took place over the next couple hours. One spot "Boudha Stoupa" was filled with monks praying and tourists commingling as we all walk clockwise around this specular circular monument, we must have made at least 15 laps. Upon return we went straight to the spa and contemplated the next indulgence as we sipped on our seven spice tea. In Proper Healthy Fashion I decided upon the Detox Algae Wrap not really sure what to expect other than a small Nepalese women rubbing green paste all over me. It started with a nice scrub down followed a quick shower and an invigorating algae lotion application. Laura was next to me laughing when they started wrapping me up like a big burrito fueling the giggling masseuses. Anyways, they put the heat on and massaged my face for about a half hour and all I could think about was tearing free in a cloud of hissing steam, transformed like superman with a perfect 6 pack. That obviously didn't happen but hey, at least it removed some of my harmful toxins... and much easier than a leach would, hehe. Will just have to work on those abs.