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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From sick lean to healthy fit

When I first stepped in the weightlifting room, all I knew about the sport and the proper nutrition was...ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I was like a butterfly in the garden, jumping from one flower to another-in my case from one machine to the other. I had no idea what I was doing-maybe just wasting some time, trying to fill a gap in my schedule ;).

Later on I had a PERSONAL TRAINER, or that's what I thought. Back then I tought he knew everything! But now, after I've read a bunch of books, thousands of articles and tried a lot of training and nutritional plans, I can not even dare call him PERSONAL TRAINER...maybe just a chatting buddy in the gym.

It is surprising how most of the coaches in a regular globo gym are there just to have a good chat with you. They are far from helping you reach your goals. They just make sure you won't be bored of the silence or bored of your thoughts while working out!

I see them all the time! People that claim to know everything about the sport, but in reality are just fooling people that are the same as I was at the beginning!
Most of these "coaches" are people that have read a couple articles about some famous bodybuilder, picked up his way of working out and applying it to everybody that goes through the door of the globo gym! It doesn't matter who you are, what your goals are, if you are injured or healthy...you will all get the same training program and nutritional plan.

I am sick of hearing people that have heard only about bodybuilders and the way they train. That's cool! I respect bodybuilders but I refuse to accept that this is the only way you could get in shape! And did I just say in shape? I think that bodybuilders are far from being in shape and being fit.
Here’s a little secret that most won’t share but the ex figure competitor Erin Brown Seryak shared…"looking your best in the figure world means feeling your worst! If fitness is defined by your ability to safely and efficiently cope with the demands of a specific physical task, the only task that I was prepared to handle was taking a nap! I mean, I couldn’t even do a dead hang pull-up, but I was supposedly fit. If I had to run for my life I would probably collapse on the spot. But who cares? I looked good right?".

That is so true! When I used to follow bodybuilder's nutritional plans, I used to feel really weak, I was loosing weight but I never felt capable of doing half of the things I am able to do now. Besides that, when it comes to working out, I never truely felt pleasure doing a split and I never really got the results I expected. It seemed like I was "cursed" to be in an enchanted circle where you pretty much deprive yourself all the time, thinking about food all day long and doing the same split over and over again. What a life!
Erin back in the figure days

Besides most bodybuilders look good for a week or two after the competition and then they start bulking up. So what comes out is that you look good just part of the time and the rest you are bulking up and not looking as lean as you'd like to be.

Well you can solve that problem by engaging yourself in some kind of functional training and HEALTHY eating. Healthy doesn't mean depriving yourself so you will get lean. By working out the right way and eating healthy you set up the opportunity for your body to look the way you want it! In this case being lean is not the goal but just the consequence of eating healthy and working out functional.
Erin nowadays being healthy, fit and strong

Conventional wisdom tells us that the only way to become and stay lean is to lift light weights for a bunch of reps. This will get you those long, lean muscles that you’ve always wanted! What does that even mean anyway? It means you’ve been lied to! Lifting heavy weights has done more to improve my body composition than any other type of training I have EVER done in the past, and it almost seems like I don’t have to try. I am stronger, fitter and healthier. So don't be scared of the weights! Don't be scared to try a new approach! Yea, what the globo gym "coach" says might be right, but not for you, not for your goals!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why I love Crossfit

Remember that picture....read below and you will find out how Crossfit works :)

I've said it before and I will say it again- life and economy to me are the two sides of the same thing. Life is the world of every individual, and economy is the world of all individuals brought together. Today as I was reading something about my Mediaplanning class I came upon the Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I've considered it before correlating it with Crossfit. If you are a crossfitter or even if you aren't, I bet that you've noticed the impact that Crossfit has on the lives of everybody that has tried it!

Many consider Crossfit a religion and say that we are some kind of a sect and probably we "wash away" the brains of "normal" people, and thus persuade them to come on our side. I'd say this is an interesting theory, which gives me the opportunity to argue on it and show my personal view!

So...Maslow's hierarchy of needs is portrayed in the shape of a pyramid, with the largest and most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom, and the need for self-actualization at the top.

The most fundamental and basic four layers of the pyramid contain what Maslow called "deficiency needs" or "d-needs": esteem , friendship and love, security, and physical needs. With the exception of the most fundamental (physiological) needs, if these "deficiency needs" are not met, the body gives no physical indication but the individual feels anxious and tense. Maslow's theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire the secondary or higher level needs.

It comes out that Maslow's pyramid should be build. You can't skip a level or your "pyramid" will fall apart,i.e. if some of "d-needs" are not met you won't feel complete as an individual and that will force your body and mind to suffer. Turns out that in order to have a fullfiling life, everybody should strive to start from the bottom of the pyramid and build it to the top throughout their lives!...only then you will feel accomplished and in harmony with yourself.

Maybe you are eager to understand what Crossfit has to do with everything mentioned above?... In my opinion Crossfit provides all five "d-needs" explained above. On the side of physiological needs,i.e. air water and food, Crossfit gives you the opportunity of getting to know your body better and teaches you to provide it with the nutrition it needs to function. By knowing those things you are most likely to aply them in your diet and you are directing straight to the second level- The safety needs!

Safety needs have to do with people's yearning for a predictable orderly world in which perceived unfairness and inconsistency are under control, the familiar frequent and the unfamiliar rare! Crossfit coaches are some of the best professionals I've seen. They all commit themselves to the purpose of serving others as their mentors,as their help in difficult moments,as their teachers and so on. Crossfit coaches help you learn the moves so yoo won't injure yourself doing a hard WOD and thus they keep you save. They are the connecting link between you at the beginning and your HEALTHY YOU!
A picture from a Diablo Crossfit workout

...we are getting higher on the pyramid, and we are now on the third level- Love and belonging! As crossfitters you belong to a community. A community where everybody wants you to succeed. Everybody helps you-with advice, knowledge, support or just the opportunity to be your friend, the thought that you are not alone out there. Somebody else is doing the same WOD. SOmebody else is going through the same tough times. Somebody shares your pain. Somebody knows how you are feeling right now! And that is what most of us lack-understanding! By being a crossfitter you are surrounded by people just like you! People that share your interests and your fears. People that strive for the same. People that started the same journey with you...and that will be there if you trip on your way!
The picture shows the community that Crossfit gives you the opportunity to be part of...

Hey! We are almost there on the forth level-Self esteem! All humans have a need to be respected and to have self-esteem and self-respect. Also known as the belonging need, esteem presents the normal human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People need to engage themselves in something that gives them the sense of contribution, to feel accepted and self-valued. Lack of self-esteem can result in inferiority complex, which brings you nowhere!!! How does Crossfit helps on this level? Well, Crossfit gives you exactly the opportunity to persue the need of being respected for what you do. Every crossfit fellow out there respects what you do. We all respect the efforts others do, whether it is trying to lose weight, trying to gain muscle, make a HSPU or a MU, or whatever you are trying to accomplish. Whenever you feel low, you can always go to the gym and hit a WOD, show some motivation and hard work, and you know you will be respected for it!

Lauren Plumey fighting her way up during the Crossfit games 2009

Here we are! Finally on the top of the pyramid! That was a long way up, wasn't it? But it was worth it! So here we came to the fifth level- The self-actualization! There is one proverb that I love and it goes that way : “What a man can be, he must be.” I find that to be the mere truth! That last level is the hardest to persue and not many of us succeed of reaching that high. But here comes Crossfit again! Everybody has an ability, a talent that nobody else has. Something that he can do better than everybody else. Either you are a good sprinter, weightlifter or gymnast. You can do DU better than anybody, jump higher than anybody, lift the heaviest or run the fastes. You have a broad field to show what you can do. There is something that you like doing more than others-so go ahead and do it! Maybe you like chippers better than other WODS-so go ahead and feel the pleasure of doing what you want.

But as Maslow said "In order to reach a clear understanding of this level of need one must first not only achieve the previous needs, physiological, safety, love, and esteem, but master these needs." So master the first levels, then bring them together and you are on the top. You are a complete individual now. You can be proud of yourself and feel accomplished. And you see...Crossfit has it all. That is why I TOTALLY LOVE IT! Call it a sect...but I will argue again! It is just Crossfit! It gives you everything you need to feel accomplished!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is meat really that evil?

A couple days ago I went to Brussels for a seminar about PR&Lobbying. I found it really interesting. We discussed different themes and one of them wass obesity and food labeling and what techniques we could use to lobby on that topic. We talked about missleading advertisments and claims about food nutrition. For example in Bulgaria there is a commercial that claims "that mayonez is healthy and high in fiber"??? Who came up with that idea? And how in the world did they approve it?

There are researches showing that more than 70% of the population is trying to make better food choices and have the desire to do it, but the thing is that media controlls their choices. What happens is that people basically want to eat better, and they think they are doing it,besides they are missing the fact that they are getting the wrong information! I am sick of hearing about chocolate bars that make kids grow healthy, about juices that contain tons of vitamins( and in reality they contain only tons of sugar...maybe they forgot to put the vitamins when they produced them ;) ).

Talking about the perception about healthy eating there was one of the participants in the seminar that asked me how come I was eating meat if I claimed healthy eating is my passion... I am tired of hearing people that talk about meat and the evil things it does!!! How do you think our ancestors made it out alive hunting and eating lots of meat? Back then there were no media, no information about nutrition, no science that convinced people what was right for their body and what was wrong! All that people had to rely on was their inner instincts...

And you know what?!. Instincts NEVER lie! Your body knows better what it needs! The problem is that we are totally neglecting its signals and try to control it! The truth is that the closest to being in control we will ever be is in that moment that we realize we're not!

Fueling your body according to the "fashions" in the diet world does no better than fashion in the modeling world does to your closet- a total mess! If meat ain't healthy, then maybe we are meant to be herbivores! But are we? Actual herbivores have special organs designated for breaking down cellulose – multi-compartmental stomachs, for example. We have but one, and it absolutely can not break down cellulose to any significant degree. People's stomachs are not designed to handle all that fiber!

Some will say that there are tons of researches that correlate meat with a bunch of diseases! But since when correlation is equivalent to the cause of a disease? I bet that most of the people that were involved in those experiments had a diet that included tons of soda,fried food, foods rich in high fructose corn syrup and so on. And you say meat is the problem?

People were designed to eat meat! It fuels our cells, our brains, and it builds our musculature. We designed tools to assist us in the procuring and processing of meat, and we still get that instinctual, savage urge to consume it. Meat tastes good. It provides essential nutrients and vitamins. And contrary to popular belief meat and meat alone is not responsible for cancer, heart disease, and everything else it is "accused" of doing. Meat when properly sourced, is a crucial element in the human diet. Despite the specious arguments about saturated fat and frugivores and murder, we know that meat is a good, healthy thing for everybody. And in the end, you’ve got to look out for your health and personal well-being. To do so rely more on your instinct not on the diet fashions!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eating vs Starving

I was surfing in the internet when I found the pictures below. I find them to be really meaningful.

I think the pictures say it all! You know how when you are hungry and you go to the shop everything looks delicious. You are bifurcated between all the choices you have. And since it is really hard to just pick one, you get all of them( and usually you pick the most unhealthy once).

When you go to the shop and you are not straving you will make smarter food choices and you won't crave all the junk food that is out there.

It is the same with diets. If your diet resembles more photosyntheses, i.e. you are hardly eating...you are most likely to endure this for a couple days and then you will eat as much food as you can get.

But if you are eating a well balanced diet, that leaves you full and satisfied, and provides you all the nutrition your body needs, I can assure you that crappy food won't be a temptation anymore.

So instead of spending your life thinking about food, starving yourself to death and then overating just change your mindset! Change your diet! Get a TRUE healthy one. Start eating! Make better food choices and just enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Success lies within you

"Don't let yesterday's disappointment overshadow tomorrow's dreams!"

It is a widespread "sicret" that desire is the foundation of success. If you want to accomplish something, it can't just be a hope, a dream, or a wish. It must be a burning desire that can often be described as an uncontrollable obsession. It must be a thought that transcends everything else. It must dominate your thoughts as well as fuel your passion and drive.

Most people that become champions-champions in any field or just champions in life are people that always keep in mind a vision of where they want to be. They have that plan in there mind. A plan that is well structured and make sure everything follows...

You will say "Wow! With a direction like that, probably they never fail...and I do! SO I better quit. I am not worth it!". WRONG! They fail...as Michael Jordan said " I failed over and over again and that's why I succeeded". Failure is the preparation for success. You should first learn how to lose in order to gain. It is said that your hands should be empty, so you can fill them with something better. That is what failure does. It teaches you! It robbs your ego, it trains your mind, your motivation and determination. Only when you've endured everything, only after you have learned your lessons comes the time for achievement...or even triumph.

When failure comes, fear and self doubt conquer your mind. But see, nobody is perfect and nobody recieves something worth it without paying its price! Some of the most successful people on Earth were not sparkling with talent and intelligence. They weren't more gifted than an ordinary person, but they had one thing in common that the ordinary lacked- the burning desire. The desire to achieve. The desire to follow your heart no matter what the circumstances. The desire that burnt all obstacles and led to success!

No day is like today! Forget about past disappointment. Get rid of your doubt and fears and grab your motivation and desire. Work hard and convince yourself you are worthy! Believe! Don't let anything or anybody discourage you! Because as Steve Jobs once said "your heart and intuition somehow already know what you truely want to become". And desire is never born without the strength to achieve it. So if you want it bad enough...someday you will get it. Just hang on there. Fall...but then rise again!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dare the unachievable

“Life is all about timing... the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable become available, the unattainable... attainable. Have the patience, wait it out It's all about timing.”~ Stacey Charter

Did you ever wish to be able to do something that you found challenging? Did you ever admired somebody for being able to do something you couldn't but always dreamed of? Did you actually ever try doing it? ...you didn't, did you? You constantly convinced yourself how it was way too hard for you! Instead of going ahead and give it a try, you wasted a bunch of time giving yourself reasons why you won't do it!...and instead you could have encouraged yourself with reasons why you CAN!

I am a big believer....a big dreamer! I always want to achieve the "unachievable". And what I've found out is that when you want something, when you have the vision, the desire, the drive, the motivation,dedication and you add some work to all that....all limits will break and you will surprise yourself with the things you can do!

When I started doing crossfit like eight months ago I admired Jeremey Thiel(below on the video minute 1:49) for the way he did double unders(DU). I was sure I was never gonna be able to do them like that. I could do like 2 or three double unders with like at least five singles in between. But even though I thought I couldn' I decied to give it a try and started doing DU every single day. Every WOD I did had DU. And today I am able to do them like Mr. Thiel.

I have another goal-to be able to do pull-ups without a band. ANd you know what? Today they seem unreachable...but if I start working on them within a few months a pullup without a band will be within reach...it is the same with everything you do in life. If you want it bad enough,just put some work in it and you will get it! That dream career is not going to jump in your lap just like I am not gonna magically learn how to do a pullup overnight. Show some dedication and determination! Get busy with some work! Be patient and do not rush it! Only then you will have a chance to have it!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sugar slaves

Yesterday I was driving and listening a radio talk show. They were talking about healthy eating. I got curious what they had to say and payed more attention...then I was shocked! Their theory was that people who are conscious about eating healthy are supposed to be really boring. The arguments were that if you go to a party with friends and you do not eat some chips and some pies that would be really miserable. They even went further saying "Oh, I feel so sorry for people eating healthy, they probably do not even have a reason to smile!"....What in the world were they thinking...

I guess that is the problem most people have when they try eating healthy. They feel deprived and miserable, thinking they are missing all the joy in life. But I think that this depends on the perception you have towards food, i.e. whether you LIVE TO EAT or you EAT TO LIVE! Everything comes down to the point where the direction where you set your mind to go will influence the way you feel about food.

I myself don't spend my day feeling deprived for not "being allowed" to eat junk. Because I do not forbid myself eating it, I just do not feel the need to eat it anymore. When somebody is stuffing some donuts I know that if I feel like it I am more than welcome to get some too, but the thing is that instead of bringing me joy and making me happy eating crappy foods makes me feel tired and sick.

Most people that make food a matter of life's joy are simply addicted to it. They are actually addicted to the rush they feel right after having that piece of cake or the candy, but what they are having a hard time realizing is that later on they are paying much higher cost for the pleasure they had by feeling tired, sick,miserable and depressed.

And before you get aggressie about it let me explain...When you eat sugar, your blood sugar rises quickly and your pancreas immediately jumps into overdrive. This increase in blood sugar causes the pancreas to secrete the hormone insulin. Insulin's job is to get that sugar out of the bloodstream by delivering it to cells where it can be used for energy. But if there's no demand for energy it gets stored as fat. If it stays in your bloodstream, it is toxic sludge and must be removed. Now, the body steps up its efforts to achieve homeostasis by releasing both adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones). Your heat rate is higher and you may feel a little flushed at this point or even nauseous. But that "sugar high" is short term, and you will soon experience the "sugar crash". This happens when all the sugar is out of your bloodstream and you start to feel sluggish and tired.

ANd probably what most of you are going to do in order to feel better is grab another candy bar...and thus it becomes an enchanted cycle where everything repeats over and over again, besides everytime you are hurting your body more and more...

So what I explained above does not sound like a lot of fun to me, and I do not see a reason for anybody that destroys their body that way to waste time feeling sorry about me and others eating healthy! I'd reccomend to take care of yourself first and then worry about others!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why a calorie is not a calorie!

If you are one of those people that are conscious about nutrition and the foods you fuel your body with, probably you are constantly picked on for that choice. I myself sometimes get pretty irritated with that. I am pretty calm but even I get tired from explaining how I do not feel tortured and depressed for not eating junk food.

Most of the people I meet try to excuse their bad food choices saying " A calorie is a calorie, and as long as I put less energy in my body than I spent everything is going to be fine!" But do you believe things are so simple? Because I don't!

Don't fool yourself that as long as it is in moderation it is good for you..

If you follow the "rule" above, you might look good, considering your appearance but I assure you that you are a total mess on the inside. What you are doing by fueling your body with junk is what I did when I forgot my sister's car needed dizel and instead I put gas in it. I thought I put the fuel in the car and I was ready to go, but the problem was it was not the right fuel.
By eating junk food and all these "modern foods" you fuel your body with the wrong nutrition and it actually does not receive the micro and macronutrients needed in order to function well. Here comes the paradox- you are eating all the time, but in the same time you are always starving. That is because a calorie is not a calorie! Your calories are empty. They are not rich in nutritions like the healthy dense foods.

The truth is, the conventional wisdom about why we get fat is simply wrong. It's not about energy balance; it's not about "overconsumption of calories" or "taking in more calories than we burn." It's about something else- the way human body regulates fat metabolism and the accumulation of fat in our adipose tissue. Getting fat is a disorder of accumulating too much fat, so of course we should pay attention to how our bodies regulate fat accumulation. The real question to ask is why we accumulate fat—or more specifically, why our fat cells store more calories as fat than they release into the circulation to be burned for fuel.

Fat accumulation in the human body is regulated fundamentally by the hormone insulin. If insulin levels increase, so does fat accumulation. If insulin levels decrease, fat is released from the fat cells and used for fuel.

Insulin levels, for all intents and purposes, are controlled by the carbohydrates in the diet. The more refined and easily digestible those carbohydrates, the more insulin will be secreted. And most "modern foods" contain lots of sugars, i.e. sucrose( the one we put in tea and coffe, to make the more tasty) as well as high-fructose corn syrup—will cause long-term increases in insulin production.

That means that you should stop lying yourself, repeating the worldwide spread "knowledge", that as long as what you are eating is in moderation you will be just fine! Instead of just repeating the celebrity "gurus" myths about health, get more conscious about it and get yourself interested by getting to know how your body functions and what it needs to do so!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Be yourself

“It takes courage to live as your authentic self where what others see is who you are inside. Some people, even family members, may not want to accept the real you. But if you don’t live that way, you become less of yourself and less for others too. Every choice you make also contains the choice to be authentic. When you choose to live as who you really are, you become your best self.” Don Shapiro

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Don't be a chicken

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.”

Yesterday I remembered a story I've read before...It goes that way...At the edge of the woods, near a small farm, a baby eagle fell out of the nest. The farmer found the eagle, and thinking it was one of his own, brought him to the chicken coop with his other chickens. As time passed, the baby eagle grew up learning to do what chickens do. He clucked, he strutted around the coop pecking at the corn and even tried his voice at the morning wake-up call. The baby eagle spent his life watching the free birds flying in the sky, dreaming to be like them. But come on! What he knew was that he is a chicken, and everybody know chickens can't fly. So he just admired the mighty birds in the sky and deep inside wished to be able to fly...the eagle spent his life, never daring to fly. What he was thaught by others limited him...and if he has only dared to try, he would have realized that he could...

Many of us die with the music still inside, just because we never dare to try...and what should always lead you in life is that whenever a desire for something is born, it is because deep down you are aware of your capabilities...your heart knows what you can be...the only thing you need to do is just try...

SO don't be an eagle, living like a chicken...Dare!

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's up to you

"I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite."

Advice...everybody has it and everybody is always willing to give one. It is so amazing, how everybody always has a solution to YOUR problems, but fails to find one for his own!

Whatever you do in your life, there will be people that will constantly teach you how you are supposed to act, eat,sleep,work,study or whatever. They will eagerly push you to follow the plan they have for you, assuring you that this is the only way for you to act! Many of us adopt that pattern and build their lives on it! But they are deadly wrong! Why? I am gonna explain...

Success? How do you define it...Anna Quindlen once said- "If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all!" That's my point-everybody has a different perception for success. What is success to me, might be a failure to you and vise versa. Everybody has different expectations for his life, so we should all act individually upon reaching them.

If you are having a trouble making an important decision...OK...come and ask me for an advice and I will give you one, but it will be from my point of view, it will be build upon my expectations and the way I see life. And that might not be what you want!

It is YOUR life. YOU and only you should decide which direction it will go! Nobody is allowed to tell you which way to go...unless you let them! So get your things straight! Decide what you want and chase it! You will stumble, you will try to persudae yourself you can't do it, and others are right, but that is ok! It is just how we are...always trying to stay in our comfortable zone, resisting the change that leads to success! So just hang on there and don't turn around, running away just because you are afraid of the unknown...

Steve Jobs once said it...Follow your heart and intuition because somehow they already know what you truely want to become! And he was damn right!