Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mr. Low Body Fat's Blog Has Moved!!!

Well, after exactly one year of blogging, I've decided that I needed a new look and address for my site. Please head over to my new and improved blog by clicking on the my blog's new header below.

This will be the last post that I will make at this address, so make a note of the change, and I'll see you guys over at our new home!

Monday, July 28, 2008

"12 Reasons to Fire Your Personal Trainer" by Steve Maxwell

It appears that Coach Maxwell is causing a stir on his blog again, and his most recent post could not have come at a better time. Last week, I was at my favorite park enjoying the sunshine, green grass, trees, abusing my sandbag, and trying to break my pushup board when I see a woman being trained (Boot Camp style) by this trainer who looked to be in his mid-20s.

Every now and then I would see the trainer and the woman glance my way while I was training. This really didn't bother me since I'm use to folks staring at me when I train because nobody else is out there bare-footed in the grass, with shades on, and an mp3 player attached to his ears. I'm not even going to tell you how the parents, who are taking their kiddies to the community pool, look at me when I'm doing my hip mobility exercises. Man, I think I need to get a t-shirt that says, "I'm not a pedophile, I'm a physical culturist!" ...

So, this young buck had this poor woman, who was obviously de-conditioned, doing the following circuit:

  • pushups
  • 30 yard bear crawls to a tree
  • jog around the tree
  • all out sprint for about 40 yards to the Fitness Cluster (the wooden workout stations in parks) near where I was training
  • 15 reps of bodyweight squats
  • 15 reps of step ups on a pretty elevated platform
  • run back to the starting place
  • repeat ...
I was floored when I saw this because she was clearly about to pass out after the first time through! Oh, and when she was complaining about how difficult this was, he had the nerve to tell her, "I told you that I was going to take things up to another level." This upset me, but what really pissed me off was that he worked out with her and was barking at her to keep up with him. Yeah, this de-conditioned, 40 something year-old woman, who probably needs to reduce her body fat by 10 percent, is going to keep up with a guy who was clearly an athlete in school judging by his build.

My blood was boiling a bit because it brought back very ugly memories I have of these type of personal trainers or personal abusers, as I like to call them. But, I didn't say anything because I go to the park to train and not socialize or get in other folk's business; however, when I could hear this woman panting so loudly that it was drowning out Bulls on Parade, I had to look back to see what was up. Well, as can be expected, she was on her second round of step-ups, and this poor woman had reached her limit. And, guess what her trainer was doing?
Checking his phone's text messages!!!!
When he noticed that I was watching, I guess he felt compelled to put away his damn phone and start doing step-ups with her, as if he was showing her how easy they were. He started to bark at her again about how she had to keep pushing herself. I was doing hindu pushups at the time, but I just stopped, shouldered my sandbag, and went for a walk across the field (a great leg and core exercise by the way) to get away from them before I couldn't hold my tongue any longer.

As I walked back across the field, they passed by me, and I could see the pain and frustration in the woman's face. Fortunately, her personal abuser chose not to make her do another round, as if she really could have. I watched as she limped, exhausted and sweaty, to her car. I really wonder whether or not she'll be back this week.

So, you can imagine how happy I was to read Steve's post on "Twelve Reasons to Fire Your Personal Trainer." I'm not going to post all of the pictures here, so I really encourage you to visit his blog to see them. Simply click on the article's title to read his original post complete with some pretty hilarious photos of Steve playing the part of the trainer who needs to be canned!

I hope you enjoy his post, and please leave comments about some horror stories you've had or have seen from these personal abusers.

* * *
"12 Reasons to Fire Your Personal Trainer" by Steve Maxwell
1. Your trainer is a poor match.
Training is a personality-driven business. More important than credentials, or even knowledge, the trainer's personality must be a good match with yours. The trainer's job is to be upbeat, positive and always in a good mood. Mood management is a hallmark of the true professional. If the two of you fight like a married couple, it's a poor match.

2. You're getting injured.
Even with the best personal trainers, an occasional injury is unavoidable, but when you have constant, nagging, recurrent injuries, your trainer isn't paying attention to proper form and technique.

3. No results or poor results.
Some clients have unrealistic expectations about what they can or cannot do; however, if you feel like you're on that treadmill-to-nowhere, never making progress with your weight loss or strength goals, then it's a good bet your trainer is incompetent. Which leads us to number 4...

4. No record-keeping.
For fat loss in particular, it's very important to document progress with anthropometric measurements and before/after photos. Skin folds and other measures of body composition are generally inaccurate but can sometimes be useful in gauging the general trend of fat loss progress. If your trainer isn't keeping precise records, including recording each workout, then he's simply lazy.

5. Not paying attention to your stated goals and needs.
Goals should be hammered out during the first meeting and everything should be made clear. If the trainer doesn't keep his agreement and starts to veer from the agreed-upon path, then it's time to say adios.

6. You're in a constant state of fatigue from your workouts.
Included here is frequent colds and other illness, constantly aching joints, especially a "heaviness" of the limbs. This means your trainer is driving you into the dreaded overtraining. Working out is meant to enhance your quality of life and make you feel better, not worse. This doesn't mean your goals don't require hard work--they do--but a good trainer knows the difference between under and over training and should be able to figure out the proper dose of exercise for you, if he's any good at all.

7. Using negative reinforcement.
Most people feel bad enough about themselves already and don't need anybody else to make them feel worse. Personal training is to help you feel good about yourself and enforce positive habits and positive self-image. Some clients may seem to respond well to being berating and insulting in a boot camp/drill instructor style, but in my experience, people who like this kind of training have a masochistic disorder, enjoying emotional beat downs. Words are powerful tools and affect the subconscious mind. Using negative techniques does nothing to promote health and healing. As a young trainer, I used to fall into this pattern because I thought it was cool and macho but later I realized it created more harm than good...for them and me.

8. Your trainer complains about his own personal issues on your time.
Your trainer is paid to be there for you. Part of that entails paying all of his attention to the details of your workout and supporting you in your optimal performance. There's no room for sharing personal gossip. If he's a constant complainer, run for the nearest exit! I've also heard trainers engage with their clients in a gab-fest and end up talking more than doing.

9. Your trainer is always late.
This is an indication he has no respect for you or your time. Subconsciously, he's not looking forward to seeing you and doing his job. When people are late for appointments, they're avoiding and procrastinating the meeting because they don't want to be there--this includes taking cell phone calls and texting during the workout. There are times these things are unavoidable, but anymore than very occasional is a waste of your money. Find someone who's in the moment with you.

10. Your trainer is a Don Juan.
There's an old saying, "you don't sh*t where you eat". These relationships rarely work out. There's undeniably sexual attraction when two people meet and it happens in every professional setting. Casual flirtation is harmless. Letting people know you find them attractive can be a great ego boost. But when your trainer is a known player around the gym, you may do better with someone with a better handle on who they really are. Maturity on this level is a good indicator of professional commitment. The energy should be going into your workout, not titillations.

11. He's letting you get away with murder--and you know it.
Sometimes trainers put clients through ridiculously easy workouts (they don't push you, permit sloppy form, stick you on aerobic equipment while they just talk to you) just to make some easy money. They don't progress you or design new programs. Or they switch up your program so frequently there are no meaningful gains made. They don't admonish you for diet infractions or missed workouts or touch on any seemingly unpleasant topics because they're interested only in your money, not you and your progress. A true fitness professional will call you on your bullsh!t because he's about earning the money he's paid.

12. Poor personal health and workout habits.
If your trainer shows up for your appointment looking like he slept in his clothes, sloppy and disheveled, it means he has no personal pride in his profession or appearance. The same goes for fat trainers. If your goal is weight loss, how can you expect someone else's help if they can't discipline their own eating? Another old saying in the coaching business: you can't take someone else where you haven't been.

Fatties in the weight-loss business are something to be avoided like the plague.

Before the flames arrive, let me clarify: I'm not talking about a power lifting coach or someone training strongmen. Being heavy and carrying extra body fat can be an advantage in these types of events. I'm talking about people who work with the general public where weight control and increased health are the primary goals. In my opinion, there's no place for fat trainers. If you're a fat trainer reading this, have some pride in your appearance, follow your own advice and get the weight off, otherwise you're in the wrong profession.

Further, I'd like to state that in over 36 years of working in the personal training business, I have violated many of these rules at one time or another...and I later regretted it. I've lost both clients and income and--worse--people's trust in me. Luckily, I'm a fast learner and corrected these mistakes and became a better trainer for it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

MLBF's Blog Recognized by!

I just received an email from Neenz and the good folks at They informed me that my blog was added to the fitness section of their site. I'm excited about this because I'll be in the company of other great fitness/nutrition related blogs out there such as Steve Maxwell's Blog, my buddy Israel over at Fat Man Unleashed, Diet Detective, and Strong Lifts to name a few.

The timing couldn't be better since I'll be launching the new look and location of my blog on the 2nd of August! I have been working day and night to get it ready, so stay tuned for more information about my new blog next week.

Have a great weekend and thanks for your continued support fellas ...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fat Loss Stories of Inspiration: Mike Boyd (440lbs - 187lbs)

I've decided to change the name of not only this series, but to my blog's tag-line too. I think there has been too much of an emphasis on weight loss fellas and it really needs to stop. When you say that you need to lose weight, what you are really wanting to lose is not simply weight but stored body fat! I know that this may sound like I'm splitting hairs, but I'm not.

Focusing primarily on the weight loss on a scale opens you up for a host of problems. First, you can be easily suckered into programs or weight loss aids that promise fast weight loss, but they never tell you whether you will be losing more fat than lean tissue. Second, when you focus on losing weight, instead of fat, you're more than likely going to look saggy and soft as you slim down, which is something that I'm sure you and your significant other don't want!

So, from here on out, this series will no longer be "Weight"Loss Stories of Inspiration, but will be now known as Fat Loss Stories of Inspiration because losing fat is the real goal. Also, I am now encouraging you guys to "Feed your brain to lose the fat!" OK, now let's move on to our next story. Oh, before I forget, I'm going to highlight at least one inspirational story a month; however, some months, like this one, I may spotlight more.

* * *

It had to be around 2006 when I first came across Mike Boyd's website. I was absolutely blown away by his transformation. Mike started his journey at a staggering 440lbs in 2005, and by 7/2007 he was weighing in at @187lbs!! Oh, and he did this through changing his eating habit and weight training only!

On his website, Mike explains that one of the main reasons he started his journey was because his doctor told him that either he lost the weight, or they would have to amputate his leg, which had horrible water retention problem that would have him visiting the hospital every 2-3 weeks. Mike remembers exactly what his doctor told him on one of his visits to the hospital to have, yet another, infection in his leg treated:

My doctor was blunt and to the point. He said "Your [sic] going to lose your leg"... and in the next breath he said "IF you don't do something NOW and I mean right NOW to change your life". Knock knock... reality check...
Well, this was more than enough to cause Mike to re-think his current situation and to, eventually, plan out how he was going to tackle his weight problem. However, the very first steps were the most difficult for him because of his size. He jokes on his site that he was only able to do 1 minute of cardio his first day. Hey, this clearly shows us that we all have to start somewhere, right?

Below, Mike explains the ordeal he went through just to get the mail at his job:

I could not walk to the mailbox and when it came time to clock out at work every night I would go through this unreal routine, which was extremely stressful, and challenging to me both mentally and physically. I would leave my desk and walk 27 paces to the waiting room then sit down, because I was extremely out of breath and scared that I was going to pass out. I had extreme anxiety over the fact that I could not breath or catch my breath so I had to make sure that I did not do anything over the absolute minimum to stress myself. Next after a few minutes rest I made my way to my vehicle and started it up then drove around the back of the building. I rested another few minutes in the car then I walked 20 steps into the waiting room where the Time clock was and parked my butt on a chair for 3-4 mins until I felt I was rested up enough for the journey back out to my vehicle.

Shortness of breath, pain in the legs, fear of passing out, all did not deter Mike from his goal of finally losing the weight and being the father he always wanted to be to his family. So he endured, and with the help of Tom Venuto's Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle program, Mike added weight resistance to his cardio routine and started to clean up his diet.

Well, as they say, a picture (or two) is worth a thousand words, so I'll let you guys see how Mike transformed his body from this guy:
To this guy:

OK, you can close your mouth and pick your jaw up off the floor now .... LOL!

Mike and I traded a couple of emails back in 2007, but I haven't heard from him this year. So, I'm not sure how he is doing in his new body. But, the determination and desire that he has shown in losing so much fat (over 200lbs to be exact!) leads me to believe that Mike is doing just fine. Also, he has a note at the top of his website to his visitors:

Mike has waged a personal WAR against Body fat and reclaimed his Life! Its all about Burning the Fat and feeding the Muscle as Tom Venuto can attest to! Over 200 Lbs of Fat put to rest. New goals continue to re-kindle my spirit as 2008 moves on. Stay tuned, my story is still unfolding!

I think it's safe to say that Mike is still on point with his fat loss and overall transformation. Guys, feel free to go to his website to see more pictures and to read more about his story.

Hands down, Mike's transformation inspired me more than any other one I've come across on the internet!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Are You an Exerciser or an Athlete? Part II" by Charles Staley

OK Fellas, here's part II of this great article by strength coach and the developer of the EDT System for building muscle and strength, Charles Staley. There are so many nuggets of gold, to borrow a term from my buddies over at bodyweight culture, in this article that I hope you guys print this one out and really study and think about these five brief, yet packed, habits that athletes possess.

"Are You an Exerciser of an Athlete? Part II"
By Charles Staley, B.Sc, MSS
Director, Staley Training Systems

Last week I differentiated between the "exerciser" mindset and the athletic paradigm. I equated exercisers with an amateur approach, and athletes with a professional attitude toward fitness. Most importantly, I demonstrated how the fundamental distinction between these two divergent perspectives is one of attitude: exercisers hate what they do, they do it begrudgingly, and they wouldn't do it at all except for their certainty that they have to do it.

Athletes, on the other hand love to train. In fact, they tend to overtrain, because their work ethic has become so ingrained that they live and die by a productivity-based ethos.

Becoming an athlete doesn't require advanced pedigree, a nasty steroid habit, bulging biceps, or even jaw-dropping talent. What it does require is a commitment to a set of practices that define the athletic lifestyle. People who consistently practice these habits can call themselves athletes, while those who do not continue to reside in the exerciser caste.

As you continue to read, take a self-assessment to see how many of these five habits you already practice, and which ones are missing from your dossier.

1) Process Orientation:

The athlete pursues goals, but the bulk of his day-to-day attention is focused on processes. A premise is first developed which states "If I do this process, it should lead me to this end." Once the premise is established, the athlete trusts the premise (much like a pro golfer must trust his stroke under competitive conditions).

The athlete shifts his sights away from the long-term goal and devoted his entire energy toward the day-to-day practices and habits that will give him the best chance for success. These practices encompass everything from training tactics, to nutritional and recuperative strategies.

2) Delayed Gratification:

The desire for instant results is the hallmark of an exerciser. Athletes know that the big payoff is worth the wait. One telltale sign of maturity can be found in sound nutritional practices: many people can commit to an exercise program, because there are immediate benefits- endorphin production, muscle pumps, greater energy, etc. However, there are little to no short-term benefits to be gained from a sound nutritional program - the payoff takes time to accrue.

3) Systemization:

Athletes record, document, and analyze their training, and often, their food intake. In other words, they keep records. When you don't have systems, you need to reinvent the wheel every time a unique situation presents itself. Athletes tend to know their maximum capacities in various exercises, they know how they react to various nutritional practices, and they're also familiar with the psychological states that produce superior performances. All of this knowledge is gleaned through the process of record keeping. After all, the best way to predict future performance is to study the past.

4) Professionalism:

The previous three practices are all components of professionalism, but here, I'd like to discuss a "root" habit that gives birth to all of them: distancing. This practice is perhaps best personified in the old weightlifter's credo "There is no joy in victory, no agony in defeat." Athletes maintain a certain impassionate distance from their craft. They know that if they identify too closely with their role, they'll be less likely to put themselves on the line, in the competitive arena.

Instead, they simply put in the work, do the right things, and resign themselves to whatever outcome might occur. Athletes know that commitment to the effort means more than the outcome produced by the effort. Exercisers on the other hand, are typically unwilling to put in the time, and instead resort to pills, powders, plastic surgery, and various other shortcuts that inevitably lead to failure.

5) Functionalism:

Exercisers are concerned exclusively with "form:" an improved appearance. Athletes are concerned exclusively with "function," which results in better form than what exercisers typically achieve. Put simply: form follows function. When you train like an athlete, you'll look like an athlete


I hope you'll notice the consistent parallels between these 5 practices. They all stress means over ends, practices over outcomes, long-term growth over immediate gratification. All of which are expressions of maturity. If you're currently living an exerciser lifestyle, you're ahead of the curve, but why not set your sights higher and join the athletic community? All it takes is making a decision- taking action, right now. Not sure how to start? Click the "comments" link below and let me know how I can help!

Monday, July 14, 2008

"Are You an Exerciser or an Athlete? Part I" by Charles Staley

When I tell people that I don't workout or exercise but that I train, they usually think that I'm trying to be some macho-type guy, but that's not the case at all. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It's just a matter of perspective and how you approach being fit and healthy.

Well, once I came across this two-part article written by Charles Staley, the developer of the EDT (Escalating Density Training) System, which is something that I first heard of from strength coach Mike Mahler, I felt that I finally found someone to sum up exactly what I've been trying to explain.

Basically, EDT allows you to do a large volume of work over a specified time. The key to this system is that you try and beat the number of reps you did for a particular lift the very next workout. Now, this increase the next workout can be as little as one extra rep, which is fine because they name of the game is gradual and progressive resistance.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Weight Loss Stories of Inspiration: Series Introduction

When I started blogging close to a year ago, I wanted to create an image for not only me to aspire to, but for other obese and overweight guys to aspire to also. Let's be upfront and honest about something. Having low body fat makes your body work and operate much more efficiently.

Sure, most guys want washboard abs and that's their man motivation. However, there's just no getting around the fact that once you're carrying around less
stored fuel, your body can do many more things effectively. You become more flexible and feeling light on your feet beats the hell out of having pains in your knee joints and hips.

So, when I receive emails from guys all over the world telling me their weight loss success story, I can't help but to feel as if we are all connected in this battle against the bulge and journey to re-capture our health.

In honor of this connected feeling fat guys all over the world are experiencing, I've decided to start a new series that will highlight many of these stories of
Average Joes who got tired of being fat and decided to do something about it! Let's start with our first Story of Inspiration, shall we?

“Kung gusto, maraming paraan; kung ayaw, maraming dahilan.” Translated roughly, it means: “If you really want to, you’ll find lots of ways; if you really don’t, you’ll find lots of ways not to.
- Filipino Proverb
For this series introduction, I wanted to highlight a guy that emailed me all the way from Quezon City, Philippines after seeing my interview on CNN. In 2007, Erik Dayrit, a 28 year-old graduate student, weighed 293 and @ 40% of that was fat! Once he saw that he was getting close to the dreaded 300lb mark, he decided that he needed to do something to lose the weight because at a height of 5'9, Erik knew that he was classified as morbidly obese.

It was at this moment that he knew he could not blame anyone but himself for being obese. In his email, Erik explains:
I was looking for someone or something to blame but I eventually realized that the way out of this mess was all up to me. Nobody told me to have an extra serving of rice every meal or to have a midday “snack” of Big Mac, large fries and caramel sundae. I did this to myself and I can undo it if I really wanted to. That was my epiphany. I’ve tried to slimming down before but all were half-hearted attempts to please someone – my parents, my relatives or my friends – but it was different this time. I’m doing this for myself.
No matter how you slice if guys, it comes down to personal accountability and doing it for yourself this time!

So, Erik had an epiphany that he needed to lose weight, but, as I've mentioned before, having an epiphany isn't enough. You need a plan of action, and that's exactly what he did:
Before, I always reasoned out that I had no time to go to the gym since I was both working and studying. But since my epiphany, I’ve managed to allot at least 8 hours of gym time per week. My regimen usually involved a lot of cardio combined with some heavy lifting. As for my diet plan, I settled for the Chrono Diet since it was the most convenient plan for me. Basically I ate more during breakfast, some during lunch and a little at supper. After a visit to a nutritionist, I also learned how to monitor what I ate. I introduced myself to foods that I’ve never touched for a long time – oat meal, wheat bread, fish, veggies and fruits. In the past, I used to say, “Life is short so eat, drink and be merry!” before having a huge slice or two (or three) of cheesy, all-meat pizza and mug of ice cream float. But now, you’d have to move heaven and earth for me to even get near that stuff again. I’ve modified my eating mantra to: “Life is short so don’t gorge food that will shorten it even more.”
Erik's modified eating mantra is definitely words to live by.

One thing that I'm going to enjoy about this series is that you are going to hear stories from men from all walks of life, who use different approaches to lose the weight, but one consistent theme is the following equation:

An epiphany + an intelligently designed plan + desire & determination = sustainable results

So, what about Erik's weight loss? Well, let's just say that at the time of his email to me, which was less than a month ago, Erik is down to 174lbs with 21% body fat, and he has maintained this weight for the last two months. He also participated in his first 5K this past May, which is incredible considering that one year earlier he could barely climb a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing!

Now, Erik has cut back considerably on his cardio and has incorporated heavy weight training into his routine, which is something he said that he should have implemented sooner. Erik and I share a common goal of getting a ripped physique, complete with visible six pack!

Nevertheless, Erik's transformation is nothing short of amazing. I think his before and after pictures speak for themselves ...

Congratulations Erik on your outstanding transformation and inspiration to Average Joes all over who want to lose the weight.

Fellas, if you have a weight loss story of an Average Joe that you'd like for me to showcase, please email your story and send before and after pictures to

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My Training Blog Updated!

Hey Fellas,

I just wanted to let you know that I've updated my Training Blog. So, feel free to check it out and leave a comment.

On another note, I just came across this article on Diet Blog:

Ask the Reader: How to Make a Man Eat More Veggies?

OK guys, why don't you go over there and help them figure this one out since I'm sure that some of you are like the man in the article. :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Make Mistakes And Persevere To Be Successful by Mike Mahler

"Fall seven times, stand up eight."
- Japanese Proverb

When many of us start our weight loss journey, we really think that we are going to be flawless with our program, and we are going to lose the weight just as predicted. Yeah right! You and I both wished that we had that much control over our bodies.

No, that's just being unrealistic. Along your journey, you are going to make mistakes. That's not the problem. What are you going to do with the mistakes you make is what causes many people to give up. You eat a big slice of cake or two, and you've ruined your program, and the world is coming to an end because you can't lose the weight, and that negative voice takes over once again. Listen guys, please stop with all the emotional panic attacks because there is another way to view a mistake.

You can view a mistake as simply a lesson. Does this mean that you'll never make that same mistake again, no not necessarily. But, once you no longer make that same mistake, then you can confidently say that you've learned that lesson and move on to the next one. Yes, the next one. Do you really think that life's not full of challenges and lessons for you to learn?

OK, before I get into today's strength and conditioning coach's re-post, I want to thank you guys for answering the current poll. It's going to be up for a few more weeks, so I can get a better idea of who my readers are, or, more specifically, are you Mr. Obese, Mr. Overweight, or Mr. Normal Body Fat.

Also, if you are interested in my 12 day experience on Lyle McDonald's The Rapid Fatloss Handbook diet protocol, please check out my training blog. I'm going to post everyday of my flavor-less journey, which started today! Please go to my training blog for more details, such as my menus, workouts, etc.

Alright, today's re-post is actually an article that can be found at Mike Mahler's site. Mike is not only a cool guy, but one of the most known Kettlebell instructors; he is known for his online fitness consulting, DVDs, and ebooks on topics such as using KBs for fat loss, strength training, and gaining size. Mike's in your face style really resonates with me, and the mentality I had to develop on my weight loss journey.

In the article below, he explains how you should view mistakes as opportunities to grow, excel, and progress that much further to reaching your goals! Enjoy ...

* * *

By Mike Mahler

"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." – Christopher Reeve

I had a great conversation with my friend David Weck this past weekend on what it takes to be successful. Dave is the creator of the BOSU which is one of the hottest fitness products around. I literally see the BOSU everywhere and unlike some other lame fitness products, the BOSU is an incredible training tool that I recommend highly. Anyway lets get back to my conversation with Dave. Similar to most successful people, Dave worked his ass off to achieve his immense success. He had tons of roadblocks on the way and there were many moments in which he thought he was done. No one gave him a roadmap to success. He simply had to act, fail a lot, persevere, and eventually achieve immense success.

This is a common path that most successful people have been through. What separates Dave from most people is he was not afraid to make mistakes. He made plenty and still does. However, he also hits home runs from time to time and they more than make up for all of the mistakes. Remember, in professional baseball if you hit the ball three times out of every ten at bats, you are a superstar! This means you are missing the ball 70% of the time! a 30% average is an F in school. Get over the illusion of having A+ results in the real world. If you are closing 90% of the deals you go after then you are either a liar or do not have enough deals. The more at bats you take the more misses you will have. However, do enough at bats and you hit a few balls as well. The key is to keep going for the hits and forget about the misses. Only losers get beaten down by mistakes. Winners take them in stride and are too busy pushing forward to give up.

Now that Dave is highly successful, he gets people coming to him all of the time for his secrets to success. These people are looking for a seamless path to success and hope that Dave has all of the answers. While it is great to get ideas from successful people on how to make it, you are kidding yourself if you think you can avoid suffering and failure on the way to success. If you are not prepared to get your hands dirty and put it all on the line, then do not bother starting. Moreover, do not bother wasting Dave's time or any other successful persons time. You have to get out there and learn how to be successful. You have to read the books, try plans out, fail miserably many times and still have the courage to persevere. You have to be able to persevere through being defeated day after day, month after month, and even year after year. You have to wake up the next day after being kicked around and do it all over again. You have to be able to get your ass kicked, recover and come back for more. Yes it is a fight and you need to be able to go all twelve rounds and then twelve more. Few have what it takes which is great for those of us that do as it means less competition, ha ha.

Most people will not even make it past the first set back. They get rejected once or do not have immediate success and it is all over. Pathetic to say the least. Such people do not deserve success as they do not value their lives. Especially if they are in America which is the equivalent to winning a lottery ticket. Making it here is much less easier than elsewhere. Unfortunately, people that are born in America rarely value the gift. Study successful people and I challenge you to find one person that had an easy road to success. Interesting people are people that persevered through rough times. You cannot have personal growth without tough experiences. No personal growth equals a very boring life and a very boring person.

Why do so many people give up at the first sign of failure? Why do others do whatever is necessary to make it? Who knows. It is one of the great mysteries of the universe. Regardless, I have a theory. People that give up easily are simply people that are nor prepared for success. They are nor prepared to do what needs to be done and suffer accordingly.

Without hard work, set backs, suffering, frustrations, and problems you will never enjoy the successes when you finally make it. You can apply whatever excuse you want. Maybe they had mean parents. Maybe they grew up in the inner city. While all of these are extremely influential factors, eventually you have to take responsibility for your life. You have to face your inner demons, crush them, and make your life what you want it to be. The arduous process is what reveals the inner diamonds. There is a difference between being a millionaire and having a million dollars. People that were given a million dollars did not have to work for it like the people who earned it through hard work, problem solving, and working smart. People that achieve their fitness goals through proper training, restoration, and nutrition are always more empowered than people that get cosmetic surgery.

People that are afraid to get their hands dirty are afraid of change. They really do not want to change or they would be busy working instead of applying delaying tactic methods. Yes eventually all talk has to stop and you have to act. Getting excited about an idea is easy. People do it all of the time. Every January 1, millions of people get excited about working out and getting in great shape. By January 15th, 50% of those people have given up. By March 1 the other 49% have as well. The final 1% get their hands dirty and finish what they start.

The only question left is are you part of the 1% club?

Live Life Aggressively!

Mike Mahler

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My Weight Gains & Losses By the Year - Part II

Well, it looks like in addition to the other new features I already have planned for my new and improved blog, an integrated Discussion Forum will also be added. I really appreciate you guys taking time out to let me know how my blog can better serve you. I've posted another poll that I'd like for you to answer; as always, thanks in advance for helping me out.

OK, before continuing with Part II of this series, I wanted to share some exciting news. I've been in contact with Lyle McDonald, the author of The Rapid Fatloss Handbook, and he has agreed to let yours truly interview him! I'm pretty stoked about this interview because I've read just about all of Lyle's books, and the guy knows his stuff. If you're not familiar with him, all you have to do is Google his name, and you'll come across countless articles that he has written about topics ranging from ketogenic diets to how to get rid of stubborn fat, which you guys know that I'm still battling with.

Speaking of which, stubborn fat that is, starting next Monday (7/7/08) I will begin following the dietary protocol detailed in Lyle's Rapid Fatloss Handbook for 12 days. I'll explain the ins and outs of everything Monday of next week. As a matter of fact, I'm going to blog daily about my latest experience in attempting to further reduce my body fat percentage. However, I'm going to blog about it at my new Training Blog. I will continue to update it this week, so expect a mess if you decide to check it out before next week.

Alright, let's continue with my slow walk to weighing over 300lbs and what it took for me to lose, and most importantly, keep the weight off:

1998 - 2000: I like to think of these years as my discovering all the fascinating things about Southern California. Now, I'll be the first to admit that you either love it or hate it out here. I've had many of my friends come to visit from other parts of the country, and they were either ready to move in with me or were calling to arrange an earlier flight. So, I guess I just fell in love with all the different cultures and, of course, the cuisines that came along with them. I started dating a woman who was an OK cook, by her own admission, but man did she know where all the great restaurants were.

I'd never had Thai or Japanese food before, and when I found out that Taco Bell wasn't authentic Mexican food, I was floored! But, I think what took the cake was this Greasy Chinese joint in downtown LA that's actually a city landmark. Man, all these new dishes and let's not mention the desserts, tickled my taste buds. For some reason, I just didn't remember tasting such light and fluffy icing on cakes that actually had fresh fruit in the middle. And how could life be complete without eating pan dulce or, my favorite Mexican ginger bread, cochinitos?

As you can imagine, eating all these new foods only added to my already obese frame. As I celebrated bringing in the new millennium in Kingston, Jamaica, I had gained close to 20lbs in the two years I had lived in California. Oh, and I gained this weight while following a predominantly vegetarian diet. And for the record, it sucks being fat, but it really sucks being a fat vegetarian!
2000 - 2002: I started off 2000 weighing in at my highest weight, at that time, of 288lbs. In the back of my mind, I knew that I was quickly approaching the BIG 300, but I knew that I wouldn't let myself get that fat. So, I became desperate and consumed with trying to lose weight. You know the feeling guys, and our usual response: balls to the walls workouts! Yeah, I hit the gym and played tennis, only to hurt myself time and time again. I remember hurting my knees so badly that I actually went to the Emergency Room. I waited more than 2 hours just to have a doctor, who was around the same size as me, tell me that I needed to lose weight. Talking about the pot calling the kettle black!

Like most of you, I was desperate and tried pretty much anything that guaranteed that I would lose the weight. Whether it was Xenadrine, Ripped Fuel, Metabolite, the Lemon-Molasses Fast, Cabbage Soup Diet, taking hundreds of dollars worth of supplements I picked up from a Naturopathic Doctor, which included drinking de-ionized water with activated charcoal, I tried it. That's right, I was actually taking a scoop-full of charcoal to help cleanse the walls of my intestines, "Where all the fat is attached", he assured me. Besides making my crap look like peppered steak, I'm pretty sure it didn't work for the fat since I was still 288lbs.

Then, before I knew it, I got wind that my lady's niece had a friend who had lost a ton of weight taking prescription weight loss pills she got from a doctor in Tijuana, Mexico. She had lost more than 60lbs without doing a lot of exercise, so I was more than anxious to make a trip across the border. The Doctor's office was nice, clean, and very modern, so I felt comfortable with the information and diet suggestions he gave me. I was given a three month supply of diet pills, and made an appointment to return in 3 month's time to pick up another prescription and for him to monitor my weight loss progress.

Well, I probably went to see the good doctor a total of two times, and when 2001 rolled around I was down to 240 lbs.! I had dropped more than 40lbs following this routine. I would drink a meal replacement twice a day and eat one solid meal, which was usually lunch. After taking my second set of pills after lunch, the thought of eating literally made me nauseous. I had never experienced such a powerful appetite suppressant in my life. And, my energy levels were through the roof. I would go to the gym and stay on the elliptical machine for more than an hour at a time!

This was a great period of my life because I was smaller than I'd been since finishing graduate school. I had to go out and buy new clothes because all of my old clothes were falling off me, and I was starting to get more attention from the ladies too! I felt like a new man, but there were a couple of things that stayed with me like the proverbial albatross around my neck.

First, I knew that I could not continue to take pills for the rest of my life, no matter how easy they made it for me not to eat and, therefore, lose weight. Second, I hated the fact that I was soft and had hardly any muscle definition. This sucked because I really wanted to walk around shirtless, but there was no way I would do that with the man boobs I was sporting. Well, everything eventually came to a head when I found out that the pills I had been taking were basically speed! It was no wonder I was like the energizer bunny in the gym . . . I guess I was in my own Requiem for a Dream.

I stopped taking the weight loss pills towards the end of 2001, and the weight gain that ensued even surprised me. No, I wasn't surprised that I was regaining my weight since I went from eating one meal a day back to my usual three a day, with plenty of snacking in between. What surprised me was the rate in which I regained the weight, and the extra weight that also tagged along.

When it was all said and done, I ended 2002 weighing in at 310 lbs.! Honestly fellas, I'm sure that I weighed more than this, but I got off the scale once it hit 310. I could not believe that I had re-gained all of my lost weight plus 20lbs more.

2002 was a good year for me professionally and personally, since I was in a new relationship; however, these things could not overshadow the fact that I had allowed myself to reach a weight I swore I'd never get to. Well, not only did I get to the forbidden weight, I kicked down its door!
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Guys, I'm going to blog about my five year weight loss journey, one year at a time in upcoming posts. So, stay tuned for the rest of this series over the next couple of weeks ...

Monday, June 30, 2008

"Mobility Training May Be the Most Important Factor in ... Health" by Steve Maxwell

I wish that when I started my weight loss journey back in 2003, that I was using joint mobility exercises. My knees and ankles would have loved me! Unfortunately, it wasn't until I took Steve Maxwell's Joint Mobility Workshop this year that I was able to fully appreciate the importance of doing daily joint mobility (JM) exercises. What I also like about these types of exercises is that it's not about working you out as much as it is training and strengthening your joints and learning how your body moves.

Another great thing about JM exercises is that they can be done every morning after rolling out of bed. In all honesty fellas, those of you who are not exercising like you know you should be, will benefit greatly by incorporating JM exercises into your routine because they also increase your balance, which is a seldom discussed aspect of being healthy. Oh, and you can do these exercises no matter how conditioned, or de-conditioned, you are. So whether you see yourself as fat, chubby, or skinny, JM exercises are for you!

I practice joint mobility exercises that I've learned from Steve Maxwell and Paul Zaichik. Steve has posted his Maxwell Daily Dozen on his website in addition to his The Encylopedia of Joint Mobility Exercises DVD, and Paul has several DVDs and books that also discuss JM exercises and flexibility. The JM exercises that I learned from Paul is discussed on his DVD Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About Splits.

I hope that Coach Maxwell's post below, helps to convince you of the importance of JM training and its overall health-ful benefits. Enjoy!

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Mobility Training May Be the Most Important Factor in Musculoskeletal Health

By Steve Maxwell

Mobility, or joint mobility, is the ability to move a limb through the full range of motion--with control. Mobility is based on voluntary movement while flexibility involves static holds and is often dependent upon gravity or passive forces. Mobility demands strength to produce full-range movement, whereas flexibility is passive, thus not strength-dependent. Some authorities refer to mobility as 'active flexibility'. It is possible to have good mobility without being especially flexible, just as one can be flexible with poor mobility, i.e., control. Of the two, mobility is more important. It is better to be inflexible with good mobility than flexible with poor mobility. The percent difference between your mobility and flexibility is the same percent chance of creating a musculo-skeletal injury during physical activities.

Sports, recreational activities and other daily physical practices can result in reduced range of movement in any participating joint. When the joint is unable to move through its full range, we call it compromised. When compromised movement is present in a joint, surrounding joints take up the slack, creating extra stress all around. A typical example are immobile ankles and feet underlying stress and injury to the knees, hips, and lumbar spine. It's a cascade effect, albeit in reverse: the body tissues are held together with sheets of connective tissue called fascia, so stress extends upwards from the feet. Poor mobility in one area can cause pain and stress in seemingly unrelated areas, but once fascial anatomy is understood, the idea that immobile feet could cause neck or shoulder stiffness is no longer a conundrum.

Mobility work reduces the potential body imbalances inherent in our athletic and recreational pursuits. For example, it's widely accepted that running for distance shortens the hamstrings, calf muscles and hip flexors, resulting in decreased free movement in simple full-range exercises, such as bodyweight squats. Well-documented is the compromised range produced by heavy weight-lifting and body building strength sports--yet, properly conducted, weight training can improve range of motion! All too often, in practice, weight lifters endow themselves with tight, restrictive movement by over emphasizing short-range movements and excessive hypertrophy. Worse, especially in the U.S., is that ubiquitous non-activity: sitting. Sitting in a chair, at a desk, while hunching over a computer is a recipe for a compromised structure full of imbalance and continual pain.

The solution? A joint mobility program. Joint mobility exercise stimulates and circulates the synovial fluid in the bursa, which 'washes' the joint. The joints have no direct blood supply and are nourished by this synovial fluid, which simultaneously removes waste products. Joint salts, or calcium deposits, are dissolved and dispersed with the same gentle, high-repetition movement patterns. Properly learned, joint mobility can restore complete freedom of motion to the ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, neck, elbows, wrists and fingers. It's especially important to keep the spine supple and free and if there were such a thing as a fountain of youth, joint mobility exercises come very close.

Use mobility exercises as a warm up, an active recovery during other activities, or as a stand-alone workout. You can rejuvenate yourself and reclaim the movement of a child with a good joint mobility program. Joint mobility makes a wonderful, energizing morning recharge and sets the day up on the right foot.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Weight Gains & Losses By the Year - Part I

Well, I see that the majority of folks who voted want me to blog daily about my experience following Lyle McDonald's diet as outlined in his The Rapid Fatloss Handbook. I plan on doing this in a couple of weeks, so please stay tuned to more details about this. Thanks for those who voted, and please take your time to answer the new poll that I've posted ...

So, when you start a weight loss journey, many people who have already made the trip tell you the importance of journaling or keeping some sort of record of your weight loss as the months go by. Well, I can't say that I disagree with that advice; however, I'm not going to act as if I took meticulous notes like a Medical student or anything like that.

Actually, when I go back through my weight loss notebook (Sorry I'm old school and like to initially put my notes down with pen and paper before moving to the computer) I notice that as the years of my journey passed, the more detailed my notes became. This only makes sense because there were times, as you'll see in a minute, that I would lose weight seemingly at will, and then I went through droughts where I couldn't shake a pound off! But, you may be thinking:

Man, who has time to journal and write stuff down?
Unless, you're independently wealthy, I would venture to say that no one has the time, especially guys who have a family. Nevertheless, the question really becomes who is willing to make the time to journal?

Look fellas, you don't have to go out and buy a Franklin Planner to chart your progress. Simply buy a cheap spiral bound notebook from WalMart or the Dollar Store. Hey, I'm using an old journal from a student I had many moons ago who never picked up her journal at the end of the semester! LOL! I guess that one of the perks of being an teacher ...

The longer you keep your journal, the more it will turn into a place to jot down how you feel, your thoughts (negative & positive) that you're having on a particular day, etc. OK, I'm purposely avoiding using the word diary here because we're men, and we don't write in diaries, right? Of course we don't, so the information that I'm sharing with you below comes from my very manly weight loss journal/training log/idea and feelings recorder ;)

I've actually given you a time-line of my brief time on this earth and the causes of either my weight gain/weight loss. I strongly recommend that every guy does this at some point on their weight loss journey; you might be surprised what you discover.

* * *

1971 - 1981: This represents the first ten years of my life. I was always seen as a husky kid with big thighs like my mama, as my family was happy to tell me. Even though I wore husky jeans from Sears, my mom kept telling me, and everyone else, that my chubby physique was baby fat and I would grow out of it.

1983 - 1988: The good ole' teenage years where I finally started to grow taller and lose the baby fat. It was during these years that I got into break-dancing, popping and locking. The extra activity, along with my love for playing basketball, helped me to keep my weight between 170-180 at a height of 5'11''. During these years, I never felt fat or had love handles, but I knew I was not extremely athletic even though I loved to play b-ball!

1988 - 1992: These were my undergraduate years in college, and the years that I, unfortunately, started my adult weight gain and loss journey(s). The first two years of college I gained @ 25-30 pounds, which averaged out to the freshman and sophmore 15! While pledging a fraternity on campus, my weight dropped back to 180, but it was short lived because I lost the weight as the result of eating once a day and having to exercise like crazy for the majority of the semester.

My weight loss was very short lived because once I "went over" or became a member of the fraternity, I went back to the usual upperclassman diet of beer, pizza, and fried chicken. So, the weight I'd lost while on line came back with a vengeance, and, of course, it brought along friends with it! When I graduated, I was tipping the scale at 225lbs, which was more than 50lbs heavier than when I entered college!

1992 - 1994: Entering graduate school was a very stressful time for me. I went from being well known at my small, at that time, campus, to being basically a nobody at my new school. This not only bruised my former senior and BMOC (big man on campus) ego, but it caused me to start using food as a crutch for my depression. This is when I can say that my ED (eating disorder) started. Oh, and working in one of the college's cafeterias didn't help either!

After completing my Masters Degree in 1994, I had yo-yo'd with my weight only to complete my program 20lbs heavier than I was when I entered. But, I had no time to think about that because I went straight from my Masters program right into my PhD.

1994 - 1996: A series of "life happens" events had me going from having my own car and apartment to living in my aunt's basement and catching the bus to school. This extra stress caused me to eat more, especially junk food; I didn't exercise, and guess what happened? I promptly gained another 20lbs before leaving my program ABD (all but dissertation) and starting my new teaching gig at my alma mater.

One thing I can remember about this two year stretch is that when I first moved in with my aunt, I was wearing a size 38-40 pants. Since I was a poor and struggling college student, my cousin gave me a couple of pairs of his old jeans. I remember putting them on and being happy because they were size 42 and too big for me. "At least I'm not wearing 42s", I thought to myself. Unfortunately, by the time I was ready to teach my first college class in the Fall of 1996, I weighed 265lbs and I was wearing at least a size 46!

1996 - 1998: Coming back to teach at my old undergraduate school seemed like a good idea at the time, but it soon turned out to be one big stressful mess! I don't remember my grad school counselor telling me to take a class on BS College Campus Politics 101 or How to Mind Your Own Business When You Don't Have Tenure 102. I wish he had because my young ass didn't know the whippin' I was in-store for!

It was during this time that I thought I had finally found the answer to my weight problem. I was good friends with the college's assistant basketball coach. This guy had played on a NCAA team that went to the Final Four, and he had played professional ball overseas. So, I knew that I was going to get proper training and diet advice. Man, was I wrong about that. This guy embodied the "No pain No Gain" philosophy in a 6'10 frame. I endured 2 months of being tortured by this "coach", and I did lose about 20lbs through replacing one of my meals with a Spirutein shake, since Spirulina was the supplement flavor of the month at the time, and eating rice, steamed veggies, and baked fish damn near everyday.

This victory was short lived, as my trainer was fired (hmmm, I wonder why) and after the torture I endured training with this guy, I was much happier in a Pizza Hut's booth than in the weight room. So, of course I re-gained the lost weight, and an extra five pounds!

In July of 1998, I packed up and headed west to a teaching position waiting for me in sunny Southern California weighing 270lbs! It was now 10 years since I first started college, and I was 100lbs heavier, wearing long African clothing that fit me loose to cover up my fat ass and protruding belly.

* * *
OK guys, I'll complete my rollercoaster weight loss journey next week when I'll detail my slow walk to weighing over 300lbs. I'll also detail how much weight I lost per year from the start of my journey in 2003 until now.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Be Moderate In Everything, Including Moderation" by Ross Enamit

OK fellas, I don't know about you, but we just finished going through a week long heat wave in Southern California that reminded me of being in the South, minus the humdity of course. Well, I'm glad that it's finally starting to cool down because I'm really getting into using my sandbag, pushupboard, and USA to train at the local park. I'm going to take pictures of my outdoor gym because it has a huge field that's large enough for me to do sprint intervals.

Speaking of which, I just picked up a gym boss interval timer that makes doing interval training really simple . . . well, as far as keeping you on time that is; interval training is, and should be, challenging. ;) Anyway, read up more about this interval timer at

For this week's strength coach's re-post, I've decided to use a great post from a great trainer, athlete, and all around cool guy: Ross Enamit. Ross has more free videos on YouTube than most trainers, and, as you can tell from his videos, he practices what he preaches! He also has books and videos that he has put together for everyone from combat athletes, military personnel, or the weekend warrior.

What I like most about Ross's approach is that it's so multi-faceted. You'll see him doing burpees with a weighted vest to doing one arm DB bench presses, and finish it off with ab work using ab wheels he built with lawnmower wheels!

I watch his videos on YouTube for motivation and inspiration to continue to set my fitness goals that much higher.

Alright, enjoy his post on why extremist dietary approaches are neither healthy nor sustainable, which is a topic I plan on posting about this week.

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Be Moderate In Everything, Including Moderation by Ross Enamit

Horace Porter once said to be moderate in everything, including moderation.

Moderation is the process of eliminating or lessening extremes, and is used to ensure normality.

Note the underlined words above. To live a healthy (normal) life, moderation is important. My recent blogs were not intended to promote extremism regarding diet. We only have one chance at life. If you enjoy dining out at a nice restaurant, no one should stop you. As I’ve said before, I’m only human. I too enjoy good food. Who doesn’t? I’ve never met anyone who didn’t enjoy certain foods.

Yet, there is a difference between enjoying certain foods, and craving junk food 24 hours a day. Earlier, I stated that healthy living does not mean deprived living. Trust me, there are more than enough healthy (delicious) alternatives. If you are transitioning from junk however, it’s only natural to experience an initial struggle. Yes, tasty alternatives exist, but you must still overcome the initial attraction towards junk food.

Think of a drug addict. No one said it would be easy to kick the habit, but that doesn’t mean people stop trying. Initial struggles are to be expected. Obstacles are part of life. As Frank Clark once said:

“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

Life is about more than food. Consider the amount of time that you spend eating within a single day. I’m guessing that most people spend an hour or less actually chewing their food. Yet, that single hour of eating often dictates how you feel for the remaining 23 hours. How do you honestly feel? Are you energized? Do you wake up feeling sluggish?

For every decision, there is a consequence. Ask yourself why you eat your food? Do you base your decisions entirely upon taste? Is taste all that matters? What about health? Much of my eating decisions are made with health in mind. Is it fanatical to take health seriously? I enjoy being healthy. What’s wrong with that? It’s an added benefit that the foods I eat happen to be tasty. I don’t live solely for taste however.

My health and vitality are extremely important to me. Of course I consider health when selecting foods to eat. I enjoy food, but I don’t enjoy it enough to sacrifice the rest of my day (and life).

I see people every day who complain about feeling tired, bitch about one ailment after another, and struggle to function in the world without a never ending supply of coffee. Does anyone actually strive to feel this way? Is it worth it? Is that what you want to be remembered for? Does junk food offer a hidden high that surpasses the crappy feelings (physical) that you experience the rest of the day?

I doubt it…

I’m not suggesting that you never have a treat, but apply the rule of moderation. For example, I enjoy taking my son to a local farm where the ice cream is freshly made each day. He enjoys seeing the animals on the farm. It’s a nice trip for the family. I don’t go every day however, and I don’t wake up dreaming about the next visit to the farm. It’s all about moderation. Enjoy yourself, but realize that there are more important joys available in this world of ours. Also realize that healthy food can be extremely tasty.

And if you find yourself struggling with food, it is useful to think about what you are eating. I recently watched the Fast Food Nation movie. Fortunately, I can’t remember the last time I had fast food (many years). After watching this movie, I’m certain that I’ll never have another fast food meal. The movie made me sick to my stomach. How could anyone actually want to put that kind of “food” inside the body? Forget about moderation when dealing with pure junk. I’ll proudly be extreme when it comes to avoiding absolute crap.

I enjoy waking up healthy and energized. My nutritional habits are largely responsible for this luxury and freedom. I wouldn’t give it up for the sweetest taste in the world.

Fortunately, it’s easy to feel the same way. I don’t have any secrets to share. I don’t have a top secret food source. I eat healthy foods and exercise for approximately 1 hour a day. That’s it.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Country Biscuits w/ White Gravy .... MLBF heads South

Before telling you guys about my trip South, I want to thank everyone who answered last week's poll question. It's really good to know that I'm not alone with the issues I've had in the past and continue to have with food. Please note that I've posted a new poll that I'd like for you to take. Thanks in advance for participating.

OK, let's move on to this week's post:

Even though I will proudly tell you that I'm a Californian, I'm really a transplant from the East Coast, with deep roots in the South. And, did I have a ball this past weekend re-connecting with these roots at my mother's 70th birthday party.

My brothers, sister, and I actually wanted to send mom on a cruise or to some exotic locale, but she wasn't interested. Mom told us that she simply wanted to be around her family on this special day. And, that's exactly what we gave her--a mini-family reunion!

This trip was extra special for me because it was the first time I had seen many members of my family in well over 10 years; also, I had a new wife that everyone had heard about and was excited to meet. And, to top it off, many of them had seen my CNN interview and was seeing the new Muata for the very first time. Let me give you some highlights from my trip to the "dirty, dirty" as the urban youth there call it ... ;)

Crystal was a bit nervous about flying since this was only her second time on a plane, but I assured her that our economy airline was not only 98% on-time but pretty safe too. While sitting in the really narrow chair, I couldn't help but think back to how much I hated to take the plane when I was fat. It was really embarrassing having your thighs press up against the button to recline your seat when you're not trying to lean back. Man, I can't count the number of times I got reprimanded by a flight attendant for not having my seat's back in its "upright and straight position". It wasn't until I started to use a trick I picked from a radio personality out here that I was able to avoid this; he mentioned that a soda cap top would fit over the recline button to keep your thigh from accidentally pressing it.

One thing that I can clearly remember about being fat and flying is the fear of having to use an extender belt. There were times when I would have absolutely no more slack in the seatbelt, but I would force it to snap close because I refused to ask for an extender. I guess I saw this as a small victory for me because only fat people use the extender belts anyway. So, I would fly in this uncomfortable position just to continue to fool myself.

Well, on a much happier note, I was so shocked at how my former fat ass (literarlly) could easily fit in the seats and fasten the seatbelt. Guys, there was enough slack that I could've probably made an extender belt from it! I was so stoked that I snapped a picture before they made me turn my cell phone off.

While I was relishing in all the new found room I had in my crappy seat, a woman sat in the seat next to me. I would say she was in her early 30s, stood about 5'4 and weighed over 300lbs. It was a surreal experience for me, and not because she was obese. Hardly! My trip down south confirmed that the 66% figure that we throw out about the number of obese and overweight folks in this country is on the low end of the scale!

What made the experience unreal was watching how uncomfortable she was in her seat. She shifted from one side to the next, sat forward, all knowing that she would never be comfortable in a seat built for someone who weighs at least 100lbs less. It put a lot of things in perspective for me sitting next to her.

Now, for those of you who have never been to the South, let's just say that their idea of a salad is usually the slaw you put on your hot dogs or hamburgers! Or, at least this is usually the case with my family. So, I knew that I was going to be eating food that I normally wouldn't; however, unlike most people who lose weight and fear regaining the weight, I was far from worried because I had a plan.

Listen, I hadn't been to the South in quite sometime, so that means there were certain foods, like biscuits and gravy, that I knew I was going to eat. Hell, that's like going to Jamaica and not eating Ackee and Saltfish, their national dish. So, not enjoying some of those southern delicacies was not an option for me on this trip! My plan? Very simple ...

First, I checked out my brother's house for a good place to workout. He has a nice home gym complete with cardio machines and free weights, but you guys know me. I went outside and found that the previous owners had put up a wooden swing and slide set that, get this, had plastic gymnast rings! After going over and making sure that it could support my weight, I knew I was in business.

Every morning (YES every morning!), I woke up around 6am, went outside and did my joint mobility exercises, warmed up for 3 minutes with shadow boxing and dancing to my favorite salsa tunes. I'm sure his neighbors thought I was crazy to be exercising outside, but I just loved how clean the air was. OK, so after warming up, I did a simple circuit/complex of the following:

  • Hindu Pushups
  • Hindu Squats
  • Chin ups
  • Plyo/explosive Squats
  • Static hanging knee raise
I did 3-4 complexes w/ 60 seconds rest between each one. I finished everything off with 100 jumping jacks and another 3 minutes to cool down a bit before going back in the house.

Since I had my training routine set, the only thing I really concerned myself with was the amount of food I would eat over the weekend. Fortunately, my days of gorging myself simply because the food is there are over and that I can appreciate good food without going overboard. And this was a good thing because there was enough good food at Mom's b-day party, complete with a whipped cream filled strawberry cake and a super rich chocolate cheesecake!

My mom's party was a success and people could not believe how I look now. They let me know how proud they were of what I'd accomplished and how I want to help others. It really made me feel good to know that many of my family members were watching CNN the first time my interview aired. I guess my 1 minute and 43 seconds of fame was enough for many of them to want to start their own weight loss journey. A good friend of the family took professional quality pictures that I'll post when they're ready because I want you guys to see how sexy my mom looks at 70!

Before flying out of Atlanta on Monday night, Crystal and I were treated to a tour of CNN by the producer who interviewed me for my interview, Matt Sloane. As I said in my last post, it was an incredible experience seeing all the behind the scenes activities that goes on with one of America's largest news organizations.

And, before heading out to check out The World of Coca-Cola (note: the Beverly is DELICIOUS!!) and the Georgia Aquarium, Matt was nice enough to pose with me in front of the CNN sign. He's busy working on their 2008 Fit Nation Tour. Folks in Seattle, WA may see a familiar face on the bus! Sorry about the poor quality of the picture, but it was taken with my cell phone.

So, did I ever get my country biscuits and gravy? Well, yes and no ...

OK, we get to a nice down home southern restaurant for breakfast one morning, and I order what I came South to eat, and you know what? The biscuits were so damn big that I was only able to get through 3/4ths of the first one while the other one simply hardened along with the cold white gravy covering it. I never thought I'd see the day when two biscuits cover an entire plate!

Oh, did I mention that this was a side order? There's no wonder why our southern states have some of the heftiest folks in the country ....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Why Everyone is an Athlete" by John Wood

OK fellas, I just got back from my mother's 70th birthday party my siblings and I had for her this past weekend in Charlotte, NC. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to hook up with my buddy Ray, from, whose company is based in North Carolina, but I was able to see a familiar face in Atlanta.

While staying with my brother in Atlanta, I was able to catch up with my buddy Matt Sloane, the CNN producer who actually conducted my interview. He gave my wife and I a great tour of the CNN's main headquarters in Atlanta. It was great seeing the set for many of my favorite news shows and to see some of anchors and news reporters I see everyday.

In a post later on this week, I'm going to post pictures and give you guys a full account of my weekend, but for today, I wanted to re-post an email that John Wood sent out to all those who subscribe to his Old Time Strongman blog. John has many other websites that I frequently visit, and I highly recommend that you check them out too, especially the first one below:

In the following post, John discusses a quote from old time strongman Al Treloar from 1904!! That's right, over 100 years ago, guys knew the importance of training and exercising for not only athletic competition, but for overall wellness and good health! When I write that I want to have the body of an athlete, that's exactly what I mean--I'm striving for the body of an athlete in the sport of life, as John notes below. Enjoy:

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"Why Everyone is an Athlete" by John Wood

There are many good reasons to train - some obvious and
some not quite so obvious.

I recently ran across something written by Al Treloar
(the subject of a recent blog post) way back in 1904, which makes
a lot of sense to me.

Check it out:

"Next to a clear conscience, a strong body is the most
desirable thing in life and the latter assures the former.
Physical exercise brings bodily improvement and
therefore better health with all that that implies.

Pain is the greatest affliction of human life and good health
which nearly all can get but exercise means freedom from

The study and habit of exercise calls attention also to the
general laws of health, and create an ambition and desire
for bodily perfection, thus hastening the desired result.

Another aspect of the results of exercise that will appeal
to busy people is the greatly increases capacity for work

The business man or mental worker who gains a strong
and healthy physical make-up will not only endure more
hours of work but will be able to accomplish vastly more
and better work in the same time than before.

Not only are one's chances of high success increased by
fine bodily vigor, but from the examples one is
almost led to believe that a well-trained and vigorous
body is necessary to the best success."

You'll see a lot of training info written for athletes of one
sort or another, (football, baseball, wrestling etc) but the
fact of the matter is that everyone is an athlete in
the "sport" of life.

The lesson here should be clear:

Whether catching touchdown passes, or doing yardwork,
physical training will help you do it better...

Train hard,
John Wood

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Men and Eating Disorders: It's Time to "Man Up!"

I'm sure that most guys would want to believe that women are the only ones with eating disorders (ED); however, those of you who have struggled with your weight over the years know, whether you publicly acknowledge it or not, that's not the case. And, hey, I'm no different.

Growing up in a household with a mother who was constantly going from one diet to the next really made an impression on my eating habits. I can remember that along with milk and OJ in the fridge, there would be cans of Tab and Diet Rite (which was the 1st diet soda in the states). Melba toast, cottage cheese, whey powder (from Amway), and tons of grapefruit were always on hand. Oh, and when the low-fat craze hit in the 80s, you better believe that my mom followed suit. I can remember all of the tasty soul food of my youth was ruined by this damn mania! How on earth can you eat fried cabbage seasoned with vegetable oil!

I never really thought that my mom's obsession with losing weight would eventually rear its ugly head in my life once I started to pack on the pounds; unfortunately, that's what happened. Sure, I remember my mom having a copy of the TWA Flight Attendants Diet on the refrigerator door for many years, but I would simply shake my head when I saw it because I thought, and still do, that cottage cheese wasn't meant for human consumption. :)

Nevertheless, I soon realized I didn't have a positive relationship with food when I was faced with losing the freshman 25 that I put on my first year of college. Losing weight, no matter how much you need to lose, is a daunting task at first because you realize that you are going to have to put in an effort that you're obviously not doing or you wouldn't be overweight, right?

So, when I was faced with having to lose weight for the first time in my life, what did I do? I tried to starve myself of course! I made up my mind that I would eat once a day and drink plenty of water. Oh, and I would start lifting weights with my roommates and playing tennis for cardio. As you can imagine, I lost the weight and more people started to notice me on campus, but this victory over the bulge was short lived. Sure, eating once a day was easy during the summer because I was a poor college student working on campus, and I wasn't on the meal plan. So, my "diet" was really easy to follow. As soon as the regular semester started, and my meal plan was reinstated, I regained all the lost weight.

After going up and down with my weight throughout my college years, I started to notice that I had developed a habit of dieting until I couldn't take it, and then I would binge. I have never purged, but my binges grew more severe as the years and pounds came on. One thing I always found interesting about my binges, especially as I got older, is that a pattern had developed.

First, I would be stressed about something going on in my life that I believed I had no control over. Then, I'd usually order delivery with enough food for 2-3 people. Almost immediately after paying the driver and closing the door, I would get this intense feeling of shame and disgust with myself. The more I saw all the food I had ordered, the more I hated myself. Finally, I would think to myself that the best way to rid myself of all these negative feelings is to eat it as quickly as I could. And, that's what I did until I could no longer shovel any more food in my mouth, or I was staring at an empty container. What's crazy about my pattern is that once I finished all, or the majority, of the food, I would feel a sense of relief?!? I would feel this way because I could now throw out the evidence of my binge and act as if it never happened ....

As a result of my night-time binging, all of my weight loss efforts were futile. It was a vicious cycle that I was in, and it was one that I had to break! And, fortunately, that's exactly what I did in 2002, which was the last year that I went on a binge. Now, does this mean that I simply walked away from it with no lasting side effects? Of course not! Just because I didn't actually binge, does not account for the numerous times I "mentally" binged when I was stressed. OK, some guys may think that this type of binging isn't that dangerous because you're not actually going through with the physical act, but I disagree.

When I would give into my midnight gorging sessions, I was obviously acting on urges and not allowing myself to think them through before acting on them. Similar to a child going with a stranger who has a pretty balloon or piece of candy, I binged with no more thought than "I'm stressed and I'm hungry .... no, I'm really hungry". All of the regret and shame came after the food actually arrived and soon went away once I hid the evidence. So, stopping this behavior was more about me becoming more conscious about my destructive behavior and changing it. It really is that simple, but that's why I say that the "mental binges" are worse.

They are worse because they mean that you have not quieted that voice of doubt in the back of your head. Fellas, you know the voice I'm talking about. No? Sure you do. It's that little voice that tells you that "You'll never lose weight!"; it's the voice that says "I don't care how hard you try that program won't work for you FAT BOY!" or "Everyone in your family is fat, so what makes you special?". Depending on how much weight you need to lose or how long you've been overweight, this voice can be as quiet as an occasional whisper (which I still hear) to a patronizing proclamation of your weight loss failure!

Having "mental binges" means that you are not fully confident that you can really lose weight and keep it off this time. In addition to nutrition and physical training, you must address this voice guys; don't ignore it or act as if it's not there. Oh, it's there and it's not going anywhere as long as you ignore or try to run away from it. One thing I can honestly say is that you have to face the voice! Today, may not be the day, but there will come a day that you are going to have to simply "Man Up!" and face that voice and listen to all the negative, sarcastic, and patronizing things it has to say. Soak it ALL up and don't turn away when it gets a bit more than you think you can handle. Stay there, don't shy away because you've done that before.

After taking all that abuse, don't make excuses or even feel remorse for what was said. Remember it and USE IT for motivation because I have a little secret for you guys. The more goals you set and achieve, the less you can hear that voice in the back of your head. Listen, if you need to lose 100 lbs., I can guarantee that the voice you hear now, won't be as noticeable when you lose 75 of that 100 lbs.

Unlike boxing and MMA where they tell you to kill the body and the head will die, in weight loss and management you must control the head (your brain that is) and the body will follow. Mentally come to grip with your ED and start mapping out strategies to deal with it, and ultimately "Man Up"!

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Update: Please take a few seconds to answer the poll I've posted about this entry--thanks!