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August Newsletter

GrassStomach.JPGThe summer is just going on and on and on... It is hot. It is humid. The tan is chocolate-latee-golden, the skin is moist and we love it, don't we? I love summer! Everything is in bright colors, the flowers are smelling everywhere, the birds are playing like crazy - yeah, they wake me up every morning, climbing outside my window and scratching on the roof... these beautiful bastards!  :-)  But that's good for me, I can get up and do my morning cardio.

Venice Beach is crowded with visitors, tourists and locals. Tourists are happy to be in the "famous" Venice, and locals are happy because the sell nice and even less nice Venice mementos to the tourist. And all are we happy. The whole Venice Beach area is torn down and built up again, to a new beautiful place. The huge re-opening is going to happen August 12 weekend (that's my birthday!). Performances, games, foods, fun! Name it. We, rollerdancers, are having some performances through the weekend too, because we are getting an own place  that we have been waiting for over 20 years. My only problem is that I am not going to perform, as much as I would love to - because I have my own "party"  the Ironman Magazine Naturally contest. Which means that I only have two weeks to prepare, train, diet and pose. I wish I had another 5 weeks, but it is always like that. I am pretty ready. My new posing routine and the famous slide-down-flip-over-and-split move is getting so much better. And even my spins look much more dancy! You wouldn't believe what challenge it was for me to learn how to spin without rollerskates!

Folks at Gold's in Venice are in an excellent shape. Lot of them were competing in Los Angeles Championship two weeks ago, getting warmed up for the USA in Las Vegas coming weekend (August 4-5). Many friends of mine are competing and I decided not to go there to watch. It would just interfere with my dieting too much. I know myself! So I am staying nicely in Venice, getting all ready for my thing. Two weeks later, I will do another contest and then I will review my goals and plans and see what's on for the fall.

My training and dieting is pretty much the same. I decreased calories a bit, eating around 2200 calories a day, except Fridays when I eat doubles, and carbs. No sugars though. Just oatmeal. A lot of oatmeal. Every two hours, which gives over two pounds of (dried) oats... yum, yum. My weight is now around 179-182 lbs, under 11%  body fat. I still do 2 hours cardio a day, split in three parts, 30 minutes early morning on empty stomach, 30 minutes at noon after my weight training, and 60 minutes at night. Now, switching between different machines, treadmills, steppers, stairmasters, bikes and even that "arm-bike" (you know, no legs, just arms are working). My diet is about the same, over 360 grams of protein a day, around 100 g of carbs and around 40 grams of fat. Fat is mostly omega 3-6-9, and carbs mostly oatmeal. I don't count my vegetables though. I eat a lot of them.

And a funny personal story from the gym? My client, who is in very good shape and who has a very strong will but not about her eating (she is a bit like I am: if she is focused, she is 100% perfect, and without her focus, if she takes one cookie, she eats the whole box). She had some difficulties to get back into proper nutrition after a whole week of "pigging out" and drinking. So I got a great idea, I thought how motivating it was. I told her that each time she wants to eat something "bad", she must call me first and let me know. Sometimes it's much easier not to eat the stuff to skip to call me. I thought it was a wonderful idea and I was extremely proud of it, happy all her training session. She was kind of quiet and didn't say much. When we were done, we parted and she didn't call the whole day. I was so proud of her! Next training session, she admitted that she still is in her "bad circle" and the first thing she did last time after our training, she went to Taco Bell and got some fatty burritos and stuff. With a smile on her face, because she didn't promise to call me. She was just quietly listening... Oh, we got some good laugh! She was completely right.

How You Can Burn 2-13 lbs. of FAT While You Sleep!

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I know it sounds unbelievable, but it's true!!  With this ALL-NATURAL, SPECIALLY FORMULATED, breakthrough system, you can PERMANENTLY and SAFELY burn 3 to 15 pounds of fat WHILE YOU SLEEP! This system is a breakthrough!  It's SIMPLE, EASY and PROVEN to work with:

-NO Pills!
-NO Dieting!
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-NO Hunger Pangs!
-NO Calorie Counting!
-NO Food Restrictions!
-NO Strenuous Exercise!
-NO Superhuman Effort Required!

I know you are skeptical.  However, there's NO OBLIGATION to buy ANYTHING...

So how do you think you can do it? I guess by taking a knife and cutting off the flash...  This ridiculous text I am getting in my mail box every now and then. Just wanted to share with you  :-)  And, to let you know, there's is no easy way to get lean. Stay focused and disciplined, train hard, eat right and learn about your body (well, and read my newsletter!)

Summer six-pack?

BenchSeated.JPGNot in your fridge, but on your waist line...  Are you having trouble developing your abs? Watch your diet (give the six pack from the fridge to your neighbor) and focus on how you are training your abdominals.

Focus on isolating them fully by using a very short range of motion and a very high intensity. Sometimes, we have the  tendency to unintentionally use other body parts (the hip flexors, for example) which takes a great deal of stress off of the abs. Instead, focus intensely on your abs and squeeze them tight, like you would like to crush a nut in your six-pack. Don't bounce up and down, do the movement slowly and focused. Don't count the repetitions! 100 or 200, who cares? The number is not important, it is important to tire out your abs. And if you can do it in 10-15 reps, great for you! You save a lot of time, and you work your abs efficiently. And don't forget the negative part of the crunch, don't fall back down like a potato, go down slowly, resisting and maintaining the tension in your abs. And last but not least: watch your diet. Eat your six small meals...

Gotta Eat  Six Meals, But Ain't Hungry???

Here we are not talking about me. I eat 8 meals and I cannot wait for the next one. But I realize that some people don't have the habit of eating every two hours, and want to change and do it... and some people are just not hungry enough. Or they are too busy... (that's an excuse, if you want something you are never too busy). So here we go, to eat 6-8 meals, you really need to be motivated to do so and plan ahead.

Every evening, I always go through my schedule for the next day. I plan when I have time to eat, and when I don't have time to eat but I have to... I create a preliminary meal plan with meal times. If I am on a run, I bring the meal with me. Meal or protein shake or a chicken breast. I call it meal.

If you don't have the habit to eat every 2 hours, it is tough at first. But it is always difficult to get new habits ("Everything is difficult before it becomes easy"). You need to be disciplined. After a few days or weeks, you learn the new habit and it won't feel difficult at all. You probably won't even understand how it was possible that you couldn't do it before (and the answer is: because you were not motivated enough).

Now, what to eat? When you eat the correct foods, you'll notice that the volume of food in your daily diet increases, you will feel full on less calories. To get in the desired number of calories, you need to eat more volume and more frequently. Which might be a tough nut. You might think  "How  can I eat so many times per day? I'm just not hungry in the morning... I normally skip breakfast."

That's the problem, a very common one. People too often skip breakfast, eating a heavy lunch and even heavier dinner. And they get overweight. The body cannot utilize the number of calories that a person consumes in just two meals. Excess calories are deposited as fat. Also, the metabolism is not stimulated enough by just two meals per day. And the muscle tissue is not fed enough. And eventually, your metabolism slows down, and you get fatter and fatter.

Getting used to six small meals per day is not that difficult. Imagine, that you eat as three square meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner,  and three small snacks in-between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner and after dinner. Start the day with a small meal, so that you get hungry two to three hours later. You then have another small meal or snack. Then two to three hours later, you have lunch. And so forth. By keeping the amounts of food small, you get hungry frequently, and this is exactly what you want: you keep from overloading your body with too many calories at one time and there is less excess available for deposition as fat.

If you never eat breakfast and cannot imagine eating anything in the morning, try to skip your dinner one evening! You'll see how hungry you get the next morning. And then eat just a small breakfast.  You stay hungry! Two hours later, have your snack. Two hours later have your lunch and so on.

Remember that when you get used to eating these small meals periodically during the day, your metabolism will increase because of the constant processing of food. This will lead to a larger appetite, and as long as you're eating the correct foods, the more you eat more frequently, the faster your metabolism will go. Of course to a certain point... I am not saying that you can just pig out constantly all the day and you'll lose weight (well, I wish it would be true!  :-)  ). Eat the unrefined unprocessed foods, and if you don't have time for it, eat/drink a protein powder or meal replacement powder or a bar.

Selecting the Right Carbohydrates - Glycemic Index

OnTheWall.JPGDo you find it tough to go on a low (or zero) carbohydrate diet? You can achieve similar weight loss results, without the associated difficulties (and maybe even risks for some) by eating carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index. This index is a measure of whether a food triggers a small increase in insulin (low index) or a dramatic spike (high index). Based on current research, some researches believe that a diet consisting of foods with a low glycemic index is ideal for weight loss.  Another good thing is (compared to more restrictive diets, like Atkins), that there are no foods that are off-limits. If you occasionally want to eat a food with a high glycemic index-a bagel, for example-you just have to eat some protein and fat at the same time to blunt the insulin spike.

Instead of these foods

Corn Chips
Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, and other very-low-fiber cereals
Graham crackers
Instant oatmeal, Cream of Wheat
Instant rice
Jelly beans
Macaroni and cheese
Mashed or instant potatoes
Potato chips
Rice Cakes
White bread

Eat more of these foods

All-bran, Bran Buds, and other high-fiber cereals
Bran muffins
Oatmeal cookies
Unprocessed oats
Long-grain white rice or, even better, brown rice, barley, or bulgur
Baked beans
Baked potatoes, yams
Peanuts, Stoned Wheat Thins
Whole Wheat Bread

But of course, don't go overboard with the carbs!!!

Bigorexia: Men Have Bad Body Images, Too

Debbie Carvalko, Medical Writer

Most guys would envy Don Williams's body, if they (or anyone else) could see it. The 29-year-old personal trainer and bodybuilder has a 54-inch chest, 31-inch waist, and 29-inch quads. He stands 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighs 235 pounds, and boasts only 9% body fat. But don't look for him to be showboating that body. Williams is consistently clad in baggy sweatshirts and loose pants. "You see me covered up all the time," he says, nodding. And it's not because he's cold. It's Williams's off-season from competing. He's only working out at the gym in Shelton, Connecticut, for 2 hours, 5 days a week, instead of 6 or 7 days. His muscles are bulging, but not as much as they could be. "And you visualize yourself as being in perfect condition, so nothing else is good enough. I know hundreds, thousands of people like that," he says.

Dr. Harrison Pope, a psychiatrist at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, knows a few, too. Dr. Pope and colleagues studied bodybuilders so preoccupied with getting bigger muscles that their self-image is grossly warped. Some buffed ones are so convinced they are puny that they won't go to the beach. Some skip class reunions, or other social events, so no one will see their bodies and snicker at their (self-perceived) skinniness. Others pass up better-paying jobs or relationships with seemingly ideal mates because those things could interfere with their workouts. They ignore injuries, like pulled muscles or torn ligaments, and continue lifting weights. They are compelled to work out for long hours, often 7 days a week. The most desperate try to pump up more by packing in anabolic steroids. The side effects--high cholesterol, hard arteries, and shrunken testicles--don't matter... at least, not as much as building more muscle.

When Dr. Pope, the lead investigator, reported his findings in a 1997 issue of Psychosomatics, he dubbed the disorder "muscle dysmorphia." It is, essentially, an obsession with being muscular. Outside scientific circles, it has a simpler name: "bigorexia." Dr. Pope agrees that the condition, which mainly strikes males, is the opposite of anorexia, a usually female disorder. While anorexics starve themselves to skin and bone but still think they look fat, muscle-bound bigorexics are driven to build more and more, believing they look thin. "It is, by definition, a condition surrounded by shame," Dr. Pope says. And the shame is more widespread in men than people realize. A surprising number of men have body-image disorders and even eating disorders including anorexia, he says. He has coined a phrase to describe what drives them. It's in the title of his book on the subject, set to hit the stores in early June: the Adonis complex.

Before millions of dedicated lifters get hot under their weight belts about his assessment, Dr. Pope wants one thing to be perfectly clear: "I'm not saying there is anything pathological about being a bodybuilder, or working out regularly." In addition to being chief of McLean's Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, Dr. Pope is an exercise enthusiast himself. He hits the gym 6 times a week for 90-minute sessions. The "pathology" in bodybuilding, exercise, or nearly any other activity, he says, begins when that activity starts interfering with other aspects of life--social, occupational, academic, and, physical health. Dr. Pope's subjects, for example, include a 27-year-old man whose waking hours are "consumed" with thoughts of getting bigger. The man used steroids for 9 years, but despite his "massive muscularity," perceived himself as "small." He refused social invitations, and shunned family members, friends, and women.

"Probably 10%" of the men in any gym have bigorexia, ranging from mild to "crippling," according to Dr. Pope. It's widespread enough to impress the editors of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, an encyclopedia of disorders and treatments used by psychologists and psychiatrists. The book (revised every 7 years) has a long-standing, general category called "body dysmorphia." As subtext explains, sufferers are obsessed with body parts such as the face, hands, feet, or nose. In the revision due out this summer, an obsession with "muscle or bodybuilding" will be added to the list, says editor Dr. Michael First.

Dr. Pope also found an eyebrow-lifting number of men who said that as teenagers they had a fear of fat and were anorexic. The male bigorexia-anorexia discoveries prompted Dr. Pope's book, which is being published by Free Press: The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession. He says, "There's a huge amount of stuff out there about body image in women, but it's really underrecognized in men." Steven Franzoi isn't surprised by Dr. Pope's findings. A social psychologist and professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Franzoi points to the muscle magazines flooding the market. "Here's this masculine body ideal, this fixation on the way the body looks. The more this is depicted in the media, the more likely it is that people are going to try to meet that ideal," he says. Dr. Pope believes the cause is more internal. He says bigorexics, anorexics, and even people like compulsive handwashers, who soap up 20 or 30 times a day, all share the same root problem: obsessive compulsive disorder. Back in Connecticut, Jerry Montanari stands behind a desk at Gold's Gym in New Haven, throwing up his hands. "I don't know why they do it," says Montanari, co-owner of the gym that has some 2,000 members. Montanari estimates "one out of every 25" members gets "obsessive."

Why don't you make continual gains?

You are committed, you are focused. You train hard, but yet, you get stuck on a long plateau and don't progress anymore. You seem to look the same as you did 6 months ago. Here you have a number of reasons why you might not be developing as you wish:

You don't feed your body for muscle growth with proper nutrition

It says that proper nutrition is about  80% of the results that you get with your bodybuilding or fitness program. You wouldn't believe, but nutrition is the most neglected area for most of the weight trainers. It is kind of funny that we spend hours of reading all the magazines and papers and investigating all the training methods, but don't have time to spend 15 minutes to plan our nutrition? It is lot of things to write and learn about the bodybuilding nutrition, but the great and easy start of your daily plan would be:

* You have to eat protein, it is absolutely essential to muscle growth. Eat at least 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. The best way to do this is through the eating of small, frequent meals, about 6 a day. Which means that you will eat every 2-2.5 hours. Don't skip your meals!!! Otherwise you don't maintain a proper nitrogen balance, which means - no or slowed down muscle growth. If you are not able to eat "real foods" (meats, veggies), use protein powders, meal replacement powders, and/or protein bars. But eat your protein!

* Take a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral and antioxidants every day. If you train hard (and also have your daily job and family activities) your body is under lot of stress. You need more vitamins and minerals than standards recommend.

* Eat fat! That's right, FAT! But the good fats, the unsaturated fats, they are absolutely essential to muscle growth and overall health in general.

You don't vary your training program

Your body is an amazing machinery. It will adapt quickly to the training you put it through. And if you do the same thing in the gym, day in, day out, it's like a "vacation" for your body. Your progress slows down or stops altogether... Challenge your body instead! Choose the shock technique and your body has to respond and grow stronger and/or bigger.

Change the order of the exercises, change the machines, change the amount of repetitions or sets. Change the split. Change the intensity... you have so much to play around with. And it will be more fun for you, too! To make consistent and continual gains, you need to be constantly pushing yourself and suprize your body by breaking your training habits and patterns. But do it intelligently!

Overtraining --> or actually underresting

Train intensely and focused. Get in the gym, train hard and go home. If you want to socialize, go somewhere else. The session shouldn't be much longer than 60 minutes. If it is, you don't train intensely enough. Hurry home and eat! Don't stay in the shower and chit-chat with friends, or check out the opposite sex in front of the gym. Go home and eat! That's the most important time to get all nutrients in your body.

Give your trained muscles good time to recover. Remember that they grow when they are resting after the workouts. There are recommendation at least 5 days between training the same body part, and many people can benefit from even more. Experiment and you  will find out what works for you.

The never ending stairs... rolling and rolling...

SkateSnake.JPGThe other morning, I was doing my cardio on the "rolling stairs", so called steppers. It is always a wonderful experience... It was a very early morning, and I was not completely awake, my feet felt too big, constantly kicking the "next step" and losing my balance. The gentleman on the stepper next to me started to look at me like I was retarded, or something. From hundreds of hours spent on the StairMaster, I was just used to put whole my foot on the step. And the step was too short. So I kicked it again! And again... The guy next to me was almost running up, listening to his headphones and reading at the same time...

The rolling stairs are challenging, you cannot dwell or think about your next meal, you have to watch your steps! Left, right... left, right.... left, kick (ops), right. But this never-ending elevator ride (talk about tiring elevators!) is a great machine for your weight loss and fitness endeavors, building and toning your calves, glutes and quadriceps. You leave lots of sweat on the machine and on your next-door-fitness enthusiasts... A half hour on the rolling stairs can have you sweating gallons (unless you are located just under the tornado fan, as I was!)

When you exercise on the stepper, start your session on a lower, more moderate level, before gradually working up to a faster, more rigorous pace. If you start confidently on a high level (as I did) you finish out of breath 5 minutes later (and a bruise on your big toes???). Also, while the handlebars are there so you can maintain proper balance on the machine (when kicking in the step), make sure that you are not placing too much body weight onto your arms - this would take the work out of your legs and you will be cheating yourself considerably (especially from the losing the balance experience!).

And how about drinking? I always need to drink a lot of water during my cardio sessions, at least 1/2 gallon during the 60 minutes. And let me tell you, to drink on this thing was very challenging. Watch the step, watch the bottle, find my lips... ops.. kick the step... ops, the water is running on my stomach...

I love the stepper! But I happily switch to the treadmill where I can read something motivating, or listen to my music, or watch the TV... Or watch the gym people instead of my toes!


See you in September!!!!
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