Epilepsy and Nutritional Guidelines

Epilepsy is a fairly common condition that can cause repeated or prolonged seizures. These seizures can cause a number of different sensations, depending on the type of seizure that is involved and the severity of the epilepsy. It is important to note that not everyone who has a seizure has epilepsy and that not all seizures will be repeated. Because of some negativity surrounding the term epilepsy, some doctors now prefer to use the more neutral term seizure disorder.

There are two main categories of seizures: partial or generalized. In a partial seizure, there is a focus and only a small part of the brain is affected, while in a general seizure, more of the brain is involved. A simple partial seizure may cause a change in consciousness but not a loss of consciousness. Complex partial seizures typically involve unconsciousness.

The most serious and severe type of seizure is the grand mal seizure, a generalized seizure that involves the motor systems in the brain and involves convulsions. The grand mal seizure is marked by a tonic phase (forceful contractions of the muscles) and a clonic phase (slow, jerking movements). In addition, there are less severe types of seizures, including the petit mal seizure, which is also called the absence seizure and may be dismissed simply as daydreaming unless the actual diagnosis is made.

Epilepsy may be related to another problem, including a head injury, a brain tumor, a brain infection or a stroke. However, less than half of the people who have been diagnosed with epilepsy or seizure disorder even know why they have it at all. It is important that the disorder be recognized and diagnosed so that treatment can be started – without proper care, the seizures will become progressively more frequent and may become more severe. The doctor will typically rule out other disorders and diseases before diagnosing epilepsy because in its mild or early stages it can mimic other disorders.

The Symptoms of Epilepsy:

– You may notice strange smells or sounds. You may also have double vision.

– You may lose control of your muscles

– You may fall, twitch or jerk.

– You may stare-off into space and be unaware of it.

– You may faint.

In most cases, epilepsy is treated with medication that is meant to reduce or control the seizures. Some of the medications can cause other side effects, so the doctor must experiment with different types and different dosages so that the right control with the fewest side effects can be found. There are other treatment options for seizure disorders, including a special diet, surgery which is meant to remove the damaged tissue in the brain and the implantation of a device which is called a vagus nerve stimulator. This sends signals in the neck to help control the seizures.

The Special Diet

The diet suggested by doctors is called the ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. In a ketogenic diet, the body does not burn carbohydrates for energy like it normally would, but burns fats instead. When the body burns these fats, it produces a carbon substance that is called ketones. In a seizure disorder, the ketones are thought to help suppress seizure activity. (Around 30% of the children who were put on the ketogenic diet have complete seizure control, while another 40% have enough control to continue with the diet).

The ketogenic diet is typically prescribed for a period of around two years and then carbs and other nutrients are gradually added back in. During the time spent on the diet, vitamins and minerals will have to be supplemented because the diet is deficient in a number of these nutrients, especially calcium and vitamin C. The diet has been criticized by a number of health groups because of the high fat content, however, there have not been any problems noted with heart disease or growth retardation for the children. Because childhood obesity is a major concern and there are so many children who have diabetes and other weight-related conditions, the possible benefits of the ketogenic diet must be weighed against its risks.

Other Dietary Considerations

Children and adults who have seizure disorders must try to avoid the artificial sugar called aspartame if it increases seizure activity. Aspartame does cause seizures in people with a metabolic disorder called phenylketonuria. This disorder does not allow the amino acid phenylalanine to be digested and used properly. (Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid which must be supplied by food and supplement sources. It is converted in the body to the non-essential amino acid tyrosine).

People with seizure disorders may also have some food sensitivities and food allergies that they should be aware of. In some cases, these foods may even trigger the seizure activity in the first place. Common foods that can trigger these reactions include dairy foods, including cheese, citrus fruits, wheat and food additives like tartrazine and benzoic acid. The level of food sensitivities can vary from person to person and the person can be eating these foods every day without knowing that they are sensitive to them. It is important to find out if there are food allergies that can trigger or have triggered seizure activity.

Protein supplements may be suggested in the ketogenic diet, however, supplements should only be started at the advice of a doctor. It is important to find the right supplement, especially if there are food sensitivities or other issues as well. Whey protein, for instance, may be difficult to digest if there is any problem with lactose intolerance. Soy or rice protein may be better suggestions in this case; rice protein is considered to be hypoallergenic and may be the best solution. Egg protein may be acceptable as a supplement as well. Protein bars may be suggested, however, the ingredients should be read carefully so that they do not contain any of those that might be considered to be problematic for the person with seizure disorders.

Doctors also suggest supplementing vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that fights the damages of free radicals that may increase seizure activity by interfering with normal brain cell activity. Selenium is a mineral that is also beneficial in controlling seizures. Good food sources of selenium include mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage, fish, garlic, onions and whole grains. If lactose is not a problem, whey protein helps by supplying the enzyme glutathione, which is an antioxidant that is important for the immune system. Folic acid should be included because some of the medications that are used to treat seizures may deplete many of the B complex vitamins. Folic acid is the supplemental form of the naturally occurring folate.

History and Health Effects of the Grapefruit Diet to Help Celebrities Lose Weight

With the recent trends in obesity and expanding body sizes, nutrition and weight loss have become popular topics in everyday conversations. The ever-expanding diet industry has spawned numerous products and off-the-wall nutrition tips to cash-in on our increasing obsession. Many of these “fad diets” make pseudo-scientific claims that appeal to people eager to drop a few pounds. The focus around one particular food group or a secret health food gives many of these diets the mystique to become popular. In recent history, one of the more popular of these fad diets has focused on consuming just grapefruit.

The grapefruit diet, also known as the Hollywood diet, originated in the United States in the 1930s. The diet centralizes on the claim that grapefruit has extraordinary weight-loss properties, such as a fat-burning enzyme. The grapefruit diet is considered unhealthy by most nutritionists due to the absence of essential vitamins and minerals and the low number of calories (less than 1,200 calories per day). On the other hand, incorporating a grapefruit with every meal can prove beneficial to the diet of a healthy person, provided that the dieter is not allergic to grapefruit or is taking medications that interact with citric fruit.

The grapefruit diet is a low-carb diet that generally occurs in a two-week cycle (12 days on the diet with 2 days off) that is repeated until the desired body weight is obtained. Advocates of the diet suggest that grapefruit helps burn body fat when eaten with foods high in dietary fat. Accordingly, the diet includes the consumption of meat, eggs, and fish, while restricting the consumption of sugars, sweet fruits, grains, and other carbohydrate sources. For best results, the diet requires three meals that are rich in fat and protein, complemented by one grapefruit, and with daily caloric intake below 1,200 calories.

The diet gained popularity in the 1970s after being mislabeled “the Mayo Clinic Diet.” Although the Clinic had no connection with the diet, the name-branding helped to bring the diet into popularity. In the 1980s, the diet was shortened to just 10 days with 2 break days, earning the nickname the “10-day, 10-pounds-off diet.” A 2004 study by the Florida Citrus department analyzed if grapefruit could aid in weight loss. Participants were encouraged to eat half a grapefruit with each meal and exercise regularly. The results were encouraging: a number of participants lost more than 10 pounds over 12 weeks. Note that the study focused on the addition of grapefruit to a healthy diet, not adopting a normal grapefruit diet. Nevertheless, a number of people claim short-term success with the diet, but long-term weight-loss maintenance still requires adoption of a healthy lifestyle.

Bariatric Athlete Fuel Guide Without Carb Loading

We often hear that in order to fuel workouts and races an athlete needs to carb load. And for good reason, carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source. However, this practice could be a threefold problem for bariathletes. For one, the word ‘load’ alone is not recommended for a small pouch. And when looking at the post-op macronutrient breakdown, protein is in the lead. Lastly, for those who have had the gastric bypass often can not tolerate carbohydrates because they induce dumping syndrome. So what is a bariathlete to do?

Although the body does prefer carbohydrates, loading per se may not be needed. More and more athletes are beginning follow a more balanced diet and continue to perform competitively. We recommend eating well throughout the day with a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat at each meal.

First, take a look at the micronutrient density of your foods. Are you eating nutrient rich foods or are they many processed and stripped of its vitamins and minerals? Athletes often look past this because they tend to focus on calories and carbohydrates. Bariathletes also tend to forget about this but more due to thinking all their needs are covered in their vitamin and mineral supplements. The supplements cover your bariatric needs, but your nutrient needs increase when you start exercising. And no, we don’t recommend taking more supplements to cover this, we recommend whole foods because your body is able to absorb and utilize these nutrients so much more efficiently from its natural sources.

Because a bariathlete can only eat so much at a given time it is important that meals and snacks do not have more than 4 hours between them. Eating frequently assures your fuel takes are full and can eliminate the need to ‘load’. The key a again is a mix of carbohydrates and protein to meet both your bariatric and athletic needs.

So remember, you are now an athlete and food is the fuel that allows you to live the new and exciting lifestyle you choose. Opt for more mixed meals while still maintaining adequate protein intake. Select more whole, fresh, nutrient rich foods to provide you with the vitamin and minerals you body needs to perform optimally. Good luck and have fun!

*For more specific details for your individual needs, contact us today for a personalized meal plan. LeaCrosetti@BariAthletes.com

Vitamin E – The Vitamin You Can Absorb Through Your Skin

Ever wondered why vitamin E is so often available as a vitamin E cream? And why this is such a valuable nutrient for the health of your cells? Read on and I will explain.

Because vitamin E is so widely available in food its unusual to encounter someone with a frank deficiency, although this vitamin is often used therapeutically by naturopaths as a supplement (usually alongside other nutrients).

This is one of the rare vitamins that you can absorb through your skin and mucous membranes, hence its popularity as an ointment. Once in your body, one of the main tasks of vitamin E is to help preserve the health of your cell membranes by acting as an antioxidant.

Your cell membranes are actually made up of fat molecules joined together by minuscule magnetic attraction, rather like oil floats on the top of water. These membranes are vulnerable to attack by free radicals, (molecules missing an electron who can damage cell membranes). A good supply of Vitamin E in your body can prevent these free radicals from causing damage to your cell membranes.

Vitamin E has a reputation as a free radical scavenger and oxidation-preventer in other parts of your body too. Within the gastrointestinal tract, it prevents vitamin A from being oxidised before absorption. High quality fish oil (omega 3) supplements routinely contain vitamin E, to prevent oil in the capsules from going rancid.

Although vitamin E supplements are sometimes used to promote cardiovascular health, or as an antioxidant, it is very popular as an ointment. It can slow premature aging of skin, and help heal damaged skin tissue and scars.

The best way to obtain your vitamin E is from food. There are several different varieties of vitamin E (tocopherols). Obtained from food, vitamin E will contain all the tocopherols, plus added nutrients. Vitamin E capsules may contain only one tocopherol of the vitamin (usually the alpha version), and may be synthetic. Yet another reason to focus on improving your nutrition with high quality food rather than taking supplements.

The best food sources of vitamin E are cold pressed oils, eggs, sunflower seeds, offal, molasses, peanuts, soy beans and lima beans.

If you are taking a vitamin E supplement, check the label: Natural vitamin E’s technical names are preceded with d- (e.g d-alpha-tocopherol). Synthetic vitamin E will be labelled as dl- (e.g dl-alpha-tocopherol). Although cheaper to produce, synthetic vitamin E is not absorbed as easily as its natural cousin.

Now you know why vitamin E is so valuable, including for your skin, consider buying a tub of vitamin E-enriched body lotion next time you’re shopping.

Performance Nutrition For Wrestlers After Cutting Weight

Wrestlers and fighters cut weight for competition so they can have an advantage in combat. Whether you’re a youth, high school, college or professional athlete, being the largest competitor in your weight class can make all the difference in winning or losing the match. This often involves rapid weight cutting for the weigh-in, followed by replenishing the body back to its normal weight or preferably even heavier, hopefully giving you a size and strength advantage. While cutting weight will get you into the tournament, the replenishment process is equally as important as it will definitely impact your performance. Eating junk food or fast food directly after hard dieting or fasting is like emptying your car’s engine and then refilling it with sand or contaminated gas. The first fuel you put in your body after emptying it will be exactly what’s used for its first run; the food choices you make will determine whether you shine or gas on the mat.

When it comes to performance nutrition, timing is equally important as what you eat. Athletes who get to weigh in the day before their competition have a tremendous advantage over those who must compete an hour or two later. Depending on how severe the weight cut, it can take up to 12 hours (or longer) to get completely replenished back up to a desired body weight. With the right foods, strategy and planning, this process can be done effectively much faster, however the longer you have to recover from a hard weight cut the better. It’s common for high school wrestlers to weigh in Friday afternoon to compete on Friday night, have to make weight again Saturday morning for another tournament all day Saturday. Often when this is the case, the athlete is given an allowance of 1-3 lbs. for the Saturday meet, however this is a situation that must be managed carefully. Replenishment for the Friday competition must be controlled so it’s effective but not enough to throw off their weight cut for the next day.

After weighing in, choose foods that will be absorbed quickly and provide the best fuel for your upcoming performance. While protein is extremely necessary during the weight cut to prevent the loss of muscle mass, it has little place in the replenishment process. Protein will not give you the energy you need to perform on the mat and will only take up room in your stomach. Carbohydrates are the best types of food to eat for an upcoming competition after a weight cut. However avoid simple sugars that are overly processed like candy, cookies, snack cakes, Little Debbies, etc. Foods like this will give you an uncontrolled fast spike of energy followed by a crash of sleepiness and lethargy. Choose carbohydrates from two different categories to replenish the body with good weight and the best, most usable fuel. Clean, starchy carbs such as sweet potatoes and rice are excellent for filling the muscles with glycogen for even released energy to be used in the next few hours of the meet. Breads and bagels are secondary choices however are sweet and filling and also work well.

For faster energy, fresh, juicy fruit is great and very rejuvenating to the wrestler who’s survived an arduous weight cut. Apples, grapes and oranges are sweet, delicious and satisfying when in season. Bananas and prunes are also packed with potassium and natural sugar to be used for energy in the next hour of performance. Other foods that are good quick energy choices for replenishing the body are graham crackers, animal crackers and even yogurt however these are secondary and should not be filled up on. While fats are filling and satisfying to eat, they should be eaten in very small amounts or even avoided as they will slow down the absorption of sugars needed for energy. Too many will also give the wrestler a heavy, sluggish feeling in their gut. Wrestlers eating peanut butter sandwiches on white bread is a common sight at many tournaments, however this is an error. While this food is sweet, filling and easy to fix, peanut butter can sit heavy in a wrestler’s stomach while the gluten in the white bread slows the motility of the gut to a standstill.

For the fastest and most complete replenishment after a weight cut, divide your carbs into a number of small meals and try to resist gorging yourself. Forcing too much food into the gut at one time will give it more than it can handle and cause a temporary blockage, slowing down absorption and making the athlete sick, sometimes feeling heavy, lethargic and even nauseous. If the athlete had to restrict water to make his weight, the first thing in his mouth should be at least 16 oz. of water, then he can start eating. A great strategy is to combine both simple and complex carbs in a controlled volume over a period of time. For example, after drinking water the first meal would be 1½ – 2 cups of white rice with honey and a piece of fresh fruit. Sixty to ninety minutes later, eat another 1½ cups of white rice + honey, some graham crackers and more water. For a third meal, eat more carbs primarily however go ahead and add some protein as well. An example would be another 1½ cups white rice + honey, a tangerine and 3-4 oz. of lean turkey breast.

Feeding the body small meals of dry carbs combined with drinking water like this will shuttle glycogen and fluid into the muscles quickly and effectively. After the body has gone without food and/or water for 8-12 hours (common practice for cutting weight), the fuel we put into it directly after will determine its upcoming performance. Replenishing with this strategy leaves athletes energized and ready to go after the first 1-2 meals; they feel alert and light, not bogged down by a bunch of heavy foods laden with fat and preservatives in their gut. Adding a bit of protein to the third meal helps to slow down the absorption of the carbs after the muscles have been replenished from the first two. This will allow fuel for later as well as a more full feeling that lasts a bit longer. After not eating protein for this long, it’s also important to start feeding the body amino acids again to help muscles recover after competing. The third meal can also contain some fats if you want however better without or with very little as they have little to do with immediate performance and only act to slow you down.

While cutting weight may be what gets you into the competition, if you don’t have a strategy of replenishment, you will be weak, tired and unable to perform at your best.

Using a strategy like the one noted above will ensure you are fully replenished, feeling great and ready to go for your first match. Focus on a mixture of fast acting starchy carbohydrates combined with natural simple carbs and eat this in a number of small meals to ensure the body completely absorbs each one. Drink plenty of water so the muscles will shuttle both fluids and glycogen into storage for quick action and immediate performance. Do this repetitively 2-3 times based on fullness, energy levels and your competition schedule. Avoid fats to prevent slowing down absorption of nutrients and that heavy, sluggish feeling common to these types of foods. After 2-3 carb only meals, add some protein to a later meal to aid in recovery after competing and provide a slightly slower digestion of carbs for energy later in the day.

The Importance Of Diabetic Nutrition

Maintaining good health involves eating and absorbing the right kind of foods. If you have been diagnosed as suffering from diabetes, it is essential that you develop an understanding as to what would be the correct diet. Diabetic nutrition is centered around controlling the amount of glucose or sugar in the blood. What we eat directly impacts blood-sugar levels, therefore the right choice of foods is fundamental to prevent a deterioration in health and quality of life.

There is not one exact diet that medical experts suggest a diabetes patient should follow, it depends on factors such as the extent of the condition, as well as the weight and age of the individual. Those people suffering from diabetes should be referred to a registered dietician who would be able to put together a specific guide for meals.

Diabetic nutrition also needs to take into consideration the individual’s eating habits and personal schedule. Guidelines for suitable control of diabetes will focus on eating at the same time each day of the week, this will help in keeping blood sugar levels stable and ensure that insulin does work in the right way.

It is important to frequently check blood sugar levels, especially when starting a new diet, only by doing so would a diabetic understand which foods and drinks do have a positive or negative impact on their blood sugar levels. The best diet would usually be one that is high in fiber and low in fat, sugar, and salt. Fiber can be sourced from certain vegetables and fruit, as well as wholemeal products such as brown rice and brown bread.

A balanced approach is the best option, it can be dangerous to cut out certain food groups altogether as this can then lead to other health problems. For this reason, it is advisable to consume a limited amount of fat, especially through the eating of chicken and nuts and seeds. Red meat should be reduced to a negligible amount. For most diabetics, alcohol should not be consumed as it can be high in sugar. Also, soda drinks, fruit juices, and sugary teas need to be kept to an absolute minimum.

A dietician may suggest following an exchange diet, this is a plan which involves swapping various foods around so as to give the individual some choice and variety. It can be difficult at first giving up various foods, but it should be made clear that diabetic nutrition diets do not have to be bland or unappealing, there are plenty of mouthwatering dishes that can still be taken.

Strive to Achieve Your Physical Potential

Whether you are elite athlete on the field or court or a champion in the field of life, you should always have the burning desire to achieve your physical potential. By ensuring that your body is fine tuned and firing on all cylinders will allow you to perform at your highest level possible. To achieve your physical potential you must have a clear understanding of the essential components which influence your body. These essential components are your personal habits in your mind set, physical training, nutrition and recovery. By continuously evaluating and setting new goals in each of these areas, you will ensure that you are on the optimal path to achieving your physical potential.

What is your physical potential?
For everyone the answer will be different. It does not matter if you are a professional athlete or a business professional; we all have tremendous physical potential to achieve great things. When physically prepared, the human body has virtually endless capabilities to what can be physically achieved. Individuals that are committed to physical achievement have completed a spectrum of feats, such as running up to speeds of 25 mph, jumping over 40 ", lifting over a thousand pounds, running over 100 miles straight, holding breath for over 10 minutes, and swimming endless lengths at a time, to name a few. be open minded to the possibilities of your body and physical potential. You do not have to set or break a world record in order to achieve your physical potential. Just continually strive to be the best physically you can be every day of your life.

Mind Set
One of the most important factors in the quest of achieving your physical potential is a proper mind set. I begin with this component, because I believe 99% of physical achievement occurs from the abilities of the mind. Unfortunately, we live in a society where being lazy and unhealthy is acceptable. On the television, the ever increasing drug commercials try to convince us to just pop a pill instead of taking care of our bodies. We are constantly being bombarded by negativity from the news media and pessimistic people that almost seem to like being miserable! Always be very cautious of what you allow into your mind. Limit your exposure to negative stimulus such as negative people, negative news coverage, or any other source of negativity that will inherently bring you down. By limiting your exposure to negativity, you will prevent your mind from being filled with useless clutter allowing you to focus more on the positive aspects of your physical achievement.

Over the years, I have been heavily influenced by my father, and other great motivational and goal setting gurus such as Zig Ziglar, Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale, and Brian Tracy to name a few. From all of these great men I have learned valuable strategies and methods that are directly applicable to achieving your physical potential. The reoccurring theme presented by all of these gentlemen, is what ever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve. This powerful statement can be applied to help you strive to achieve your physical potential.

According to Dr. Hill the starting point for all achievement is the Definiteness of Purpose which is developing a burning desire to achieve your goal. With a solid game plan and the burning desire, there is literally nothing that can get in your way of achieving your physical goals. Your goal should be to reach the top 3-5% of the population in physical fitness, which I call the upper echelon of society and physical achievers. I characterize this top 3-5% as the elite minority, who choose to treat their body as a temple and understand the importance of proper mind set, physical training, nutrition and recovery. This top 3-5% does not make excuses; they take action every single day to ensure that they are always moving towards achieving their ultimate physical potential.

Where are you now?
The first step in the quest to reaching your ultimate physical potential is to understand where you are presently. Without this knowledge in hand, you will not have a clear vision and understanding of the direction you need to take. By taking a critical look at yourself and your habits, you will be able to determine the areas of your lifestyle that require an improvement. Carefully evaluate each area which impacts your physical potential and determine where change is needed.

Six Ways to Turn Desire Into Physical Achievement
From the writings of Dr. Hill, his philosophies can be applied to convert the burning desire you possess into its physical equivalent by using what I call the Six Ways To Turn Desire Into Physical Achievement with six definite practical steps to determine you physical goals:

1. Determine in your mind what areas you want to improve. Perhaps you need to reduce your bodyfat 5%, or increase your strength, flexibility or speed. Be as detailed as possible about the specific areas you need to improve upon.
2. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the physical achievement and attainment of the goal in regards to efforts in physical training, nutrition or recovery methods.
3. Establish a definite date when you intend to obtain the physical achievement goals, no matter if it is in 4, 8, 12 weeks or 1 year.
4. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan in to action.
5. From the previous steps, now write down your specific goals, the goal date and what you intend to give to achieve these goals, and include the plan you will use.
6. Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once in the morning and once before going to bed. As you read the statements- visualize yourself like you have already achieved your physical goals … leaner, stronger, faster, or etc.

Once you have completed these six steps you will have established a clear path towards your goal. Next, from where you are presently, to the point of your goal, work backwards and set incremental goals between these points and establish a time line to achieve each goal. For example, if your goal is to reduce your body fat 12% in 12 weeks, when working backwards your increment goals would look like this:

Week 12 Goal: Decrease Body fat 12 % Total
Week 8 Goal: Decrease Body fat 8 % Total
Week 4 Goal: Decrease Body fat 4 % Total
Week 1 – Starting Point

By setting these incremental or smaller goals will ensure that you are on the right track towards success. By achieving all of your individual incremental goals you will easily be able to reach the end goal, in this situation is decreasing your body fat 12% in 12 weeks. Once you have clearly defined your goals and are in pursuit of them, do not let yourself get off of the path. With a solid game plan and the burning desire, there is literally nothing that can get in your way of achieving your goals. Take clear and decisive action everyday! Once you get rolling, momentum will build and will propel you forward towards your goals.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with some of the best athletes in their respective sports, the first step I take with all of them is establishing an optimal path to achieving their physical goals. I describe staying on the optimal path as persistently staying focused on the goal and adhering to the mandatory physical training, nutrition and recovery program to achieve their goals and to become the best they can become. The fastest way between two points is a straight line- when you stay on the optimal path there will be less resistance and difficulty in obtaining your goals. When consulting with season two UFC reality show Pro MMA fighter Mike Whitehead, he was initially at weight of 270 lbs. and his goal weight for his next fight was 205 lbs. With less than 12 weeks to accomplish his goal and fight on national television- we had to layout a precise plan to get him ready quick! I structured the necessary training, nutrition and recovery program for him-but then it was up to Mike and his burning desire to achieve his goal of being 205 lbs. Mike's burning desire combined with his persistence paid off greatly when he weighed in at his fight weighing under 205 lbs!

Daily Affirmations
Daily affirmations can be helpful to keep your mind free from negativity, and focused on positive, goal-oriented thoughts. Affirmations are statements of a desirable intention in your mind that are deliberately meditated on and / or repeated. By utilizing this technique, you will create a mental program for your mind to be directed towards your goals of achieving your physical potential. Affirmations are always phrased in the first person and usually in a present tense, "I am", rather than a the future tense, "I will", in order to increase the realization of the statement. For example, you could repeat your affirmations while exercising. Such as "I am getting stronger", or "I am getting leaner", or "I am getting faster". These affirmations will help to keep you motivated. Soon they will be part of your thought process and will help fuel you forward to achieving your goals.

Visualization
Visualization can help you develop a clear mental picture of where you want to be or what you want to achieve. This technique can be used with affirmations to make a powerful combination, fueling your physical achievement. I have personally utilized this technique for many years throughout my own training and with my athletes to break into higher levels. This can be directly applied to anything that you may believe to be physically challenging or difficult. For example, over the years, when trying to set new records or personal best in a particular lift, I would complete the repetition successfully in my mind before I ever touched the weight. By practicing visualization techniques you can instantly improve your bodies abilities! Use this on a regular basis to overcome self-doubt or fear when striving to reach any physical goal.

Eliminate Negative Thoughts
Fear, self-doubt and negativity are the enemy of progress and physical achievement. A great way to reduce all of these is to constantly be focused on your goals and be thinking about taking action. By staying focused on action, you will have less time to ponder and think negatively. If a negative thought enters your mind, quickly replace it with a positive thought … tell yourself, "I can, I can, I can!"

Associate with Like Minded People
The individuals you associate with will have a dramatic influence on you. As the old saying goes, choose your friends wisely. By choosing to associate and spend time with others that have similar interests and goals as you, will help you reach higher levels of personal physical achievement. You have the right to be selective to whom you associate with. You should discontinue relationships that present negativity, and may hinder you from achieving your goals. Stay clear of people that are negative and pessimistic, they can quickly derail you off the path to your physical potential. Surround yourself with positive, optimistic individuals that choose to live a healthy and balanced life style.

Failure is Not an Option
After you have set your physical achievement goals, and you determine what must be done to achieve the goals, never consider failure! From the beginning you should tell yourself that failure is not even an option, and you are bound to succeed. By eliminating failure as an option, you will quickly reduce your self doubt and fear which will fuel you forward to achieving your goals.

Physical Training
Like every creature on the face of the earth, we have been built to survive and perform physical tasks. There was a time when we used our bodies on a daily basis to complete physically rigorous tasks such hunting, gathering, farming, and building. These physically demanding tasks required each individual to be physically fit for the sake of survival. In the modern society we live in, which is full on luxuries and conveniences, the amount of physical work we must complete on a daily basis has been eliminated. For this reason, we must be incorporate daily exercise or physical training to ensure the optimal function of our body. The human body is an adaptive being that has the ability to rapidly adapt to the physical stimulus or demands that are applied. Proper physical training provides a positive stimulus that allows each of your body's physical abilities to improve.

According to the goals that you have established, your physical training or exercise should be reflective of your goals and place you in the right direction to achieving your goals. Do not get caught up in adhering strictly to only one training method or training philosophy. Be open minded to all ways of physically training. Over my career, I have thoroughly researched and applied just about every physical training method that exists. These methods and philosophies have included: body weight training, free weight training, band training, machine training, vibration training, strongmen training, power lifting, Olympic lifting, bodybuilding, sandbag training, kettlebell training, gymnastics, martial arts, boxing, endurance training , sand-pit training, sprint training and the list goes on and on. What I have learned that works best it to keep an open mind and be willing to apply any and all forms of training to reach your physical potential.

Address Your Weaknesses to Build Upon Your Strengths
The human body is a kinetic chain that is only as strong as the weakest link. One of the fastest ways to improve your physical performance is to identify and target your areas of weakness. For some of you it may be your core muscles, but for some of you, it may an inability to squat properly or a lack of mobility.

Master Your Own Body weight
To reach your physical potential you should be a master of your own body weight. This means you should have a solid foundation of strength and be able to complete any and all body weight movements. This includes movements such as squats, various lunges, various steps, bridges, bends, push-ups, pull-up, various planks, various chops and rotations, bear crawls, walkouts, burpees and etc. Even though I can bench press over 400 lbs and squat over 600 lbs, these movements still present quite a challenge for me! Your goal should be able to complete any movement in any plane of motion without any restriction from lack of strength or flexibility.

Do What You Do not Like the Most
A very simple philosophy I have utilized over the years, is to do what you do not like to do the most. To constantly progress physically, you should get out of your comfort zone. By incorporating training methods that you find difficult, will most likely yield the greatest progress.

Be Cautious of What You Hear and Read
There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to physical training. Always question any information you may read or hear on the television in regards to exercise and physical training. Make sure any information you listen to comes from a professional in the field, with a degree and reputable certifications to validate the information. This will reduce the likelihood that the information you are getting is false and misleading.

Monkey See, Monkey Do
Just because you see someone doing a certain exercise, program or method at the gym, does not necessarily mean it will work for you. Due to the diversity and complexity of each person's body, everyone will have different needs and goals. This means you should be training to meet your goals, not the person's that you are watching.

A Partner Can Push You to New Limits
Find someone that has similar physical abilities and goals as you to workout with. Training with a partner can motivate you to reach new levels of physical achievement and will help hold you accountable to your goals. Be sure to constantly challenge and encourage each other to push forward to achieve your goals.

Strive for Continuous Progress
Continuously strive to make improvements in every area of ​​your physical abilities, whether it is strength, power, speed, agility, balance, flexibility, or endurance. From the goals you have set, make sure that you are making measurable progress in each area of ​​your training and exercise. If a certain exercise or method is not working for you, discontinue it and try a different approach. Always strive to set new PR's or Personal Records in your training. This will ensure that you are constantly challenging yourself and getting outside of your comfort zone, forcing your body to adapt and become better.

Nutrition
As the old saying goes, "you are what you eat", could not be closer to the truth. The nutrients you consume on a daily basis have a significant impact on the overall function and physical performance of your body. To reach your physical potential is important that you understand the basics about nutrition and how each nutrient influences the function of your body. Many individuals view eating as a program or something you focus on temporarily to achieve a goal. If you look at nutrition like the majority of people in our society look at it, you will fall short of reaching your physical potential. Every physiological process in the human body requires energy to function. The energy is produced from calories, or units of energy, which the body extracts from carbohydrates, protein and fats. These nutrients work in synergy to fuels your body's vital health and levels of physical performance. Every second there is thousand of chemical reactions occurring within the body that require the correct ratio and amount of these nutrients and vitamins, minerals and water. If there is an imbalance or deficiency in any of these areas, your body will be unable to perform at optimal levels. I always say, if we had a control panel on the outside of our body and we could open it, and see all that is going on inside of our body, we would have a greater appreciation for the complexity of the human body and its reliance on the vital nutrients from the food we eat. According to your goals, your dietary habits should be structured to contribute to your forward progress of achieving your goals.

If it Walks, Swims, or Grows Out of The Ground, Its Okay
Consume foods that are as close to the natural state as possible. Your dietary habits should consist of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, grains and good sources of fat such as healthy nuts and oils. This means to reduce the amount of processed foods, or man made foods that you consume. Stay away from foods with high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and unidentifiable chemical compounds. When possible, incorporate fruit and vegetables that have been organically grown. This will allow you to consume less amounts of pesticides and genetically altered, gas ripened foods, which could adversely effect your body.

Eat for Fuel, Not for Fun
You should look at food as the fuel required for your body's optimal performance. Much like a high performance race car, your body runs the best with the right fuel or nutrients. Most people make emotional decisions when it comes to nutrient or food selection. You should always select foods that are best to fuel your body.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Proper hydration is important for every physiological process that occurs within your body. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. The best way to ensure that you are properly hydrated is to make it a habit of keeping a container of water with you at all times and drink constantly.

Limit Your Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption
Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages should be consumed in moderation. Alcohol is foreign substance to the human body, and in excess can place a stress on your liver and other organs. Caffeine can adversely effect your energy and metabolism when consumed in excess. Try to consume both of these in moderation.

Nutrient Timing and Nutrient Selection
It does not matter if you are trying to gain lean muscle, lose body fat or to maintain your current weight, the timing and selection of your nutrients is important. Depending on your goals you should eat 5-6 meals per day, spacing them out to every 2.5-3 hours. Each meal should consist of a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat. This will ensure that your energy levels are steady throughout the day and will allow your metabolism to function at optimal levels.

Preparation and Organization
Preparation and organization are two of the top keys to success in healthy eating. Plan your meals ahead of time to make sure you will have access to the foods you need to eat. Like most people, do not wait to the very last second to figure out what you are going to eat for your next meal. If you are not prepared, you will be unable to maintain your required schedule for eating. This will quickly derail your body from reaching its physical potential. Plan ahead and always have the food you need to eat accessible to you.

Recovery
Recovery or the physiological regeneration and repair of your body from physical training or stress is a requisite to reaching your physical potential. By taking proactive measures to enhance your recovery, you will keep your body feeling fresh and will reduce the chances of becoming injured. There is a long list of ways to accelerate your recovery such as sleep, relaxation, meditation, stretching, chiropractic, contrast baths, massage, performance therapy tools, acupuncture, visual imagery, vibration therapy, EMS, and light therapy to name a few. Be sure to take time to incorporate some of these recovery methods into your training schedule.

Proper Sleep
While you sleep your body releases hormones which promote the physiological repair and regeneration of the cells in your body. You should sleep 8-10 hours per night to ensure that you are adequately recharged. If your schedule permits, implement short naps to boost your recovery even faster. If you go through a period of days with less than 8 hours of sleep, make up those hours by sleeping more on the other nights. Your body keeps track of these hours, and it will reflect in your energy levels and physical performance.  

Relaxation
Schedule times to completely relax and let your body unwind. This will enhance your recovery by reducing stress levels allowing your body to heal and repair.

Listen to Your Body
You should learn how to interpret the signals that come from your body to enhance the recovery process. By being in tune with your body you can quickly address areas of your body that may need special attention.

Self Massage
To accelerate the healing of your muscles from physical training, use a performance therapy device such as the Muscletrac. Using the Muscletrac after or between your workouts will reduce muscle soreness and tightness.

Flexibility
The most effective method to improve flexibility and muscle elasticity is to incorporate active or movement based stretching into your physical training program. Take time after your workouts to incorporate stretching to enhance your recovery.

Bringing it All Together

To achieve your physical potential, stay committed to living a healthy and well balanced lifestyle. Constantly set goals for new physical achievements and be conscience of your mind set, physical training, nutrition and recovery. Be a student for life and strive to never stop learning about new ways to achieve your physical potential. Remember that what ever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve. Set your sights high and work hard to achieve your ultimate physical potential!

Vegan Cooking School Options

So you’re vegan and have this passionate love of food. You would like to pursue this passion further, but you’re not sure what the vegan cooking school options are out there. Happily, there are plenty! There are quite a few schools that focus on plant-based meals, and many that aren’t exclusively vegan can be geared toward you, so you won’t find yourself chopping chickens and preparing fish if you’re not into that.

There are many casual plant-based cooking classes around the world if you’re looking for something just for fun without any fancy certification. In this article, though, I focus more on professional programs that have varying degrees of intensity. Some require only a little time and money if you don’t want to be a professional chef; others will take you the full distance to running your own kitchen.

Without further ado and in no particular order, here’s a list of some popular schools around the world, with some information about each.

Living Light Culinary Arts Institute
Where is it? Fort Bragg, California
What do they offer? 100% vegan and raw food instruction
When do the programs run? Multiple times a year, depending on the program
Website: rawfoodchef.com

The Living Light Culinary Arts Institute is located in a small coastal community on the Mendocino coast. If you love the ocean, temperate weather, and raw vegan cuisine, you’ll love this school. Run by Cherie Soria, the “mother of raw food”, this is THE raw foods institute. This is the one that draws people in from all around the world and produces top-of-the-line celebrity chefs of all kinds.

There are several types of courses, including a Gourmet Chef Certification Series (6 weeks), Advanced Instructor Training Certification Series (4 weeks), Raw Food Nutrition Educator Series, and the full-out Professional Chef Series, which runs almost an entire year, including a 250-day internship at the school.

Many of the well-known raw food chefs around the world went to Living Light for their training, including Chad Sarno and Jennifer Cornbleet.

The Natural Gourmet Institute
Where is it? New York, NY
What do they offer? Public classes and professional chef training that are plant-based and vegan-friendly
When do the programs run? Inquire by e-mail on their website
Website: naturalgourmetinstitute.com

The Chef’s Training program they offer is an intensive, professional course which can be taken part-time or full-time, but runs 619 hours. This school does teach people how to prepare seafood, chicken and eggs, but if you’re vegan you can opt out of that. This school teaches a wide range of cooking styles, including how to ferment, prepare raw foods and macrobiotic foods, and even Chinese medicine and medicinal cooking. The emphasis is on whole, plant foods.

The Natural Gourmet Institute offers a fun Friday night dinner, where the people enrolled in the school prepare a fine-dining experience for the general public at big, communal tables (with candlelight!), so if you’re in the area, you could swing by and see what it’s all about.

The Matthew Kenney Academyformerly the 105 Degrees Academy
Where is it? Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
What do they offer? Chef certification program in raw foods
When do the programs run? Monthly, or several times a year for the more advanced classes
Website: kenneycuisine.com

Matthew Kenney offers very small and personal raw food chef’s training classes (typically 4-8 people). It’s designed for beginners and chefs alike.

There are two 4-week training sessions – Level 1: Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine, and Level 2: Advanced Raw Cuisine. The Level 1 courses run every month and is Monday to Friday, 9am – 3pm. The Level 2 course runs 4 times a year and is the same hours as the Level 1 classes.

Cordon Vert School
Where is it? Altrincham, Cheshire, UK
What do they offer? Vegetarian leisure classes and workshops, a diploma program for professional chefs only
When do the programs run? Several times throughout the year; programs are short
Website: cordonvert.co.uk

The Cordon Vert School offers classes at their Vegetarian Society headquarters, and they even have rooms for lodging. They have a variety of vegetarian courses, ranging from 1 to 2 day workshops, classes for leisure, and professional classes. Their professional diploma class, a week in duration, is only available to professional chefs. However, their workshops and leisure courses are open to the general public, and occur frequently throughout the year.

Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts
Where is it? Austin, Texas
What do they offer? Full professional chef program that is vegan-friendly, public classes
When do the programs run? Begins every August and February
Website: naturalepicurean.com

This school specializes in vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, ayurvedic and raw food preparation and cuisine. They offer a full 900-hour professional chef training program. All of the training takes approximately a third of a year, if you jump straight from training into internship. This is an intensive course that will fully prepare you to work in a natural kitchen.

They also offer public classes, though they’re sparse and seldom due to the emphasis on the professional chef training program.

The School of Natural Cookery
Where is it? Boulder, Colorado
What do they offer? Professional training as a foundation course, with the option to go further
When do the programs run? Most are in the Fall and Spring
Website: naturalcookery.com

The foundation course at the School of Natural Cookery is a 16-week diploma course where you learn fundamentals, bread making, gastronomy, nutrition and more. If you achieve a very high mark in this course, you may take a 4-week personal chef course or teacher training course. However, in order to pursue the teacher training course, you must have finished their classes as well as have five years experience with natural food.

Courses are typically offered for a spring semester and a fall semester and run the duration of a typical school semester.

Vegan Culinary Academy
Where is it? Anguin, California
What do they offer? Online courses and a 1000 hour professional apprenticeship
When do the programs run? Anytime
Website: veganculinaryacademy.com

There are two major highlights of this school – first, someone who is looking for a professional apprenticeship opportunity will find it here, and it can be completed in six months to two years depending on how much you work, and second, they offer a distance learning program. The online program requires only that you have a camera and a computer with internet, and each student gets personal attention from the instructors in addition to all of the class materials and lessons. The apprenticeship is geared toward those who are already chefs, dietitians or food service directors.

Heaven on Earth Vegetarian Institute
Where is it? Hamilton-Stoney Creek, Ontario
What do they offer? A vegan, macrobiotic and ayurvedic 3-module program
When do the programs run? Mid-October to mid-March for all 3 modules
Website: heavenstudio.ca

This institute offers a Holistic Health Consultant & Cooking Certification program that runs in 3 modules and goes far beyond cooking. It delves into many aspects of holistic health, including yoga, pranayama, diet and lifestyle changes for preventing diseases, and of course healthy food preparation. All of the cooking is vegan with the exception of one class, where fish is included.

Natural Kitchen Cooking School
Where is it? Mercerfield, New Jersey, Haddonfield, New Jersey and New York City
What do they offer? A natural chef training program
When do the programs run? October to May, one weekend each month
Website: naturalkitchenschool.com

This school has several locations and occurs during weekends, making it more accessible. The class sizes are kept small (12 or less) so personal attention and assistance can be given.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it does cover the major vegan-friendly cooking schools out there. Every year, more and more small classes pop up in different cities, so if you’re just looking for some basic instruction and have no interest in pursuing a career in cooking, check out what your city (or nearby city) has to offer. If you are looking to get serious with preparing that awesome vegan food, there are a few great choices on this list that could help you achieve your dreams.

Unbalanced Force Factor Fitness Training Method For Men – Burn Fat, Gain Muscle

How To Attain Fitness Euphoria

The 5 Steps

Have you ever wondered why some people LOVE to exercise while others have no motivation to even get started? Have you ever wondered HOW they got that love and how you never found it? Let’s start by getting rid of one of the myths of the “workout” world. I read over and over again, “If they made a pill to get us healthy and lose excess weight, then we’d all be happy.” Not so. Think about that statement. Sure, you might get healthy and be able to lose weight. But that “euphoric” feeling of achievement and accomplishment released by the body’s own endorphins… Can only come from your own fitness efforts. THAT’S what it is all about. So…you want to know how to attain your very own state of personal euphoria? There are FIVE things in life that can help you to lose fat, change your body, better your health…AND improve the world and those around you.

STEP ONE

Find the belief in yourself.

Develop “self efficacy”. That is, the belief in your own self promises. The knowledge that once you make a commitment, you will follow it through to completion. Many times when we ask ourselves a question–especially when it comes to our health and wellness, we REALLY do already know the answer! It’s the belief in YOU that determines whether or not we accept the right answer. Think about all that you have learned from where you have been and what you have experienced. Embrace all the RIGHT lessons previously logged into your memory bank…ready and available for immediate recall. Believe in where you are going and how you intend get there. You KNOW the answers. No one can learn or teach you better than yourself. Are you ready to receive your own best advice? The Unbalanced Force Factor Training System was developed and based with this principle in mind. The principle of… SELF-EFFICACY.

STEP TWO

Baby Steps

Bite-sized chunks. Manageable increments. Measurable milestones. Achievable Workload. “Do” able tasks. Realistic expectations. In order to achieve anything in this life, we must first define our short-term goals. We must be able to determine the difference in short, medium, and long-term expectations when setting realistic goals. Life is an ultra marathon. But the first thing we must achieve…is taking that very first step. In order to get to that first step, there must be a mind-altering decision. The decision that you are ready to do what it takes. Plan your daily meals. Make efficient use of your daily plan. Prioritize the things that consume your time. List them according to what tasks will make the biggest impact at the end of the day. And the most important thing to plan on for the day… Make time for YOU. Now, I don’t mean treat yourself to excess indulgences. I mean give yourself permission to take the time for your personal health. Take this all-important matter into your own hands. Develop the discernment to know the difference in high priority things. Your workout should be at the top of this list! The Unbalanced Force Factor training system will enable you to reach personal fitness euphoria once you make it your priority!

STEP THREE

Understand Nutrition

It’s true that nutrition is a science. But that doesn’t mean rocket science. If it’s as simple as just following the guidelines as outlined in The Unbalanced Force Factor, or if you actually follow the advice of a registered dietician or medical physician… We have to fuel the body correctly. Use these very simple guidelines: Think about your health. Avoid dwelling on tastes or “enjoyment”. You can refine your taste palate to enjoy the right foods once you learn and accept the difference that they can make for your health. Think about your looks. Avoid getting caught up in the gluttony of buffets, fast foods, convenience and refined sugar products. Learn to enjoy… Lean meats Fresh fruits Fresh vegetables Whole grains Many wonderful nutritive spices If you want to make a change and you can only have one choice… Change the way you eat. The Unbalanced Force Factor can then work to take you to that euphoric level once you have the foundation of proper nutrition.

STEP FOUR

Focus and Visualization

Mental preparation is prerequisite to making changes. Once you can SEE the future, you can achieve it. See the trees BEFORE you see the forest. We must get the proper sleep. We must be able to rest when needed. We must be able to relax. Think about how you feel after a peaceful vacation from the normal pace and everyday responsibilities. Implement these practices on a daily basis. You simply do them in a shorter time frame. Take mini vacations with mental breaks to visualize what you desire. See it coming to you. When you are rested, and your health starts to improve it is very attractive to the people around you. In fact, it’s MAGNETIC. And if those around you feel good, you feed yourself with all your own positive energy generated. See your health. See your future. Get the proper rest, relaxation, and sleep you require. THEN… Have fun training with the Unbalanced Force Factor.

STEP FIVE

Act On Your Plan

It has been said that: “If you fail to plan… You plan to fail.” Push yourself to achieve goals and stick to plans. Break out of your old patterns. Teach yourself to accomplish the plan. Read something successful everyday. Listen to positive things daily. Avoid fear of new schooling, new ideas and concepts. Learn as much as you can in every situation. Lay the groundwork Work the plan.

Implement and attain all 5 steps to Fitness Euphoria. Embrace The Unbalanced Force Factor training and lifestyle method.

Volleyball and Basketball – Agility, Quickness, and Vertical Jump

Volleyball and Basketball, two sports so different, and yet so much alike. Both need to focus on a balanced training program, that targets specific groups of muscles. The training needs to ensure that your agility, quickness, and vertical jumping ability are brought to your maximum. You need to begin with your attitude and mental strength towards your regular workouts.

Your attitude and your mental strength will be tested. If being on the top level of competing is where you want to be, then you have to work for it. If your attitude and your mental strength are not focused, you’ll never become all you can be. Your attitude helps you to focus, and your mental strength makes you focus. Only when both are in place, will you excel to your full potential.

Maybe the most important part of any training program is nutrition. What lots of athletes don’t realize is that training isn’t what builds your muscles, the correct nutritional program does. When your nutrition is properly regulated, every part of the body is tuned and injuries are kept down. Short cuts cannot be taken when it comes to nutrition.

A personal trainer that knows what works and what doesn’t is a plus. But not everyone agrees, thinking that doing a few exercises 4 or 5 times a week is all that’s needed. The unfortunate thing is that you can workout on your own and really feel the burn, but you may not be training the proper muscle and fiber groups for your particular needs.

Many promising athletes simply give up pursuing their dreams because of little or no improvement. What many times is the case is that they haven’t been training properly, and its got nothing to do with their ability. There’s more to training than just training, you have to know how to train correctly. And its your responsibility to understand how to train right, and if the program your following is the right one. If it feels wrong, then its wrong!