strength training

Did you know that your body talks to you?


Ok, my intention is not get all new age hippy dippy on you but once I got into the swing of things with strength training in 2013, it really did feel like my body was talking to me in a sidekick sort of way. When building your strength using compound movements that utilizes your body’s natural movements (like squats, deadlifts, pull ups), your body becomes, well, functional. Moving furniture becomes easier because, for example, you’re already used to the form of squats (legs bent, back straight, core braced) almost without thinking you get into that proper form and with your increased strength, you’re able to push or pull or lift. And you will feel like your body is helping you. Hence, the sidekick and the “talking” part.

I was helping my parents move a particularly heavy dresser drawer last fall when I first experienced this. I suddenly found myself getting into almost the deadlift postion (almost similar to the squat) and gripped the behemoth. And then another sudden epiphany. It was as if my body was saying to me “I’ve got your back. On three…”.

Since then, I was in tune with my body. I think I’ve finally understood what “aligning your mind and body” means.

Before I got into strength training, moving furniture was a clumsy ordeal for me filled with fear of throwing our my back and losing body parts.

Things are in harmony when you treat your body right. I was built this way to move this way. That’s why I’m such an advocate for squats, deadlifts, pull ups, all the compound movements which use your body’s natural movements. It’s a great feeling to be self-aware in this way.

My classmate, Danny Lombardi, happened to blog about a similar topic last week. In If you owned a Ferrari, would you use only first gear?, Danny talks about how we just aren’t made to sit all day in a vehicle on our commute to and from work, at a desk for 8 hours or so at work, or on the couch after dinner time. Danny uses his camping experiences to explain how our bodies are capable of allowing us to do “sustained, high-output work” and really amazing things (for example, look up calisthenics or street workout on YouTube for examples).

Your thoughts? Have you ever experienced a total awareness of mind and body in a way that you have never expected?


5 ways I dumped sugar last year

Comic of man talking to a devil woman. He is saying "Sugar, I'm breaking up with you"

In my previous post, I mentioned how I successfully kept sugar out of my diet with no cave ins to temptation or even any suffering. The elimination wasn’t 100% but it was pretty much in the 90s. I also mentioned that I did end up caving in and falling off the wagon and then some due to a few factors like injuring myself in the gym and spending the holiday season working in a corporate environment.

So I’m starting up once again the methods that I used last year to dumping sugar from my diet – or at least most of it. Let’s face it, we’re living in a (western) society and culture where sugar is everywhere. It’s in our ‘health products’, vitamin pills, fruit juices and those deceptive low-fat products.

1. Strength training

I got into strength training at the beginning of January 2013. I needed a workout plan that was short since I had other things in life that needed tending to. The results were almost instant. I was breaking personal records in every workout and noticed significant gains in strength and size by month’s end. My March, I was full of energy and confidence – the side effects of training for strength – that I had no desire to ruin my momentum. This made it easy for me to pass up any sugary treats in the office though they were sitting in plain view in front of my cubicle for most of the day.

2. Eat more protein and stick to carbs with a low glycemic index

With strength training comes the need to increase your protein. I won’t get into it but long story short, protein plays a big role in building muscle. An increase in protein intake curbs sugar cravings. As for carbs, some can spike our blood sugar. Stick to the ones with a low glycemic index. Low glycemic = low spike.

3. Avoid processed foods

They are all junk. Full of salt, some are full of sugar or fructose and corn syrup. Your body doesn’t know what to do with these empty calories (which will make you eat even more) so it turns them all into fat. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t trace the food product to nature, then don’t eat it. Example, you can trace an egg to the hen, the milk to the cow, the yogurt to the…. ok let’s see, there’s milk in it, um… I guess some fruit… um… hm, not sure how yogurt is made but it’s a few steps to nature while an egg or glass of milk is one. A bag of nachos has a few more steps. Another good rule is to avoid the middle section of the supermarket. All the good stuff – the produce department, the meat market, the dairy section – they are all against the walls. The processed foods your body doesn’t need are in the middle.

4. Immerse yourself with positive media

I bet you didn’t expect this one! Reading positive literature – self-improvement, mental toughness, stories of heroics, reading about how people live in adverse conditions – they all give you perspective. Coupled with strength training (read: seeing your exercise goals come to fruition), I found it too easy to resist sugar. I got into the groove, zone, momentum, whatever you want to call it, of carrying on.

5. Set some sugar rules

After getting rid of the junk, your body will thank you. But once in a while, you’ll cave (not necessarily a bad thing) but you’ll find that you won’t binge. A small piece of cake will end up satisfying you. Your tummy may rumble but you won’t miss anything. I ended up savouring the smaller morsels! I didn’t want to become that guy in the office or the party or in the family who ends up making others feel badly about eating a sugary treat. Or worse, come across as holier than thou. I hope I’m not coming across this way in this post (or any of my other posts). Besides, eating is a social thing. We’re social creatures. Unless it’s a food allergy or you’re training for something really, really, really important, it’s no biggie if you have a piece of cake at a party.

My rules for actually eating a sugary treat were/are:

a) If I’m offered dessert at someone’s house.

b) I won’t order anything with sugar in at a restaurant.

c) Ditto when shopping. Keep it out of the house. Out of sight, out of mind.

d) Look for recipes with sugar alternatives like coconut flour.

e) frozen cherries and raspberries make great tv watching snacks.

Just. Don’t. Binge.

And if you do, or if you foresee a bingefest coming up (holiday dinners, weddings, etc.), don’t get too hard on yourself. Just jump right back up (hence the positive literature tip above).

7. You’re only accountable to yourself

Self-respect is a harsh judge! :)

Have you kicked the sugar habit? Share how you achieved your goal by leaving a comment below.