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Fitness is My Medicine

This is the post excerpt.

The great philosopher,Socrates once said ” No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable of”.

This quote applies to women as well. If you’re looking at this page that means you’re passionate about health and fitness. You’re someone who’s passionate about seeing the amazing things your body is capable of. I made this blog because I believe humans are made to move. I feel so alive when I’m moving  moving my body and working a sweat.

I’m passionate about health and fitness. Working out is one my favorite ways of self-expression. Throughout my fitness journey, I’ve tried different methods of training throughout my fitness journey. My favorite training methods are strength and sports specific training. I believe training like an athlete is the easiest way to have a functional and attractive body.

In addition to strength and athletic training, I’ve also tried bodyweight training, yoga, and bodybuilding. Fitness has been a big part of my life and has given me the strength to handle different challenges. It has also helped me increase confidence in my abilities. I hope my experiences and the things I’ve learned along my fitness journey can help you see the amazing things your body is capable of.

 

 

Strong Feet Equals a Strong Body

The importance of strong feet and ankles for your physical performance

A tree without roots can’t stand. If you’re physically active, you need to take care of your feet. Your feet have so many muscles in them and are connected to the rest of your body. If you’ve ever tried reflexology, you’d understand how much your feet affect the rest of your body.

From my experience, when my feet and ankles are healthy I perform my best. There are many benefits to having strong feet and ankles.

Benefits of Strong Feet and Ankles

Better Balance: This one is pretty obvious. When your feet and ankles are strong, your balance will be better. This is important in every fitness activity that involves standing. When your balance is off, your other muscles will have to work even harder. This will make the activity you’re doing more difficult than necessary.

Injury Prevention: Playing any sport with weak feet and ankles is a recipe for disaster. In most sports you’re constantly changing directions and putting your ankles in awkward positions. When your feet and ankles are strong, these awkward positions won’t be an issue to you. I already mentioned how other parts of your body have to work even harder when your feet and ankles are weak. This can lead to overcompensation of those muscles. Overcompensation of muscles often lead to injuries. If you’ve ever tried to squat with a bad ankle you’d understand. It sucks!

Stronger Nervous System: There are several nerves in your feet that connect with the rest of your body, including your brain. When my feet have been strong and healthy, other parts of my body were too.

 

Feet and Ankle Strengthening Exercises

Tennis ball, wall throws: This is one of my favorite feet and ankle strengthening exercises. To do this exercise, stand on one leg and use your opposite hand to throw a tennis ball off a wall. Once the ball bounces off the wall, you’ll catch it with the same hand. Do this for 50 reps and then switch feet and hands.This will also make your nervous system more efficient because your brain is working hard to keep both sides of your body in sync while doing the exercise. You should do this barefoot.

Barefoot Walking: One of the easiest ways to strengthen your ankles and feet is by walking barefoot. Go to an open grassy field, take your shoes off, and start walking. You may get some funny looks but the benefits are worth it. Barefoot walking has helped me recover from a previous ankle injury. Not only will you feet and ankles get stronger and healthier but you’ll also feel better because all the nerves in your feet will be stimulated. I’ll go more in-depth on barefoot walking benefits in a future post.

Standing Yoga Poses: I’m a big fan of yoga for physical health. It’s something I do several times a week. Standing yoga poses like the Warrior 3 and the Tree Pose will definitely help with ankle and foot strength. If you want to make them even more challenging, try these poses with your eyes close. This actually makes your feet and ankles work harder to stabilize.

If you haven’t been taking care of your feet and ankles then you’re missing out on several performance benefits. Stronger feet and ankles could be the missing link to your training program that moves you significantly closer to your goals. Give some of these exercises a try and reap the benefits.

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Fitness Affirmations

This post is about the importance of self-talk in achieving your fitness goals.

Your level of confidence will have a major impact on how likely you’ll achieve goals. One thing that will boost or hurt your confidence is your self-talk. If you’re trying to lose weight but you keep calling yourself fat, you’re just  sabotaging yourself. The easiest way to achieve a goal is by having your mental thoughts and emotional feelings in sync with your physical actions. Also, you’re more likely to do the physical actions that will lead you to achieving your goals when you have your mind set on your goals.

That’s why I love affirmations. They put you in the mental state of already achieving your goals. An affirmation is something that’s declared to be true. The tricky part with using affirmations is you might feel like you’re lying to yourself. What you’re doing is creating a shift in mindset. As you keep repeating affirmations to yourself with emotion, you’ll start to believe in them. Once you believe in them, you’ll act on them. Your actions will be conscious and subconscious.  The power of the mind is no joke!.

A lot of high achievers in fitness, business, and other areas of life use positive affirmations so they can be locked in on achieving their goals. They have helped me in achieving various goals of mine. For the purpose of this page, I’m sharing some affirmations that could help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

Strength Affirmation: I am strong and powerful. I move weights easily. I get stronger each and every workout. I feel like I could wrestle a gorilla. I’m excited about this new strength I’m gaining. I’m hitting new PRs with ease. I’m ( Insert exercise) (Insert weight) with ease.

Muscle Building Affirmation: I am a muscle building machine. The food I eat go right to my muscles. I have so much muscle it’s ridiculous. I’m building new muscle each and every workout. Every action I take is helping me build muscle. I’m King Kong in the flesh!

Fat-Loss Affirmation: I’m a lean mean machine. My diet is on point. My workouts annihilate the fat in my body. My metabolism is buzzing. I love what I see in the mirror. Damn, I look good! I love my body.

Overall Health Affirmation: I feel so healthy! My joints are healthy. Blood is flowing through my body smoothly. I’m full of life. I’m breathing deeply. My movement is so fluid. I have so much energy. I look and feel young. I have a healthy and active lifestyle. I love highly nutritious foods. I’m at peace mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Athletic Affirmation: I’m a beast. I move like a gazelle. My reaction time is crisp. I dominate whenever I step in the field/court. I contribute to my teams success. My shot is deadly accurate. I can see things before they happen. This sport is easy for me.

Positive affirmations have helped many people achieve their goals and they can do the same for you. One thing that will give the affirmations more power is to look at any beliefs that are currently holding you back from your goals. Once you find those beliefs, you can attack them and destroy the power they have over you. It helps when your beliefs and affirmations are in alignment. It’s time to crush your goals!

Affirmation Definition: https://www.thefreedictionary.com/affirmation

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My First Sauna Experience

The post is about my first time in the sauna and why you should add it to your health and fitness routine.

I’ve never thought about using a sauna until recently. I always saw it as nonsense that wouldn’t provide any significant benefit to my health and fitness. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a fellow lifter that I started to consider.

We were having a small conversation about our respective workouts. As we were talking, he mentions that he’s about to hit the sauna. As I have a curious response, he tells me that it helps him with workout recovery. We talk a little longer and go our separate ways.

Now I start thinking about the sauna. This guy at my gym who has impressive strength says the sauna helps him with workout recovery. Maybe he’s on to something. My mind starts flashing with thoughts. I suddenly remember listening to Joe Rogan talk on his Podcast about how the sauna has helped him physically. I don’t remember the details of what he said but just that it has helped him a lot. I went from curious to attentive. I decide to look up the benefits of the sauna.

What I find propels me to decide to use the sauna. I found all kinds of benefits in my research like the increase of HGH, increased muscle endurance, stress reduction, and better sleep. I even found one page that called the sauna a performance enhancement drug. If sitting in a hot ass room can help me achieve my goals at a faster rate, I have to give it a try.

Sauna Time

The day to use the sauna has arrived ! I do an intense total body workout and head to the locker room to. After a quick shower, I walk towards the sauna room. The moment I open the door, I feel intense heat approaching my face. The room is so hot. My goal is to sit in the sauna for 20 minutes but I have my doubts. I’ve never experienced anything like this! So much heat concentrated in one room. After 5-7 minutes, I start to get a little comfortable with the heat. It’s still extremely hot but my body has adapted. As I keep sitting in the room, I start sweating profusely. I can’t remember the last time I’ve sweated this much and I’m someone who enjoys doing outdoor workouts during the summer.

After 20 minutes of intense heat and sweating, I’m ready to leave the sauna. What I noticed as I was leaving surprised me. The joints that have been aching for the previous week suddenly felt great. They felt like I haven’t been beating them up with heavy weights and intense workouts. Maybe the workout recovery stuff was true about saunas. After I clean myself off and drink a ton of water, I leave the gym.

The next day I feel great! I feel mentally and physically revitalized. I think a big reason is I slept great the night before. I guess sauna use is great for sleep quality. As a result, I have greater excitement for my next workout and for the next time I use the sauna.

Sauna Tips

Drink a lot of water: If you use the sauna, I recommend drinking water before and after using it. You need to replace all the water you lose from sweating in the sauna. I learned this the hard way on my 2nd sauna day. I felt very lightheaded on my second sauna day because I didn’t drink enough water before entering the room. I was so focused on the benefits of the sauna that I ignored the tips and warnings that were shared. Drink more water than you normally would if you’re using the sauna after a workout.

In addition to drinking water, make sure you get electrolytes. I prefer Propel over Gatorade since there’s less sugar. You can also get electrolytes from foods like bananas, spinach; potatoes, and more.

Cold Shower: Take a shower that involves you using cold water at some point. Using the sauna will raise your body temperature so you need to find a way to cool down. This is especially important if you want to enjoy the sleep benefits related to sauna use.I’ve heard many times that it’s easier to sleep when your body temperature is low. You should try to take that shower as soon as possible after using the sauna.

This experience has thought me a valuable lesson about being open-minded. Never shrug anything off until you know what it’s all about. Do some research and if you really want to understand something, try to experience it!

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The Most Rewarding Workout

These workouts are the most important ones throughout your entire fitness journey

The most rewarding workout is the one you don’t want to do.  We all have those days that we just don’t want to work out. These days aren’t because we don’t enjoy working out. Other factors such as fear, doubt, and fatigue play a factor. Some might call it being lazy but a lot of laziness is a result of fear.

There are days that we doubt our abilities to perform well because of fatigue or fear of the workout. If you were just doing wrist curls this wouldn’t be a problem. Since you’re someone who has the the fitness mindset , you enjoy challenging yourself every workout. As a result, you’ll naturally face some doubts and fears. I get these feelings of fear on my heavy lifting days. Even though I know I can do the workout,  there’s always that voice of doubt that creeps in.

Sometimes I feel tired either from a hectic day or because I didn’t sleep well the previous night. These days I hear the voice of doubt telling me that I don’t have the energy to do this workout. This voice will tell me that the weight is too heavy or that I’ll embarrass yourself if you try to work out. We all face these battles but it’s how you respond that matters.

When you hear that doubting voice, you have two options. You either let that fear crush you or you can use that fear as fuel.When your body feels like it’s in danger, it automatically tenses up and is able to create a ton of  force. This is very useful when lifting weights or doing a power sport. The fear you feel will make you respect your workout. It’ll make you prepare well for your workout due to the risk involved. When it’s time for your workout, you’ll be ready.

When you can move past these doubts and fears in order to do the workout anyways, you get a sense of victory. It feels satisfying because you beat your biggest obstacles, your fears and doubts. Every victory over these obstacles will help you realize your potential to do great things in life. You’ll also realize that things are a lot worse on your head than in realize.

As you continue your journey, you’ll learn that the voice of doubt isn’t really yours. That voice is actually the voice of others who doubt their own abilities to do what you plan on doing. You know what you’re capable of and you know how to listen to your body. I don’t recommend forcing yourself to work out everyday but it’s important to learn the difference between what you’re capable of and the voice of doubt that tries to limit you, based on what others think they’re capable of. These workouts that force you to move past doubts and fears will you become a better version of yourself!

 

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Achieving Peak Performance

Have you ever had a workout in which everything was going smoothly or played basketball and you were making every shot? You didn’t have to think about your next movement. You didn’t feel any struggle. That’s how it’s like when you’re achieving peak performance or you’re in a flow state.

I’ve experienced this a number of times in life, and especially when doing some type of physical activity. It’s one of the best feelings. Once you get in that zone once, you’re always pursuing it. Based on my experience, the best way to get in this zone is not to pursue it. It just hits you like a wave and you can’t help but move with it.

You may not be an Olympic athlete but you can still achieve peak performance in your chosen activity. I don’t recommend chasing this zone but there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting there. I’m basing this on my personal experience and ideas shared by experts.

How To Get in The Zone

1. Challenge Yourself. Why would your mind and body push you to greatness if you’re doing something easy. You need to stretch yourself with an activity that challenges you. That activity also has to be something you’re familiar with. If you’ve never played the piano or even thought about playing, you probably won’t achieve peak performance the first time you try playing. This brings me to my next point.

2. Repetition is Key. If you want to throw a no-hitter, you’ll need to practice your pitches. If you want to deadlift 500 pounds, you’ll need to deadlift often. Your nervous system needs to be familiar with a skill or movement so you can perform your best at it. This might be one of the reasons Pavel Tsatsouline recommends greasing the groove .

In addition to physical practice, mental practice will help you achieve peak performance. I’ve experienced this first hand with my personal fitness goals. I like to see myself performing a movement even when I’m not at the gym. I try to picture the environment, the feel of the weight, the feel of my muscles, etc. Since I started doing this, my workouts and movements have been smoother. Mentally rehearsing my performance almost led to an accidental weight lifting PR.

3. Be Present. To perform at your absolute best, you have to be present in the moment. You have to let go of outcome. You have to forget anything that happened in the past. Your only focus is doing the activity. You just surrender to the moment and let go of all internal and external distractions. One thing that helps at the gym for example, is to take a few deep breaths in between my lifting sets.

I remember when my friends came to watch me play in a youth basketball league. In the first half of that game, I was making everything I threw up. I wasn’t thinking about them or any of the shots I was making. I was on fire! Once it was halftime, I stopped by to see my friends for a minute. They told me how great I was performing and even how many points I had. I made the mistake of letting that get to my head and thinking about my stats during halftime.

The 2nd half of the game didn’t go as smoothly. Everything felt forced and I was thinking a lot. Every missed shot got to me. It sucked but it was a valuable learning experience. When I reflect on all the times I performed my best in different areas of my life, one thing they all have in common is that I was being present. Meditation can help with this .

I hope this post aids you in your fitness journey. One of the greatest feelings in any physical activity you’re doing is to get in that flow state where you’re performing at your absolute best. Everyone who’s passionately pursuing a fitness goal should get to experience this wonderful feeling. You can also use these concepts in other areas of your life to perform your best.

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Iron Sharpens Iron

(Short read) Surrounding yourself with the right people will improve your chances of achieving your fitness goals.

This past week I was reminded of one of the most important parts of my fitness journey. I was at the gym the other day, waiting for a power rack so I could do deadlifts. Someone had one more set of squats to do. As he finished his last set, he introduced himself and we had a conversation. I’d seen him in the gym before but we never spoke.

During the conversation, he mentioned how great the environment was. My gym has a decent amount of powerlifters, weightlifters, and people who like to lift big weights. He gave an analogy that really stuck with me.

Imagine two guys riding a motorcycle in the middle of the road. Each guy is riding their motorcycle as fast as possible to push the other guy to ride faster. That’s what it’s like when you’re surrounded with people who have similar passions as you and are trying to keep improving.

Fitness is an individual journey but being surrounded by like-minded people can add fuel to your journey. Even though I don’t have training partners, I believe I’ve benefited from being in an environment with people who are not only strong as hell but also hungry to get better. That’s why I’ve said the gym you go to matters.

Now you have two choices…

You can move to an environment filled with people that have or are trying to achieve your goals. Your other choice is to create that environment. You create that environment by showing up to the gym every day with the mindset that you’re going to work your ass off to achieve your goals. It may not be obvious because you’re so focused on your workout but people notice the work you’re doing. I can guarantee someone will be motivated by what you’re doing.

This idea goes beyond the gym. If you’re an athlete, you should train and compete with someone who will push you to get better. If you’re a yogi, take an advanced yoga class.

This isn’t to say that your focus should be on what others are doing in the gym or any fitness environment. Your focus should be on your workout and progressing in your fitness journey. Keep moving towards your goals and surround yourself with people who support you on your journey!

 

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Pavel’s Philosophies

This post is about how I use Pavel Tsatsouline’s training philosophies in my fitness routine.

As a student of strength, I like to learn from different different strength coaches. One strength coach that has influenced me in recent years is Pavel Tsatsouline. I’ve dipped my toes in one of his programs.

Background

Pavel Tsatsouline is one of the most respected strength coaches. He’s the Chairman of Strongfirst Inc. and has trained athletes and military personnel. I first heard of him when I was listening to the Tim Ferriss Show. Since then I’ve been reading up in his training principles and implementing them in my workouts. I’ll be sharing some the training principles I’ve been using.

Grease The Groove

This principle is about training frequency. The more often you do a movement the better you’ll be at it. This is a big reason why I’m squatting or deadlifting every workout. The more often you do a movement, the better your nervous system will respond to it. A more efficient nervous system, the greater the strength potential.

In this philosophy, the weight you use doesn’t matter that much. The key is just doing the movement. You can use this next time you’re in the gym and resting in between sets. If you see an open power rack or bench, go in and do three light reps. Those three reps won’t strain you but after an hour in the gym, you’ll see that you got in an extra 30 reps of that movement.

Maximize Tension

Pavel also emphasizes maximizing muscle tension especially for the core muscles. He recommends tightening up your muscles even when lifting light weights. This is valuable because it teaches your body how to brace itself when lifting heavy. I take advantage of this training approach when doing my speed work. Not only do I focus on moving the weight as explosive as possible but I also squeeze my core muscles as if I was getting ready to max out. Doing this improves the mind- body connection when lifting.

Pavel also recommends squeezing the barbell or dumbbell you’re using as hard as possible in order to maximize tension. I’ve noticed that this helps engage my entire body during a lift. There’s something special about how you use your hands when lifting. It sends a message to the rest of your body that it’s time to do something serious.

Good Reps Only

This training principle goes around that idea that you should focus on getting quality reps only and avoid struggling with your lifts. Pavel’s philosophy is completely against training to failure when trying to gain strength. I wish I embraced this philosophy earlier in my fitness journey. I’ve failed on lifts before and it sucks.

An example of this training philosophy is if you can 10 reps at a certain weight, do only three instead. I’m someone who enjoys lifting at heavier weights so I use this principle by doing a few less reps than I can. Instead of six reps, I do three. The key is using set and rep ranges you know you’ll be able to successfully complete.

Another benefit of this training principle is it’s good for your lifting longevity and confidence. The more you see yourself succeed in a lift, the more confident you’ll be when adding weight. The only times I deviate from this approach is when I do paused reps or maxing out. Paused squats are meant to be difficult. Even then, I try not to do more than I think I’m capable of.

Pavel Tsatsouline is one of many fitness icons I’ve learned from. For any fitness or life goal you have, I recommend studying the experts in that area.

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