13 Mar / 2012
Dr. Brian Petroff is a gym member you rarely see unless you are in the gym at an off hour. Brian is a research physician currently looking at cancer and how different variables impact it’s growth or recession. This includes various lifestyle and supplement routines.
As a boy scientist, I bend his ear whenever I can to learn more. I got Brian to answer a few questions on current items of interest.
Q: Tell our readers about your current role ?
The disclaimer provides that information above is merely information – not advice. If readers need medical advice, they should consult a doctor or other appropriate medical professional. The disclaimer also provides that no warranties are give in relation to the medical information supplied on the website, and that no liability will accrue to the website owner in the event that a user suffers loss as a result of reliance upon the information.
13 Feb / 2012
In 2006 I became suspicious of a particular portable water device used by a number of young athletes I was coaching. This US Plastics product seemed handy enough and was almost bulletproof. Oddly, the water seemed to take on a plastic taste. I never embraced it.
Fast forward and it turns out that many of these portable water systems included a highly toxic element known as Bisphenol A (BPA). We know now that BPA is a xenoestrogen and can have deleterious impact on our health. In particular with the male endocrine system.
I've been around and coached males for over 25 years. I do see a trend in young males that I find disturbing. Much of this trend is sociological but at the same time there is less man in todays young males. My friend calls it the old mold verse the new mold. The new mold is just softer.
Last summer I saw the worst case of gynecomastia in my 52 years. I ask my brother who is a physician and who was with me at the time if this was a case of mother nature or environment. He indicated the later. Cruelly enough this teenage boy was lucky to be 50% male.
I encourage you to spend 45 minutes with the embedded program and figure out how you can minimize your exposure to these toxins. Look everywhere from the bathroom to the kitchen.
Now you know why I wrinkle my nose at micowaving your lunch fixings in plastic or drinking hot beverages in styrofoam. It's just not good.
29 Dec / 2011
Do one thing every day that scares you.Eleanor Roosevelt
A big part of what we do in our practice is to push folks out of their comfort zone. Very little positive occurs when you just go with the flow. We strive to make the exercise experience challenging physically but also mentally. Improvements and growth only occur with pressure. Set the bar high.. BE better. Here are some suggestions to improve, grow or get outside your comfort zone in 2012.
1. Wear A Rubber Band and Snap it ! ~ This is a practice advocated by sport psychologist Jack Singer. Dr. Singer was ask to work with a college quarterback. It seems that the quarterback who was otherwise perfect, had a nasty habit of letting negative thoughts and pressure get to him during games. After conversing with the youngster, Dr. Singer discovered that the player was sliding into a pattern of negative thinking when the game got close. Together they created a way to change the course of his thinking. Dr. Singer placed a rubber band on the players wrist and whenever a negative (self defeating) thought pattern started to drift into his mind he would snap the band on his wrist and start to visualize positive images of what he wanted to have happen. Problem solved! So next time you are about to down a bottle of wine when you should have a glass or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at the end of the evening just snap it ! I’ll even provide the rubber band.
2. 30 Days of eliminate ~ I used to be from the school of subtle change..be gradual. Two years ago I did a 180. Subtle didn’t work so I adopted the all in total immersion approach. If you need to clean up your act take a 30 day pledge to change. A few ideas include, no alcohol, no grains, no dairy (or all of the these) 30 days of workout, 30 days of 8 hours of sleep. The list goes on. If you really want over site and results you should join our PR12 program. Best hurry ! The winter addition begins next week.
3. Sign Up, Register, Enroll~ Some of the best leverage you can have over your training and lifestyle behavior is to pay the entry for a competitive event. Paying the money to participate in anything from a benefit walk to a Tough Mudder will keep you on track with your training program. Remember to tell your 5,000 best friends on Facebook too. They will hold your accountable. We have a schedule of events that we will be supporting. Plan on attending our kick off gathering on 1/18/2011 to learn how our methods can get you event ready on less effort !
4. Brain Trainer ~ Your brain like muscle needs to be stressed. Reading, doing crossword puzzle and dedicated brain trainer exercises is critical to neural function. Daily brain training can strengthen willpower and promote healthy lifestyle choices. A University of Amsterdam study found that problem drinkers who followed challenging cognitive training regimens drank less than a control group who did only the easiest regimens. Morever, improvements endured one month later.Two on line options I like are My Brain Trainer and Lumosity.
5. Work on your balance ~ In assisted living communities they like to monitor the aging process with balance assessments. A decline in balance equates to rapid aging. With that in mind each day perform a mundane task while standing on a single leg. Brush your teeth or unload the dishwasher while standing on one leg. If this becomes boring find a firm pillow to stand on and do the same. Ever wonder why we perform so many single leg moves? Well now you know.
6. Walk when you could ride or drive ~ N.E.P.A. stands for non exercise physical activity. This is the non schedule exercise you get from parking further from the front door, the office entrance or the designed walk to the market instead of driving the grocery getter. Adding these extra measures can add up quickly to improved health and opportunities to get some sunshine and vitamin D. So next time your on the way home from the movies ask to be let out several blocks from home and hike on home.
7. Wednesday Benchmark~ Every Wednesday get out the measuring stick. This can be a weigh in, measuring the waist, charting food consumption, or a fitness yardstick like push ups. This keeps you in check over the long haul. Weight is NOT a great metric and BMI is an even worse idea. The point is to keep 1 pound change a one pound change and not wake up in 12 months 15 pounds out of range. If you really are bold you can get a Twitter account and tweet your weight. Got questions just ask me.
8. Dump 4 Pints ~ When you donate blood it’s a double win. You save a life and you rid yourself of old blood. Some evidence points to the positive benefit of donating to reduce toxic build up and accumulation of minerals. So in 2012 donate once a quarter
10. Mess-O-Greens ~ While I’ve been accused of being a low carb Nazi ~ thank you. I am in fact a vegetable advocate. I typically eat one meal each day that includes a large vegetable serving. My favorite is a tossed salad. I look to include red, orange, yellow and green matter in my salad. (ROY Green) I toss it with olive oil and it’s good to go. Eat a mess-o-greens like me and feel the benefits.
11. Get Lab Work ~ Unless you have a specific issue, when you go to your GP he/she is going to focus on your blood lipids for the most part. I suggesting that you also start monitoring more. Look at hormones as well. You may get some push back if you ask for it from your physician. If you don’t want to deal with your GP you can purchase lab work al a carte from Privatemdlabs.com ( Reading the results is a different thing but reference ranges will be provided with your results) Once you have the results plug them into a spreadsheet and plan to look at them again at five year intervals. (I have a strong concern for the future of the homo sapnien male but that is a post for another time.)
There you have it. Ten things to push you out of your comfort zone now get you list organized.
20 Dec / 2011
In the October 2009 issue of THE PERFORMANCE MENU I revealed a new ADVANCED method for the Max Effort Black Box (MEBB). The advanced method incorporates a speed tier and volume tier along with the max effort tier. This training approach was in review stage when I wrote the article. If you missed the writing you can find it here Advanced MEBB or better yet you can get the entire MEBB collection.
Almost immediately we had requests for training trackers for the new approach. As a holiday gift to our readers we will be offering a 5 day Advanced MEBB training tracker through the end of the year. The 5 day template on odd weeks is 3 Effort lifting days with two mixed mode/METCONs on the other two. The even weeks include three mixed mode/METCON days and two effort lifting days. Remember this differs in that speed and volume work is also part of the M.E. days.
Order with this link.
15 Dec / 2011
I like gadgets and gear so who better than to make some recommendations regarding Holiday gifts. If you are at the end of your rope looking for last minute ideas I think you will find an idea or two on my preferred list. These are things I use weekly if not daily to enhance my daily routine and/or make it more enjoyable. Let’s not waste anymore time. It’s time to shop.
1. Amazon Prime Account. ~ I remember when Amazon was just books. The next move was to music and now Amazon is the leading tech company leading the Cloud movement but that’s another story. The real gift we are discussing is the Amazon Prime Account. For roughly $70.00 / year you can receive FREE second day shipping on virtually everything under the sun. This alone saves me hours each week. When I can not support local business I turn to Amazon. In addition I receive discounts to stream online entertainment and educational content. It’s a bargin. The new Kindle Fire is a terrific E-reader and delivers Amazon content in rockstar fashion.
2. Turbo Shaker ~ My training and professional schedule require me to take on some liquid food (protein powders, meal replacements). When I need a little Primal Fuel I can scoop it into my Turbo Shaker and some water and I’m good to go. Most shaker bottles utilize a twist on lid. If you are even off a little this can turn your post workout buzz into a water bath of liquid protein mess. The turbo shaker seals firmly and only requires the dexterity of a 3rd grade chimp. Right now they have a free shipping when you order three shakers.
3. A.B.C. iPhone Super Applications ~ I remember when the iPhone was launched. I made fun of it and vowed to never leave my trusty BLACKBERRY. Then I got one in my thick little hands and it was love at first sight. I’m on my 3rd version and I’m constantly amazed. If you don’t iPhone I’m sorry. Whatever you are using is technology that is light years behind or is attempting to be an iPhone.
A: Evernote ~ I don’t know why I didn’t think of this. Evernote is a cloud based virtual notebook. Anything you want to use for future reference is on your iPhone, iPad or desktop all at the same time. You can share a note with a family member or business colleague. I organize everything from A-Z so I can search in seconds for anything I need
B: Genius Scan ~ This year I learned how to get rid of paper storage. Using my iPhone camera, GOOGLE documents and Evernote I was able to store all of my most important receipts electronically. It’s a 1,2,3 presto operation. I was sharing my paper saving methods with my favorite CFO and he said his company used a very similar operation. If it’s good enough for a publicly traded company it’s good enough for Rutman.
C: Spotify (Premium) ~ Last summer Coach Dan encouraged me to check out SPOTIFY, a true music cloud. You aren’t purchasing music you are leasing it from a music library of something like 50 million tracks. Spotify Premium is $10.00 per month which gives you the iPhone application use. Sync to bluetooth enabled speakers and it’s an instant party. Caution when using it outside of a WiFi connection. Your data plan can max out quickly. Still, it’s an amazing service.
4. Salazon Chocolate (organic coffee & sea salt) ~ A few weeks back I was at a gathering with several of my favorite guys. (These are the dudes you take to an ugly bar and know you will walk out with only a few flesh wounds.) Our veteran host sent his lovely out with the youngsters just to be safe and proper. Prior to departure the lovely Miss D was kind enough to leave us with a sampling of her favorite chocolate bars. Typically I can navigate around such offerings but decided to break off a corner of one bar. Half a bar later I was in a trance. The sea salt and crushed organic coffee bar was insane. I was obsessed. Three days later it was still on my mind. I loaded up my Ford Truck and made a trek to my local Whole Paycheck. I now make them my weekend indulgence. I pick mine up at the local market but you can get yours on line if necessary.
5. PoachPods ~ I have loved poached eggs since I was very young. So close to my love of bacon ! The pepper I add really enhances the poaching experience. The problem has been with the cooking processes. Old school leave a pot coated and gnarly. I’ve tried the plug in models but the non stick trays get messy and if you share a kitchen the messy isn’t always yours. The silicon designed poach pod from Fusion Brands solved the problem and made poaching fun. Drop your eggs into oiled pods and then drop them into a pot of at a low boil. In six minutes you are golden.
Now go hustle out there and get your shopping finished !
28 Oct / 2011
This class is based on the first and most popular strength template to improve CrossFit and athletic performance.
Created in 2003 by Coach Michael Rutherford, the MEBB is a program of dedicated strength training followed by a brief metabolic conditioning (METCON) session.
If you lack the ability to perform METCON training with the prescribed weights or wish to train with a strength bias and the flavor of a Division I college athlete, this is your program.
This particular expression is a three day per week example. Each training day includes a strength focus followed with a metcon and posterior chain exercise.
This class will meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:45 pm and on Saturday mornings at 9:30 am.
If you have questions about this class please contact us.
10 Sep / 2011
I promised last time a real life story on how correcting your sleep can optimize body composition levels and lead to fat loss. Sleeping in the 5-6 hour range will yield sub optimal performance and typically a nice fat deposit right at the waistline . Evan has so generously agreed to share his results. I am very pleased and happy for him. Share this with your fluffy sleep deprived friends.
You had asked me to give you some thoughts on my recent experiences with more sleep. As you know, I have been coming to CrossFit Kansas City for the last year, starting with two months in the bootcamp class, and the last ten months on the advanced side. Over that period, I have seen good progress in all of my benchmark workouts, strength, endurance, etc. As all of my advanced class friends and coaches can attest, I’m certainly not at the top of the class, but from where I started, the progress has been substantial. My weight when I showed up last year was 227, give or take. Six weeks later, it was 215. Then over the next couple of months, it climbed back to 222 ish, which is where I stayed until recently. I did not pay much attention to that weight gain because in my opinion (and there is probably some truth to this) the 222 six months in was a whole world different than the 227 when I showed up. With that said, the scale didn’t budge for months.
Up until about two months ago, I have been fairly dedicated to the 5:00 a.m. class. As a young attorney, my schedule is a bit unpredictable, and 5:00 a.m. seemed to be the time of day that was least likely to be interfered with. The benefit was that I was able to sustain attendance in the 3-4 time per week range (good for me, believe me). The only drawback was that even going to bed at 10:00, which is not the easiest thing to accomplish, I still had to get up at 4:30, which left me at 6.5 hours of sleep approximately 4 days per week.
While I was definitely more energized from getting into a regular fitness routine, I also was struggling a bit with feeling sluggish throughout the day. This was most noticeable come Friday night at about 7:00 when, after a long week of 4:30 wake-ups and workouts added to a hectic work schedule, I would frequently find myself passed out on the couch. Most work days around 2:30 I would also hit a wall. I wrote this off as the price you pay for trying to balance fitness and other obligations.
About two months ago, I was given the opportunity to transition within my law firm from one office to another. This meant a number of good things for me professionally, but also meant a chance to create a new work schedule. I jumped at that opportunity, and started swapping out some 5:00 a.m. classes for some 5:45 p.m. classes. When it became apparent that I might be able to sustain that schedule, I made a full-time switch to the 5:45 p.m. class, sprinkled with an occasional 5:00 a.m. class when I know I have something else scheduled that would make it impossible for me to attend in the evening. Those four nights a week that used to be 6.5 hours of sleep are now a solid 8-8.5.
Since making the switch I have noticed two things that have been very good for me. First, the days of 222 appear to have waived goodbye to me, as I have noticed a very steady change in my weight. My new baseline seems to be about 213, a good 9 pounds lighter. There’s no science* behind this next part, but I believe that weight came mostly out of the belly region given that I have had to make my belts 1 to 2 notches tighter than they used to be. Another great benefit has been that my days are SUBSTANTIALLY more productive than they used to be. I no longer feel tired throughout the day, and I show up at 5:45 pm ready to go for my workouts.
In any event, this is just my anecdotal look at your philosophy on sleep. By adding about 8 hours per week, I lost some dead weight and feel a lot better during the rest of my life. All in all, it’s a big win for me.
*There is actually very good science to predict accumulation of fat precisely in this spot.
06 Sep / 2011
Since 2004 I’ve been harping on the value of sleep. Two important books and a few years under my belt brought me to this point.
(I’ve talked about sleep here in the past but I can’t help it. It’s needs the focus.)
Sleep is an interesting challenge as a health and fitness practitioner. Some people require less and others more. Additionally, it’s difficult in a large setting to qualify and quantify how it all gets factored into the result. The tendency in my industry to focus on food (diet is such a bad word) and fitness and to give cursory attention to sleep and other lifestyle issues. It’s our default setting. So as a rule sleep is the red headed step child to programming and eating.
While improved sleep will help with anything from mental issues to a reduction in inflammation and cardiovascular events, they don’t appear sexy enough to get folks attention.
BUT, if you mention fat loss you will tend to catch an ear.
Sleep deprivation will absolutely train wreck your fat loss goals. Burning the candle at both ends stretches your reserves and puts your sympathetic nervous system into overdrive. To over simplify things, your body is thinking fight. A craving for carbohydrates and sugars occur and fat burning is turned down. The net result is the body holding on to fat as a survival response. (A poor training program nets the same result but that’s another topic.)
For males, running low on sleeps typically nets a reduction in testosterone levels which creates a whole new subset of issues. Get that macho man? Less sleep = less manly.
Part 2 of this post will include my first fat loss story solely as a result of more sleep. Stay tuned kids.
02 Aug / 2011
For those of you who missed, here are the basics.
The FIGHT GONE BAD (FGB) workout is the creation of CrossFit founder Greg Glassman. In this workout you move through five different exercises. Each station last 1:00 and there are no rest intervals between stations. After concluding 5 stations there is a one minute break. This is repeated for a total of 3 rounds. The stations include, rowing, box jumps, push press, wall ball and sumo dead lift high pull.
Each September CrossFitters across the United States hold a fund raiser for the Wounded Warriors Project. This is the 6th year for such an event.
As a gym we will all be doing Fight Gone Bad on Friday September 16th 2011. We are asking all of you to register and have your friends sponsor your workout in Fight Gone Bad.
You can register for Fight Gone Bad 6 HERE
01 Aug / 2011
I recently had a conversation with an athlete regarding happiness. I suggested that happiness is relative, and that for me reaching a Flow state appears to bring me happiness. “Working” towards completion of task, events, competitions brings me great pleasure and happiness. This is something I e-mailed a few years ago on the topic of FLOW.
“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body
or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort
to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
I have recently been combing the book FLOW by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced me-high chick-sent-me-high). Mihaly set out initially to discover what conditions made people happy. During the process he discovered something that caught him by surprise. Contrary to popular thought, happiness or optimal experiences do not happen through leisure activities but rather through work (tasks) or challenging experiences. Athletes, painters, musicians even assembly line workers, have often described these optimal experiences as being in a “zone” The focus is so keen that things happen almost effortlessly or independent of a time clock.
Here is how the author defines/introduces FLOW.
“Twenty-five years before I began to write these lines, I made a discovery that took all the intervening time for me to realize I had made. To call it a “discovery” is perhaps misleading, for people have been aware of it since the dawn of time. Yet the word is appropriate, because even though my finding itself was well known, it had not been described or theoretically explained by the relevant branch of scholarship, which in this case happens to be psychology. So I spent the next quarter-century investigating this elusive phenomenon.
What I “discovered” was that happiness is not something that happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power command. It does not depend on outside events, but, rather, on how we interpret them. Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person. People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy.
Yet we cannot reach happiness by consciously searching for it. “Ask yourself whether you are happy,” said J. S. Mill, “and you cease to be so.” It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly. Victor Frankl, the Austrian psychologist, summarized it beautifully in the preface to his book Man’s Search for Meaning: “Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue . . . as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.”
So how can we reach this elusive goal that cannot be attained by a direct route? My studies of the past quarter-century have convinced me that there is a way. It is a circuitous path that begins with achieving control over the contents of our consciousness.”
If you are like me you are able to recall times when you are in a FLOW state. You may not have not had a name before but you are able to recreate this optimizing experience.
You can create FLOW states out of all kinds of daily work including your exercise training. Physical tasks are perfect for developing FLOW states. Here is the path to establishing FLOW.
The Path to Flow
1. MAKE TASKS (WORK, PRACTICE or TRAINING) A GAME. Establish rules, objectives, challenges to be overcome, and rewards.
2. HAVE A GOAL OUTCOME. As you play the game, remind yourself frequently of the overriding spiritual, social, or intellectual purpose that drive your efforts.
3. FOCUS Release your mind from all distractions, from within or without. Focus your entire attention on the game.
4. SURRENDER TO THE PROCESS. Don’t stress and strain. Enjoy the surroundings and experience leading to the goal outcome.
5. As you are experiencing the above four steps you will reach a point of ECSTASY. You will know it when it hits you.
6. PEAK PRODUCTIVITY. Your ecstatic state opens vast reservoirs of resourcefulness, creativity, and energy. Your productivity and quality of work shoot through the roof.