Monday, November 4, 2013

Age is Just a Number

Robert Piazza was born January 13th, 1947 in Jersey City, NJ, and was married to my mother on June 19th, 2011 in Glen Gardner, NJ.  For the past 3 or so years that I have known him he has remained a physical anomaly to my friends and myself.  I remember helping him move a washing machine one day, and without any notice he hoisted himself up and over the machine as quickly as I would have done just to get to the other side.  This was at the age of 63.  The man remains committed to a lifestyle of healthy eating, regular exercise and solid dedication. This commitment has awarded him with a fitness level higher than most twentysomethings and a physique that most middle-aged men would kill for.  He truly is a testament to the quote, "age is just a number."

I recently had the opportunity to ask him a few questions regarding his journey with fitness, and was able to gain some insight into how he has remained in such good shape.




 1.) How old were you when you began exercising on a regular basis? How old are you now?

 When I was 15 my brother and I erected a pull-up bar in the back yard and we were always doing chin-ups and pull-ups. I lifted weights in our basement and with a couple other guys and we started a weight lifting club after school. From then on my fitness regimen varied from practicing yoga for 12 years to running for 4-5 years. I started working out with more dedication about 28 years ago. I am now 66, 2 months shy of 67.

 2.) What is your greatest fitness-related accomplishment(s)?

At the age of 18 I had the highest score on our 5-man High School Marine Corps physical fitness team. Our team was eight overall out of 13 school districts. At age 32 I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. with a time of 3 hours 29 minutes. At age 52 I bicycled 75 miles through the 5 boroughs of NYC in about 6.5 hours. Also on weekends I would routinely swim a half mile in the ocean for about 20 minutes.

 3.) What is the key to your success in regards to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle?

 I refer maintaining a healthy life style as to abiding by the 3 D’s; diet, determination and dedication.

 4.) Explain a time when you found it difficult to stay motivated, and how did you bounce back?

 For several years I was the main chef at a vegetarian restaurant in Washington D.C. I was working very long hours, I was at my heaviest weight and in the worst physical shape. It was depressing. That is when I started running and working out again. Now there are still times when I don’t always feel motivated to go to the gym but I always still do. I always without exception, leave feeling fulfilled and elated. There is no better cure for depression or laziness than continuing with a work out regimenPeriod!

 5.) What is your favorite exercise and why?

 I’d have to say pull-ups. I’ve been doing them for most of my life with tremendous results. I’ve always been complimented for the width of my lats. Haha.

 6.) What are your 3 favorite healthy foods?

 Chicken, salmon and salad.

 7.) What is your ideal cheat meal?

 Pizza.

 8.) What would you say, or what piece of advice would you offer to someone who has found it difficult to commit to a healthy and active lifestyle?

 There are three stages of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Stage one is when one first decides to begin a training regimen. He may not enjoy doing it but he knows it is good for him. Then second stage is when he begins to enjoy training and starts to notice improvements in himself. Whether it’s appearance, strength, endurance, etc. The third stage is when he does not want to miss a work out or a training session. It has become a life style and an integral part of his life. That is what one should strive for. It is not always easy and it may not happen that quickly, but sometimes it does.

 9.) If you could change something about your fitness journey, what would you have done differently?

 When I was younger I had thought of competing in natural body building competitions but never pursued it.

 10.) Have you ever injured yourself to the point that you weren’t able to be active? How difficult was it to deal with, and how were you able to reintegrate exercise back into your life?

 There have been several times in my recent life when I have had an illness or injury that prevented me from working out. 11 years ago I had two medical conditions treated within the same year. One in May and another in July. They lasted throughout that year. I worked out for only 6 continuous weeks that year from May through July. My comeback was arduous and discouraging. My entire physique had morphed, smaller arms, wider waist, etc. It took over 6 months to reach the level which I was at prior. 5 years ago I broke my foot and could not walk for months. I was still able to do pull-ups in the basement and I was doing dips on my walker. I was able to return to the gym within four months still in relatively good shape. Less than two years ago I had major back surgery with bone grafts, clamps and screws. Another four months out. I was walking twice a day, doing crunches on my bed and dips on the bed frame. The surgeon advised me not to resume working out for 6 months. I was back at the gym in two months going through my routine with little or no weight on the bars. Gradually I began to slowly add weights until by the time the doctor had advised that I could return to the gym, I was almost at the same level I was at before the surgery. All of this short recovery time I totally attribute to being fit and in good health.


 11.) How have you modified your exercise programming as you have gotten older?

 Each time that I had recovered from those two most recent setbacks I also had to accept the fact that I was aging at the same time. So as one ages one has to concede to reality. I am not as strong as I used to be. I don’t recover as quickly from soreness. The one thing to maintain as one ages is the intensity of his training. Strength becomes relative as does appearance.

 12.) Do you have any goals that you haven’t achieved yet, but plan on conquering? What are they?

 My goal in life is to continue training well into my late years as long as I can remain healthy and to be a testimony to others to the many rewards of staying fit.




Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Why You Should Pack Your Own Lunch"

Whether you are looking to clean up your diet, cut your weekly expenditures or develop a stronger bond with your family, it all starts with packing your own lunch.

Sounds simple, and it is.

All it takes is a few minutes of planning for 2-3 "major meals" a week, a trip to the grocery store and an hour or 2 on a Sunday afternoon or evening preparing the meals.  No excuses, just get it done!

Health Benefits:

You know exactly what you are eating, you are able to control the portions and you already have a clearly defined meal.  When you buy from a cafeteria, fast-food restaurant or whatever place you frequent for your mid-day fuel, chances are that you were not in the kitchen when it was prepared.  You essentially have no clue what was used in the process of making that meal.  Also, when given a monstrous-sized meal you will tend to over eat simply because the food is there and your self-control will dwindle.  Lastly, when you already have a plan for lunch it will keep you from getting to the cafe and grabbing whatever your mind desires at that moment (usually a carb-heavy calorie bomb).


Economic Benefits:
         
How much is your weekly or monthly grocery bill?  Not cheap, I'm guessing.  Add on another $10.00-15.00 per day for lunch, and the number can get out of control real quick.  A wallet-friendly remedy would be to buy whole, fresh foods in bulk and prepare a few lunches for the week.  Not only is this MUCH better for your mind, body and soul, but it will also save you a tremendous amount of money.  Go ahead and crunch the numbers, I'll be waiting here saying, "I told you so."

Bonding Benefits:

It doesn't matter if you are dating, married and/or have children, everyone can benefit from a little time in the kitchen together.  I have found that many of my constructive discussions with others have been accomplished while either cooking with the people that I love, or while enjoying a meal that was made at home.  Of course I enjoy the restaurant dining experience from time to time, but I'll take a fresh-made meal that was prepared in the comfort of my kitchen over a restaurant any day.  Cooking should be done with love and purpose, and it is the best way to bring people together to share in the experience.  Everyone loves to eat, but creating value in the meal should not be overlooked.


So with most everything in life, the choice is yours.  Continue to eat processed, mass-produced crap while paying inflated prices to do so, or start taking control of your diet, finances and family with one simple modification.

+Wesley Claytor



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Welcoming Failure


DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL!

The fear of failure is a tough obstacle to overcome.

It doesn't matter what you do in life, at one point you've faced an overwhelming fear of the possibility of failure.  If you haven't encountered this, then your free-ride on your parents' couch must be stagnantly awesome.

In order to do anything great, or anything of value, you need to test your own internal boundaries.  Stepping out of your comfort zone is how you find out what your strengths and weaknesses are.  This is the foundation of personal development and growth in my opinion.  Sure, you might think you know what you need to do in order to progress as an individual, but until reality smacks you in the face you probably have no clue.

The quickest way to self-actualize is by stepping out of what makes you feel safe and secure and heading straight into what makes you scared.  This is where mediocrity advances.  This is where learning and growth is achieved.

Failure is the one of the most powerful motivators, and you must fail in order to succeed.  If you miss this crucial state, the state of failure, then what is your success worth?  Do you value the things that you have achieved without failure as much as those that were faced with adversity time and time again?  Maybe, maybe not.  I would argue that you most certainly do not.

I know that whenever I fail in competition, I am taken to an awful place internally.  I hate that feeling more than anything, but I do not fear it.  I learn from it each and every time, and get better at handling it when it happens.  This has taught me how to be more patient, honest and confident.  It also shows me where my greatest weaknesses are, so that I can go back and work on them.

Failure teaches you to calm your ego.  It teaches you how to lose, and how to bounce back.  It teaches you what doesn't work, so that you can try a different way that may work.  It teaches you what your deficits are.

Failure uncovers your spirit.  It uncovers your will, and your perseverance.  It uncovers your courage and your purpose.  It uncovers your strengths.



Face the fear of failure, embrace it and get comfortable.  Learn to enjoy every aspect of your journey, whether it be good or bad.

You cannot experience life fully without the failures.




+Wesley Claytor

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Rice & Beans


So my wife recently became a representative for Wildtree, which is a company that specializes in all natural food mixes, oils & seasoning blends (along with other awesome products) that contain no chemicals, additives, preservatives, MSG, or food dyes.  We have been working in the kitchen like mad scientists to create healthier, tastier recipes that incorporate Wildtree products so that we can offer you the best recipes possible.  We will only promote these products because we have tested them, and stand behind them.

Here's an awesomely simple recipe for the best Rice & Beans you haven't tried yet!

What you will need:


-1 can (15.5 oz.) of Black Beans
-2 tbs Wildtree Roasted Garlic Grapeseed Oil

-1/2 tsp Wildtree Cajun Seasoning
-1 tsp Wildtree Rancher Steak Rub
-1 cup of rice (we used white, but feel free to substitute)

What you will do:


  1. Begin to prepare rice (follow directions for the specific rice you chose)
  2. Heat a medium saucepan on Medium heat
  3. Add the Grapeseed oil to the sauce pan
  4. Add the Black Beans, Cajun seasoning and Rancher steak rub to the saucepan, and begin to mix
  5. Add 3/4 cup of water to the saucepan, let simmer for 10-15 minutes
  6. Remove from heat, serve over rice when done
  7. ENJOY!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The 5 Best Exercises for Balanced Strength

I want to begin this post by stating that these are my 5 favorite exercises, and they have helped me to create a strong, lean and balanced body.  I know some of you will disagree with my choices, and that's all well and good, but also irrelevant.  I am an experience-based individual, and have experienced nothing but success in reference to my goals of functional strength from these 5 exercises.


1.)  The Deadlift:  If you have been following my blog, Facebook page, or my YouTube channel then you are already aware of my obsession with the Deadlift.  The Deadlift is one of the fundamental lifts for building tremendous strength, not only in the posterior chain, but also grip and core strength.  


2.)  The Squat:  There is something extremely gratifying about loading up a barbell, resting it over your traps, and descending your body towards the Earth with the hopes of being able to drive through your heels and bring the weight back up against the force of gravity.  The Squat is one of the greatest exercises for building strength, stability, size and for blasting through old plateaus, yet it is one of the most over-looked exercises.  Maybe because they're terrifying when attempting new PR's, they're painful once DOMS sets in, and they're not "sexy".  But they're amazingly effective.  

3.)  The Pull Up:  The Pull Up is one of the most underutilized exercises EVER!  Almost every single client I have ever trained has given me the same reason as to why they don't/can't do pull ups, "because they're hard."  Yes, at first this is true, because when you spend a lifetime avoiding something it will only compound the difficulty.  But with practice, the pull up will develop, and your back, arms and core will thank you.  Stop making excuses, and start incorporating pull ups. 

4.)  The Push Up:  The Push Up is a misunderstood exercise.  Almost everyone implements the push up in one way or another when exercising, however the push up comes in many shapes and not all are created equal.  People tend to flare their elbows out and sag their hips, leading to screwed up shoulders and lumbar discs.  The proper push up should resemble a plank through the entire range of motion, and the elbows should track the ribs (stay tucked in rather than flaring out).  Try doing them like this and I promise you will notice the difference.  

5.)  The Dumbbell/Kettlebell Clean & Press:  Of all the overhead pressing exercises, my favorite is the Dumbbell Clean & Press.  I prefer using the dumbbell or kettlebell over the barbell for overhead movements because it requires more stability, and less reliance on a dominant muscle or muscle group.  With barbells it is easy to rely on your stronger side, which allows for underdevelopment in our weak stabilizer muscles.  This is simply not possible with single-arm overhead pressing.  I also like utilizing the clean for the development of explosive power, which will ultimately assist the Deadlift and Squat, and vice versa.  



Honestly, you could create a pretty badass program utilizing only these 5 exercises, while only tweaking the reps, sets, rests and order.  Start incorporating some of these into your current program, or ditch what you're doing now and give them all a try if you want to speed up your process of becoming awesome.

+Wesley Claytor 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Tilton's Success











I want to share with you a quick story about my good friend, Matt Tilton.

Matt is from Manchester, New Jersey, and I first met him at Montclair State University.  We were both working towards our degrees in Exercise Science, and would often talk barbell experiences.  He would always be training, studying, eating or thinking about training. I soon realized that Matt had the potential to be a pretty strong powerlifter, but whenever the discussion came up about competing he seemed to have no interest.

Well he recently became interested, and just competed  in his first powerlifting meet, held at Pure Focus Sports Club in Brick, New Jersey on May 25, 2013.  He weighed in at 197.6 lbs, qualifying for the Middleweight Open Division.  His results were:


  • 1st Place - Bench Press: 295 lbs
  • 3rd Place - Deadlift: 500 lbs
  • 24 reps x 295 lb Deadlifts

 
500 lb Deadlift 

I am impressed by how well he did, and it inspired me to write this highlight because it reminds me of my "Stop Doubting, Start Dreaming!" post.  Matt always had the desire to compete, but for whatever reason he felt he wasn't ready.  Now that he has decided to give it a go, he is crushing it and looking forward to his next one.  

Don't put off the things that feel natural to you, or grab your attention.  We all have a calling and a purpose in this journey of life.  If something drives you, motivates you, or brings you enjoyment, GO DO IT!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Importance of Recovery



Are you overtraining?

Maybe.. probably not..

Could you use some extra time to recover?


Most likely.

People often get confused between overtraining and overuse.  Generally speaking, most people are far from overtraining.  It takes an excessive amount of physical exertion, combined with a lack of rest and proper nutrition to become overtrained.  However, many people are suffering from a conglomeration of overuse injuries.



When people implement a program that has little variety, and refrain from periodization (breaking your training up into specific phases), they begin to develop neurological and muscular recruitment patterns.  Continuous stimulation of these recruitment patterns can become detrimental because we over-develop these muscles, and under-develop the antagonist muscles that work in contrast to these recruitment patterns.

The result: An imbalanced body.


When we become imbalanced, we begin to rely on our over-developed muscles, and continuous reliance leads to overuse.  If we consistently use the same muscles each and every workout, each an every day, we do not allow the muscle to recover.  The micro-trauma that these muscles endure through a tough workout begins to accumulate, and you will eventually wind up with muscular strains, tendinitis, or even a muscular tear. 

Aside from the muscular detriments of inadequate recovery, an overworked neurological system spills over into all facets of our daily living.  Neurological stress can lead to a supressed immune system, a variety of sleep disorders and a host of other mental/physiological issues.


What can you do?

Rest!  Even if you feel like you can crush it everytime you gear up for your workout, it doesn't mean you always should.  IF you're REALLY training HARD, then you WON'T be able to hit it HARD EVERYTIME.  You're body won't allow for it.  You'll either wind up burntout, injured or in some other sad state of physiological distress.  So take some precautionary meausres by getting adequate sleep as often as possible, taking in the proper nutrients and calories to compensate for your activity and expenditure, and taking an occasional break (1 week OFF every 3-4 months or so) from training to allow your body to heal up and recharge. If you don't, you will regret it, I promise.


Check out this video for some basic tips on speeding up your recovery 
(plus, a great protein-rich smoothie recipe):


+Wesley Claytor

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Garlic Lime Grilled Chicken





Now that it's getting warmer out and we are entering grilling season, I'd like to share my simple but awesome Garlic Lime Grilled Chicken recipe.

What you will need:
  • 1 pack of chicken breasts (3 large or 4 medium breasts)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • splash of Pinot grigio 
  • half of a lime
  • salt & pepper



What you will do:
  1. cut the chicken breasts into 1.5 inch wide strips
  2. put chicken strips into a plastic gallon-sized bag
  3. mince the garlic cloves and add to bag with chicken
  4. add a splash of Pinot grigio to the bag
  5. cut a lime in half and squeeze the juice from one half into the bag
  6. let the chicken marinate in the bag for at least 30 minutes in the fridge (preferably 2-3 hours)
  7. preheat your grill at medium-high
  8. place the marinated chicken strips on the grill, leaving adequate space between the strips
  9. cook for about 6-8 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked 
  10. remove from grill and ENJOY!






Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mind Over Matter

The human brain is an incredibly powerful organ.

Without it we would be nothing.  The brain controls our senses, movements and how we interact with the world around us.

But most importantly, the brain controls our mind.  Your consciousness, perceptions and memories.

I believe that if you take control of your consciousness, you can reconstruct your reality.  I know, it sounds really hippie-dippy, but it works in many instances.

We know this because of the placebo effect.  If you take something or do something that you are told will have some sort of a beneficial outcome, more often than not you will experience the desired outcome.

But the deciding factor is your belief.  The focus of your consciousness.  Are you truly convinced?

This is the mind-over-matter thing people always refer to, and it's how I am choosing to live my life.  I enjoy the idea of having some sort of control over what becomes my reality, not only because I am a type-A control freak, but also because it is a more positive way of living (for me).

Sometimes I get frustrated with the idea of "it is what it is", or "that's just the way things are".  There's no control, and there's no accountability in that.

Your consciousness controls your perceptions, and your reality is strictly based on the way you perceive the world.  If you can change the way you perceive things, you can change your reality.


So try to master your consciousness, and use it to oust negativity and to start living a more positive life.  A life in tune with your wants and needs.  Don't allow things to "just happen" to you, make a conscious effort to dictate what your reality will become.

Obviously, some things are out of our control, but chances are they are in direct relation to a choice made by someone we have allowed into our world.  Funny thing is, we have control of who we surround ourselves with as well.

+Wesley Claytor



Saturday, May 11, 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Protein Bars

Although there are many protein bars on the market, the majority of them are loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, dyes and preservatives.  Also, the average store-bought bar will run you somewhere around $3.00 a pop.

Here's a simple, cost-efficient recipe for some awesome oatmeal raisin protein bars, loaded with whey protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.

What you will need:

(Dry Ingredients)
-3 cups of oats
-4 scoops of VANILLA protein powder - I use whey
-1/4 cup raw almonds
-1/4 cup raisins
-1/4 cup butter

(Wet Ingredients)
-1&1/4 cup of water
-1/4 cup of maple syrup
-1/4 cup of honey
-2 eggs


What you will do:
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 
  2. melt butter and mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl
  3. in a separate bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients
  4. add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until it's fully mixed
  5. grease a medium glass casserole dish with nonstick spray or some nonstick alternative
  6. add oatmeal mixture to the casserole dish, and spread evenly
  7. put in oven for roughly 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned
  8. remove from oven and let rest for 10 minute (NO LESS!)
  9. cut into even bars, and ENJOY!



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Scientific Overload

"Did you see that new study?"

"Hey, you really shouldn't eat that.  I read somewhere that...."

"On T.V. this morning they said you shouldn't follow that exercise program because..."

STOP!!!

Our society in general is experiencing scientific overload in my opinion. 

It seems like you can't have a conversation with anyone about anything without them bringing up some statistic they read somewhere, some study that their favorite talk show host brought attention to or some article that was featured in their favorite biased magazine.  However, when you ask them about their experiences with any of these topics, more often than not they will redirect the conversation or immediately become defensive.

The sad truth is that people don't want to admit that they are misinformed, uneducated on a specific issue/topic or flat out WRONG!  I call it sad, because admitting that you don't know is the first step in knowing....  Make sense?  You can't learn something new unless you admit that you don't know it in the first place, otherwise you'll just cloud up the process with any one of your preconceived notions.

Aside from not knowing, the bigger letdown is that people don't want to experience things for themselves anymore.  They'd rather have people tell them what works and what doesn't. 

Well guess what?  EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT, and what works for Joe Schmoe may or may not work for you.  The only way to find out is to try out.  If it works, great.  If not, move on.

And furthermore, what worked for you last year may or may not work for you this year.  We are constantly evolving with the world around us, and learning that the facts and procedures of yesterday are becoming obsolete.


What does work then?  That's up to you to find out.  A good place to start is with a balanced diet (based on the requirements of your lifestyle/goals), and a progressive exercise program that is continuously evolving with the adaptations that you are experiencing.  But play around with things, try a different stimulus, incorporate new foods, EXPERIENCE.  There are 1,000,000 different diet and exercise programs out there, and most of them work for most people willing to put in the time, effort and dedication.  The key is to listen to your body.

What doesn't work?  Following the latest fad, spewing your nonsense about how this is "THE WAY" to your immediate social circles, and then falling into a rut once your progress inevitably plateaus because your body has adapted as it will with any one program.  Or worse, hurting you body physically/physiologically because you followed something that worked for somebody else without paying attention to the signals your body was sending indicating that maybe this program isn't working for you.

The objective of life is to experience all that we can, and to make the most of it.  If you are not experiencing with your body first and then adjusting accordingly to your needs/capabilities, you're missing the bigger picture.  It's not a fad that lasts, it's a lifestyle, and it's YOUR LIFESTYLE that dictates whether or not you will achieve your goals. 

+Wesley Claytor

Monday, May 6, 2013

Garlic Roasted Zucchini

Zucchini is a great seasonal vegetable, and one of my favorite (and very simple) ways of preparing it is by loading it up with garlic and roasting it.


What you will need:

  • 4 medium zucchinis
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • chopped/minced garlic (about 1/3 cup)

Here's what you will do:
  • preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • cover a large sheet pan with foil, coat with e.v.o.o.
  • cut the zucchinis into quarters (length-wise, like pickle spears)
  • lay the zucchini out on the sheet pan, brush with e.v.o.o.
  • sprinkle the zucchini with salt and pepper, evenly distribute the garlic over the zucchini
  • put in oven and let them roast for roughly 15-18 minutes
  • remove from oven
  • ENJOY!!!

Not sure what to have with your zucchini?  

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Anti-Resistance Training?

I've encountered a number of individuals over the past few months complaining about how their weight-loss goals have been stifled, and they're no longer getting the results that they had been getting when they first began their program. 

More often than not, when I ask what their program consists of they respond with "cardio!"

Walking, jogging and running.  Running, jogging and walking.  Jogging, walking and running.  Or whatever order they choose...

When I ask about resistance training (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells AND body weight), they usually will tell me, "I'm not trying to bulk up, get big, injure myself, etc."  or, "weight-lifting is hard, and I don't enjoy it."

The former individual is simply misinformed/uneducated in human physiology, and the latter individual just hasn't found the proper routine for them, or has suffered previously from a bad experience (w/ friends, trainers or their own misguided approach). 

My goal is to help both individuals "see the light", and to get them to start incorporating resistance training into their programs IMMEDIATELY!


Here's why:
  • Resistance training will not make you bulky, a caloric surplus in your diet will.  Using resistance will help to build and strengthen lean tissue (muscle), however, if your diet is in check and you maintain a caloric deficit or balance, it will be impossible to put on size.  What will happen though is a dramatic caloric expenditure due to a new stimulus and the energy demand that resistance training requires.  Also, you will benefit from the increase in your basal metabolic rate (faster metabolism at rest) due to the development of your lean tissue.  You can also achieve cardiovascular training benefits by keeping your rests short, and by using heavier weights. 
  • If done with proper form and the appropriate load for your individual needs/experience/goals, resistance training will not injure you, and will actually help to prevent you from injury.  I would assume that most people who shy away from resistance training probably have stagnant exercise programs that utilize the same movement patterns.  This is a guaranteed recipe for injury and disaster.  If all you do is run for exercise, then you are doing your body a disservice.  You joints accumulate a consistent beating from foot-to-ground impact, your muscles generate a familiar contraction and elongation pattern and your body will adapt physiologically.  What do you wind up with?  An imbalanced body, with glaring weaknesses, aching joints, and a requirement for you to work harder and harder each time you run because your body has become so efficient at doing the same exercise that it's more difficult to expend the same amount of energy. 
  • Weight-lifting, or body weight training doesn't have to be hard or not enjoyable.  At first, it is not easy, but it's not hard.  You have to fall in love with progress, and you can't just assume to dive in head-first.  Once you come to terms with the fact that you're starting from the bottom, and each day you train you will be getting stronger, you may have a more positive outlook.  As soon as you see the numbers going up on your fundamental lifts, and when you realize you are in more control of your body, you just might fall in love.  If not, then associate your resistance training with a strength or weight-loss goal that you have in mind, and keep reminding yourself that your training is getting you there faster.  Not to mention all the additional benefits of a leaner physique, healthier structure and the potential of having a greater physical quality of life into the later years of your life. 

Bottom line is that the benefits of resistance training are TREMENDOUS, and they should not be overlooked or avoided.  Talk to a personal trainer or other fitness professional, develop a basic resistance training program and begin implementing it.  Check back here in 4-8 weeks, and let me know how it's working out for you!

+Wesley Claytor 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Increase Your Flexibility!

Let's be real with each other, we are not as flexible as we should be.


As a majority, our culture has become dependent on the many luxuries we have available, that we no longer have full control of our own bodies.  We hunch over our desk at work or school, slouch in our car on our ride home, and sit on the toilet bowl when nature calls or when we want to get away from the wife/husband/children.

The point is that we are primarily forced into unnatural positions that result in tight and weak musculature, poor posture, skeletal misalignment and an overall poor quality of life eventually.


Can this be fixed?  YES! 
How?  STRETCH!

Stretching has been under fire lately in the fitness world as to whether or not it will increase/decrease athletic performance or increase/decrease the prevalence of injury.  I have my own beliefs on these topics, but this is not the point of this post. 

My aim here is to get the average person to increase their joint mobility, strengthen their posture and set themselves up for a stronger musculoskeletal system that will allow them to continue to be independent in the later years of their own life.  To put it bluntly, the body will inevitably breakdown with age.  However, we can slow this process down by eating well, exercising the body & mind and REMAINING FLEXIBLE AND MOBILE.

Here's what you do:
  • Stretch all the major muscle groups (hamstrings, quads, chest, back, shoulders, and neck) first thing in the morning.. Maybe after you've had a few minutes to warm up.
  • WARM UP Before exercising (50 jumping jacks, 50 high knees + 50 butt-kicks works well for me)
  • Foam roll or massage out all the major working muscles after exercising.
  • Stretch all the major muscle groups, including "accessory" muscles (calves, biceps, triceps and forearms) after a hot shower or before bed.
  • Focus on implementing body weight exercises (pull up, push up, squats, lunges and dips) before working with too much external resistance.
  • Be mindful of your posture.  When sitting for extended periods, make sure to sit up tall, shoulders pulled back with a very slight arch in your lumbar spine.

Here's how you will benefit:

If you stick to the guidelines I have presented, I promise you will achieve greater joint mobility, improve your posture and increase the longevity of your musculoskeletal system.

You will also benefit in the progress of your strength/growth program by creating a greater range of motion when performing exercises.  A greater range of motion = more time under tension and more muscle fiber recruitment, which ultimately = stronger/denser muscles.  Also, you will be incorporating many more stabilizer muscles when working through a greater range of motion, helping you to have more balanced musculature. 

Lastly, you will reduce a tremendous amount of stress, both physiologically and psychologically.  Many of the minor injuries that we have are a result from tight muscles overcompensating for their weak counterparts.  When we let these minor injuries nag for an extended period of time without correcting the weaknesses, we eventually wind up with major injuries.  By stretching and strengthening, we can reduce the amount of physiological stress we accumulate after training hard, working laborious jobs, and carrying out daily activities.  The psychological stress reduction comes simply from relaxing the muscles and the mind, taking a few minutes to focus on your mind-body connection and relieving your system of the tension from the day.

Now that you understand the benefits of increasing your flexibility, I hope you will decide to put it into practice.  Develop your body; let it work for you, not against you!

Here's an example of some ways to use a foam roller:


+Wesley Claytor

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Venison & Herb Meatballs

If you ever get the chance to add some venison to your diet, I would encourage you to do so.  This high quality animal protein contains less fat than most other red meats, and can be substituted for beef in almost any recipe.  Personally I love venison, and consider myself to be fortunate whenever I get the chance to eat it.


I recently acquired a hefty amount of venison from a friend of mine who hunts, and I've been messing around with a number of recipes with all the different cuts he gave to me.  Here's my recipe for Venison & Herb Meatballs:



You will need:
-1 lb of ground venison
-1 egg
-1/2 cup of breadcrumb (I used Parmesan style)
-1 handful of mixed fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme)
-sprinkle of Adobo seasoning, salt and pepper
-1 tablespoon of coconut oil


Start by mixing the venison, egg and breadcrumb in a large bowl with your hands.  Add the chopped herbs and seasonings, and continue to mix.

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat and add the tablespoon of coconut oil.  Once the oil is fully melted, take small 1/4 handfuls of the venison mixture, form into balls and add to the skillet.  Allow the meatballs to cook for roughly 4 minutes on each side (top and bottom), until they are browned.  Now, either add the meatballs to your favorite pot of sauce/gravy and allow them to simmer for an additional 20 minutes, or put them on a sheet pan and cook them in the oven for an additional 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Serve with sauce/gravy & pasta and ENJOY!


Like tuna?  Try this recipe:

Monday, April 15, 2013

30 Day "Barefoot" Challenge




People often like to give suggestions, advice and encouragements to others, especially in the fitness world.  Sometimes that advice can be great, when it is backed by personal experience and/or scientific study.  Unfortunately more often than not, the advice can be detrimental when it is solely based off of something somebody heard somewhere, or something they read on the Internet.

One of the topics that has become popular lately in the field of fitness is all the talk on "barefoot" running, and "barefoot" training.  This is in reference to many of the minimalist footwear companies out there that stress the importance of getting back to our natural movement and running patterns, and getting away from the detrimental biomechanics of the flashy, thick-soled shoes we have grown accustomed to. 

I happened to have already purchased a pair of Vibram KSO's a little over a year ago so that I could be essentially barefoot while lifting heavy loads (i.e. deadlifts, squats, cleans) during my training, while also dabbling in some minor runs/sprints.  This was all well and good, however, the only times I would wear them was when I was training, so I felt like I wasn't gaining the full benefit of the "barefoot" lifestyle that some of these companies touted.  Not to mention my legs always hurt after running in them, but I was told that this was due to the fact that I wasn't giving my body enough time to adjust to them.

So rather than continuing this inconsistent implementation of "barefoot" footwear in my training, I decided that I would embark on a 30 day journey of wearing nothing but my Vibram KSO's.  Didn't matter if I was visiting family I hadn't seen in forever, taking my wife out for a nice dinner, or going out with our friends; I would be the guy with the weird looking "shoes".  I decided to self-impose this experiment not only for my own experience, but also so that I could give clients and others an honest opinion on how I felt about "barefoot" footwear.

Below is a summary of the day-by-day experiences I had while living the "barefoot" lifestyle:


Day #1 (3/26/13):  Got a lot of funny looks & questions.  Feet felt tired & cold by the end of the night.

Day #2 (3/27/13):  Worked a 13 hour shift on my feet primarily.  Taught Kettlebell Circuits w/ many plyometrics/step-ups.  Toes felt bruised, and heels as well.  Minor aches in my calves/shins.  Sleeping was mildly uncomfortable.

Day #3 (3/28/13):  Woke up aching in my feet & calves.  Foam rolled and ate heavy breakfast (eggs, potatoes & sausage).  More funny looks & questions while in public.  After lunch, noticed my feet felt better/stronger.  Enjoying the comfort of feeling the ground beneath me.  Off to Jiu Jitsu.

Day #4 (3/29/13):  Jiu Jitsu felt different last night, feet were more sore on the mats, but wasn't an issue.  Today, feel much better.  Hardly notice that I'm wearing the Vibrams, and I feel better  while walking.  Enjoying the experience.  Squat day (5x5's) and felt great.  Ate Red Kidney Bean + Beef burgers w/ brown rice & green beans.  Shot footage for my Balsamic Tuna burger video.

Day #5 (3/30/13):  Jiu Jitsu day.  Eggs Potatoes & Bacon for breakfast.  Had a discussion with another individual who swears by minimalist shoes, and furthered my appreciation for this "way of life".  Hip was bothering me later in the evening, believe it was a result of training, and not stemming from these shoes.

Day #6 (3/31/13):  Today is Easter, and I look strange, to say the least, going to see family.  I am dressed in nice jeans, and a classy long sleeve shirt, while wearing bright red Vibrams.  Got a lot of questions, and was able to explain my physical/social experiment behind why I am wearing these.  Most found it intriguing, almost all found it odd.  It began raining, and this is the first night I experienced wet, cold feet.  Minor nuisance, but also liberating as well.

Day #7 (4/1/13):  Back to work, doing another 13 hours shift.  Feet were cold in the morning, but other than that, they are essentially unnoticeable, and my feet are not sore.  Hip pain is still there, but still crediting it to a minor "tweak" during take-down drills at training.

Day #8 (4/2/13):  MY FEET STINK!

Day #9 (4/3/13):  Working another 13 hour shift.  On my feet all day. Hip pain is gone.  Taught my Kettlebells class again, and really pushed it.  Lots of plyometrics, lots of squat-presses, and lots of lunges.  Feeling tired.  Throwing the Vibrams in the washer.

Day #10 (4/4/13):  Woke up sick and sore.  Feet are KILLING me, but crediting most of the pain due to my weakened and fatigued body.  Air drying the Vibrams, then off to work.  Going to try and take it easy today.  Chicken cutlets, brown rice, and peas were my meal of choice for the day.

Day #11 (4/5/13):  It's Friday, and I am sick and tired.  Feet are slightly aching, but so is my whole body.  Wound up crushing a new Deadlift PR, 355 lbs X 4 reps!!! Hmm...  I think I need to wash the Vibrams again.  Regardless I will be training Jiu-Jitsu tomorrow.  Had a Chicken, rice & bean burrito for dinner - Amazing.

Day #12 (4/6/13):  Trained my client this morning, went hard at Jiu-Jitsu, and then food shopping.  Noticing the funny looks once again.  Wife is starting to ask when my 30 day challenge will be over, I don't think she is a fan anymore.  We had grassfed beef burgers w/ provolone & homemade sweet potato fries!

Day #13 (4/7/13):  Client in the morning, competition training shortly after.  Feeling exhausted, and got whooped on pretty good by the upper belts.  Feet are feeling great though.  I would have no idea that I was even wearing them anymore if people would just stop asking me why the hell I am still wearing them.  "It's an experiment, guysss!"  Went to Sol Mar in Newark, had skirt steak w/ black beans & rice and the biggest shrimp I have ever seen!

Day #14 (4/8/13):  It's Monday, another 13 hour shift.  Worked on handstand push ups.  Feet stink again.

Day #15 (4/9/13):  I've come to the realization that I love my Vibrams (funny how it's the halfway mark of my 30 day experiment).  Was talking with a friend and told him I'd wear these for life if they were more socially acceptable.  But in honesty, looking to upgrade to the Biklia LS's (Green & Black 41M) as soon as I get the funds to do so.  Dinner was Venison steak with white rice and veggies.

Day #16 (4/10/13):  Taught Kettlebell Circuits 2x's today, at separate locations.  Not too much plyometrics, but heavy bells.  Felt awesome, balance is on point, and no soreness throughout.  Need to wash them again. 

Day #17 (4/11/13): NOOOOOOOOOOO!  My Vibrams have a small tear forming on the lateral portion of my left foot, and the pull-strap ripped as well.  Not happy about this at all, believe it's from the heavy use and washing.  Hopefully they hold up for the next 13 days.


Day #18 (4/12/13): Unfortunately, I think this is the end of the "barefoot" movement for me for now.  My Vibrams are pretty beat up and saturated with sweat & dedication.  Want to extend the life of my KSO's for a little bit longer than the next 2 weeks, so I'm going to take some time off from them for now.  The constant training in them and washing of them is really testing their limits. 


I know, I didn't make it to 30 days...Regardless, after wearing my KSO's strictly for 18 days straight, I can say that I truly do love them, and enjoyed the acclimation process.  My feet feel better and stronger than ever, and my balance has gained a noticeable improvement.  Would I recommend other people try minimalist footwear?  Yes, but slowly ease into them and don't overdo it. Trying to retrain your foot to move naturally and to be sensitive requires patience and perseverance, but it's worth it, in my opinion.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Valuing Honesty












We live in a world full of lies.

We are constantly bombarded with deceit by media, our social circles, and even our own minds.  But it doesn't have to be this way; YOU HAVE CONTROL!

I am a truth-seeker, and I believe that we can only live up to our full potential once we get rid of the lies and start valuing honesty.

If you want to become a stronger, happier and more resilient individual, you need to immerse yourself in truth.  WHAT IS, not what is not.

This all seems so simple, but then why is honesty not as prevalent as it should be in the world we live in?  Why is our society so full of bullshit??  Why are we lying???

Because the truth is uncomfortable.  The truth is not always pretty.  The truth is not always what you want to hear.  It requires people to be accountable, take responsibility, identify weaknesses and deal with consequences.  What a drag!

The majority of people don't want to face the truth, because it's so much easier for them to live a lie.  They trade their honesty and individuality to instead become flaky and mediocre.  The loss of credibility is tough to regain.

Don't be one of them!  Be you!  

The only way to be you is to find out who you are, and the only way to figure that out is to be honest with yourself.
Once you overcome this obstacle and knock down the walls of deceit, the world is truly YOURS!

Stop feeding into the subliminal conditioning, false claims and biased studies that the media crams down your throat.  Do some of your own research through experimenting and experiencing.  Life is one big conglomeration of experiences, and if you choose to forgo figuring out things that do or don't work for YOU, then you're missing out on what life is about.

Stop bringing negative, ignorant and dishonest people into your life.  YOU DON'T NEED THEM!  They're just there to feed off of you.  Once you put value into honesty, people will notice the change in you.  They will flock to you because you have "discovered" something that they have not.  Some people will cherish the honesty you share with them, and other people will resent you for not being as full of shit as they are.  Distance yourself from the latter group.


Stop lying to yourself.  Don't ignore your weaknesses, and don't make excuses for the reasons why you are not doing the things that you sincerely want/need to be doing.  Take responsibility for your actions and mistakes.  Tell people how you really feel -- they might not want to hear it and may even reject it, but they will eventually appreciate your genuine ways.  Be strong, honor your convictions and do the right thing. Be yourself, and everything else will inevitably make sense.  Become a truth-seeker. 

"The truth shall set you free!"

+Wesley Claytor

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why Marriage?



People often look at me sideways when I tell them that I am married.  Maybe it's because I am 24, and made the commitment when I was 23.  That is a young age in America by today's standards, I suppose.



I'm usually prompted with questions that revolve around, "Why?"

I'll tell you why:

Marriage is a commitment to another human being that you find value in, respect for, love with, and loss without. I call this the "vital mixture for success". If one of these components are missing, I believe you are destined for failure.  Some people insinuated that I rushed into marriage, and maybe I did.  But I realized that together we had this vital mixture, and I wasn't going to let it go to waste.

I found a woman who doesn't care about the amount of dollars in my pocket or the car that I drive.  She is uninterested in the petty things in life, and wants nothing more than to support me in all of my future endeavors, while starting a family with me as well.  She puts up with my awful music, my hectic schedule, and will even spend her weekend sitting for hours while I prepare to compete in BJJ matches.  She helps me when she sees that I need it, gives me advice when I ask for it, and space when it's necessary.

How did I get so damn lucky?



Of course it's not all cake and rainbows all the time.  A marriage is just like any other relationship in that it requires work.  Work you must be willing to put in.  Effort, compromise and reason.  Sure, there are times that she wants to punch me in the face, and times when I want to do nothing less in return.  But if arguing about who's doing the dishes or laundry more often is our biggest problem, I'll take it.

People often see marriage as undesirable, boring and a headache, especially in this degraded society that we live in today.  Sure, if you marry the wrong person, you may wind up feeling these things, or experiencing these issues.  The wrong person is someone who does not complete the "vital mixture for success" with you, and you should pay close attention to this before you say, "I DO!"

I, on the other hand, have benefited tremendously from being married to the RIGHT person in just a short amount of time.  I no longer feel the need to try and impress people, act as someone that I am not, waste money going out and socializing with potential mates, and wasting time and effort in relationships with the crazies out there.  Living vicariously through some of my friends, I have realized that a lot of people are CRAZY, and can without a doubt ruin your life if you let them.

I can now be the eccentric, fun-loving, unembarrassed individual that I was born to be, because I have been liberated by the bond that I share with my wife.

Bottom line is: If you have somebody in your life that you create the "vital mixture for success" with, then don't let it pass you by.  SHIT OR GET OFF THE POT!  They will not wait around forever while you try to "find" yourself.  Do not be afraid of commitment, in love or in life.  

And if you find yourself dealing with a crazy, please, RUN LIKE HELL!





+Wesley Claytor

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Stop Doubting, Start Dreaming!

What is your dream?  What do you feel compelled to do?

Is there something that you want to do that you keep internalized for fear of being judged, or worse -- fear of failing?  

Well, what if failing wasn't a realistic outcome?  Sure, it is.  But what if it wasn't?

Would you try?

Furthermore, what if you accepted that failing was the fastest way to learn how to succeed?  It is.

You see, I'm really excited about this new-found courage I've developed over the past couple months.  I was often afraid to chase my dreams for fear of what other people conditioned me to believe, or for the outcome of failure.



The instant I decided that I didn't care what other people thought, and the instant I decided I was not afraid of failure, things changed.  I now realize that failure is risk I am willing to take because it is simply a risk of trying to chase my dream.  It is not a definite outcome.  But not trying at all is a definite failure, in my mind.  Is it not?

You don't know unless you give it a shot, right?  And if you fail, then you've just successfully eliminated one method that will not work.  Time to get back to the drawing board and try a new method.  See, there's a success in that failure.  You've accomplished something rather than nothing.

And who really cares what other people think?  Most people are too conditioned by the beliefs of what other people have told them to be true, or what structure they believe they need to follow to live a "successful" life.  Well success is subjective, and what one person measures as being successful may be --and should be-- completely different from another person's measure.

Don't let other people tell you how to live your life, and don't allow your dreams to be squashed by the weak, inactive and small-minded people that feed your brain with their bullshit.  

Think big, or think small, or think however you want.  The point is, THINK FOR YOURSELF!  Do things the way you want to do them, because life is far to short to live for the acceptance of others.  


Do one thing differently today.  Change one thing about the way you've been routinely doing things that will get you one step closer to where you intuitively feel you should be.

Trust in yourself, be courageous, step outside of the mold, and LIVE YOUR LIFE!

Friends, please don't let life pass you by living the way you "ought to".  If you have a dream, chase it!


STOP DOUBTING, START DREAMING!




+Wesley Claytor



Monday, March 18, 2013

Venison & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers



My wife surprised me with these for dinner the other day, and they were AWESOME!  

She also saved the recipe so that I could share it with all of you.


"What you will need
  • 2 Bell Peppers (recipe makes a lot of filling, I made two peppers and will use the leftovers to make a small casserole or shepherds pie)
  • 1 cup Village Harvest Quinoa
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 1 lb Ground Venison (or ground beef, chicken, turkey)
  • 14oz (or 1 small can) Diced Tomatoes (preferably fresh diced tomatoes - but whatever you have on hand)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I used Mozz)


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove stem and seeds from peppers. Grease glass dish with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Use basting brush to brush olive oil mixture onto peppers, and pop them in the oven until your stove-cooking is done, this speeds up the process a bit.

Put dry quinoa and water in a pot, bring to a boil. Once boiling, simmer for about 20 minutes or until done (I simmer with the top on). 

Saute ground venison with coconut oil (it is so lean it produces almost no juice) until done. You can season with any seasonings you prefer. Add tomatoes, or whatever else you want (corn, black beans, anything!) and add cooked quinoa. Add .5 cup shredded cheese to meat mixture.

Remove peppers from over and stuff with filling. Top with some shredded cheese if you'd like, and place them back into the oven until peppers are at your desired tenderness, and the cheese is melted and browned on top.

Voila!"

 I hope you ENJOY these as much as I did!



+Wesley Claytor 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Three Protein Shake Variations For You To Try

Friends, I've been drinking this whey crap for wheyyyyyyy too long, and I have to admit - it's gets a bit boring.  Just a bit.  For this reason, and also because I enjoy creating my own recipes, I have 3 different protein shake variations to share with you.

Click here to check out my NEW eBook on Amazon.com!!!

Protein shakes are a great way to get amino acids into the bloodstream quickly following an intense workout.  This will help to stop the breakdown of muscle, and aid in the recovery process.

Keep in mind that whey protein powder is MY preference for a protein source.  There's casein, vegan/soy, etc. out there, but I choose whey.  So supplement your favorite source of protein powder instead of whey if you choose to, just make sure the flavors are the same in reference to what I am presenting here.


Also, I add 1 scoop (5 g) of creatine monohydrate to all of my shakes.  I am not suggesting you begin using creatine as a supplement, I am just giving you an honest description as to what my shakes contain.  However, if you do use creatine powder supplements, be aware that you can add a scoop to each one of these shakes.

These are my top 3 go-to shakes right now:

  1. Orange Creamsicle Shake:
  • 1 scoop (20 g) of  VANILLA whey protein powder
  • 6 ounces of orange Gatorade
  • 2 ounces of water

    2.  Tootsie Roll Shake:
  • 1 scoop (20 g) of CHOCOLATE whey protein powder
  • 4 ounces of grape juice (go with a 100% juice here, not "grape drink")
  • 4 ounces of water

    3.  Key Lime Shake:
  • 1 scoop (20 g) of VANILLA whey protein powder
  • 6 ounces of lemon-lime Gatorade
  • 2 ounces of water



Make sure to pick up a shaker-cup. My favorite is the one with the "blender ball".  All you do is add the ingredients, and shake WELL (don't want any clumps or sediment in your drink...ugh)

Very simple recipes here, but they should add some variation to your post-workout recovery regiment.

ENJOY!


+Wesley Claytor