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! 

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