Never Give Up – CrossFit Video

From the CrossFit website we learn that “CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.”

They have a lot of videos on youtube if you would like to see what it is all about. ‘DL, J RingDip, RopeClimb‘ is one that tells the story. It is a little messy but it is a great example of determination and how the body responds to high levels of lactate.

Throwing-up is a natural response by the body to high levels of lactate and high levels of lactate is the natural response to intense exercise without sufficient oxygen. Lactate inducing workouts are fantastic for fat burning because of the massive amount of EPOC (excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption) they create.

I believe that this type of training is going to become very popular because it is effective at leaning a person out, building relative strength and developing mental toughness. It teaches a person how to ride the line between too much exercise and just enough exercise and this will allow them to get the most out of their time at the gym.

I don’t see many people working out like this at commercial gyms but did get people to the threshold a few times when I was a trainer at one – my boss didn’t like it very much because it was “bad for business.” I don’t know what he was talking about because my clients got results and renewed with me; but it could have had something to do with the fear instilled in the new members who see them holding buckets to their faces.

Acidosis – What’s Eating You?

Alkalize or die outlines the negative consequence of acidosis (having too high an acid level) on the body.

Acidosis is the basic foundation of all disease. We need to understand the simple process of alkalizing our body and the important role a properly alkalized body plays in restoring and maintaining our overall health. Our glands and organs function properly in exact proportion to the amount of alkaline and acid levels in our system.

Have you ever been so upset with someone or something that you get an upset stomach? All negative emotions create an acidic environment. Have you ever heard anyone say you are letting your problems “eat away at you” or “get the best of you”?

Fear is the underlining cause of most disease. It will undermine your life and your health. Fear causes anger. Anger causes hate. Hate will consume you with continual suffering. Love and understanding cleanse and heal the body creating an alkaline environment within you.

Worth the read because it explains what happens to most of the main organs when acid levels increase and it offers some solutions on how to lower pH level. Not a big surprise that exercise and eating vegetables are on the list of things that make you more healthy.

Spinal on the Ice – A Second Year Story

Rachel is an athletic therapy student and has her placement with a womens hockey team. Here is something she wrote after a fairly bad on-ice injury. The injured girl will recover complete but is out for the season.

Going down on the ice, head down, direct impact, contact and player face down. It’s as easy as that. A hockey game I will never forget for the rest of my life. For player confidentially purposes, the locations and names and locations will not be used so this may be a little hard to follow.

Friday night, second period, an away game, player of the opposite team takes a hit minimal from my player, trips on the puck and goes head into the ice. I wait patiently trying to withstand the urge to run out on the ice. The hockey trainer from the opposition goes out onto the ice and is there blocking her head for almost a full minute with no help.

I looked at my watch counting down from 60 seconds in my head then go out onto the ice hoping to help the other trainer. My heart is pounding, the ice slippery and cold on the bottom of my runners. I am first approached the ref and told to get off the ice. I assure her that “I am here to help” and I reach the player and the trainer. As I get onto my knees, I intro introduce myself as Rachel and that I am a student in the athletic therapy program at Sheridan, and that I am there to assist her in anything she needs help with. The trainer introduces herself and says “she is a nurse”, and is talking to the player trying to get some sort of clarity.

The ref approaches me while I am on my knees beside the nurse and player. She tells me that if I do not get off the ice I will be suspended and that “I should not try to be stating a fight with the opposing team in such a situation”. I reassure the ref that “I am there to help” and she gets quite verbal with me, so I reaffirm to her that this “player is in dire need of medical attention and unless she is there to help, I am here to help”. The ref relaxes.

I ask the nurse what her status is and she says that “she is seeing colors and that she wants to move”. I tell the nurse that we have been sitting here just “under three minutes” and suggest that we call 911. She ignores me and gets a little verbal with me than says “just wait”.

I ask the ref for blankets as I believe she is going into shock from the hit to the ice. I ask the nurse again, “she is not completely conscious and aware, we should call 911″. The nurse replies “just wait”. I tell the nurse I am simply going to take her pulse. Her pulse is rapid and she is breathing and then I start palpation on the player from T spine to C spine and she has pain at the C spine. The player cries out in pain.

I ask the nurse again. “I understand that you are the trainer and make the decision to call EMS but your player is in and out of level of consciousness. Her pulse is weak. She is in severe pain and she went straight head down into the ice. Let’s call 911!” The nurse ignores me, so I prompt my EAP (emergency action plan) with my sign to call EMS.

The player is talking about swirling colors and gardens and then back to the game. The nurse is still talking to her about her colors she is seeing. I ask the player, do you know where you are? She is babbling about colors. I ask the player what the score is and she says she is on the ice. I know she has some awareness.

I ask the nurse to continue to block the head and I tell the player that “I am going to play a game” with her. “Sometimes I will touch you and sometimes I won’t. I need you to tell me where I am touching you or if I am not touching you at all, ok? “. I touch her shoulder and she replies “my shoulder”. I touch her lower back and she replies “my back”. I touch her left leg and she say “you are not touching me”. I am thinking it’s her pants, so I firmly grip her thigh, and ask her “am I touching you”. She replies “you are not touching me”. I ask her to remember three little words “three purple pigs” and then tell her that I will ask her them again later.

At this point she has the following signs and symptoms:
– in and out of level of consciousness
– severe pain in her tp’s and sp’s of her c spine
– rapid pulse
– loss of sensation in her left leg

I saw the mechanism of injury of how she hit the ice. I am treating her for shock as I ask the nurse to keep blocking the head to keep her calm. I am also aware this is probably a true spinal, and that all we can do is wait and all I can do is monitor her vitals, and treat for shock as we wait for EMS. I ask the player “what were those three words asked you to remember?” She is babbling about colors incoherently and no longer even aware that both the nurse and I are there.

The father of the player hurt is screaming at my player from across the ice and telling her he is going to hurt her. He is told to stay calm by the ref. I look at my watch and just under 6 minutes. I pull out my stethoscope and my blood pressure cuff and get a reading; it is normal 115/76. I write it down on my tape that is stuck to my leg. I get her pulse and breathing rate again and her pulse and breathing rate are a little escalated and write them down. I ask the nurse to try and look at her pupils although the player would rather keep her eyes closed and “look at the colors”. The player is no longer aware that both the nurse and I are even there or even where she is. Her skin is warm.

The father tries to come out onto the ice although the ref tries to stop him and he is crying” help my little girl, what is wrong with her”. He is told by the ref he is allowed to come onto the ice as long as he keeps his distance and just stays calm. I talk to the nurse for a second and she tells me that when the paramedics get there that she is “in charge”, and I reaffirm that she is and that I am just there to help. I take a second set of vitals, check her blankets and feel down her body for anything I may have missed in the initial assessment.

The paramedics arrive and I glance at my watch just over 12 minutes. They talk to the nurse and the nurse tells the paramedics what happened and that the player is seeing colour. I take the tape off of my knee then hand it to the male paramedic and tell him that there is a baseline they can start with. I tell the paramedic “my name is Rachel and I am an Athletic Therapy Student from Sheridan and that I am trained to remove the helmet pads and skates.” He smiles, takes my tape and says “thank you, we can use you”.

The spinal board is place onto the ice and with both paramedics one at the head, one at the feet, and the nurse and I at the hip, we log roll the player onto the spinal board. The male paramedic looks at me and says do you thing. At this point the nurse starts to yell at me and says what are you doing, so I reassure her that I am trained and that with her help, I can do this even better. I ask the paramedic to stabilize the head while I take the helmet off, and pads. I ask the nurse to help me take off the skates. I remove the left and she removes the right. The ambulance attendants thank us and pick up the spinal board and carry her off the ice to the ambulance. The nurse follows.

I go back to my team’s bench and the players return to the ice and we restart the clock to finish the period as though it never happened. The end of the game, we line up to shake hands, and the nurse skips me and I walk away from the ice with my head down in silence.

1 Year And Counting – Happy Anniversery!

One year ago – one year and 4 days to be exact – I started It has been a fantastic year for personal growth, life improvements and physical fitness. In some ways I’m sad to see the year end. Here are the main reasons why the last year was so important to me:

I discovered my purpose in life. This happened the Monday morning after I took the RPM training.

I’ve posted about 160 items on While many of them were re-blog items – my opinion or just a link to another authors work – a few of them were original and would not exist in the world had I not sequenced out the key strokes.

I’ve fallen completely in love and moved in with Rachel. Rachel remains empathetic as she calls me on my crap and it is the first time in my life when I have looked upon a girlfriend as a mentor. She is funny as well and that helps us move through the tough times very quickly.

I started teaching RPM. A big one, partly because it’s where I met Rachel, partly because I had been thinking about doing it for so long and partly because it forced me to learn how to ride a bike the correct way. My riding posture has never been better and I feel so much stronger on the bike now than I did a year ago.

I started working for SST as their operations manager. It’s nice to be working with a more motivated population and in an environment that is rich in opportunities to learn, and lift. I had never flipped a tire before September and I have to say that it is a much fun as it sounds! If you don’t think flipping a tire is fun, you’ve never done it.

I kept blogging EVEN after I moved in with Rachel and started my new job. I’m pretty happy about this one because it marks the first time in my life that getting a new girlfriend didn’t mean the death of the identify that I had forged out for myself.

So now I start year 2, grateful to be able to continue with!

Time To Fail, Again – Problem with Commercial Gyms

It is January and the busiest month of the year for all commercial gyms. This month alone counts for 15-20% of the years new memberships. The problem is that 5% of the people who sign up will NEVER set foot back in the place except to cancel. In 6 weeks another 25-35% of them will have stopped coming. In three months another 25-30% will have stopped. By this time next year, only about 15-25% will remain.

I appreciate this time of year for a few reasons. There are a lot of new people in my class, so I have a new opportunity to change peoples lives by helping them find that “oh my God” moment when they have pushed harder than they thought they could and realize that they are still in the fight. My classes are full and there are people waiting at the door to get in; this means that those who do make it in are going to work harder and not leave midway through.

But on a more cynical / realistic level, this time of year marks the start of one of the worst periods for 75-85% of the people who join the gym. It represents the moment in time when they made a mistake and actually believed that they had the ability to change their life and become the healthy person they thought they were.

I’ve seen 1000’s of people join and quit the gym. I’ve sold 100’s of people on the dream that they could look like me, the trainers, the regulars and the sexy people on TV, only to have their dream fall apart a few weeks later when they realize that they are not ready to achieve their goals. I used to feel bad about it so I stopped selling at a commercial gym.

When I’m teaching RPM at GoodLife, I try to be encouraging, upbeat, high energy and honest about what the participant are about to go through. I tell them that it is going to hurt, I let them know that it is going to take a few weeks of sustained effort before the class starts to get easier, I mention that I was once brand new at it and that I found it to be one of the toughest gym experiences I had gone through in spite of the fact that I raced mountain bikes and had been active for most of my life. I try not to sell anyone on the “you can do it” dream and instead try to sell them on the “it’s going to suck until the end of class” reality.

I’ve learned that there are 10-15% of the population that are going to burn 80% of the calories. These are the people who are already working out and will remain working out regardless of everything. These people need coaching on form and that is it. They supply the motivation and will find their way to the gym when the roads are closed due to snow, on Christmas day when everyone else is at home, and when they are in their time of need. Working out for these people is similar to prayer for the faithful – it’s what they do when they need to find peace.

How do you become one of the 10-15% if you are not one of them?

The easiest way is to get a personal trainer (PT). Over the years I’ve gone from considering PTs as jocks who count reps to considering most of them to be jocks who hold the unmotivated to their promises. I’m not certain but I have the feeling that most people show up to their appointments because they have public integrity and don’t want to go back on their word to another person; but it could have something to do with the $0 refund for no-show appointments – the notion of losing $60 for not showing up to an hour appointment may serve as more of a motivator than the fear of dying from an obesity related illness.

There is a lot of talk in the business about personal training and how much commercial gyms profit from it – very often the gym pays the trainer only 25-35% of the hourly cost of the session. This means they get 65-75% PLUS the monthly membership cost. But, when you get down to it, most PTs are getting a fair wage based on what they actually know and they also get to be “Personal Trainers”, which carries some prestige in many gyms.

But it is an undeniable observation that those who train with PTs WILL stick with their workouts for a longer period of time. If you are not one of the 10-15% who treat working out like worship, getting a PT will allow you to behave like one of them and it will help you stay diligent with your workouts.

I have nothing to gain directly from encouraging people to train with a PT because I do not work for a commercial gym – SST uses floor coaches to offer guidance to all of the members who are working out. My suggestion that working out with a PT will increase your likelihood of success is based on years of observing the sales cycle in a commercial gym. If you are not already working out there is a 85% chance that you will fail to become one of the ones who work out UNLESS you get professional help. Get an expert and change your life. Otherwise you may just be helping to buy all the new and shinny equipment I love to workout on.

Toxic People And Body Composition

Article by Chris Shugart “It’s Sabotage!” is about toxic people {NOTE – the article is no longer available on t-nation but has been posted on the forum}. I love reading this article because it really resonates with me. I used to have a lot of friends who would rip on me for trying to improve myself and I have to admit that their influence was negative and effective. The big issue with toxic people is that you don’t necessarily see their influence until it has had an impact and the greater the impact, the harder it is to undo. If you make a clean break from the toxic influences in your life, you can begin to build more positive support structure but first you need to identify those toxic people so you can banish them forever. (Okay, maybe not forever because many of them don’t even know that they’re behaving like non-friends, but put them out of your life until they make a positive change in how they interact with you and the rest of the world).

I bring up toxic people in reference to body composition because very often there are negative people in your life who keep throwing up reasons why you shouldn’t try to change the way you look and feel. For the most part, their reason have nothing to do with you and are based solely on their own feelings of low self worth. For some reason, many people can only get up by getting others down. They have failed to see that their is almost unlimited success available in the world and instead see the world in binary terms such that any success of another person is an immediate failure in them.

I don’t see the world in these terms. I believe that there is unlimited success available when it comes to fitness and health because these things are measured by ones individual ability and not by comparing performance to another person. For example, there is no reason why most people in the world cannot have a body fat percentage of 15% and be able to run 3 Km. There is no reason for people not to be able to do a pull-up, 10 push-ups, and be able to walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for air. Assuming these things are a measure of fitness and health, my fitness does not improve anytime another person fails to achieve one of these benchmarks.

Translation – I do not get healthier when another person becomes less healthy. I gain nothing when someone else falls deeper towards disease. I actually believe that the world becomes a worse place when someones health and fitness falters. I do not enjoy seeing people fail at the gym, fail to make the right choices when they shop or fail to make the decision to stop smoking, drinking, or being a total layabout.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a supportive family and close friends who don’t try to rip down my passions. When I started to learn how to play guitar, my friends put up with it. When I started to correct my eating habits, my family supported me and stopped offering me dessert. When I decided to take some time off from working, I was supported in my decision because my friends and family believed that I was working towards something.

What does this mean to those who want to change the way they look? Well, simply put, you need to start to clean out the crap from your life. There is an undeniable correlation between your successes and the successes of your 5 closest friends. If your 5 closest friends smoke, there’s a very good chance that you smoke. If they eat crappy food and blame the government for their place in life, there’s a very good chance you eat crappy food and blame the government for everything. If your closest friends are like this, there is an almost 100% chance that you will fail at everything you set out to do because your friends will help to facilitate your failure through negative comments, derailing behaviours and basically making you feel like crap for ever thinking you deserve better.

If you are tired of being overweight and lazy, and all of your friends are overweight and lazy, it’s time to get some new friends, ones who aren’t overweight and lazy. Even if you don’t / can’t get new friends (which is a possibility because healthy people know the potential negative influence that overweight under motivated people possess) you may need to get rid of your old friends and go it alone for a while because your chances of success are much greater if you have no negative influences.

Always keep in mind that true friends want for you what you want for you not what they want for you. They will look to you for inspiration and will try to be inspiring to you. They aren’t going to measure their successes in terms of your failures. Anyone who wants you to fail needs to be taken out of your life forever.

How To Make Dreams A Reality – Just Decide To

I got the following email from my friend Deb on Wednesday:

Hey Pat!

I came across some old emails between us when we were first planning our trip out East tonight – back when it was more of a dream than a plan.  Sometimes I forget that something goes from being a dream to a plan simply by deciding to do it.  Our trip reminds me of that.

A couple of summers ago Deb and I took a month long camping trip to the east coast of Canada. It was a few months after I left Chatham and I really needed the time away from everything. I think about this trip everyday now because it was one of the best months of my life and, frankly, I really enjoyed taking a month off of life to see a part of the world I had never seen before.

I had been thinking about going for a long time before I actually decided to go, which is the way I am about most things I do that change my life. There was something about the spring of 2006 that made me turn this dream into a reality and Deb captured it nicely in her message – “something goes from being a dream to a plan simply by deciding to do it.”

While it may seem obvious to everyone, I’m not entirely certain that it is. There have been many things that I haven’t done because “I couldn’t”, “I didn’t have the time”, “I didn’t have the abilities”… but when I think about them in the terms Deb lays out, I think the actual reason why I didn’t do them is because I didn’t decide to do them.

Looking back on the last few years of my life, a number of things pop out at me that were once dreams but which became a reality ONLY when I decided to make them a reality. I had thought about doing sales for years before I started working at GoodLife, I thought about going camping by myself for a long time before I actually did it (strangely enough I went the weekend before I started working at GoodLife). I thought about being a cycling instructor for years before I made the decision to do it last year.

Almost everything I am now is a result of my decision to finally make a dream a reality. With all of it there was a moment when I said to myself “I am going to do it”. After I decided to do it I immediately became very bad doer, but that was better than being a really good dreamer.

Eating For Fat Loss – A Consensus Is Near?

Anyone who asks me how to lose body fat will hear me say the following things:

  1. Eat 5-7 smaller meals a day, 1 every 2.5 to 3 hours
  2. Eat protein at every meal
  3. Eat vegetable at every meal
  4. Lower high and moderate GI carb intake
  5. Consume your carbs after an intense workout out
  6. Eat breakfast everyday
  7. Start or keep exercising

There are other things that I will say but these are the standard answers to everyone but the very lean or very active people.

In T-nations The 2008 Fat Loss Roundtable, Part I and Part II, some other suggestions are given:

Dr. Mohr: Here are four such rules:

  1. Eat a fruit and/or at least one vegetable with every single meal.
  2. Plan ahead. Don’t go to work without any food at all, then wonder why you opted for fast food at noon, hit the vending machine at 3 PM, and are famished on the way home so you decided to order a pizza to pick up for dinner.
  3. Define your goals and write them daily. If you don’t know what you’re working toward, you’re going to continue to struggle.
  4. Move more! I’m all about complexes, interval training, large body movements like deadlifts, etc. but what about the other 160-plus hours during the week when you’re not at the gym? Walk more. Get on a bike and use that as your transportation. Use the stairs instead of the elevator.


Mike Roussell: Yes, what I call the 6 Pillars of Naked Nutrition:

  1. Eat five to six times a day.
  2. Limit your consumption of sugars and processed foods.
  3. Eat fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
  4. Drink more water and cut out calorie-containing beverages (beer, soda, etc.).
  5. Focus on consuming lean proteins throughout the day.
  6. Save starch containing foods until after a workout or for breakfast.

I’ll admit that the lists are not exactly the same, so saying that these experts agree completely would be inaccurate. BUT, if you look closely and consider the practical consequence to these suggestions, the behavioural outcome IS the same.

When you read the t-nation articles it will be obvious that these guys draw their conclusions from research and experience, the same places I get mine from. It will also be obvious that they hold out little hope that an individual will change their behaviour until they take a hard look at the way they think about the world, themselves and their relationship with food. In fact, the claim is made that binge eating is the number one eating disorder in America.

If you have some body fat to get rid of and what you are reading here does not come as a surprize, you need to ask yourself WHY you are not doing what you know you need to do. There is too much evidence now about the right way to achieve your goals that you can no longer blame your lack of success on a lack of knowledge.

Branched Chain Amino Acids – The Case For Supplementation

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) have been given a lot of publicity recently as a possible way to boost recovery, performance and size. However, much of the *evidence* for their efficacy comes from the supplement companies who have a vested interest in people buying them given the high price they can charge for them. On Saturday Rachel and I have a big debate about them and, since my friend Pete in Ottawa is waiting my review of them, I figured I’d address both of their concerns with a article.

Branched Chain Amino Acids are the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three amino acids have aliphatic side-chains that are non-linear. It is estimated that 1/3 of muscle is made up of these amino acids and there is evidence linking them to a variety of processes including protein synthesis. BCAA do not provide energy to the muscles during workouts and as of yet, there is no evidence linking them to any improvements for endurance athlete.

The evidence in favor of BCAA supplementation:

Muscle is 1/3 BCAA. While not evidence per say, the fact that so much of the muscle is made up of BCAA is a good case for consuming more of them. Providing sufficient raw materials for building muscle is a good idea if you want to build muscle because the inverse is true – you will not grow if you do not eat sufficient amounts of protein.

Promoting insulin activity. Insulin is an anabolic hormone because it promotes cell storage and protein synthesis. It also lowers blood cortisol levels; cortisol is released in response to stress in an attempt to liberate sugar from protein. Of all the amino acids, leucine is special because it can promote insulin release in the absence of blood glucose. It is believed that BCAA supplementation will inhibit protein degradation because it increases the release of insulin.

Promoting translation of protein. Translation is the first state of protein synthesis and it is mediated by intercellular insulin and leucine levels. It is believed that BCAA supplementation will promote protein synthesis because it provides the body with leucine with acts as both a trigger for translation and a promoter of insulin release.

My rational for taking BCAA goes something like this – I know that my body enters a catabolic state when I work out. I know that muscle protein is broken down when I’m in this state and therefore my muscles will not grow. The sooner I can rid my body of cortisol, the sooner it will begin to grow again. Insulin decreases cortisol. The first step in protein synthesis is translation which is initiated by leucine and insulin. BCAA supplementation will increase insulin release and initiate protein synthesis. I believe that I will grow more because my body will be less catabolic, more responsive to insulin and have what is needed to initiate the first step of protein synthesis.

I’m not sure if my reasoning holds up in the real world or if I am supplying my body with enough material to advance protein synthesis once the increased levels of insulin and leucine have started translation but I feel comfortable with my understanding of what is going on with this small be key aspect of the puzzle.