Diet Experiments

Image result for healthy food

We are constantly bombarded by diets and eating habits that are aimed at optimizing health and performance. One approach will definitely not work for every single individual, nor does anyone have to restrict themselves for long periods of time. But if we are looking at improving our performance or body composition, changing the way we eat and adjusting portion sizes will be necessary.

Below is a list of a few but not all of the experiments I have put myself through.

A few you may have encountered are listed here:

  • Ketogenic: an attempt to reach a “ketogenic state” whereby the body uses ketones as a source of energy. Proteins and fats are broken down in the absence of carbohydrate consumption. I’m pretty sure I did not actually reach a fully ketogenic state as I did not measure the level of ketones in my blood. Although I lost the most weight eating this way and managed to maintain my level of strength +/- 10%. Definitely a -100/10 on the fun factor scale.
  • Intermittent Fasting: this is where you allow yourself a certain eating window. An individual training fairly hard and consistently will typically set an eating window if 10 hours while fasting for the other 14 hours. This was the most sustainable and successful way of eating for me, allowing me to gain, lose, or maintain a certain body-weight in a pretty intuitive manner. For social and cultural connections to food, this was great. The only con was the hunger I felt while in the fasted state. Obviously.
  • Macro-Oriented or “IIFYM”: how I started this one was simply using an online calculator to find my target macro-nutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates), and simply trying to eat the target numbers for each category. This involved measuring and portioning my food, which became cumbersome about 8 months in. However, a great takeaway from being so meticulous with food was learning how to look at food and be fairly accurate at estimating the portion size.

This is just a small idea of the three popular ways of eating I have experimented with :). What I have comfortably landed on is intermittently fasting for about 5 days out of the week while staying within a close caloric range. This works really well with me and has become a natural progression. My next mission is to gain 30-40lbs. So this will include an aggressive increase in the amount of calories I eat throughout the next few months.

What are your goals and what do you find has worked for you? Leave a comment or feel free to e-mail me at david.troeung@gmail.com

Become A Human Wind Turbine

img_2196

Throughout our lives, there is a whole lot of breathing that happens, and we may not focus on how we breathe on a day to day basis, which can affect the way we move and live.

Taking a little time each day to practice breathing techniques can be rewarding and exhilarating. My background in strength training has taught me how to control my breath to maximize stability within the spinal column and I have recently learned a breathing technique to help relax and calm the body. It will take some practice, as with anything else. Try it while you’re reading, driving, or before a warm-up to assist with linking the mind and body before exercise.

Mindful Breathing Steps:

  1. INHALE: Start by laying down, face up, with your knees bent. Breathe in slowly through your nose. I like to imagine trying to fill up two little balloons that have been stuffed into your nose. You want to imagine the balloons filling up and opening up your nose-way as you continue to inhale. You want to keep your shoulders relaxed and expand the lower ribs. Breathe deep into your belly and let the stomach expand. Try not to resist this expansion of the abdomen.
  2. EXHALE: This is an important step, especially for individuals that are “chest” or “apical” breathers. These are people that have a difficult time relaxing their diaphragm or deep breathing muscles. If you notice yourself holding tension in your neck and shoulders at the end of the day, practicing full exhalations might help relieve some of that tension! To do this, simply pull your ribs back in, and slightly push your chest down as you try to expel all of the air you inhaled. Continue to exhale for as long as 10 seconds. You can put your hand in front of mouth as feedback to when you can’t breathe out anymore. Feel your abdominal muscles contract, when this happens, it can allow your diaphragm to relax.
  3. REPEAT: repeat this breathing pattern for about 6-10 cycles and taking breaks if necessary. It can be an overload of cues and techniques, so take your time to understand what should be happening with the air flow, rib-cage, diaphragm, and abdominal muscles with each cycle.

Treat this as an exercise and work it into your warmup or daily routine! I have started doing this for a few months and find it helps me mentally and physically. Boom, go get some fresh air.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”             –Thich Nhat Hanh

INTERESTING BREATHING FACTS:

  • Sneezing can travel up to 10 miles per hour
  • Your diaphragm is a muscle that sits under your lungs and helps to move breath in and out of your body
  • A person who lives to 80 will take about 675,000,000 breaths during their lifespan, or about 25,000 breaths a day.
  • When you exercise, breathing can increase from 15 breaths per minute to almost 40-60 times per minute

A Cornucopia of Sprouts

img_1975

These are some broccoli sprouts I have learned to grow! They’re pretty tasty and producing them in jars makes them easy to transport and fun to grow. Just the thought of being able to make some of my own super health vegetables in jars at home was intriguing, so I decided to head off to a few stops to get some equipment.

My first stop was at a local grocery store that focuses on organic or better raised ingredients to purchase a bag of broccoli sprouting seeds! I am not sure if there will be a difference between organic vs non-organic seeds and tried to do some research. The word on the street is that non-organic seeds may carry a higher risk of infection. Although sprouts are great for you, they carry a higher risk of food-borne illnesses, much like other fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked!

My second stop was at the infamous hardware/everythingware store, Canadian Tire! This was to purchase some wide mouth mason jars, and cheesecloth.

That is pretty much all you need to start your own army of sprouts.

YOUR FIRST BATCH OF SPROUTS! How I made it work for me:

Rinse and then soak the seeds for about 2-3 hours: this gives a helping hand to the seeds, making them grow a little faster. Make sure you always store the sprouting seeds in a dark area. I leave mine in a kitchen cabinet!

Strain It And Leave It: I replace the regular caps of the Mason Jars with cheesecloth so I can easily add water and strain the sprouting seeds everyday. Each day, take the seeds out of the cabinet, add water, and then strain the water out through the cheese cloth. You could call this “rinsing”. Rinse the seeds once or twice a day so they do not dry out.

Repeat the rinsing process for about 3-5 days and soon enough, these jars of sprouts can be turned into delicious bottled salads, or added into shakes and meals.

Tip: leave the jars by a window so they absorb some sunlight. They’ll turn green! I’m not sure if this affects the nutrient level of sprouts but it does make them look a lot more delicious.

Eating Tip: replace the makeshift cheesecloth strainer lid with the regular lid. You can now add your favorite salad dressing, nuts and seeds into the jar as an accompaniment to your lunch or dinner.

 

 

 

The Passion To Deadlift – and some tips

deadlift.jpg

The deadlift is simply an exercise where you pick a weight up and set it back down. This is a fundamental movement your body should be comfortable doing. It does not have to be performed with a barbell and any of these variations will do:

  1. Conventional Deadlift – your regular deadlift.
  2. Sumo Deadlift – this is a wider stance deadlift. Some individuals are more efficient at this varation due to their anthropometrics
  3. Single Leg Variations – single leg variations of the deadlift will help an individual with their balance and target smaller support systems within the body. Your body will be trying to rotate to lift the weight, and your goal is to prevent it.
  4. Trap Bar Deadlifts – this one’s for you Omar! A trap bar is a specialty barbell some gyms may have. This type of deadlift shifts some of the work the hips do, into the knees. You’ll stay fairly upright doing a trap bar deadlift and emphasize the work done by your quadriceps!

THAT’S ALL FOLKS! After you are comfortable with performing those top 3 variations, you’ll want to create a goal for yourself. Why did you learn the deadlift in the first place, and how do you want it to help you? Besides targeting almost 100% of your muscular system, the deadlift should help teach you how to use your feet and improve your posture for your job interviews. On that note, find yourself a deadlift junkie such as myself, work with him/her for a few months, practice with intent and hawk like focus, and you’ll start seeing some of the improvements I was discussing. And if not, at least you’ll be able to pick up more weight than when you started ;).

There is a slew of information online with regards to tips and tricks to improve your deadlift, so here is another one. Note–> these tips are assuming you have had a trainer or coach go over the general technique of a deadlift:

DEADLIFT TIPS – tips to help you go from mediocre, to good.

  1. PULL THE SLACK FROM THE BAR – when you set up for a deadlift. You should feel like you’re in a position that feels like HELL to be in. Use the bar as an anchor and pull yourself into your optimal set-up position. You should hear a small “click” with the bar, I like to think of it a yourself engaging with the weight. Kind of like a transformer, when man becomes machine. You must and will become one with the barbell. Anyways this will help put all of your energy into lifting the weight, and engages muscles that help to support the spine. If you lift from a loose starting position, the rate of injuring yer meat bags goes up. Use the bar to anchor into a tight and engaged started position.
  2. PUSH THROUGH THE FLOOR- although the deadlift feels like you should be pulling weight off the floor. A good little trick, alongside jumping, running, and most movements involving lower body power, is to pretend like you are pushing the earth/ground away from you. In the case of a deadlift, grab the bar, and simply use your legs to drive the earth away from you. This will help to synchronize the movement with your hip + leg musculature, keep you balanced, and incorporates a lot of other cues into it, without having to focus on them.
  3. KEEP YOUR SHINS VERTICAL – you should strive to keep your shins perpendicular to the ground throughout the movement. You cannot stand up with a weight if your shins are not perpendicular to the ground. So it is more efficient that when you grab the bar, you make sure your shins are vertical. This eliminates the extra movement your lower body has to do to perpendicularize (probably not a word yet. So now it is) the shin.
  4. VISUALIZE – imagery is a HUGE component that can determine the outcome of how someone moves. Have you ever visualized how you would do for an interview and start to feel nervous and question/doubt yourself? Well it’s exactly like that in weightlifting, only you are psyching yourself up to pick something up. Everyone has their own sequence of images they replay and has developed this skill over many years. Just remember to keep the movement clean and organized! My imagery comes in different levels, and is dependent on the amount of weight I am lifting, with a maximum weight, I picture my feet driving right through the floor (explosions and all). Anything lighter and you probably don’t want to know what’s going on in my head. NOTE: this is a skill and if you don’t practice it now, it will hinder your progress. Get into the heads of the successful weightlifters and people around you, see what works with them, and see what will work with you.

Keep practicing and you soon will have your own sequence of cues and images that give you the confidence not only to lift things, but to help put thoughts into action.

The Journey Begins

The FEDEL CLARKE CLASSIC in TORONTO March 2018

This marks another competition in my life. Today marks the day I am humbled by the sport of bodybuilding. Kudos to all of us that stepped on stage ready to be graded like cattle! I would have survived this slaughter simply for thinking I was ready to be on stage competing with the Prime Grades, all the while being a Grade A at best.

This is me and Jesse preparing for a physique show. After 8 weeks of “cleaning” up the way we eat, a term used these days to indicate someone is controlling or eliminating types of foods, we thought we would be ready for the big stage. We were wrong about that! Compared to my first contest,  this one was a lot more relaxed, maybe because I entered it with a friend? We definitely are looking to compete in another show without overhauling our lives, something I believe is definitely achievable.

 

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

post