Anchoring Experiences – get the freedom you deserve!

So this post is quite timely given that we just had Independence Day…..ahhhh let freedom ring.

Must be nice….

I am sitting here listening to my ipod, and a certain song came on, that literally made my heart ache and stomache hurt. I felt a little light headed. Freedom? Yeah right….it’s like getting raked over coals. Granted, I just got back from yoga…but that wasn’t the reason. It had so happened that the past three or four times I’ve listened to this song I’ve been a pretty emotionally charged state. I won’t go into the details…let’s just say that it had to do with a woman ๐Ÿ™‚

Some of you may know that I am very big fan and student of Tony Robbins. Yes, the late-night infomercial guru. Through his seminars, books and audio programs he talks at length about a process for anchoring emotions to real-world cues. These anchors happen to us every day of our lives, often without us even being aware. For example, let’s suppose that every day when you come home from a long day at work, the first person you see is you wife or girlfriend. Let’s also suppose that when you come home from work, you tend to be in a terrible mood.

After a few days of this routine, you notice that whenever you see your wife or girlfriend, you tend to get a little irritated. You start arguing for no reason and just feel lousy whenever you are around her. Has she done anything to warrant this behavior? In this example, the answer is no, but you have psychologically anchored your poor day at work to a person you truly love and care for. The relationship starts to sour. A negative anchor has been formed.

Alternatively, let’s suppose that whenever you are hanging around with your buddies watching football, you high five whenever your team scores and everyone just goes bizerk and has an amazing time. After a few weeks of watching the games with your friends you notice that whenever anyone high fives you (for anything, even something stupid like eating all your vegetables at dinner time!) you tend to get that rush of excitement. A positive anchor has formed.

So as I type this, the song that prompted me to write this post is coming to an end (I played it three times :)). I am going to replay the damn song and break this anchor for once and for all. I am going to replace it with a more powerful and energizing emotion. While the song is playing, I am going to do some pretty ridiculous stuff. Clapping, jumping up and down, remembering some very powerful and positive memories, and just being grateful that I am in control of my own mind and that how I feel is really up to how I want to feel. Thank god I don’t have a roommate now to laugh at me….though I’m sure the folks across the street will think I’m a little insane!

Third Eye Blind can eat their hearts out ๐Ÿ™‚

Learnings from Raw Food Diet

I have been travelling since last thursday. A good friend was getting married in Pennsylvania and I have been making the rounds to visit family in NYC/NJ/PA. After the wedding and a few days of parties, I’ve finally made it to home sweet home.

My raw food diet is now officially OVER. My original goal was to keep up with a 70% raw food diet for 30 days before switching back to a mostly vegan diet, with a point to consumer more water-rich foods than normal (fruits and veggies targetting 30%-50% of total diet, either raw or cooked). I am moving into that phase of my diet right now. After 17 days on the raw food diet I trully felt amazing. I lost weight and was getting stronger. However, travelling around and staying with family has made it hard to keep up this program.

I will be applying what I have learned to the way I eat going forward. Some of the major lessons:

  • When you are tired, you must 1) Breath 2) Drink and then lastly 3) Eat….in that order. 80% of the time, #1 or #2 will take care it. The body is rarely hungry (physiologically speaking) when you feel that you are hungry.
  • Triple the amount of vegetables you eat. At least. As a vegetarian, I though I ate enough but after some introspection it was clear that I wasn’t eating enough fresh veggies to have any impact on my health. Modern Western nutrition and the food pyramid is wrong. Look at many foreign diets (Asian, Indian, Meditteranean, Middle Eastern) and there is much higher emphasis on whole grains, veggies and fruits. Even in these cultures, the diet is morphing to a more western-based diet that is heavy on meat and starchy food (I mean really…potatoes might technically be a vegetable but come’on…eat some spinach for godsake!)
  • Throw out any fruit juice in your fridge: it is pure acid and toxic to the body (really)….only drink fresh squeezed stuff (mmmmm Jamba Juice!). Drink juiced veggies if you can.
  • Drink 1 or 2 servings of a “green” drink mix (like SuperFood or Green Magma) a day. It alkalizes the blood and keeps energy levels high without adding a lot of junk calories your body doesn’t need. It also will mitigate skin problems you might have.
  • Eat veggies (carrots and broccoli) or a few pieces of fruit for breakfast. Avoid any processed carbs, including cereal or breads; especially in the morning. Once you start creating a high insulin response in your body early in the day, you are setting yourself up for a erratic energy level.
  • Avoid dairy if you can. It is tough for the body to digest. If do eat dairy, make sure to eat a big green salad or la big serving of veggies with it (raw or lightly cooked)
  • Cut back on the coffee. After a few days on the raw food diet I had so much energy I never needed coffee. It dehydrates you and makes it impossible to maintain a sustained and high level of energy throughout the day. If you want to drink it because you like the taste (as I do), that is fine…just know and be honest about why you are drinkin it.
  • The body can operate on much less food than you think, while still retaining strength and keeping energy levels insanely high. The key is to make sure what you eat is very high quality and to get your stomach and gut clean and effective so your body can proerply assimilate what you eat.
  • Avoid useless snacking. if you are really hungry, eat a few almonds or a carrot. Avoid that if you can. I watched a lot of the Discovery Channel when I was a kid. I never saw Lions running around snacking on rabbits and lizards. No. They ate meals. I am not saying you need to gorge yourself yourself like the lions. But eat meals during mealtime and leave the snacking to the vultures.

Broccoli and Protein

Was eating some broccoli (flowerets) the other day and took a look at the package. This food was one-half protein (measured by total calories)! 3g of Protein = 12 calories out of a 25 calorie total serving.

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I always assumed there was some protein in veggies, but I didn’t know the concentration was this high. I realize there may be some issues with the quality of proteins from vegetable sources, but with proper food combining this won’t be an issue.

Looking on the net, I see that the exact percentage of protein depends on if they include just the brocolli tops, the entire flowerette, or the entire stalk. For only the dark green tops you get about 45% protein, for the flowerette you get about 25% (still not bad!).

Add to that the difference in fat content; 30-50% for meat depending on the lean-ness vs ~10% or less for veggies; and I think broccoli comes out the winner on this one!

FYI: Check out http://www.nutritiondata.com for lots of great stats on food nutrition.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change

I was watching the sunset with a wonderful friend last night. We were looking out the windows across an absolutely amazing view of the mountains and the water. The sunset was a radiant redish-purple. Everything was perfect….except for a handful of powerlines literally crossing our view of the sun! I was a little ticked. My kodak moment was gone. I couldn’t stop adjusting myself on the sofa to get a better view.

Of course, she reminded me not focus on the power lines, but to focus on the awesome sunset. Believe it or not, it actually worked. After a few minutes, the powerlines appeared to be gone (and no, it was not because I was blinded by the sun!).

At any rate, she reminded me of a quote, which I could have sworn I had heard before, but couldn’t pin down.

รขโ‚ฌล“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.รขโ‚ฌย

It hit me this morning.

This is a popular saying by Dr. Wayne Dyer. He has several books published and has recently had his “Power of Intention” tv program in heavy rotation on PBS. His audio programs are quite good, and I highly recommend checking out his podcast.

This is soo true. When we focus on the bad stuff, we wonder why the good stuff in life never seems to come there way. Change your perspective and you’d be amazed at how your environment will respond.

OK, enough wisdom for one night. Intense yoga class tonite. I am gonna go rehydrate and go to sleep!

The Power of Raw Food

I’ve been on a 70% raw food diet for the past 1 week. I feel absolutely amazing. I have a lot to learn to get my diet really dialed in, but so far so good. I have no intention of keeping a 70% raw food diet forever, that seems a bit extreme for where I am in my life right now, but I do want to sustain a 30-50% raw food diet for the near term and see where it leads me.

Why am I doing this?

I have been lacto-ovo vegetarian for essentially my entire life. It was really the only diet I have known, and I suppose I have felt fine and am fairly healthy. A few years ago I was inspired to go-Vegan by a yoga teacher (Sharon Gannon) and after having educated myself on the issues of sustainable agriculture and mass-market egg and dairy farming, decided to give it a try.

During this period I lost quite a lot of weight, given the fact that I was already quite thin. I went from 145lbs to low 130’s. Many of my friends and family thought that I was getting too skinny. Looking back at pictures of me from that period lead me to believe them now, though at the time I was convinced that I was as healthy as humanly possible. I had insanely high energy levels compared to my vegetarian days, and completed two Ironman Triathlons and a few other ridiculous endurance events during the 1 and ยฝ years I was vegan. I was also working like crazy.

I eventually decided that vegan was not the best thing for me. The straw that broke my back was going to my sisters wedding, and feeling that I couldn’t eat any of the food (many Indian foods use clarified butter). I decided that I would be a responsible vegetarian, buying only organic eggs and cheese, and not stressing out if I had a piece of non-organic cake or some cheese pizza at Papa Johns.

That was about 3 years ago. It is amazing how subtle changes can cause major shifts over the long term. It had gotten to the point where I was really struggling to get back into good shape. Throughout the past three years, I have run a few half-marathons, and done some other long distance events (swam across Puget Sound), but I never really felt like I had the energy levels that I had when I was vegan.

Slowly reintroducing dairy into my diet had, over a few years, made me feel like crap. I gained about 20 pounds (some of it muscle as I was lifting) and while I felt much stronger, was more lethargic than I had ever been. Waking up in the morning seemed harder to do. I started drinking coffee to wake up and keep myself awake. I ate food but never really felt satisfied. When you start to think about it; if you sit down and have a Super Burrito at noon, should you really be starving by 5pm? Of course not. It just doesn’t make sense.

A few months I decided to make a change. I started to go back to yoga, and have been increasing the amount of aerobic activity I’ve been doing.

Last week, I made a radical change to my diet.

While I want to get back in peak shape, I want to avoid going to some extreme just for the heck of it. I want to eat in a way that gives me more energy than I have ever had before. I also don’t want to turn into a walking stick of skin and bones. I’ve been searching for the right answer to this question for a while. I don’t know if I have found it, but I feel like I am getting close.

Tomorrow I’ll talk more about the diet I followed for the past week, the effect it has had on me and the science behind it.

An Inconvenient Truth

Would you pay $10 to see a recording of a slideshow on global warming?

What if I said that the presenter was Al Gore?

Think not? I sure did.

I am just imagining the pitch that Al & Co would have made to the movie producers to get this film made and distributed broadly in the theaters. Most people couldn’t imagine anything more boring to do with their time on a Friday night. It would seem so dull and drab that perhaps a few would turn up to see what the gimmick was going to be. Of course, you would expect some super-liberals to take some time out of their busy schedule of saving baby seals and turning over the compost heap to see it; regardless, none of the above would turn this film into a blockbuster hit.

So last weekend, Steve and I decided to check out this film anyway. I was pleasantly surprised. I had no idea that Al Gore was so involved with this movement. Apparently he has been giving a slideshow on the consequences of global warming almost nonstop since the 2000 presidential campaign. He’s travelled the world, presented his pitch over a thousand times (so claimed during the film) and backed up everything with hard data and support from the scientific community.

poster

Gore is very powerful and effective as a speaker. If only he carried this level of poise during the 2000 campaign. The good news is, it is clear that the film is gaining momentum. Positive word of mouth is playing its part. It opened two weeks ago, playing in 4 theaters over Memorial Day weekend, expanding to 77 theaters this past weekend. Next weekend, they expect to play in 130 theaters. You can check out more details about the movie, and just educate yourself on Global Warming at the movie website http://www.climatecrisis.net/.

Static Push Ups: making major progress

Along with the static contraction weight training, I’ve been working on bodyweight exercises. If static contraction techniques in the weight room can help you develop more top-end power and strength, I think that bodyweight exercises are great to build lasting strength and endurance. I think the two compliment each other. Plus, it is just so much easier to drop and do a few dozen push ups than to head to the gym.

Lately, I’ve decided to mash-up the two! I have been working static holds into my bodyweight exercise routine.

Most people are familiar with just pounding out push up reps or loads of crunches; but when was the last time you just held a push up for as long as you could? Most people never do this, but I think it might be a great way to stress the muscle more effectively.

The technique is this: after stretching a bit, place your arms slightly wider than shoulder width apart, and lower yourself only 3 inches. Hold this pose. Do not go too far down. Your arms should be almost (but not at) their point of complete lock-out.

The first time I did this I thought I could hold it forever (back on April 30th)….I made it 30 seconds before collapsing. Two weeks ago I made it for 2 min 30 seconds! I have been doing holds since then but haven’t timed myself. Will do a spot check later this week to see where I am at.

In parellel, I’ve been testing my 1 set max for pushups. I have been curious to see how only doing this minimal amount of training would help me progress. Here is my 1 set push up max has progressed in the past month:

  • May 7th: 30
  • May 14th: 37
  • May 16th: 38
  • May 29th: 41
  • (today) June 6th: 44

I haven’t been trying to set a personal record each time…but it has ended up happenng. Between May7th and today I have primarily been doing static push holds (one hold to failure every other day) in between my one-rep max tests. I have also done (3-4 times) some Hindu Pushups (yoga combo of downward/plank/upward dog), a few yoga classes and 1 full-on weight room session.

The point is, I am finding my self making some reasonable progress by only doing 1 set of static push ups every other day or so. Could I attribute the gains to the other random stuff I do? Perhaps, but when I was really into doing pushups in high school it tool me a very long time to make the progress I have made in the past month, and I worked a heck of a lot harder! I think there is something to this technique.

I’ll keep going and see where it leads me. My personal best for nonstop push-ups is 52. If I can beat 60 using this method…I will be a true believer!

btw….if you are reading this blog, let me know what your personal 1 set max is for push ups; just curious! Pls add a comment to the blog!

The Importance of Follow Through

I was talking with a Ed (a co-worker of mine) a few weeks ago and the topic of leadership and management came up. Of course, we naturally started talking about Jack Welch, and his latest book “Winning.” I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I have read his other books, and personally think the Audio CD (read by Jack himself) for his book “Straight From The Gut” is one of the best business books of all time. Hearing Jack, in his gruff no-nonsense tone, talk about leadership, is both hilarious and 1000 times more impact-ful than just reading it. It is well worth your time, whether you are working in a big corporation or just looking to motivate yourself, your family or your friends to achieve something worthwhile.

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Ed and I were talking about what it is that makes someone a successful leader. He brought up a fantastic point about what made Jack such powerful figure. Keep in mind, Jack Welch was a lifer at GE, starting right out of school at the age of 26 and climbing to the top over a 30+ year career. The point is, Jack Welch has INCREDIBLE FOLLOW THROUGH. Ed mentioned that in his last book, there are a few pages showing memos from some of the Jack’s top leaders at GEs. These memos were commitments the leader’s had made several years prior. Jack had printed these memos, and personally referenced them regularly years after they were made, making handwritten notes on the memos to keep track of progress against commitments.

To think that a CEO of one of the most successful companies on the planet would have this long-term view and make it a point to not only keep, but reference with painstaking detail the important communications he has with his employees….well, it just blows my mind. Most companies have standard review processes, which including some type of goal-setting and ratings against goals. Unfortunately, management rarely keeps these goals top of mind. Pursuit of the next big thing is always seeming to be more important that actually finishing what was started.

You can say Jack was successful for many reasons (charisma, brains, luck, etc) but I think it comes down to two things 1) endurance and 2) follow through. Finishing what you started and having the endurance to do it. Not losing sight of goals and commitments. Measuring progress (or lack thereof) against those goals and commitments. In my last post (peaceful warrior: an amazing film) I mentioned Tony Robbin’s “words of wisdom” that making progress is ultimately what helps us feel not only a sense of achievement from reaching a goal, but a sense of lasting fulfillment for what we have done. Having following through, means that you are able to see exactly where you (or your company, or your relationship, or whatever) are making progress, and where you are just plain old stagnating.

When was the last time you stopped to review goals or commitments you made for yourself (not for your job) and gave yourself and honest assessment? Most people never do, and when it does happens, it is not done consistently. Following through is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but if it works for Jack, it’s worth giving a shot.

Peaceful Warrior: an amazing film

I just got back from a screening of The Peaceful Warrior, based on the book by Daniel Millman written over 20 years ago. The film is really outstanding. I recommend that everyone go see it…and tell your friends about it. The sad reality is, movies like this will struggle to stay in the theaters more than one or two weekends. Despite the power and impact of the film, mass market appeal and $$$$ are what the big theater’s are looking for. Hopefully with a strong opening week, the film will be around for more folks to check out. Go see it this weekend! Tell your friends! Take your dogs and cats! Blog about it!
Now on to what I think about it ๐Ÿ™‚

The film, produced by Lionsgate, stars Nick Nolte, Amy Smart and Scott Mechlowicz and is a very well made and powerful movie. The thesis of the film is that “there are no oridinary moments,” and is based on Millman’s own autiobiography woven into a narrative. The storyline follows a Cal Berkley gymnast in his quest to become the best, and the unlikley “teacher” (played by Nick Nolte) that ends up showing him the true way to fullment and happiness.

(picture of Nick Nolte as “Socrates” the gas station….I mean “service agent.” You’ll know what I mean once you see the film.)

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The movie is no different to the Yoda/Luke, Mr. Miyagi/Ralph duos we have seen in movies before, but the Peaceful Warrior is able to drive home the message effectively, yet without the pomp and show of an intergallactic battle or predictable david vs goliath sparring matches. Nick Nolte was absolutely perfect in this role. It is great to see him take on this lower-budget independent film. The script was well written, and while I can’t say there were any plot twists I couldn’t forsee, the film was done in a way where you really didn’t care.

Following the film (I saw the showing in a small theater in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle, WA); there was a videoconference live with 7 other sites. In Seattle, a few of the producers were present to take questions. In the remote locations: Dan Millman, all the cast members and many special guests were on hand to comment and discuss their favorite parts of the movie.

Perhaps my biggest suprise was seeing a videoconference feed of Tony Robbins live from Fiji! Tony was a major influence to one of the producers of the film, is a big fan Dan Millman’s writings, and was a big supporter of the film itself. Tony spoke a few words about the movie, and the key messages he hopes we all take away. In a nutshell his guindance was that our lives tend to focus around two things: 1) Achievement and 2) Fulfillment. Achievement is something we are good at, but Fulfillment is something that we often overlook. Achievement is about accomplishing a given end-result. Winning a gold-medal for example. Fulfillment is more of an art, it is about the process of change. It is about making progress. Tony made the point that we are always in one of two states as a human being…progressing or dying…and it is progress that gives us the juice to get excited and achieve great things…while feeling fulfilled. Fulfillment and Progress….Tony’s words of wisdom!

(multi-site videocast with Tony’s oversized head on the big screen!!!)

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Of course, the rest of the cast had some great things to say about the film. Lavar Burton was in one of the remote sites and read a few questions and comments about the movie. I got quite the kick out of that…a totaly throwback to Reading Rainbow!

(one of the producers of the film taking questions in Seattle)

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So I totally recommend seeing the movie. But be warned…you will actually be thinking about it hours after leaving the movie, so if you are looking to zone out…go catch MI3 and if you are looking to take a nap, go see The DaVinci Code.

Food Allergies

Yes, I think I am a victim. The problem with food allergies is they are so hard to figure out yourself. I’ve narrowed it down to Dairy or Wheat. Which means I am basically screwed since that’s what I live on. Need to go get tested at he hospital (apparently pretty easy for them to diagnose)….can’t believe I haven’t had this done yet!

First things first though…tomorrow I am getting my ankle checked out. Sprained it a month ago and it’s still swollen. The ER Xray didn’t show a break, but I think something’s still up.

I Benched 245lbs Today!

Really, I did. A new personal record. Given that I weight 155 soaking wet I think that is pretty good. I’ve NEVER had that much weight on the bar before. People were giving me funny looks. Wondering if I would be OK pushing that much weight off my chest. You see, I wasn’t worried….because I wouldn’t have to get anything off my chest, I would just have to hold the weight where my muscles were at their strongest, near (but not at) the point of full lock out.

I have started a new style of strength training, that directly applies the most basic law of physics to weight training. We all know (or at one time knew!) that Power = Work per unit Time. Your muscles grow by generating increasingly higher amounts of force in a smaller period of time. I have been lifting (on and off) for the past 10 years. My typical routines have invovled doing 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps for 6-8 exercises and increasing weight when I can (when I can remember what I actually did during my last workout). I’ve gone through periods where I have made decent gains. I am by no means a bodybuilder, but am much stronger than I was back in high school or college and attribute much of that to weights. The gains have been slow and gruelling.

This new routine tears that philosophy away. The technique, now called Static Contration by Pete Sisco, and popularized (using a slightly different methodology) by Charles Atlas back in the 50’s (touting that he turned himself from a 97lb weakling to a total babe magnet using his Dynamic Tension (R) method!) focuses on putting very very heavy loads on your muscles at their strongest point. The benefits of this style of workout include (based on my own observation):

  • Less prone to injury; since your joints are never forced into their weak range of motion, where they are most prone to injury
  • Lifting heavy weights gets your body use to what it is like to lift heavy loads (muscle memory)
  • Saves time: lifting in this manner takes hardly any time. My past several workouts have taken about 10 minutes (no joke). Working out with a partner will take longer (and is advised), but even then you will be in and out of the gym in 1 hour (including 15 minutes of cardio and stretching!).
  • Feels good! I leave the gym feeling moderately pumped, and not wiped out. The next day or two I feel like I got a great workout in, but I am not crippled. It is a great feeling.
  • Ego boost: lifting heavy weights is fun…don’t deny it! It’s also funny to see the looks on people’s faces when you throw 300 pounds on the barbell to do a shrug hold!

I’ve only been lifting like this for a few weeks so I can’t speak to the gains and whether the are better than other methods of working out. All I know is that it feels good and my progress over the past three weeks has been great, especially given that I have only worked out once a week for a few minutes each time. I will continue to detail my progress in this blog. Hope to see that 400 bench soon ๐Ÿ™‚

FYI: I’m also using the static contraction approach to supplment the bodyweight exercises I normally do (sit ups, push ups, etc). I’ll talk more about that later.

Throw Your Weight Around

Was out with my buddies Kapil and Jeff tonight. Somehow, the conversation progressed to strength training. I have been reading up (and testing for myself in the gym), a style of weight training called Static Contraction. The gist of the technique, is to use extremely heavy weights, during static holds at near your point of complete lockout. I’ll talk more about my experience with this type of training in another post. I asked Jeff about it, and he mentioned that his football team use to use a similar style of training in college. Of course, he also mentioned that he hardly EVER strength trains any more. He relies almst entirely on body-weight exercises and martial arts to build strength.

Jeff is a very strong guy (used to play D1 football) who is now an experienced Capoerista. Capoeira is a an Afra-Brazilian form of martial arts. Jeff described it as part dance-party, part kung-fu. I was invited to try it out (trust me, I’ll show up, but only in full body armor). During the course of their training sessions, they’ll perform anywhere from 500-800 sit ups and push ups. To mix things up, these will not be standard run of the mill crunches or push ups, but varying styles (including handstand push ups!) to make sure the muscles are build in a way that they have fewer weak points.

The gist of our conversation was that strength training is very useful, but it is important to build strength that you can apply to your life. In the case of working out with your bodyweight, using broad & compound movements, you are applying yourself in a manner that will help you throughout your daily life (and kick butt if you are every jumped in a dark alley). Many of the bodyweight exercises Jeff talked about put massive stress on your core (abs, obliques, back), which are often overlooking when working out in the gym, yet are the most relevant muscles for everyday health and activity.

oh yeah…I did my Hindu Squats, Pushups and Back Bridge day…made about 25 each of the first two, and about 1 minute on the back bend. I have a loooong way to go.

Strength Train With Your Own Bodyweight

The gym is closed. I’m hungry. I’m tired. I’m lazy. I don’t want to deal with traffic. Some days I just don’t feel like making the trek to the gym. Fighting traffic and dealing with the crowds in the locker room and gym floor are the last thing I want to do after a day of work. If only there were way to get much stronger, without actually schlepping around weights. There is a great article by Mike Mahler on bodybuilder.com on this topic. I’m going to start the Back Bends, Hindu Squats and Hindu Push Ups tomorrow. It will probably be a few months before I attempt the Handstand Push Ups!

On a side note: I just started reading some of Mike’s writings, and he really has great perspectives on strength training and nutrition. He trains world-class martial artists and ultimate-fighters, follows a strictly Vegan diet and contributes to several fitness managzines. This guy really knows what it takes to be strong, and build an outstanding level of endurance. Take a look at his site…and let me know how the back-bends are coming along!