Importance of Mobility – 11 Mobility Drill You can do From Anywhere

Functional flexibility, full natural range of motion is critical in our abilities to perform daily tasks without injury. Being able to move our bodies the way we are design without any restrictions creates healthy movement. From a performance perspective (for athletic purposes) this means greater ability to generate force, bigger lifts, higher jumps, more powerful punches etc.

 

For the average individual, this means the ability to perform daily tasks without any difficulty in movement, pains, and injuries to other body parts. Unfortunately, as we age and experience a sedentary lifestyle, we develop health related issues such as obesity, muscular imbalances, tightness and even extended injuries such as spinal problems. These imbalances can affect our movement patterns and thus affects our ability to perform daily tasks. Some of these injuries may be prevented with proper exercise, knowledge and understanding how the body functions.

 

Research has shown that individuals whom walk at last eight blocks per week, or perform at least 1 hour of exercise provided protection against further mobility loss as individuals aged (Eleanor M. Simonsick, 2005). Therefore, one of the best things you can do is just stay active! I also want to give you some mobility/stretching excercises that you can do from basically anywhere (including your office) that would be extremely beneficial for you.

 

Here are 11 of my favourite mobility/stretches that I like to do.

1)    Standing Thoracic Rotation

How to Perform:

a)    Start in a neutral position

b)    take one step forward with one leg into a half lung position. Imagine there is a pole down your spine so that you must keep your spine neutral without leaning forward or backward.

c)     Take the hand of the same side and place it lightly on your sternum.

d)    With a focus on keeping a neutral spine, (squeeze your shoulder blades back together, chest out and abs fully engaged) rotate to the same side as the step you took. Return

e)    Repeat for the other side.

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2)    Deep Squat

How to Perform:

a)    Start in you squat starting position, feet shoulder width apart pointed 45 degrees outward.

b)    Keeping your shoulder blades squeezed back, chest out, and core engaged to brace your back to stay neutral.

c)     Hold onto something in front of you so you may sit back, and lower yourself into your squat.

d)    Lower yourself as deep as possible until your back starts to round (can use a mirror to look).
 

3)    Lunge Side to Side

a)    Start in a neutral position, feet shoulder width apart.

b)    Take a step out to the side, about 4 feet out ward.

c)     Lean your body to one side and lower yourself down.

d)    You should feel a stretch in your groin area.
 

4)    Hinge Back

a)    Start in a neutral position with your feet apart.

b)    Imagine there is a string attached to your hip and you can only move directly backward.

c)     Hinge your hips backward until you feel a stretch in your hamstring.

d)    As you move your hips backward keep your back neutral, its best if you can look at yourself in a mirror, the moment you see your back start to round, stop!

e)    Repeat this a few times and each time you will be able to go a little bit deeper

 

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5)    Hip Flexor

a)    Start on the ground with one knee on the ground (half kneeing position).

b)    Keep the foot of the knee on the ground

c)     Squeeze your glute, you will feel your hips go into a slight posterior tilt.

d)    Move your body forward and feel the stretch.

 

6)    Laying (Or Standing) Hamstring Stretch

a)    Lay on the ground with your back flat against the ground.

b)    Keeping one leg straight against the ground, slowly lift the other leg while keeping it straight.

c)     When you feel the stretch in your hamstring, stop.

d)    Take your hands, place them behind the hamstring of the raised leg, clasp your hands.

e)    Exhale as you pull your leg a bit deeper into your stretch.

Ham-String-1.jpg

 

7)    Frog Stretch

a)    Start on your knees, walk your hands out to your fore arms.

b)    Slow widen your knees

c)     Push your pelvis down to the floor, as you spread your feet.

d)    Push-Backwards as you feel the stretch in your groin area.

 

 

 

8)     a.     Ankle Mobility 1

a)    Lean against a wall and place one foot in-front of the other.

b)    Keep your leg straight and lean into the wall.

c)     Move your ankle in a U pattern while keeping your leg straight.

b.     Ankle Mobility 2

a)    Lean against a wall and place one foot in-front of the other.

b)    Keep your leg straight and lean into the wall.

c)     Move your ankle in a circular pattern while keeping your leg straight.

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 9)    Shoulder Wall Slides

a)    Stand against a wall.

b)    Engage a neutral spine and place your arms to your side at shoulder height.

c)     Make sure your wrist and hands never loose contact with the wall.

d)    Press your hands up while keeping contact with the wall.

 

10) Perfect Stretch

a)    Start on your knees, walk your hands out to your fore arms.

b)    Slow widen your knees

c)     Push your pelvis down to the floor, as you spread your feet.

d)    Push-Backwards as you feel the stretch in your groin area.
 

11) Spread the Floor

Spread-The-Floor.JPG

a)    Start in a neutral position, feet shoulder width apart.

b)    Hinge back at the hips slightly.

c)     Bring your hands overhead and focus on keeping your spine neutral.

d)    Imagine you are trying to spread the floor with your feet.

 

 

 

Bibliography
Eleanor M. Simonsick, J. M. (2005). Just get out the door! Importance of walking outside the home for maintaing mobility: Findings from the womens Health and Aging Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. , 198-203.

 

 

Mike Zhang is the founder of the FSK-12, the 12-week breakthrough program that has changed the lives of thousands of his clients using the FSK-Method. He is the 2011 TBA-SA B-Class North American Muay Thai Champion and the 2014 USMTO (National) Open Class silver medalist as well as a personal trainer with over 10 years of experience. He was team Captain at York Muay Thai in Toronto, Ontario where he helped lead and coach a team of fighters to numerous provincial and national tournaments. He was also on his college varsity track team where he represented his college at numerous national track meets. He specializes in boxing/kickboxing based work-outs to help his clients lose weight and reach their fitness goals.  

 

 Get Abs Like a UFC Superstar - Isometric Ab Finisher (Only 6 Minutes).

With the hype of the Floyd Mayweather and Conor Mcgregor more and more individuals have wondered what do these elite strikers do to work-out and train their abs. I mean, it’s obvious that boxers and MMA fighters have the most attractive mid-sections. Not only do their mid-sections look amazing but they also are rock solid to deflect ferocious body shots.

Today, I am going to take you through an isometric ab routine that is going to help you torch off stubborn belly fat while building that midsection of your dreams.

Are you wondering what is…. and why are we doing “Isometric Ab Workouts?” ….

Your muscles move in three different motions, concentric, eccentric and isometric (J. N. Howell, 1995). Concentric is when your muscle shortens such as the upward motion of a bicep curl, eccentric occurs as your muscle lengthens as the lowering portion of bicep curl. Isometric movements are when you remain still such as when you hold the bicep curl in the middle of your movement. Research has shown that maximal activation of the muscle was observed during isometric muscular contractions (Nicolas Babault, 2001). In addition, certain concentric movements of our abdominal muscles place our vertebrae in a risky position. Crunches and traditional sit-ups place 3,300 newtons (340 kg) of compressive force on the spine when bent in flexion (McGill, 2010).

Therefore, because concentric/eccentric core training movements are not effective nor safe for our bodies. High level athletes such as professional fighters have shifted core training to utilize isometric movements.

The workout today will utilize the FSK (Fat Shredder Kickboxing) Method that utilizes the training methods of the top strikers in the world. It is developed by Mike Zhang, a personal trainer for over 10 years, 2-time North American Muay Thai Champion (Gold/Silver) as well as a professional strength and conditioning coach.

Check out his program that has helped thousands of individuals lose weight and get into the best shape of their life at the link here.
 

Isometric Ab Work-out Of the Day

Today this work-out will last only 6 minutes and is a perfect way to finish your work-out. If you want a challenge, perform 2 circuits of this work-out to really challenge yourself. You will perform each exercise for 50 seconds before moving onto the next exercise with a 10 second transition period.
 

1)    FSK-Plank (50 Seconds + 10 Second Transition Period)

I.         Hold your body up on your elbows and feet. Your hands should point forward.

II.         When engaged, squeeze everything in your body including your glute, shoulders, abs and even your chest.

III.         Observe in the mirror to ensure that your back is neutral and your glute is reasonably straight with your back not up or down.

 

2)    Plank Bird-Dog (50 Seconds + 10 Second Transition Period)

birdDog.gif

I.         Start on your hands and knees, have a slight curve in your back to assume neutral position, engage your core.

II.         Keeping everything still except your arm and leg, extend your arm and opposite leg. Ensure that your core is engaged fully.

III.         Hold the extended position for 5 seconds, if desired, draw a square with your hand and leg for added difficulty.

IV.         Repeat for the other side. 
 

3)    Plank Hip Twist (50 Seconds + 10 Second Transition Period)

I.         Start in a plank position.

II.         With a focus on keeping a neutral spine, turn to one side and let your hip touch the ground.

III.         Repeat for the other side.



 

4)    High Plank Walk-Out (50 Seconds + 10 Second Transition Period)

I.         Start in a push-up position or high plank, make sure that your back is flat.

II.         Keeping your whole body engaged so that your hips do not sway left and right, walk slowly forward to a point where you find it difficult to suspend your body.

III.         Walk back slowly, with a focus on keeping your core stable and not wobbling as you step with your hands.

IV.         Through this exercise, focus on keeping your back straight and your core engaged as if someone were about to hit you.
 

5)    Long Plank Push-Up (50 Seconds + 10 Second Transition Period)

I.         Start in an extended high plank position laying on the floor.

II.         Push yourself up to a high plank position.

III.         Hold it for 3 seconds then lower yourself down.

 

6)    High Plank Bird Dog (50 Seconds + 10 Second Transition Period)

I.         Start on your hands and knees, have a slight curve in your back to assume neutral position, engage your core.

II.         Keeping everything still except your arm and leg, extend your arm and opposite leg. Ensure that your core is engaged fully.

III.         Hold the extended position for 5 seconds, if desired, draw a square with your hand and leg for added difficulty.

IV.         Repeat for the other side.

 

 

Bibliography

J. N. Howell, A. J.-R. (1995, August). Motor unit activity during isometric and concentric-eccentric contractions of the human first dorsal interosseus muscle. Journal of Neurophysiology, 74(2), 901-904.

McGill, S. (2010, June). Core Training: Evidence Translating to Better Performance and Injury Prevention. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 32(3), 33-46.

Nicolas Babault, M. P. (2001, August 14). Activation of human quadriceps of femoris during isometric, concentric, and eccentric contractions. Journal Appl Physiol, 2628-2634.

 
MikeZ-2-JPEG.jpg

 Mike Zhang is the founder of the FSK-12, the 12-week breakthrough program that has changed the lives of thousands of his clients using the FSK-Method. He is the 2011 TBA-SA B-Class North American Muay Thai Champion and the 2014 USMTO (National) Open Class silver medalist as well as a personal trainer with over 10 years of experience. He was team Captain at York Muay Thai in Toronto, Ontario where he helped lead and coach a team of fighters to numerous provincial and national tournaments. He was also on his college varsity track team where he represented his college at numerous national track meets. He specializes in boxing/kickboxing based work-outs to help his clients lose weight and reach their fitness goals. 

 

 

Top 10 Exercises to Train Your Posterior Chain and Back.

Today, we often neglect our posterior chain as we focus on the muscles that other people can see such as our abs, biceps, and chest. Also, as a society, we have shifted to a more dormant lifestyle where we remain sedentary for extended periods of time.  Sedentary behaviours include sitting in a variety of settings, for example watching television at home, looking at a laptop, driving a car etc.  These behaviour characteristic can lead to an inadequately developed posterior chain.

Unfortunately, by neglecting to develop your posterior chain (back and hamstring) it can slow down your work-out results as well as cause injuries further down the road. Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is largely regulated by your body muscular mass, and since your posterior chain is one of the largest muscles in your body, it can significantly increase your BMR. This will allow you to stimulate the after-burn effect.  In addition, studies have shown that by strengthening an individual’s lower back, it can prevent long term lower back pains (Elline MD De Ridder, 2013).

What is Your Posterior Chain?

Your posterior chain is composed of all the muscle in the backside (posterior) side of your body. This includes your glutes, hamstrings, calves, spinal erectors, all the muscles in your back (Lower and Upper). Essentially, it’s all the muscles in your backside that people may not see.

What is it’s Role

Your posterior chain is responsible for the stabilization of your body, hip extension and is critical for the well-being of your body. Although these muscles are hidden from the eye, they play an essential role in your body. First, they are responsible for maintaining a proper spinal position, which is how your body is being supported. A strong back helps maintain posture when you walk, run, sit and do every day activities. Your back is like a suspension bridge, the main structure is your spine but what holds it in place are your muscles and tendons (posterior chain). If you lack the proper muscular system to support your back then you can risk damaging it when you perform day to day activities.

Why is it Important?

Your posterior chain is important because it helps brace your trunk as well as help maintain a healthy posture. Your posterior chain can help in injury prevention of your back. Certain individuals who experience back pains wrongfully associate physical activity with increased pain and therefore demobilize themselves, only to further their problem. Decreased joint mobilization is associated with a decrease in muscular strength/endurance and cardiovascular fitness (David M. Carpenter, 1998). A strong back will encourage you to maintain a neutral posture. When you sit, and you slouch forward, that is a sign of an imbalance of your anterior and posterior chain. Your back helps also prevent rounded shoulders.

In addition, your back side is the biggest muscle in your body therefore, if you want to be strong and build muscle, your backside is the easiest way for you to put on muscle mass as it is the biggest muscle in your body. Exercises such as bent over row, and deadlift are essential to help you put on muscle mass.

On the other hand, if you perform certain exercises without properly activating your glute, you may end up compensating with other parts of your body that may result in other parts being overworked often resulting in injuries and a lack of performance.

What Happens if You have a Weak Posterior chain?

If you have a weak posterior chain, you may notice that you are more susceptible to lower back pains as well as other injuries that may be indirectly related to your glute activation. This can include knee injuries due to an overactive quadriceps muscle. You will also be at a higher risk or lower back and back related pains. In addition, you may notice that when you sit and/or walk your posture is more slouched forward, showing that you may have an imbalance between your anterior and posterior muscles.

What are the 10 best exercises to strengthen my posterior chain?

Body Weight Exercises

Back Extensions

Muscles Worked:

Lower back

How to Perform:

1.     Start by laying down on the floor on your stomach.

2.     Lift your arms and legs up so that they are off the floor. Hold each rep for 3 seconds then relax.

Bird dog

Muscles Worked:

Lower/Upper back

How to Perform:

1.     Start on your hands and knees with a focus on maintaining a neutral spine by squeezing your shoulder blades back, pushing your chest out and engaging your abs.

2.     Extend one arm and one leg (opposites) out while focusing on maintaining your body rigid and not moving.

3.     Bring your arm and leg back and repeat on the other side.

Pull-Ups
 

Muscles Worked:

Lower back

How to Perform:

1.     Find a chin up bar or a stationary object that can hold your body weight.

2.    Pull yourself up, envisioning bringing your chest up to the bar with as small swing as possible.

3.     Slowly lower yourself back down to your starting position.

Good Mornings
 

RDL(weighted-1).jpg
RDL-(Weighted-2).jpg

Muscles Worked:

Full Posterior Chain

How to Perform:

1.     Start by standing feet shoulder width apart. 

2.    Hinge back at the hips as you maintain a neutral spine.

3.    Bring your body back up.

Reverse Rows

Inverted_Row_F_WorkoutLabs.png

Muscles Worked:

Upper Back

How to Perform:

1.     Find a stationary object that can support you.

2.    Grab the bar facing upward and squeeze your shoulder blades back.

3.    Engaging. your core, as you pull yourself up trying to touch the bar with your chest. 

5 Resistance Posterior Chain Exercises

Single Arm Barbell Row

Muscles Worked:

Lower back

How to Perform:

1.     Start by placing one knee up on a bench while holding the weight in the other hand.

2.     Keeping your back neutral (slight arch) and ridged, pull the weight so that your elbow travels right by your side.

Deadlift

Muscles Worked

Lower back

How to Perform:

1.     This technique can be performed with dumb-bells or a bar.

2.     Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hinge back at your hips and slowly lower down to pick up the weight.

3.     Keeping your back flat (neutral without rounding) pull the weight up.

Romanian Deadlift

Muscles Worked

Full Posterior Chain

How to Perform:

1.     Start by standing in your neutral stance (Feet shoulder width apart, back slightly arched, chest up, shoulder blades back).

2.     Hold the weight in your hand.

3.     Hinge back at the hips while keeping your back neutral.

4.     Hinge back to a point where you feel a stretch in your back, stop at this point. The difference between this movement and the deadlift is that your legs can remain a bit more straight.

Lying Overhead Dumbbell Pullover

Muscles Worked:

Lower back

How to Perform:

1.     Start by laying down on a bench. Arch your back so that it’s in a neutral position and making contact on your upper-back.

2.      Lift the dumbbell up in front of your and extend it so that its over your head.

3.     When you bring it up, focus on squeezing your latissimus dorsi muscle.

Kettle Bell Swing

Muscles Worked:

Full Posterior Chain

How to Perform:

1.     Start by picking up the kettle bell off the ground.

2.     Hinge back at your hips as you bring the kettle bell under you, just behind you between your legs.

3.     Keeping your back neutral, squeeze your glute muscle and use your glute to swing the kettle up to about your waist level.

 
References  
Chantal A. Vella, P. L. (2004, Nov 1). Exercise After-Burn: A Research Update. Retrieved July 6, 2017, from Idea Fit: http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/exercise-after-burn-0?
David M. Carpenter, B. W. (1998, May). Low Back Strengthening for Prevention and Treatment of Low Back Pain. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, 18-24.
Elline MD De Ridder, J. O. (2013). Posterior muscle chain activity during various extension exercises: an observational study. Biomed Central, 1 - 11.
Nico Pronk, P. (2010). The Problem with Too Much Sitting. Health & Fitness Journal, 15(1), 41-43.

 

 

Mike Zhang is the founder of the FSK-12, the 12-week breakthrough program that has changed the lives of thousands of his clients using the FSK-Method. He is the 2011 TBA-SA B-Class North American Muay Thai Champion and the 2014 USMTO (National) Open Class silver medalist as well as a personal trainer with over 10 years of experience. He was team Captain at York Muay Thai in Toronto, Ontario where he helped lead and coach a team of fighters to numerous provincial and national tournaments. He was also on his college varsity track team where he represented his college at numerous national track meets. He specializes in boxing/kickboxing based work-outs to help his clients lose weight and reach their fitness goals. 

 

How to Eliminate Sciatic Pain

Shooting Pain/Numbness Going Down Your Butt?

If you do feel this…then you may be feeling Sciatic Pain.

Have you heard of the word sciatic?

Even if you have not…you are more than likely familiar with its effects.

After an extended period of sitting, you may have a numbness, tingling feeling going down your buttock area. Sometimes this shooting pain can cause you to become immobile. Sometimes this pain can get worse by sitting and you may think that staying still will help you improve your situation. Unfortunately, this is not an idea solution. Even worse, you may decide to numb your pain nerves by taking medication. That is not the solution either.

What you need to do is address the root cause and resolve the problem. This can be done in several different ways such as: performing exercises that will either allow additional mobility, strength, and/or relieve any tightness in your body that’s causing your pain.

In fact, there are many causes of the sciatica, some treatable with exercise and mobility and some that may not.

We ask that you try some movement to allow your body to recover and see if you can help yourself.

Please note that this article is not meant to replace advice from a physician and your family doctor should always be consulted prior to any strenuous physical activity.

What is the Sciatic Nerve?

The sciatic is one of the largest nerves in your body. It is formed by the nerves coming out of your low back and into your buttock area. It extends through the posterior (rear) side of your body all the way down to your heels/ankles.

What are the causes of Sciatic Pain?

There are numerous causes of sciatica pains such as when the nerve is compressed or irritated. Sciatica pains are also present in individuals with existing lower back pains. Some causes of lower back pains such as the piriformis syndrome has been known to cause sciatic Pains. Individuals with a herniated/ruptured spinal disc, imbalance in hip flexors, hamstring tightness may also experience sciatic pains. In some rare conditions, it can be caused by other factors such as tumors and/or pregnancy (WebMD, 2015).

What are some Things to Avoid?

1) Sitting for an Extended Period

When you sit for a long period of time, your pelvic has a slight tilt which causes a strain to your hip flexors that pulls on your lower vertebrae. This can cause to lower back pains. In addition, when you sit, you are compressing your sciatia nerve.

2) Activities that Require the Constant Flexion of Your Spine.

Activities that require the constant flexion (Curving) of the spine such as when you are performing a sit-up causes unnecessary compressive forces in your spine. These forces can cause damage to your vertebrae discs and lead to back pains.  

3) Wearing High Heels

Wearing high heels puts stress on your posterior chain which causes a strain on your sciatic nerve.

What are some Exercises to Relieve your Sciatica?

General Note

The muscles in your back behave like a suspension bridge that support your structure (your spine). Certain techniques, require no movement of your body rather require you activate your back muscles by creative isometric movements.  

Not sure how to do that?

Let us show you!

Active Chair Position  

 Active Chair Position 

Active Chair Position 

Start with your hands over your head, squeeze your glute and squeeze your core. This will naturally cause your back to be neutral…you will feel it hold its natural curve. Then you are going to push your hips back and hinge back until you feel your hamstring get tight.

Keeping your hands over your head, keep pushing your chest out to maintain a neutral spine, try to spread the floor with your feet. Imagine that you are splitting the ground apart.

You should feel your lower back get activated.

 

Half Way tilt

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Start with your hands by your side in a neutral stance position. Push your hips back and hinge forward while keeping your back straight. Place your hands on your knees while keeping your neutral back. Push down with your arms to active your back muscles.

 

 

 

 

 

Cobra Position

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Start on your stomach. Extend your body by bringing up your head and your feet. Hold for three seconds and repeat.

 

 

 

 

Couch Stretch

Start by getting into a lunge position (on one knee, with the other leg bent). Reach back and grab the leg. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in you hip flexor and/or quad. 

 

 

 

 

 

Thread the Needle Stretch

yoga-threading-the-needle-pose.jpg

Start on your back with one leg across the other leg. Reach through your leg that is straight and pull through so that you feel the stretch in your opposite glute .

 

 

 

Bibliography

B W Koes, M. W. (2007). Diagnosis and Treatment of Sciatica . Clinical Review , 334, 1313 - 1317.

McGill, S. (2010, June). Core Training: Evidence Translating to Better Performance and Injury Prevention. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 32(3), 33-46.

Mcgill, S. M. (2001). Dr. Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada., Department of Kinesiology,. Waterloo: American College of Sports Medicine.

WebMD. (2015, April 21). Sciatica - Topic Overview. Retrieved June 12, 2017, from Web MD : http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/tc/sciatica-topic-overview

  

Anita Hoang is a Critical Care Registered Nurse in Toronto, Canada. She has trained at York Muay Thai, Atlas Boxing and Sinbi Muay Thai in Thailand. She has stepped into the ring numerous times as a competitive athlete. She was also on her high school volleyball team for four years. She has two bachelors degrees, one in Kinesiology and Health Sciences and one in Nursing. She is a firm believe in the application of the fighters mind set in all areas of her life. She has won numerous academic and athletic achievement awards.

Why Stretching is Important?

If you want to enjoy the benefits of your work out and maintain longevity of your body it is important that you need to stretch after an intense workout session. When you work-out, your muscles naturally lengthen, contract and build lactic acid. As your muscles fatigue they remain can remain contracted and the build of of lactic acid remain. When your muscle feels tense or in a contracted position, you will feel that your range of motion decrease. Over a period, if you do not stretch it can lead to developing stress points and weaknesses in certain muscles as well as your fascia (the connecting tissue between muscle and bone).

This tightness limits your range of motion, and sometimes if your muscles are really tense you can damage them. In addition, when one muscle is very tense, it can restrict your movement causing additional stresses to other surrounding muscles. Often, this is how small complication gets compounded to a much more serious issue.

Here are some reasons why stretching is so important:

1)    Stretching Reduces Lower Back Pains

If you are in a seated position all day, or work a desk job you may have experienced some hamstring tensions, or you feel your hamstrings become numb. This can eventually lead to tension in your hip flexors, which can result in lower back pains.

Have you ever wondered why this happens?

Well, when we are in a seated position our hips are in an anterior pelvic position. In this position, your body creates a natural pull on your hamstring which causes your hip flexors to be tight.  Your hip flexors are connected to your lumbar vertebrae which will pull on your lumbar vertebrae and cause lower back pains.

This can be easily solved by stretching and relaxing the hamstring and hip flexor muscles.
 

2)    Helps Improve Your Work-out

Your range of motion is related to how well your body can move. Your squat depth, ability to touch your toes, or even do things such as reaching up to retrieve something overhead of you. If you have stiffness in your body, you may not be able to move properly. This is going to affect your work-out, as if you can’t fully perform a squat, then you won’t get the full benefits from it.
 

3)    It Prevents Future Injuries

When you have a proper range of motion, your everyday tasks won’t be as difficult for you. For example, if you bend over to pick something up you risk pulling your back muscle if its very tense. However, when you stretch and are familiar with that position, your chances of pulling your back reduces.
 

4)    It Gives You a Chance to Calm Your Mind

By slowing down, and taking 15 minutes to go through a stretching routine, it can also give your mind a chance to take a small break. Working out can be tough (different from the work type of stress that causes cortisol’s) so having 15 minutes at the end of your work-out gives you a chance to cool down, reflect and look back at your workout. It also let you feel your body to see if there are any injuries that you might need to address.
 

Essential Hip Flexor Stretches

In my exercise guide on page 42 you have a list of stretches that you can do. I am going to give you two stretches that you should do if you have tight hip flexors as lower back pains from sitting too much (tight hips) is one of the most common problems I see.  

1) Pigeon Pose

Start on your hands and feet in a push up position. Bring 1 leg up beside you to get into the runners pose, lay that leg flat on the ground across of you. Lean forward as far as you can while feeling the stretch in your glute. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.

 

2) Couch Stretch

Start by getting into a lunge position (on one knee, with the other leg bent). Reach back and grab the leg. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in you hip flexor and/or quad.

Quad-Lunge(2).JPG

 

 

 

What Happens to Our Bodies when we Don't Sleep Enough

Remember that time you stayed up until 4:00 AM studying or binge watched a great series on Netflix? Then after 2 or 3 hours of sleep, you wake up feeling groggy. Yup, it’s a terrible feeling; you are not at your best. As it happens, inadequate sleep impairs your memory, mood, and completing basic functions. People vary in their need for sleep, however, running on a few hours does impact your body and mind incredibly.

This is what lack of sleep does to your body:

1.         Mood

When exhausted, people are inclined to act and say things, which they might regret later, without even knowing it. You are more irritable, angry, impulsive, and emotional. You might find yourself ranting or lashing out at a partner. Don’t be a Moody Morty, get some sleep to regulate that anger. You don’t want to be accused of “Waking up on the wrong side of the bed”.

2.         Memory

Can’t remember where you put your keys or what you had for dinner last night? Not remembering the simplest things are annoying. Don’t panic, your cognitive processes are just not up to par. Lack of sleep makes it difficult to recall memories and learn efficiently.   Alertness, reasoning, concentration, and problem solving have also been affected resulting in a tougher time attaining information that you have learned during the day. It is essential that you are able to get a decent amount of sleep to recover your body, as well as, your mind.

3.         Reaction Time

Every second counts. When only having to sleep for a few hours, your ability to pay attention and make a spilt second decision is compromised. Your health and those around you are vulnerable and at risk because you are less likely to respond fast enough in a situation which, unfortunately, making the wrong decision can lead to accidents and changing the course of life in a whole new direction.  The result is a physiological affect; the brain is reacting slowly to stimuli due to the brain not getting enough time to rest.

4.         Sickness

Your immune system can also suffer from inadequate sleep. Many nights of poor sleep results in lowering your defence against diseases making it easier to get sick and recovery time to be a lot longer when you are sick. While you sleep, your body produces a protein called Cytokines. Cytokines are what help to protect against infections and inflammations (Olson, 2015). Your body’s ability to fight off sickness is more difficult resulting in your body to push a little bit harder to fight off that cold.

5.         Weight Gain

Are you eating healthy and exercising? However, that special number is not where you want it to be? Consider your sleep pattern.  As we sleep, our body produces certain hormones to regulate our metabolism, glucose levels, and appetite. Not enough sleep disrupts the balance of these hormones. For example, lower levels of leptin are produced, a hormone that sends signals to your brain that you had enough to eat. In addition, high levels of a biochemical called ghrelin is produced which stimulates appetite (Taheri, Lin, Austin, Young & Mignot, 2014). You are programming your body to eat more by sleeping less. Your appetite increases because your brain is not receiving the message that you are full. Another disruption is high levels of insulin are being produced. When the body does not get a sufficient amount of sleep it promotes fat storage and the developing type 2 diabetes (Taheri et al., 2014).

It is incredibly important that we allow our body and mind to rest. After a long day of work and play it is essential to sleep a sufficient amount hours so we can be on our A-game in order to conquer the next day.

 

Bibliography

Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T., & Mignot, E. (2004). Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS Medicine, 1(3), 210-217

Olson, E.J., MD. (2015). Lack of Sleep: Can it make you sick? Retrieved May 30, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757

 

 

Armie Millet is the Editor in Chief at Driven Fighters. She is responsible for managing the content that is published on Driven Fighters. She has extensive experience in writing, publishing and editing academic articles. She graduated from York University with a degree in political science (Honours).  She enjoys to work-out, read and hang out with her friends when she isn't busy volunteering for the health and stroke foundation. 

How to Prevent and Treat Muscle Cramps

There are many different names associated with muscle cramps. Some call them muscle "stiffened up", "stitches in my muscle" or "muscle spasms", whatever we may call them one thing is the same....they all suck! Muscle cramps are extremely painful and unpleasant. When we exercise intensely and we experience a muscle cramp, we often simply call to the ground and need to wait until that muscle relaxes...often putting us out of commission for the rest of the day. Here are some strategies that you may implement to prevent cramps.

1 - Pre-Hydration

Its pretty common knowledge that when we work-out we need to stay hydrated in order for our bodies to perform. When we are dehydrated our sodium levels increase, we feel weaker, and the chances of muscle cramps significantly increase. However, did you know that the majority of people start their work-outs de-hydrated already? In order to prevent muscle cramps during your work-out, it is very important to properly pre-hydrate yourself so that when you start your work-out, your body is ready. Generally speaking, an hour before an intense work-out you should drink 2 cups of water, then 30 minutes before drink another cup, and 15 minutes before have another cup. Then throughout your work-out you should be drinking at least 3 cups of water diluted with gatorade or BCAA's (Branch Chain Amino Acids) if you are having an intense work-out. BCAA's are amino acids that help prevent the breakdown of your muscle during exercise.

2 - Consume Electrolytes

As we sweat during our work-out our bodies naturally loose sodium and potassium (electrolytes). As our bodies loose electrolytes our bodies become more susceptible to developing muscle cramps. When we are working out, it is very important to consume Gatorade/Powerade or coconut water. Prior to your work out its helpful if you eat a banana before your work-out to raise the level of potassium in your body. 

3 - Warm-Up Properly

A lot of people compare our bodies to a car, that a car needs a few minutes to warm-up on a cold day. In reality, our bodies needs a proper warm up even more than a car. Our blood vessels, and muscles shrink and relax when they are not being exerted. In order for them to operate at maximum performance, the blood vessels need to get stimulated, to be able to accept the extra blood. If you do not warm up properly, and all of sudden overload your body, you can expect your muscles to cramp up. 

How to Treat Muscle Cramps

1 - Rest and Massage

When you feel your muscle start to cramp or cramp up, you should immediately stop and let it rest. Place the limb or muscle in a neutral resting position. If possible, have someone very gently massage the muscle to stimulate blood flow to it. If possible, use a warm towel and give the muscle a chance to rest. Then, get a bottle of water with electrolytes and drink the whole thing right away.

2 - Reduce Work-Load

After your muscle cramps up, do not try to do the same strenuous exercise, your body is telling you that its struggling so you should listen to it. Take some time to slow down your exercise and avoid straining that muscle. 

3 - Strengthen that Muscle

Sometimes a muscle gets strained because it isn't strong enough or it has been neglected for a period of time and not allowed to develop as strong as other muscles. After the muscle cramps, you should rest, however, the follow work-out, you can put an emphasize on developing that particular muscle.
 

Cam Tang Poy B.A is a Kru (instructor) at York Muay Thai in North York, Toronto. He began training Muay Thai in 2007 under Kru Yai Jenypher Lanthier (Head instructor of York Muay Thai). Since then, he has competed as an amateur fighter both in Canada and the United States, and now focuses on developing the students and athletes at York Muay Thai. He is also the director of their Kids Muay Thai program. In 2010 and 2011, Cam taught the Muay Thai program at York University’s Tait McKenzie Fitness Center, as well as Boot Camp classes at its Vanier College. In 2012, Cam became an Ontario Certified Teacher, completing his education at the University of Toronto. Today, he has the privilege of living his passions 24/7. Working in Toronto schools during the day and training Muay Thai students by night has pushed him to continue learning and growing. He loves every moment of it.

 

 

 

Herbal Drink to Help Bloating and Improve Digestion.

Herbal teas are a great solution to bloating and digestion issues. Numerous different herbs have been proven to be a great metabolism booster and effective at reducing bloating and promoting digestion. Green tea, oolong tea and ginger lemon tea are all an effective tea to drink after a meal to help stimulate digestion and reduce bloating problems.

My personal favourite is ginger, turmeric, honey and lemon tea. I drink this whenever I have a big meal and don’t want to feel bloated, and especially if I start to feel a bit sick. Personally, I have found that this drink helps a lot. Here is the recipe and five benefits of this special herbal tea mixture.

 Herbal Tea Recipe

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Ingredients:

3 Whole Lemons

10 - 14 small (roughly 9 cubic cm) cube size ginger pieces

4 - 6 small (roughly 9 cubic cm) cube size turmeric pieces 

4 - 5 cups of water in a pot.

Directions:

1.     Wash the lemons

2.     Cut the whole lemons into 3 parts, leaving the skin intact.

3.     Peel the ginger and slice into 10 small pieces.

4.     Peel the turmeric and slice into 4 small pieces

4.     Add 4 – 5 cups of water into your pot

5.     Boil for 5 - 7 minutes.

6.     Add 3 - 4 tablespoons of natural honey to the pot of water.

7.     Serve and enjoy!

4 Benefits of this Herbal Tea
 

1.     Provide Relief from Nausea and Indigestion.

Ginger has traditionally been used to aid digestion and treat upset stomach, diarrhoea and nausea (Yogeshwer Shukla, 2007). Ginger possesses a chemical that reduces inflammation and stimulates the production of saliva, bile and stomach juice to aid in digestion. In addition, it has muscle relaxant properties that helps your stomach and intestines relax. This can help relieve gases formed during digestion.

The combination of lemon, ginger and honey also helps detoxify the body as the combination is a diuretic substance, which is an element that stimulates the production of urine. The antioxidants vitamins, and electrolytes in the drink will also help your body naturally balance to feel better.
 

2.     Help Promote Weight Loss.

This drink works three folds. The honey possesses anti-inflammatory properties that helps your body process the toxins from the environment and the foods that we eat. The inflammation in our body can contribute to that stubborn body fat, which we can also call deep fat (visceral fat (Malin Alvehus, 2010). This level of fat is what gives us those hard to get rid of areas and in fact, these deep fats are much more dangerous to our health. In addition, lemon juice is rich in vitamin c and fibre which is critical to your immune system as well as your satiety levels (how full you feel). Ginger is often consumed to specifically target belly fat as it reduces inflammation, promote digestion and reduce bloating resulting in a flatter stomach.
 

3.     Helps Relief Flu Symptoms

Honey by itself possesses anti-bacterial properties that show it is effective at killing bacteria. It is also loaded with natural enzymes, minerals, amio-acids that is essential to help strengthen your immune system. It also functions as a natural cough suppressant. Lemons are packed with vitamin C, which is essential to support your immune system. Ginger also helps you sweat out the toxin in your body which is beneficial when you have a cold.

4.     Hidden Power of Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the most powerful herbal remedies available.  It is a spice from the root of Curcuma Longa Linn, a member of the ginger family. The powder is widely used as a spice in India. In the last 2 decades, there have been numerous research emphasizing the health benefits of this spice. This spice has been shown to eliminate ingested environmental toxins as well as stimulate metabolic enzymes (Krishnaswamy 2008). This spice is known to block the formation of fat cells in our body. It has also been proven to lower insulin levels as a reduction in serum insulin level was also documented (Krishnaswamy 2008).

 

 

Mike Zhang is a fitness, health and striking coach. With over 10 years of experience as an athlete and personal trainer he possesses a vast amount of information pertaining to weight loss, nutrition, boxing/kickboxing and overall fitness. He was the 2011 TBA-SA B-Class Champion, 2014 USMTO Open Class Silver Medalist and York Muay Thai Athlete of the Year in 2014. He worked as a personal trainer at a local commercial gym and assistant coach at his Muay Thai gym. He is also the founder of the FSK-Method, an innovative training method based on the work-out regimes of elite kick-boxers and is helping thousands of people reach their fitness goals.

 

 

Bibliography
Krishnaswamy, Kamala. 2008. "Traditional Indian Spices and Their Health Significance." Asia Pacific Nutrition (National Institute of Nutrition) 265 - 268.
Malin Alvehus, J. B. (2010). The Human Visceral Fat Depot Has a Unique Inflammatory Profile. Obesity, 879 - 883 .
Yogeshwer Shukla, M. S. (2007, May). Cancer preventive properties of ginger: A brief review . Food and Chemical Toxicology, 45(5), 683-690.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Ways to Stay Committed to a Task

3 Ways To Stay Committed to Something.

SO! We just watched a motivational video, came out of a powerful conference or maybe signed up for that work-out program and we feel great, pumped up, amped up, and ready to go. We tell ourselves that we are going to make some HUGE changes in our lives, starting tomorrow. We get all the tools that we, set our alarm for 5 am, then go to bed ready to start off our new lifestyle. The alarm goes off and we say to ourselves “Ah, let’s do it tomorrow” or “I’ll start tomorrow” and head back to sleep.  

We are all human beings, we all get lazy, we all feel tired we all want to procrastinate sometimes. There are little hacks that you can use to ensure your success. Here are 4 Proven Ways that my clients, friends, and myself use to stay committed to their goals (Fitness, Doctorate Degrees, Career Related).

 

1)    Program Your Mind

Our human brain only utilizes about 10% of its abilities for our conscious endeavours. What we fail to realize is the power of our subconscious brain. To program your mind to help you reach your objective, program your mind with a trigger and a response. For example, when you want to accomplish a task such as getting up at 7 am to go to the gym. Take time a few days before you start to practice training how your mornings will occur. Visualize yourself waking up, feeling tired asking yourself should I work-out. Then program your mind with a trigger and response system. When the trigger (Asking yourself if you should work-out or not) occurs, the response (Getting up and brushing your teeth) would occur immediately. Practice and visualize this over and over again until it becomes second nature. 

Here is how I learned this:

When I started boxing, I was always scared to spar. People invited me to spar, and I would always come up with an excuse. O sorry, I forgot my mouth guard or oh, not today I hurt my ankle. Most of these were irrelevant excuses that I made. Then one day, my trainer passed away suddenly and it was crushing. One thing I remembered was how I regretted never having the chance to train with him. At that point, I decided, when the question ever came up in my mind “should I spar or not” the immediate response would yes, and I’d start to put action in towards sparring, such as walking to grab my gear. I trained my body and mind, to immediately react. I’d meditate, and go over this situation in my mind over and over until it was engraved into my subconscious mind. When my coached ask who wanted to spar after class. This was the trigger for me to start doing the response. Sometimes, I really wouldn’t even know what I was doing…I didn’t want to spar because I was nervous. There may be a good fighter there, or I was tired but by the time my mind was thinking, I was already gloving up and about to start. Since I was already doing it, I thought well, I might as well keep going.
 

2)    Set Yourself for Success

We’re all human beings. If you sleep at 2 am, and you want to get up at 5 am, you won’t perform well at all. If you go out drinking the night before a scheduled work-out, you probably will have a harder time getting up. It’s not impossible, but it makes it a lot harder. When you have a big exam, if you give yourself plenty of time to study you will have a higher chance of success than if you cram.

There are things that you can do to improve your odds of accomplishing the task. 

 

3)    Write it Down, Look at it Daily. 

“Motivation gets you started, Habit is what keeps you going”

One powerful idea that many individuals underestimate is the power of writing your goals down. To supercharge that goal, write it down on a large calendar that you post visually, then add a cross on each day that you complete your goal. For example, here is what my calendar looks like. I personally work-out 5 days a week, I take the time at the beginning of the month to write down what I want to do, put it somewhere where I see it daily. Then as I complete the task, I cross it off. Eventually, you’ll see your amazing work and not want to stop it, forming a habit.

 

4)    Get Competitive (Get a Good Team)

I want to introduce you to my friend Mike Durst (Instagram: @durstle) A Muay Thai Champion, Well Educated (Multiple Degrees) and my training partner. When we were fight training, in sparring when that bell “Dings!” I knew I had to be sharp, because if I wasn’t then he would take my head off. We always pushed each other through our extremely competitive nature. I never slacked during training with him because he always wanted to beat me by a bit, and since I am a better overall athlete I would never let him.

When I trained with him, I won most of my fights, and I even knocked out one of my opponents in the first round.

Find people that help bring out the best in you and keep you accountable to your goals. Even better, if you can do the same task such as working out with a buddy, then you would think twice about not going. However, don’t let this be an excuse for why you don’t start. Often, when you start doing something, you may have to start alone, but soon you’ll find people who share the same objective as you.

“A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship” – John D Rockefeller.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

MikeZ-2-JPEG.jpg

Michael Zhang M.Eng is a fighter and coach from York Muay Thai in North York Toronto. He has 20+ fights across North American and is the 2011 TBA B-Class North American Champion and finalist in the 2014 Open Class Striking Tournament. He was voted Halton Region Entrepreneur of the year and featured on CH News for his start up "Lawn Sharks" when he was in grade 12. He continued to invest and advise several start ups throughout his post secondary education including a physiotherapy/beauty clinic and a restaurant/bar. He has held several management level positions including technical specialist of engineering for a 60 million dollar segment and project manager of restoration where he was responsible for up to 15 trades people. He holds a Masters of Civil Engineering Degree from the University of Toronto (Dean's List). 

11 Way to Speed Up Your Recovery

After a hard workout we often feel sore due to delayed onset muscle soreness. Often, if we work out hard enough, this soreness is so severe that we do not want to get back into the gym! We often emphasize on working out hard in the gym, but we forget that muscles grow when we are resting and recovering. That being said, planned recovery and rest are just as important as the workout.

Here are a few good ways to help speed up your recovery.

1 - Foam Rolling.

Foam rolling after a workout is critical. By stimulating blood flow to your muscle it can help speed up recovery. Also, by working your muscles you are able to help your muscles relax and work out the lactic acid developped from your workout.
 

2 - Ice bath.

Taking an ice bath is a great way to force your body to cool down and draw out the lactic acid from your muscles. Often, high levele athletes after an intense training session with jump into an ice bath for arond 10 minutes to speed up recovery. Today, this has been taken a step further with businesses offering services that offer “Deep Cool” recovery.
 

3 - Proper Warm-Up.

Often we rush into our work-out without properly allowing our bodies to warm up. Imagine a car that on a winter day, before you can start revving the engine, you need to let it warm up. The same happens with your body. Without a proper warm up to get your blood vessels ready to expand, muscles ready to take additional load you can easily damage yourself and be sore for an extended period of time.

 

4 - Proper Cool Down.

After you work your body it's important to cool down properly to allow your muscles to relax, and return back to their normal state. Muscles that are worked will be fatigued and can stiffen up, so it's important to stretch, and to foam roll to help them relax. In addition, a proper cool down allows your nervous system to go from an heightened state to a relaxed state.

 

5 - Proper Hydration.

Exercising while dehydrated is very dangerous and can cause harm to your muscles. Your body is made up of liquids, and in order to keep functioning well it needs to be hydrated. Before working-out drink at least 2 cups of water and depending on the intensity of the work out you may need to drink up to 3 - 4 cups.

 

6 - Epsom Salt Bath.  

A warm epsant salt bath helps prevent inflammation and irritation in your joints and muscles. In addition, your body can absorb additional magnesium through the salts. Your muscles will naturally relax, and this is a great way to help you relax before a good night sleep.

 

7 - Registered Massage/Deep Tissue Massage.

Anytime you workout your muscles can get tense from the additional stress you place on it. A massage is a great way to help relax your tense muscles. A massage also stimulates blood flow and speeds up recovery.
 

8 - Stretching.

After a workout your muscles will be tense and will naturally shorten. It is important that you stretch and re-lengthen these muscles so that it does not cause any possible issues down the road. This also promotes blood circulation so that you pull the lactic acid out of your muscles.

 

9 - Eat Potassium, and Protein Dense Foods.

When you work out you are forming tiny micro tears in your muscles. In order for your body to rebuild these muscles you need nutrients such as protein. Its important to remember that we need electrolytes to prevent muscle cramps. One of the four is potassium and can be obtained from coconut water or bananas.

 

10 - Supplements.

Although this subject is debatable, I personally believe in supplements, but only to act as a way to supplement my diet. It is extremely difficult to attain all the nutrients that your body requires for recovery when working on a busy schedule. Sometimes, we can help by taking a multivitamin or a protein drink or green juice.

 

11 - Quality REM Sleep.
When we rest we allow our body to heal. Specifically, this healing is completed in our REM sleep (deep sleep). Typically, we begin REM sleep after 2-3 hours of sleep, so its important that you give yourself a good nights rest in order to allow your body to recover. If you find yourself sore for an extended period of time, try to give yourself a Epsom Salt bath followed by a solid night (8 hours) of sleep.

 

 

Mike Zhang is a fitness, health and striking coach. With over 10 years of experience as an athlete and personal trainer he possesses a vast amount of information pertaining to weight loss, nutrition, boxing/kickboxing and overall fitness. He was the 2011 TBA-SA B-Class Champion, 2014 USMTO Open Class Silver Medalist and York Muay Thai Athlete of the Year in 2014. He worked as a personal trainer at a local commercial gym and assistant coach at his Muay Thai gym. He is also the founder of the FSK12, the 12 week innovative program based on the training methods of elite strikers. To see the complete program visit the link here.

 

 

 

6 Reason Why Your Work-Outs are Not Working

1. Sleep

Proper rest is the most commonly overlooked elements of your work-out. You put all that time in the gym, it is important to also work hard to cultivate an environment to allow your body to heal. Your muscles do not grow when you are working out. Your body changes and develops when you are resting, specifically in deep sleep. Deep sleep or stage four sleep is called REM or rapid eye movement. This is the stage your body does most of its healing, recovery and growth. It often takes 70 to 90 minutes of sleep before you can get into REM sleep. Therefore, it is critical that you have a good night sleep of at least 7 hours of undisturbed sleep.

If you are not allowing your body to rest then you are just putting stress onto your body and eventually you will cause yourself to burn out.

2. Your Diet

It’s difficult to outwork a poor diet. If you are eating junk food consistently and feeding yourself an excessive quantity of unhealthy calories (burgers, fried foods, sugary snacks) then your body is not going to have the nutrients that it requires for sustained growth. If you are feeding your body pure junk food then it is going to have a high quantity of saturated fats, empty calories, chemicals and processed sugar in your body. These types of food cause an excess of insulin in your body and insulin is what stores fat.

In addition, for you to boost your fat burning hormones, you need muscular development. For your muscles to grow, you need to fuel your body with the proper nutrients that it requires. This comes in the form of the three macros and four micronutrients. They are water, carbs, proteins, lipids, vitamins and minerals. A diet full of nutritious food will help your body heal and recover.
 

3. You are only doing cardio
If your work-out is only slow steady state cardio (Jogging, cycling, sending time on the elliptical) then you must adjust your workout. When all you do is slow steady stake cardio, you are causing your body to develop a hormone imbalance. Hormones such as leptin is created in the muscles and they how your brain reacts to certain food. If your body has an imbalance in this hormone, it may just continue to tell your body that you are hungry and keep eating and piling on weight.

It’s important to mix up your work out so that you are getting both muscular development as well as cardio endurance. This way, you stimulate your muscle growth and lower your fat burning hormones to prosper. By only performing aerobic work-outs, you are not building your muscles which is what stimulates leptin growth.

4. You are setting unrealistic expectations
Your body isn’t a machine, you can’t expect to see results overnight instantly. This is especially true if you only started working out very recently. For example, if you have been slightly overweight for 10 years, and you set the goal where you want to lose 5 lbs. every single day for 1 week straight.

You should ask yourself, is this realistic? No, this is completely unrealistic.

Sometimes when we set goals that are completely unrealistic you will only disappoint yourself and put yourself in a negative feedback loop.

What you should do is understand the amount of results your body can be expected to attain in a reasonable amount of time. Let small goals that are attainable so when you attain them, you feel good then you can step it up and keep growing.

5. You aren’t working hard enough.

Working out is meant to challenge you. It’s not meant to kill you to the point where you never want to train ever again it does need to challenge you a little bit. If all you are doing is walking on the treadmill for 1 hour, and you wonder why you have seen little to no results then you probably need to reconsider your work out.

During your workout, you can use your heart rate as a measurement of how hard you should be working. Your heart rate should be in the approximately 75% - 80% of your age, sex and build group.

6. You are doing the same routine repeatedly.
Your body is a mechanism that adapts, that is how it learns and grows. By giving your body the same workout repeatedly, it’s going to develop the same type of results. For you to grow, you need to continue to increase the level of difficulty for your body to grow and get stronger. This is just how the human body works.  You will push yourself to where you are slightly uncomfortable, because after you stay here for a while, it will become easy. Then you’ll need to push a little bit more. This is how you will elevate yourself to that new level.

 

Cam Tang Poy B.A is a Kru (instructor) at York Muay Thai in North York, Toronto. He began training Muay Thai in 2007 under Kru Yai Jenypher Lanthier (Head instructor of York Muay Thai). Since then, he has competed as an amateur fighter both in Canada and the United States, and now focuses on developing the students and athletes at York Muay Thai. He is also the director of their Kids Muay Thai program. In 2010 and 2011, Cam taught the Muay Thai program at York University’s Tait McKenzie Fitness Center, as well as Boot Camp classes at its Vanier College. In 2012, Cam became an Ontario Certified Teacher, completing his education at the University of Toronto. Today, he has the privilege of living his passions 24/7. Working in Toronto schools during the day and training Muay Thai students by night has pushed him to continue learning and growing. He loves every moment of it.

Burn Stubborn Fats with these 8 Foods!

When we are on our journey to getting fit, following a health diet can be the most difficult thing to maintain. Here are 8 foods that can help you burn fat!

1.   Grapefruit

Grapefruit is saturated full of vitamins such as vitamin C. More importantly, grape fruit has a high fiber content. Each ½ of a grapefruit is only about 40 calories. Also, did you know that it takes more calories to digest it than the fruit itself. At the same time, it is one of the most filling fruits so after eating it you won’t be tempted to munch on other foods. In addition, grapefruit lowers insulin levels in the body. A lower insulin level results in the body not storing as much fat.

2.   Beans

Beans are a great source of fiber and protein for you. In addition, it is a complex car so that means it will be not be broken down into glucose as does simple carbohydrates. In addition, it contains a high quantity of anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins.  
 

3.   Fish

Included under the umbrella of “fish” is a large variety of species. The ones that are of most benefit to you are: Salmon, Trout, Haddock, Cod, and Sardines. Fish possesses a huge level of essential nutrients and omega-3-fatty acids. Omega-3-fatty acids are essential for the brain, recovery, and help lower coronary heart disease. “A recent study has shown an inverse relationship between fish intake and omega-3 fatty acids and CHD death” (Penny M. Kris-Etherton, 2002). In addition, fish has been shown to help balance leptin levels in your body. Leptin is the fat regulating hormone of your body. It reacts with your brain and triggers the feeling of hunger, how your body metabolizes food, etc. When your body lacks leptin, it sends a signal to your brain to make you feel hungry, and to eat more.
 

4.   Eggs

Egg’s are one of the cleanest sources of protein. The misconception that the egg yolk will increase the risk cholesterol levels. This is not true, as there are two types of cholesterol. Eggs do not risk raising your cholesterol level and is safe to eat. You should eat at least two eggs every day to provide your body will the nutrients it requires. In addition, protein in the morning helps kick start your metabolism. This will also help prevent you from snacking on junk food such as chocolate bars before lunch.

5.   Nuts

Nuts are an amazing and natural source of fats, proteins and minerals. Often, fats are avoided because of the fear that they may contribute to obesity. The reality is that natural fats from sources such fats nuts do not contribute to obesity. They help fight obesity because they provide your body with nutrients while avoiding harmful processed items.

 

6.   Turmeric

Turmeric is a root, part of the ginger family. It is widely used in curries, and is what contributes to its yellow colour. Tumeric has been known to improve the function of the endothelium, the lining of our blood vessels which helps prevent heart disease (Toborek, 1999). It is also an anti-inflammatory agent, and can assist your body in metabolizing fat, resulting to weight loss.
 

7.   Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a high protein dairy food that helps with your digestion. When consumed after a meal, it can slow down your digestion and allow you to stay fuller longer. This also allows your body to better absorb the nutrients in your body.

 

8.   Sweet Potatoes

In our diets today, we have filled it with simple carbs that are rapidly broken down into glucose into our bodies, which causes our insultin to spike and this lowers the fat regulating hormone. Basically, when our insulin levels spike, we start storing fat and stop processing it. Therefore, the more glucose in our diet, the more fat we store. When you eat complex carbs such as sweet potatoe, there is enough fiber, and it is slowly processed by your body.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Penny M. Kris-Etherton, W. S. (2002, November 19). Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardio Sascular Disease. American Heart Association Inc., 2747-2757.

Toborek, M. K. (1999, October). Endothelial Cell Functions. Relationship to Atherogenesis. US National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of health. , 295-314.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Truth about Fat Loss: 8 Misconceptions and Lies

Obesity is a major crisis today. It must be recognized as not only a cosmetic issue but also an issue that pertains to overall health. As obesity levels (Body Mass Index) rise several problems such as coronary health disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes etc. also become more widespread. A study conducted by Stanford Health Care shows that “35% of men and 31% of women are considered seriously overweight” (Stanford Health Care, 2015). It’s no wonder why fat loss is one of the most common fitness goals when individuals sign up at the gym. It’s a simple task to do, however since the industry is saturated with misleading information. Numerous large corporations have spent millions of dollars to lobby for their products. They publish misleading information that conveniently directs people towards their product line. At the same time, there’s just a simple misconception about exactly how an individual can lose weight.

As an athlete, and personal trainer I have seen some strange work-outs and insane diets. Here is the great news for you! Losing weight, getting fit and enjoying the thousands of benefits getting in shape is very simple and anyone can reach their fitness goals. All you need to do is do the right tasks, its like baking a cake, if you follow the correct instructions using the right ingredients, you will get the results you are looking for!

Let me tell you about the 10 most common mistakes and lies that is out there.

Enjoy!
 

1.     Long Lengths of Cardio Burns Fat.
One of the most commonly made associations is with cardio and fat loss. Yes, cardio burns fat, as doing any type of activity will allow you to burn calories, and fat. However, doing low intensity stead state (LISS) type of exercises will not help you lose stubborn fats such as belly fat quickly. In addition, it will not help you build muscles which are essential to your body, as well as fat loss.

The topic of fat loss is so much more complex than simply burning calories. There are many other elements that we must consider. Recent studies have shown that certain hormones are present in your body that cause your body to retain fat. It’s important to make sure that when you work out, you are performing the right type of exercises that stimulate these hormones. For fat-loss LISS is not the most effective solution. “These kinds (steady state exercise) of protocols have led to negligible weight loss” (Boutcher, High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss, 2010). Performing LISS type workouts reduces your fat burning hormones as it depletes your muscles.

Instead of a LISS work-out a more effective approach is high intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT work-outs involve compound exercises (weights or body weight) put together in a circuit. Each circuit is completed at a high work-rate with short breaks in between sets. This style of training stimulates hypertrophy as well as hormone creation for stimulating fat loss. “Catecholamine response is an important feature of this type of exercise as catecholamine have been shown to drive lipolysis and are largely responsible for fat release from both subcutaneous and intramuscular fat stores” (Boutcher, High-Intensity Intermittent Excercise and Fat Loss, 2010). In addition, greater overall muscular mass increases your body’s Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). “There was a 7% increase in absolute resting metabolic rate (RMR) in response to strength training” (Jeffrey T. Lemmer, 2001). A higher BMR/RMR allows your body to increase the base quantity of calories your body burns without performing any activity. This basically means when you stop working out, you’re still going to be burning more calories are you go about your day! A sample of a great HIIT workout can be found here and

 

2.     Muscles make me Look Bulky (Females).

This is dedicated for just women, but it’s such a huge misconception that it must be discussed. A lot of women fear performing weights, for the fear that they will look manly. Women and men are fundamentally built differently, women are not pumped full of testosterone and will not bulk up the way men will. Performing weighted exercises, or even dynamic movements will help you build tight, dense strong muscle. Yes, you will gain muscles, but you will never look like a man. If you pick up weights you will just build nice lean compact muscles that are crucial to prevent injuries such as lower back pains. In addition, muscles helps you burn fat.

Yes, muscles burn fat!!!

When your muscular mass increases, your body’s overall metabolic rate will increase and you will start to burn more calories by doing the same day to day activities. Essentially, you are still burning calories, when you stop working out.

 

3.     Eggs are Bad for You

Eggs possess high level of nutrients as it is responsible for bringing a baby chick to life. An egg is packed with numerous nutrients that are beneficial to our bodies. There is a common misconception that egg’s, specifically egg yolk contains a high level of cholesterol and can cause health complications if you eat too many of them. The gray area is that we cannot group all cholesterol into one category. “Low density lipoprotein (LDL) has been associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular complications” (Ying Rong, 2013) and thus a lower LDL cholesterol level is attributed with lower cardiovascular health complications. The question now becomes, do eggs contribute to LDL cholesterol?

No!

It’s the opposite. Eggs provide High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (HDL) which is associated with lower cardiovascular issues. “Dietary cholesterol from eggs could increase plasma concentration of high density lipoprotein cholesterol, which has been suggested to protect against vascular disease” (Ying Rong, 2013). So, for all you egg lovers out there, continue eating them!

Numerous research conducted has shown that eggs are healthy and have no impact to our cholesterol. “Results from meta-analysis do not support that higher egg consumption is associated with elevated risk of coronary heart disease and stroke” (Ying Rong, 2013).  So, make eggs a part of your nutrition plan!

 

4.     Saturated Fats are Bad for You.

Numerous companies (sugar industry) have spent millions of dollars to lobby against connecting sugar and an array of health-related issues (heart, obesity, etc.). Their scape goat? Saturated fats. As a result, there is a huge misunderstanding of fats. The reality is that there are numerous societies such as the Urban Bantu Tanzanians whose diets are extremely high in saturated fats, yet possess low rates of coronary heart disease. In addition, numerous studies have shown that there is no correlation between the intake of saturated fats and heart related issues. “Saturated fat intake was not associated with an elevated risk of CHD, stroke” (Siri-Tarino PW, 2010). Fats from sources such as fish, and avocados are amazing for you and help you burn fat away from your body by stimulating muscle recovery.

 

5.     You Need to Work-Out a Lot to See Results.

Many people assume that they need to spend long hours in the gym. This is quite far the truth, all you need to do is train properly, three – four times a week for about 20 – 30 minutes. This is literally under two hours a week! The catch is that you must understand how to train properly. A proper workout program and a healthy diet filled with natural wholesome foods is going to get you to your fitness goals quickly.

The change to the fitness lifestyle is a lifestyle change, so to be successful it must be permeant. To make a habit, it takes at least 21 days, so if an individual is going on an extreme diet, or exercising until their bodies are shutting down then that’s not the healthy lifestyle!
 

6.     You Need to Starve Yourself/Count Calories.

A lot of people associate weight loss with boring, bland and hard to eat foods. This is just far from the truth. To successfully develop a healthy lifestyle, you must understand how to pick your food so that you are eating delicious, nutritious and healthy foods. This does not mean you need to starve yourself, in fact that’s completely the opposite. When you starve yourself, you slow down your metabolism and your body burns less calories because it thinks that it is being starved!

Not all calories are created equal. Our bodies react differently to the consumption of different types and categories of food. Certain foods (proteins) will trigger muscular recover while others will spike our blood sugar levels and pump out more insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for retaining fat, so when your blood sugar spikes, you stop burning fat. So if you want to get fit, you need to eat more! You need to eat healthy and wholesome foods and stay focused on your nutrition plans.
 

7.     Whole Wheat is Healthy.

White bread or simple carbs have a very high glycemic level. High glycemic foods increase our blood sugar once we consume the food. Whole wheat bread and white board have a very similar glycemic rating. When our blood sugar rises, our level of insulin also rises. Insulin is created in our pancreas to deliver the glucose into our blood, so when we have an increase amount of glucose our insulin increase. Insulin is also our fat storing hormone, when your insulin level rises, it stops your body from burning fat. Therefore, both white bread and whole wheat bread, affects your body’s ability to burn fat. Instead of consuming carbs in processed forms, it is more beneficial to consume them from natural sources such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, or any other starchy foods.
 

8.     “Getting Fit” is Based on my Scale.
So, we have probably all heard this line “I have been working out and eating well but I am not losing any weight!”. I heard this probably once a week from my clients, and I tell them all the same thing. Don’t judge yourself based on your scale, first, if you are new to working out and start training properly you may gain weight. I don’t even tell my clients to judge themselves on how they look at a specific time because they can fluctuate. In the morning’s, we tend to look leaner, or after a meal you can be more bloated. It’s important to judge how you feel, and how well you can move. The weight loss, muscles, abs, are a byproduct of the healthy lifestyle, first live the healthy lifestyle and the byproducts will come.

 

Mike Zhang is a fitness, health and striking coach and founder of his breakthrough program FSK-12. With over 10 years of experience as an athlete and personal trainer he possesses a vast amount of information pertaining to weight loss, nutrition, boxing/kickboxing and overall fitness. He was the 2011 TBA-SA B-Class Champion, 2014 USMTO Open Class Silver Medalist and York Muay Thai Athlete of the Year in 2014. He worked as a personal trainer at a local commercial gym and assistant coach at his Muay Thai gym. 

 

Bibliography
Boutcher, S. H. (2010, June 3). High-Intensity Intermittent Excercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity, 2011, 1 - 10.
Boutcher, S. H. (2010, October 5). High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity, 2011(868305), 10.
Hoenselaar, R. (2011, August 25). Saturated Fat and Cardiovascular Disease: The discrepancy Between the Scientific Litterature and Dietary Advice. Nutrition, 28(28), 118-123.
Jeffrey T. Lemmer, F. M. (2001, November 4). Effect of strength training on resting metabolic rate and physical activity: age and gender comparisons. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, 33, 532-541.
Siri-Tarino PW, S. Q. (2010, Jan 13). Daily energy expenditure and cardiovascular risk in Masai, rural and urban Bantu Tanzanians. US National Library of Medicine, 10(3945), 535-46.
Stanford Health Care. (2015, april 22). Effect of Obesity . Retrieved Feb 16, 2017, from Stanford Health Care: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/healthy-living/obesity.html
Ying Rong, L. C. (2013, April 7). Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prspective cohort studies. the BMJ.
 

Why Motivation Doesn’t Work and What to do About It.

So, we sit down on our couch, and decide to put on a Muhammad Ali motivational video and/or read a few quotes. We get all excited and pumped up, then after the video ends, we stay on the couch.

What happened!?

Motivation is an amazing way for us to get inspired, to unlock our self-belief and to accept that something we desire, is possible. It allows us to recognize that the door we desire to walk through, has a set of stairs leading to it. However, when it comes time to walking up those stairs, nothing can replace the actual motion of lifting one leg at a time, up each step until you get to the door.

  Follow us on Instagram at @driven_fighters

Follow us on Instagram at @driven_fighters

Use motivation to unlock your mindset, to release any limits you may have imposed on yourself. Whatever limitations that may be, wether its related to your work (Am I too Young for a Position?), your company (Can I generate 100 k a month), fitness (Can I be a champion? or am I that "guy" or "girl"), break those limits and accept that anything is possible, IF you pay the price in full before hand. 

"You Reap What You Sow" - Napoleon Hill, The Golden rule

After you unlock your mindset, its time to get to work. Before you start, understand the unconditional rule of the world. Before achieving anything, you must pay the price in FULL. Sometimes, this price includes a number of obstacles, that is part of the price. Keep this in your mind, because by understanding this you

accept that the task has already been achieved; the only thing you need to do is do the work to pay the price.

When you are "putting in work", be calm and do not get too excited (when things are going well) or upset (when things don't go well). Remember, the ups and downs are part of the price. When you pull up to the gym, you should get a bit excited, because you probably love training, but stay calm, because its just another day at work. During training, listen to music to get you pumped up, but deep inside of you, stay calm.

This mindset applies to when you are going to work and need to get a particular task done. Whether, you feel good, or bad, it doesn't matter because its just work, and you just get work done. When you launch a company, there are tasks that you know you must do. If you feel great, you do it, but if you feel bad, you still have to do it. By staying calm, and keeping your mind relaxed, you allow yourself to perform better. You will remember things better, communicate more clearly, and be able to execute more effectively.

In the middle of a fight, the person with the calm mind will be able to identify the mistakes that his/her opponent is making. The same applies for work, conducting business and all other aspects of your life. 

 

Michael Zhang is a key contributor at Driven Fighters. He is passionate about the fighters mentality and motivating other people. He has associated walking into the boxing gym as the day his life changed. His story shows that with hard work anything is possible. Having taken himself from being labeled by his high school teachers as a failure and almost dropping out to opening numerous businesses and graduating with his Master Degree in Engineering (University of Toronto). At just 18 years old, he was featured on CH News, and awarded the Young Entrepreneur Award. His passion and desire to help others made him a perfect example of what a driven fighter is. He has 20+ fights including a national amateur tournament belt. He launched three companies and is working on his fourth! 

The 12 Best Body Weight/Calisthenics Workout to Test Your Limits!

In the midst of all the different workout programs, the simplest form of exercise often is overlooked. One great way to workout is simply to incorporate our own body weight workouts. We allow our body to function as it were designed to, to be able to move effectively, freely and most importantly without and pains. That being said, I believe calisthenics (bodyweight workouts) is one of the best effective ways to workout. You can do them anywhere you like, in your room, on the beach or even by a pool!

To learn about a movement that will help you burn up to 318% more calories check out this article.

Here are 12 Body weight exercises that is sure to  test your conditioning and physical abilities.


1)    1-2-1-2 Sprawl

Start in a fighting stand, throw a jab cross (1 - 2) then drop to the ground and push your hips into the ground for a sprawl. When you throw the 1-2 make sure you focus on turning your body all the way so you are engaging your core during this move.

 

2)    Squat-Knee

Start in a your neutral stance position with your chest up, shoulders back, feet shoulder width apart. Lower yourself while keeping your chest up and back straight, into the squat. When you come up lift one leg up to perform a knee strike.

 

3)    Star-Jump

Start standing feet shoulder width apart. Jump up as high as you can in the air, at the same time open your legs and raise your arms at a 45 degree outwards to the side. You will form a star in mid-air.

 

4)    Pulse Lunge Knee

Take a big back into a lunge position. Make sure that you take a big enough step so that your knee doesn't go past your toes when you are in you lunge position. Pulse three times, and on the third one, lift your knee to perform a knee strike. Repeat on the other side.

 

5)    Bunny Hops

Get down into a low squat position on your toes. Give yourself a small push so you "hop" up and down.  

 

6)    Burpees

Start on your feet, jump up as high as possible into the air, then drop down into a push position. Perform one push up, then get back up on your feet.

 

7)    Push-Up Shoulder Touch    

Start in a push-up position. With a focus on keeping your back neutral (pulling your shoulder blades back and pushing your chest out), perform a push up until your nose touches the floor. When you come up, right at the top of your push up as you are coming up, take your hand and touch the opposite shoulder. When you do this, try your best to keep your whole body still and only your hang moving.

 

8)    Chin-Up

Stand in front of the chin-up bar and place your hands on the bar. You can choose to use any grip variation that you would like, palms facing you or away from you. Make sure when you are pulling yourself up that you do not wobble forward and do not use your lower body to "kick" yourself up. Pull until your chin is above the bar.

 

9)    Blast Push-Ups

Start in a push-up position but have your body hinged into the air while you are on your hands and feet. Walk your arms in so that your legs are slightly bent as if you were a frog. Bring your body all the way back as you lower your legs into a low squat position with your hands

 

10)    Squats

Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed outward. Keep your back straight and in a neutral position, squat down into a lowered position.  

 

11)    Plank

Start on your elbows and toes. Focus on engaging your whole body by squeezing  your glute, shoulders, and core. Imagine if someone were about to hit you.

 

12)    V-Ups
Lay on the ground on your back with your feet pointed out and your arms directly over your head. Focus on keeping  your back neutral, and flat, lift up your arms and your feet so that they meet in the middle.  

 

 

Michael Zhang is a key contributor at Driven Fighters. He is passionate about the fighters mentality and motivating other people. He has associated walking into the boxing gym as the day his life changed. His story shows that with hard work anything is possible. Having taken himself from being labeled by his high school teachers as a failure and almost dropping out to opening numerous businesses and graduating with his Master Degree in Engineering (University of Toronto). At just 18 years old, he was featured on CH News, and awarded the Young Entrepreneur Award. His passion and desire to help others made him a perfect example of what a driven fighter is. He has 20+ fights including a national amateur tournament belt.

Six Ways to Decrease Stress and Have a Great Year

The new year is a time many of us try to make changes in our lives. The idea of a clean slate gives us a chance to form new habits or get rid of bad ones. Most resolutions are to eat better, exercise more, lose weight, or spend less money. Managing stress isn’t usually a priority — but it should be! Stress can negatively contribute to weight gain, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, overeating, and overspending. Not to mention a variety of other health issues.

In an effort to help limit the stress in your life, here are some tips to consider for the coming year. And remember, even incorporating a few of these habits into your life can greatly diminish your stress levels.

Just Say No

The people pleasers have the hardest time with this advice. While it’s great to be an accommodating friend, co-worker, parent, or spouse, there is only so much of your time you can give. Saying yes can even be an automatic response for some people! Try limiting how much of your time you casually give away. You’ll probably be surprised at how much better you feel.

It’s not easy to start saying no immediately, so try saying no to every other request. By not overextending yourself, you are in fact managing stress in your life.

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

After a rough day, it’s easy to turn to a glass of wine or a beer to help you relax. But for some people, it can be a slippery slope. One glass of wine can turn into four, or your beer habit can turn into a daily routine. Many people turn to drugs as a form of relaxation, and this is equally dangerous. Using substances to deal with stress can only mask the problem, and it can ultimately lead to addiction.

Exercise

Movement is a great way to lower stress levels. Even just a short walk once a day can greatly impact the effects of stress. If you already exercise regularly, consider branching out and trying something different. If you don’t have a regular routine, try adding in a daily walk, yoga, a dance class, swimming, or even biking. Physical activity has a meditative effect that allows us to focus on our bodies and distracts us from the chaos of everyday life, not to mention that exercise prompts the release of endorphins in the body, which in turn have a calming and stress-relieving effect.

Time for Yourself

Exercise is one way to take time for yourself, but so is sitting down to read a book, finish a magazine, or even taking a nap. “Me” time is effective in relieving stress because you are able to focus on something you want to do for yourself that makes you happy. It can be a way to pamper yourself, like a massage, or giving yourself permission to just do nothing. Time for yourself is a great tonic when it comes to managing stress.

Delegate or Outsource

It’s not easy being Superwoman or Superman. There will never be enough hours in the day to get everything done, so sometimes your best option, if you can afford it, is to outsource. For example, you might find someone to help with your house cleaning, dog walking, or grocery shopping so that you can focus on creating that new website for your small business or update your resume and LinkedIn profile to go after that new job. Alternatively, delegate some of the more tedious household chores, like folding laundry, vacuuming, or emptying the dishwasher, to your children. The extra help will add up to extra time for you, and one or two fewer things to stress over.

Meditate

Many people are turned off by the thought of meditating, and most of us consider the classic stereotype whenever we think of meditation. Though it may seem impossible for some, meditation is an easy act that you can incorporporate into your life, and when practiced daily can lead to long-term mental health and well-being.


Research says it takes at least three weeks to form a habit. If you can add just one of these tips into your routine every day for three weeks, you are bound to notice a difference in your stress levels. Over time this will equate to better relationships at home and work, better mental and physical health, and an overall better you.

 

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives, and when she can, devotes some of her free time on http://juliemorris.org.

3 Proven Ways to Staying on top of Your Nutrition in 2017

As an athlete, or even aspiring athlete, we spend hours in the gym refining our body to pack on muscle and keep the fat off. One critical thing that many of us overlook is our effort that we place into the kitchen, into providing our bodies with the nutrients and energy that it requires to recover. How often will we push ourselves to exhaustion in the gym, spending extra hours on the bag, or doing those grueling burnout rounds, but when it comes time for eating or recovery, we skip out on meals, or eat junk food.

If you want to take your training to the next level, your nutrition is definitely a great start. Here is 3 ways that I plan to use to stay on top of my nutrition in 2017.

1.  Meal Plan/Meal Prep

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” - Benjamin Franklin

As a critical care registered nurse, writer and competitive boxer I can attest, I am busy. I often start my day at 4:45 am and do not get off work until 7:30 pm! then I head to the gym for a workout!

Now, I know you (my readers) are also very busy dealing with life, so I understand how it can be very easy to neglect a proper diet. I mean, who has time to be cooking three - four healthy meals a day! So, naturally, it’s easy to skip breakfast, then have a granola bar, get a burger for lunch and so on. This is a huge problem that many people face, this lifestyle is going to destroy your metabolism, and cause your body to develop unhealthy results due to a lack of nutrients. There is no way you can accomplish everything in your day, if you plan on cooking each individual meal. What you need to do is meal plan ahead of time, which is cooking a large amount of food and portioning it off so you can eat it throughout the week.

In order to stay on track towards your 2017 nutrition goals, you must meal plan. In order to eat your four healthy meals a day, you will need to meal plan. On Sunday’s and sometimes on Thursdays, I spend 2 - 3 hours and cook 8 - 10 ready made meals, pack some items into lunch containers and have other things ready to be heated up. I usually cook a few big items such as Pasta, Steak, Bulgogi (Korean style beef) or Kalbi (Korean style ribs). This way, every morning, all I need to do is put water on boil, fry eggs, as I brush my teeth, then grab my lunch (pre-made). In the evenings, sometimes I cook, or I can simply heat up the food that i already made. This saves a lot of time throughout your week, and allows you to have a delicious and healthy meal.

2.  Change Your Environment

“We are what we see. We are products of our surroundings.” - Amber Valletta

I think this is something that many of us are aware of, but do not realize the true power of it. We are all easily influenced by our surroundings. Whether it's the choice of people we surround ourselves with, or even the food that's in our house. I remember, I went to a client of mine and she was complaining that her kids were fat and inactive. She wanted to pay me to change her kids mindset about fitness. You know what's funny? The first thing I said to her was, “Who buys the food in the house?”. Her drawers and cabinets were filled with snacks, oreos, cookies, chips! I told her if I lived there I would be fat too!

What I do is that I never allow myself more than 1 “cheat” item in my house. I don’t leave a cabinet full of snacks. In fact, I keep fruit in a bowl on my counter so that it reminds me to eat it.

 

3.  Give Yourself Cheat Days

We are all human, we all get those cravings and we all feel weak sometimes

That is okay! Believe me, I get the same way!

They key here is to give yourself a day to look forward to. I personally LOVE fried chicken, I mean I could eat popeyes (a chain in Canada), all day. Chicken Tenders are delicious but fried chicken isn’t going to get me to my fitness goals. However, I give myself 1 day a week where I can eat whatever I want. Personally, I don’t go crazy and eat fried chicken the whole day, but i’ll have it for say lunch.


By giving yourself a day to have a cheat meal, it gives you something in the back of your mind to work towards. It’s kind of like a mini accomplishment, each week to reward yourself for your efforts that week.

 
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Anita Hoang is a Critical Care Registered Nurse in Toronto, Canada. She has trained at York Muay Thai, Atlas Boxing and Sinbi Muay Thai in Thailand. She has stepped into the ring numerous times as a competitive athlete. She was also on her high school volleyball team for four years. She has two bachelors degrees, one in Kinesiology and Health Sciences and one in Nursing. She is a firm believe in the application of the fighters mind set in all areas of her life. She has won numerous academic and athletic achievement awards.

Fat Shredder Kickboxing Work-Out of the Week!

Can you Keep up with a Champion Kick-boxer?

Hey Everyone! As I wrote this, I am planning to go on vacation soon to Mexico in March! Naturally, I want to look my best. I am pretty active, however for the next few weeks I am going to step up my training a bit to loose a few pounds of fat and put on some muscle. So without wasting any of your precious time, lets get to my workout of the week this week.

Just a quick reminder, all my work-outs utilize my FSK-Method (Fat Shredder Kickboxing Method). A training method that stimulates the growth of fat burning hormones as well as stimulating your metabolism. I am able to burn fat and build muscle by only doing this work-out 4 - 5 times a week, working out 20-30 minutes each session!

What we are going to do today is train exactly how a professional kick-boxer trains/fights; 3 minute rounds, 4 rounds of high intensity, non-stop action with a 1 minute break in between rounds.

This work-out requires no equipment. All you need is some space, enough to move around, around 10 ft. by 10 ft., a timer or a stop watch that you can use to keep an eye on the time and of course your 100% commitment to the workout. Although this workout is only 20-30 minutes long, it is important that you give it your all during the rounds to see the most results from the FSK-Method.

Before you start the first set, make sure you take around 5 minutes to warm up. You can complete this by doing any type of cardio vascular exercises (Jumping jacks, jogging on the spot, or even going for a quick run). Before you get into the first set, make sure you take a full break so that you allow your body to become fully rested. Remember, you are going work as hard as you can for the duration shown and repeat the exercise as many times as you can. You are about to experience why the FSK-Method is SO effective at building muscle and burning fat. If you want to learn more about it, check out my 12-week program (FSK-12) that has changed the lives of thousands of people; 

Without any further delays, let’s get started!!

Set 14 rounds (1-minute break between rounds).

*Each round is 3 minutes*

1) 45 Seconds – Jumping Jacks

When performing jumping jacks, make sure your arms are extended all the way, at the top clap your hands together, and the bottom clap your hands with your leg.

 

2) 45 Seconds – 1-2-1-2-Sprawl

Punch the air (Shadow Box) with 4 straight punches (Jab, Cross, Jab, Cross), then perform a sprawl (jump up, sprawl and perform a push up). Get back up and repeat for the duration of the round! When you punch, make sure that you extend your body all the way and punch as hard as you can so you engage your whole body.

3) 45 Seconds – 10 Body Weight Squats/10 Jumping Squats

Perform 10 body weight squats; stand with your feet shoulder width apart, slowly hinge back at your hips as you lower your body into the bottom position. Focus on keeping your core and back engaged as you push your chest out. This keeps your spine neutral and prevents any potential dangerous positions. Immediately after, perform 10 jumping squats. When you perform the jumping squats, make sure to land softly on slightly bent knees so that you don’t risk hurting yourself.

4) 45 Seconds – 10-Pulse-Lunge Knee 

Start standing feet shoulder width apart; take 1 step back with your left leg, perform 1 lunge, pulse 3 times then with the same leg, bring it in front of you for a knee strike. Repeat these 10 times on one side and then repeat for the other side.

 Set 2 - 4 Rounds (1-Minute break between rounds).

*Each round is 3 minutes*

45 Seconds – Plank

Get on your elbows and toes, making sure that your back is straight so that your back and glut isn’t up or down. When you start counting time, make sure you are engaging (flexing) your entire body. Keep your head up for the duration of the exercise.

45 Seconds – High Plank Walk-Outs

Start in a push-up position or high plank. Keeping your whole body engaged so that your hips do not sway left and right, walk slowly forward to a point where you find it difficult to suspend your body. Walk back slowly, with a focus on keeping your core stable and not wobbling. Through this exercise, focus on keeping your back straight and your core engaged as if someone were about to hit you.

5 Seconds – Isometric Sit-Up

Use something to prop your legs under (dumbbells or someone standing on your feet). Hold a sit up half way. When you hold this, make sure that your back is in its neutral position (slight curve), squeeze your shoulder blades back together, and push your chest out. Focus on staying perfectly still throughout the 45 seconds.

45 Seconds – Bicycle

Start on your back with your legs bent and raised in the air. Place your hands on the side of your head, just touching your ear. Imagine you are pedaling a bike, and bring your elbow to touch your knee. Remember to keep your elbows straight to the side so that you are not cheating, and allowing your core to turn your body and not by your hand.

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Mike Zhang is the founder of the FSK-12, the 12-week breakthrough program that has changed the lives of thousands of his clients using the FSK-Method. He is the 2011 TBA-SA B-Class North American Muay Thai Champion and the 2014 USMTO (National) Open Class silver medalist as well as a personal trainer with over 10 years of experience. He was team Captain at York Muay Thai in Toronto, Ontario where he helped lead and coach a team of fighters to numerous provincial and national tournaments. He was also on his college varsity track team where he represented his college at numerous national track meets. He specializes in boxing/kickboxing based work-outs to help his clients lose weight and reach their fitness goals. 

 

 

Try this Killer Ab Work-Out!

Getting that sexy 6-8 pack/flat tummy is one of the most sought after fitness goals. There is so much information out there that it can get confusing as to what program to use. Try this short circuit that personally use. I have also used these exercises as part of my FSK Method to help 1000’s of my clients lose weight, build abdominal muscles not only to look great but to have a strong stable core.

The science behind it!

Basically, in order to have the sexy 6-8 pack/flat tummy, you only need two things:

  1. Low body fat (Men: 10-12% and women: 15-18%).

  2. Increased abdominal muscle hypertrophy.

How to reach item 1:

Train smart by performing specific exercises that boost your metabolism and  your BMR (basal metabolic rate). Your BMR is basically how much energy your body will burn by doing nothing. You should also focus on performing exercises that stimulate the growth of your fat burning hormones. The FSK method developed using the innovative and breakthrough method that boosts your BMR as well as stimulate the growth of fat burning hormones. This allows my clients to burn fat and build muscle faster than anything they have ever seen! I won’t go too much into detail about this program.

If you are interested in the full 12 week program check out out my FSK 12-Week Program here.

How to reach item 2:

There there are three ways to train muscles, and in fact the third way has actually been proven to generate strength/trigger muscular hypertrophy faster than the other two. In addition, I believe that the general rule for training should always be applied; improving the physical condition of your body, without compromising its ability to perform tasks in the future. This can basically be summarized into, train your body in a way that prevents long term injuries such as lower back pains.

Traditional core training programs involve doing hundreds of sit ups. This is just not an effective, nor safe way to engage your core. If done properly, your spin should be in a neutral and straight position, however as you will notice people people become fatigued and curl their back. This leads to unnecessary stress points in your vertebrae causing lower back injuries. There are a number of other safer, and more effective methods to train your core. I have taken a few core exercises from my breakthrough and innovative training program; the FSK-Way

The Champions Ab Routine.

You can complete this work-out by itself or use is as addition to your normal workout. Typically people prefer to train abs at the end of their work-out.

Circuit Number 1: Repeat four sets:

1- FSK Plank (40 seconds)

2 - High Plank Walk Out (40 Seconds)

3 - FSK Plank (40 Seconds)

*Each set is 2 minutes; take a 30 second rest between sets.*

  1. FSK-Plank - 40 seconds

FSK-Plank

The FSK-Plank is a more effective method to engage your core than a typical plank. You hold the plank in the same position, however, you will engage your whole body during the working time. Flex your core, shoulders, glut, etc. brace your body as if someone were going to hit you. Make sure that your body is straight, your back isn't dipped or pointed up. When you start counting, make sure you are squeezing as hard as you can.

 FSK-Plank

FSK-Plank

2. High Plank Walk-Out - 40 seconds

Position 1 - Start in a push up position (see photo). In this position the key is to ensure that your back is straight. Your butt should not be sticking up or lower than the rest of your body. Keep your glut engaged, as well as squeezing your shoulder blades together and stiffen your upper body.  

Position 2 - Slowly walk your hands out in front of you. As you walk, your natural tendency will be to sway your hips left and right. Avoid this! This is what will engage and activate your core, you must use your core strength to maintain balance in your body as you walk out. Walk out to a range where you are comfortable and then slowly walk your hands back to return to the first position. Repeat this as many times as possible, while taking your time, in the 30 second time frame.

 High Plank - Position 1 

High Plank - Position 1 

 High Plank - Position 2

High Plank - Position 2

CIRCUIT NUMBER 2: REPEAT FOUR SETS:

1- Isometric Band Holds (40 seconds)

2 - Band Extension (40 Seconds)

3 - Hanging Leg Raise (40 Seconds)

Isometric Band Holds (40 seconds)

Start by hooking a band to a stationary post. Take a step with the band do the side to a point where it is creating tension, but not too much tension that you are falling over. Maintain a solid trunk; squeeze your abs, squeeze your shoulder blades together, push your chest out and squeeze your shoulder blames. Inhale take a deep breathe, and as you exhale, extend the band out in front of you creating a perpendicular force that is trying to make you turn your upper body; your job is to make sure that this doesn't happen. Make sure that no matter what happens, you body stays stiff and does not wobble around. Hold for the specified time. 

  Isometric Band Hold - Position 1

Isometric Band Hold - Position 1

 Isometric Band Hold - Position 2

Isometric Band Hold - Position 2

Band Extensions (40 seconds)

Start by hooking a band to a stationary post. Take a step with the band do the side to a point where if you extend the band to the furthest point (See Photo 2), it creates an uncomfortable level of tension, however this is fine. Get into the starting position by standing about 1 step behind the band anchor point; so when you extend, it travels straight out. Keep your chest up, shoulder blades back, core engaged, turn your whole upper body. Do not allow anything to loose tension, imagine there is a pole down your back and you can not wobble. Exhale, and turn your body fully. Repeat as many times as possible within the time. 

 Band Extension - Position 1 

Band Extension - Position 1 

3 - Hanging Leg Raise (40 Seconds)

*You can use the chin up bar, or if you don't have one you can always modify the work out to use two chairs and perform it with your legs bent.*

Start in the hanging position on a chin up bar. Focus on only moving your legs by pushing your chest out, and squeezing your back, slowly lift your leg up so that it is parallel with the ground. When you perform this exercise, it is important to focus on isolating your core concentric movement, and not use momentum. Each rep fully stop your legs and lift it up slowly, feeling your core performing all the work.

 

 Hanging Leg Raise - Position 1

Hanging Leg Raise - Position 1

Hanging-Leg(2).JPG

This quick ab routine is an example of the FSK-Method; the innovative training methods that elite level kick-boxers and boxers use to get in shape fast. To see the complete program visit the link here.

 

 

Mike Zhang is a fitness, health and striking coach. With over 10 years of experience as an athlete and personal trainer he possesses a vast amount of information pertaining to weight loss, nutrition, boxing/kickboxing and overall fitness. He was the 2011 TBA-SA B-Class Champion, 2014 USMTO Open Class Silver Medalist and York Muay Thai Athlete of the Year in 2014. He worked as a personal trainer at a local commercial gym and assistant coach at his Muay Thai gym. He is also the founder of the FSK12, the 12 week innovative program based on the training methods of elite strikers.This quick ab routine is an example of the FSK-Method; the innovative training methods that elite level kick-boxers and boxers use to get in shape fast. To see the complete program visit the link here.

 

 

5 Things I learned from starting a Non-Profit Organization helping orphanages in El Salvador


 

How it all started

I got my first taste of travelling 10 years ago when I took my first international trip to visit my homeland in Vietnam.  I experienced the excitement of getting lost in an unknown city, meeting new people, the sounds of people speaking in a language that wasn’t English, old history and delicious food from street vendors and small kitchen restaurant. That was when I first caught the travel bug and never wanted the curiosity of exploring other parts of the world to end.

Over the years I’ve travelled to many other places since then; Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Japan, Barcelona, London, England, Paris, Trinidad, Costa Rica and El Salvador.  It wasn’t until my first trip to El Salvador where I realized that my travel desires had slowly turned into an interest in  volunteer/missionary work.

On my trips to Trinidad, Costa Rica and El Salvador, I collected toys to bring with me to drop off at the orphanages just to bring smiles to the children’s faces, just to let them know people from Canada were thinking of them. It wasn’t until I really spent time with the kids at the orphanage in El Salvador when I realized they needed more than toys. They needed funds to help with projects around the orphanage, help with the electricity bill, and most importantly,  they needed love. The minute I walked into Remar orphanage in El Salvador, the kids surrounded me; wanting me to hold their hand, pick them up or give them a hug.  They were all welcoming me with open arms and pulling me in all different directions to play with them. They were hungry for someone to give them that one-on-one attention.

Taking action

When I got home from my first visit to El Salvador, I decided that I wanted to start a non-profit to help these kids; providing funds for food, building projects and organized volunteer trips. I called it 100 Smiles Project.

Starting a non-profit, sounds like an easy task right? Nope. The whole process is like starting a new business venture; logo, branding, advertising, marketing, social media, finances, getting a team together (volunteers) to help out, process, paperwork, getting charity status, etc. There was a lot to do, and only so much time I had to do it.  And, there was only one person running the show - me!  On top of that, I was doing this all while working a full-time job.

3 years later, 100 Smiles Project is set-up as a non-profit organization and slowly continuing to grow with more and more people joining the volunteer/surf trips (run twice a year) to El Salvador to provide love and care to the kids at Remar Orphanage and to help out with project builds.

People often ask me, “how do you do this on your own? How do you do this while working a full-time job?”.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned along the way:

100% Believe in the cause and you will succeed

There have been times when I’ve doubted myself that what I’m doing is effective at all. Only because I’ve been asked this question by a few people.  But I know I am because I’ve seen it with my own eyes and I’ve seen a change in behaviour in the kids when I’m there with a group of volunteers and the behaviour in the kids when I’m back for another trip. Never let anyone’s questioning stand in your way. If you have proof that something good you are doing is making a difference, it works!

Do it because you want to, not because you have to

We all become driven and motivated to do something because we really want to do it. You want something so bad or want to make something happen so bad, so you work really hard and will do everything in your heart to get there and hit that goal.

If you’re doing something because you think it’s a good thing, it makes you look good, or maybe doing it for the sake of pleasing others, maybe it’s on your “to do list”; you’re less likely to make things happen or reach that goal because your drive and motivation is not there.

Ask for help

There are 24 hours in a day.  For me,  7-8 hours are dedicated to sleep, 8 hours for work, 2 hours dedicated to breakfast, lunch and dinner, and an hour dedicated to travel. That leaves 5-6 hours to dedicate to running a non-profit.  How am I supposed to do such a thing with so little time?  I decided to leverage the network of friends, family, colleagues on Facebook and reached out for help.  I ended up having more than enough people respond back to help me out with logo/branding, social media, digital strategy and fundraising. All you need to do is ask - help will be provided to you.  It’s not always an easy thing, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.  Especially if it’s for a good cause.

Accept Rejection

I went through the process of applying for charity status, and I was rejected, but given the opportunity to apply again. I was upset, discouraged and felt like a failure. Josh Donaldson (#20 Blue Jays player) lives in my building and I decided to write him a note requesting for autographed swag (to use for fundraising initiatives) and left it on his windshield. He never got back to me. I was bummed I never heard back, but it’s okay, he’s a busy guy.

It’s okay if you’re rejected, or if no one get’s back to you. It’s worth a shot. There were a number of other people I contacted  for sponsorships and freebies, and they said yes.  I’ve gotten free swag, venue space, food (for fundraising events), etc. Leverage your networks, contacts and it will benefit you in some way.

Don’t be afraid to ask for money

As a non-profit, you’re constantly asking for money. It never stops, never ends. It’s an uncomfortable feeling but you have to do it if you’re raising money for a good cause.  If you don’t ask, you’ll never reach your yearly fundraising goals. Don’t be afraid if you get rejected; rejection can result into other opportunities. Therefore, don’t take it personally if people say no.  Most importantly, don’t let it deter you from reaching those goals, especially for a cause that’s close to your heart.
 

Elly Pham is the CEO and Founder of 100 Smiles, a non-for profit organization that has recently built a bakery for an orphanage to help encourage self sustainability. She balances owning her own non-for-profit organization while balancing a full-time career as she has completed her undergraduate degree in Marketing. She is also an active Muay Thai athlete with her recent participation in the provincial WKF four-woman tournament.