Archive for 'Motivation'

Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living, and Learning

Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living, and Learning

Posted on 31. Jan, 2012 by .


As I was browsing my Facebook news feed the other day, I saw a post from one of my friends and fellow Russian Kettlebell Instructor, Mark Snow. He caught my attention because his post included a cover of Dan John’s book, “Never Let Go.”

I’ve been wanting to get a hard copy of this book but I had a huge stack of books on my coffee table still awaiting my attention πŸ™‚ Anyway, Mark’s comment was that the book is free on Amazon Kindle so I immediately downloaded it onto my Ipad. You may download you copy here while it’s still free (at least, at the time of this posting) => Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living, and Learning.

Let me just say that since I downloaded it, it was difficult for me to put it down.

A little Background on Dan John

I wanted to give you some of the things I’ve learned from it so far. But first, here is a little background on Dan John which I stole from his web site:

“Dan John has been teaching and coaching for well over thirty years. He is the former Strength Coach and Head Track and Field Coach at Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper, Utah He remains a full-time on-line religious studies instructor for Columbia College of Missouri and contributing writer to Men’s Health. Originally from South San Francisco, Dan came to Utah to throw the discus for Utah State University and recently returned β€œhome” after 35 years away. He currently lives in Burlingame, California.

Dan has Masters degrees in history and in religious education, as well as intensive work at the American University in Cairo, University of Haifa, and Cornell. Dan has written articles for Catechetical Update and Utah Historical Quarterly, as well as being a columnist for the Intermountain Catholic. Dan was also a Fulbright Scholar in 1985.

In addition, Dan writes articles for a variety of strength magazines and publishes a little newsletter called Get Up, which registers up to a quarter of a million hits a month. You can also read his work at and, and magazines like Men’s Health and Outside and his busy forum at . If you sneak over the border into Utah and want to work out, give him a shout. Recently, Pavel Tsatsouline promoted Dan to the rank of Senior RKC Instructor.”

I have been very fortunate to have met Dan several times through my RKC certification and re-certification. I have also heard him speak many times and he has always given his audience great information about training and life in general. Oh yes, I should not forget to mention that I’ve hung out with him at the bar several times as well. This is one of those things you would not want to miss if ever you do get a chance to talk with a guy like Dan because he is such a great storyteller.

A Lesson Learned from “Never Let Go”

Back to “Never Let Go.” I love this book and it resonates with a lot of people so much (as evident from the 5 star Amazon reviews) because Dan breaks down any complex topic into something simple and inspirational. He spurs you into action with his simple philosophies and entertaining but educational stories.

If you do not plan on reading the whole book, here is an important lesson I learned from “Never Let Go”:

Dan says that we all have but one can of free will. Of course he explains this so much better than I can but he basically cited a research study where people were asked to solve a series of complex tests without any chance of success. The researchers timed the people on how long they would solve the test before giving up. In another group during the same study, the researchers offered the participants cookies. People who said no to the cookies quit solving the tests way earlier than those who said, “What the hell, give me a damn cookie.” (his words…lol)

In real life, we deal with a lot of choices that use up our free will. This is the reason choosing to exercise or eating healthy consistently can be difficult for a lot of people. Why? Most people are caught up in the daily grind that is life where we have to take the kids to school while we’re stressed about the deadline at work then we have to go to the PTA meeting or come home late from work. If we did get home early, we have to decide what to cook for dinner, worry about the next day, and so on. You get the idea.

Dan John suggested 3 things that will help you get more free will but you will have to read the book for that as I feel that I would do him a great disservice if I tried to put them into my own words πŸ™‚ Again, you may download you copy here while it’s still free (at least, at the time of this posting) => Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living, and Learning.

Once you’ve read it, please be sure to come back to this post and leave your comments. Would love to know what you got out of Dan’s book.

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The Super Stealth Fat Loss Destroyer and How to Beat It

The Super Stealth Fat Loss Destroyer and How to Beat It

Posted on 30. May, 2011 by .


You may not notice this super stealth fat loss destroyer until it has done its damage, you’ve gained several pounds, and you’re left wondering, “what the heck happened?” I’m talking about the transitions we go through in life whether they are big or small, good or bad. This can come in the form of moving in with your significant other, getting married, moving into a different city, losing a job, getting injured, breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend, getting a new job, losing a loved one, etc. You get the idea. Most of the time, these transitions throw us off our “game” in many ways but most of the time we are not even aware that it’s happening and what it’s doing to us.


I’ve definitely have had this happen to me when I decided to quit my job and start a fitness bootcamp from scratch along with my husband deploying to the middle east. Thinking back now, this was a good change in my life because I was leaving a job I was not happy with and moving towards a career I was truly passionate about. But, the combination of the lack of structure in my day and the stress of starting a business ( which is like taking care of a new born baby) in addition to losing my main support system soon took its toll on me and I started to turn to things that were comforting to me. Ten (10) pounds of weight gain later, I was wondering how I got there.

What Makes Us Gain Weight During Transitions in the First Place?

In life, we learn everything after the fact – usually. Looking back to my behavior during that major transition from employee to business owner, I realized that I was turning to food for comfort. I discovered that a lot of people tend to do the same thing no matter how good or bad the change the’yre experiencing. We can turn to food because you’re really happy and in love with someone or we can also turn to food when we’re feeling really down. Personally, I turned to food for comfort because it was the only thing that was familiar to me in this new situation I found myself in.

For other people, it can be that their routine has been affected by moving in with their significant other or just being in a different place. For instance, if a woman moved in with her boyfriend, she may find that she eats out with her boyfriend more because he’s not used to cooking at home. If she was used to cooking at home and able to control her calorie intake that way and all of a sudden she starts dining out more often, there is no doubt that she will gain weight. Another example would be someone who had a job that requires them to be active and transitioning to a desk job without changing their eating habits.

The Best Thing to Do When in Transition


We have so many choices available to us nowadays. But, when we are out of our element, we end up choosing the wrong ones and we do not notice how these choices have affected us until the shit hits the fan (not a good situation to be in). Part of this is due to the fact that we get bombarded with useless information sometimes that we forget to pay attention to the things that truly matter – like our health. It is unfortunate because this is how most people tend to “let go” of their healthy lifestyle and their waistline. This is the reason I wanted to write about this here at my blog to bring it to our attention so we can do something about it when it does happen.

The first step to taking action in anything is becoming aware that a change is happening and acknowledge what it can possibly do to our health. Ask yourself a few key questions like will this change affect my workout routine, my activity level, how I prepare meals, or where I get my food from (cooked at home vs. dining out)? Is the new situation so stressful that I will not be able to get at least 7 hours of sleep or get enough time to rest? Most transitions are not simple. There are usually several factors at play that cause a big shift in your lifestyle.

Nip it in the Bud

Once you are aware, you then decide what your course of action will be. Fortunately, it’s easier to get back to your usual workout and nutrition routine once you have established it for a couple of years because you have created some pretty strong positive habits. The problem occurs when the new situation throws you off completely and all of a sudden you feel like you don’t have any control over anything. This is when the problem usually starts. When this happens, you’ll have to find out what exactly is causing you to feel out of control.

When in doubt, I would start with how I feel. There are usually some strong emotional reasons behind our food choices and whether we decide to exercise or not. Going back to my story, the things that threw me off my game the most were stress from the new business and the feeling of sadness when my husband deployed. These are two major transitions I didn’t anticipate and I almost felt like I was in depression. Granted, I still worked out but there were days when my nutrition choices were so poor that it made me feel even worst.

Back then, I was so immersed in my emotions that I could not observe what was happening to me and look at it objectively. I felt like I self-medicated with food just to numb out the stress and sadness I was feeling. I imagine that most people going through any transition would probably feel similar to how I felt and most of the time that it’s difficult to even think straight.

Looking back to those days (almost 1.5 years ago), I would take some time to analyze what I’m feeling and deal with it the best way possible (instead of shoving it deeper and self-medicating with food), set a schedule where I am getting enough time for work, play, and rest; surround myself with supportive, positive people; and follow a nutrition and exercise plan that has more flexibility and will not add stress to my life until I can do my regular schedule. To tell you the truth, this is exactly what I did but it just took me a lot longer to realize what I needed to do to get back on track.

I hope you learned a lesson or two from this post because I feel that this is something everyone will go through at some point in their life. The first step is to be aware (of anything and everything) that goes on around you. Once you do that, all you have to do is to take positive steps until you start to feel better and feel like your normal self again.


On a lighter note, change can be a really good thing. We’ll just have to make up our minds how it will affect our lives.

Have you experienced a minor or major transition in your life that threw you off your game? If so, what was it and what did you do to over come it?

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What Does Hunger Mean and Why You Should Care

What Does Hunger Mean and Why You Should Care

Posted on 17. Mar, 2011 by .


In order to be great at this thing we called life, we have to learn and we have to learn a lot. Whether, it’s taking formal lessons at an educational institution or just reading books about self-growth and professional growth, no one is successful at doing anything without learning from people “who have done that” before them. As I was listening to one of business coach’s video, I was reminded of one quote that really stuck with me, “You are either moving away from something or going towards something.” It sounds simple maybe even stupid. Kind of like a “duh,” isn’t it obvious kind of saying. But, then he said, “You are either moving away from pain or moving towards pleasure.” Now, it makes more sense.

I thought about this quote a lot since it made so much sense to me in a way that, I started noticing everything that I was doing and how I made my decision into doing them. These are some of the choices that were presented to me:

  • Will it take my pain away? or
  • Will it be pleasurable? or
  • Will it be painful? or

For instance, it’s time to go to the gym. Will it be painful or will it take my pain away? These are the thoughts that are going on in my head: Yah, it’s probably going to be painful and pleasurable at the same time. But, I just don’t want to go right now (i.e. it’s painful for me to go because I’m feeling lazy). But, I know I will feel better after wards. Plus, I know I can burn some more calories so I can reach my goal this week…etcetera.


[Photo by Abubakar Jamil]

Another example would be deciding whether to satisfy a craving. The thought of satisfying a craving is very pleasurable especially if I’ve had several days of eating at a calorie deficit. So, some thoughts that might go through my head is, what is more pleasurable, losing my belly or eating that donut (or whatever my Kryptonite is at the moment).

Why Talk About Pain or Pleasure?

I’m not talking about this particular quote or these examples to demonstrate that I’m neurotic πŸ™‚ Although, you might think that now. Instead, my goal is to demonstrate to you that most of the time, you are not aware that your mind is doing this and your actions are the result of these thoughts. If you’re a constant reader of my blog, you may already know that one of the keys to being successful at losing fat is consistency. The little changes that we make in our nutrition habits everyday, the little decisions we make about what to eat or what not to eat, the small decisions we make about whether or not we are going to the gym on our scheduled times – these are the changes that matter over time.


So, if we are either moving away from pain or moving towards pleasure, I guess the question we should ask ourselves is: how often are we moving towards pleasure? I would guess (and I’m sure my guess would be right in this situation) that the people who moved towards pain or chose to go outside of their comfort zone consistently are the ones who reached their fitness goals the fastest. They probably chose to go to the gym more often than not, they chose to forgo desert more often than not, they chose not to have a second cocktail more often than not, and so on. In other words, they chose pain right now so they can reap the rewards later. In this word where we get immediately gratification is popular, this is a lot more difficult to do.

Our Brain’s #1 Job and Why It Can be a Problem for Fat Loss

The other thing that we do have to keep in mind is our brain’s main job is to keep us alive. Our brain alerts our body when we’re hungry, or thirsty, or if we’re about to hit the car in front us. This is one of the reasons it can be difficult to eat at a deficit. Your brain is telling your body that it should not “starve.” It must feed itself to stay alive. Unfortunately, we usually mistake a lot of things such as boredom or thirst for the feeling of hunger. Some people also eat even when they’re not hungry.

So, why am I telling you all this? I now like the feeling of hunger because I know that eating at a sufficient calorie deficit to be burning fat. After all, how can your body burn its stored body fat if you’re eating at maintenance or over it. So, if you’re aware that you are burning fat when you’re feeling hungry, you are most likely not about to satisfy that feeling with food. At least, when it’s not time for a meal yet. The lesson here is this: if we just become aware of our pain or pleasure response and how hunger works, most of us will eat a lot less. If we choose to go outside of our comfort zones, we are more likely to reach our fat loss goals at a faster rate.

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Fit at 75: An inspiring Story

Fit at 75: An inspiring Story

Posted on 12. Apr, 2010 by .


We have a guest for today and her name is Marliene Triplett who is also a personal trainer whom I met online. We eventually connected in person since we live close by in the East Bay (Northern California). She really inspired me when I first met her because she is 75 years old and still in great shape. She also did some heavy dead lifts during our first meeting. πŸ™‚ Marliene or as everyone calls here, Ma, won Mrs. Fremont and an Invitational competition in Nevada when she was 61. She have been exercising nearly all her life. She currently works as a personal trainer with the YMCA in Fremont and have been there for nearly seven years where she teaches 3 Boot Camps classes and 3 Cross training classes a week.

Anna: Hi Ma, thank you so much for agreeing to get interviewed about your journey to fitness. How are you doing?

Ma: Just fine, Anna

Anna: First of all, I wanted to know what really made you decide that fitness will be a part of your life? Was there a particular realization or trigger?

Ma: I have pretty much exercised all my life Anna, my Dad trained athletes and we were exposed to it at an early age.I feel great when I exercise and that is a definite plus.

Anna: When did you decide that you wanted to be a personal trainer? Did you have any other professions before this?

Ma: Actually I was a cosmetologist for 40 years and I developed Crohn’s disease and decided on the change to become a Personal Trainer. My Trainer at that time encouraged me to do so as he felt it would be something I could succeed at.

Anna: Tell me about that time when you joined and won the Mrs. Fremont competition.

Ma: I was working out at a gym and this gentleman approached me and said he was promoting the Mrs. & Miss Fremont Bodybuilding
Show and would I do the over 50 yrs. Mrs Fremont. I was 61 at the time, no experience at all, and my trainer thought it would be a good idea, so we prepared. I was fortunate to know Mr. Ed Corney a former Mr. Olympia Contestant and he helped with the posing aspect. However it is very scary to get up on stage when you don’t have any experience. After the initial shock, it was fun. I can look back and laugh now. All my friends and family were there cheering me on.

Ma at the Mrs.Fremont Competition - 61 years old

Ma at the Mrs.Fremont Competition - 61 years old

Anna: How did you prepare for the Mrs. Fremont competition?

Ma: My Nutrition has always been pretty good and we tweaked that, adjusted my training added some extra Cardio, practiced the posing routine, had a suit made to order.

Anna: Was it worth all the effort? How was the experience of competing?

Ma: Yes it was Anna, it was something I never even thought of doing and I ended up really enjoying the whole experience. I went on to Nevada and did the Totally Natural Invitational Grand Masters Division which I won, so yes the experience was fun, especially for someone who only the month or so before had no intention of doing something like that.

Anna: That does sound like a lot of fun! Was there ever a time in your life when you just felt out of control of your health and fitness? If so, were you able to overcome it and how did you do it?

Ma: Oh I am sure there are times we all feel out of control, especially with our Nutrition. We just have to be strong and
decide what it is we want and go for it and get ourselves back on track again. I have fallen off that wagon on numerous occasions and just had to dig real deep and ask myself, what are you thinking. I hate being out of control, so I get back on track real fast.

Ma - November 2009

Ma - November 2009

Anna: That is really good advice and one that I follow myself. Do you think that being physically fit and maintained great health at your age has made a difference in terms of your quality of life? If so, how is it different?

Ma: Definitely Anna. I move freely and have very few, if any, aches and pains. Oh I get sore after a workout but that is different and doesn’t last long. Plus I can keep up with my grandchildren and that is important to me, to be here for them. Also my posture is great and I just love the way I look and feel.

Anna: It must feel great to still be able to keep up with your grandchildren. That is something that I want to be able to do even when I get older too. How about exercise? Which do you think is more important cardio or strength training?

Ma: I believe strength training is very important and can really change our body composition and the way we look. I do
some cardio, usually HIIT, but not much. at my age I need to preserve as much muscle as possible and I lose too quickly if I do too much cardio.

Anna: What would you say to other people who are having a difficulty getting started with their fitness journey?

Ma: I would advise them to read all they can about fitness and learn as much as possible and start out slowly, maybe hire a trainer for a few sessions to learn correct form, be real consistent, take some classes and never ever give up. Make it a way of life. The rewards are so many.

Anna: Thank you so much for doing the interview with me, Ma. Your insights are definitely helpful to people especially those who can relate to your experience. I really appreciate the time you spent with us and answering all my questions patiently. To everyone who read the interview, I hope you learned some helpful tidbits and don’t forget to leave your questions or opinions in the comment section.

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Body Transformation vs. Mind Transformation

Body Transformation vs. Mind Transformation

Posted on 30. Mar, 2010 by .


We’ve all heard of transformation contests before. In fact, you’ve probably seen my transformation photos from Turbulence Training. However, do we stop at a physical transformation or is there something more to it? Lately, I am becoming more and more aware of the chatter that goes non-stop inside my head. You know, the chatter that comes up with all the excuses about whether you should eat this and not that or whether you should go to the gym or not. When does it ever stop?

My search for an answer came through my own journey. When I first started transforming myself, I was empowered and inspired by the results I have made. But then, life happens. I changed my career and started a business. My schedule changed so my routine changed. I didn’t think all those changes will affect me that much. I was dead wrong.

I put myself in new situation that I have never experienced before which threw all my routines upside down. I turned to food whenever I felt stressed and working out was the first one to go when I got really busy. This behavior led me to question whether I have really made a mind transformation or not. To me, mind transformation is a change that happens permanently even though my circumstances may change. I realized that even though it only took me 3 months to physically transform myself, it will take a lot longer to adjust all my “beliefs” about my body image and living a healthy lifestyle. In other words, it will take a lot longer to transform my mind.


The first step to this mind transformation journey is self-awareness. Being aware of the things that goes on in your head and what actions you take as a result of those thoughts is the most important step. Without it, we won’t be able to identify the problem or if there even is a problem in the first place (which usually there is). [If you’d like to learn more about this thoughts and actions, watch this Goal Achievement Video by Dax Moy.] For example, you’re setting up a schedule to make going to the gym a routine. The first few weeks are critical to this and any habit you want to change or acquire because you are more likely to quit during this time. They say it takes about 30 days to develop new habits. So, during these first 30 days, make sure that you don’t miss a planned workout. As much as possible, no matter what chatter or excuse your head comes up with, go to the gym unless it’s completely impossible to do so – like an earthquake or something (hopefully that’s not the case though).

The same thing goes for nutrition. If your plan is to eat healthily, avoid junk food at least 90% of the time unless you plan one cheat meal a week. The less you cheat, the more successful you will become at acquiring the habit of eating healthily.

The second step is to realize that your issues with food or exercise may come from as far as childhood. I realized that I had issues with my “weight” when I was younger because of my culture. Asian culture is really tough on body image. As soon as I gained a few pounds in high school, my friends, family (brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, etc.), and even neighbors made a comment on how much I gained weight even though it’s not much of a weight gain. This has affected my body image negatively and I just realized it several months ago. But, if I wasn’t aware that this was the case, I wouldn’t be looking for solutions to this problem. Now, I don’t have some ludicrous idea about how I should look like. If I’m comfortable in my clothes and look great in them, I’m happy. Once you realize that past experiences may affect how you deal with your reality right now, the sooner you will be able to deal with your chatter more effectively.

I have respect for anyone who tries to lose weight because it’s difficult. We get so many cues all around us about food and we have to eat at least 3 times a day. To add to this, we get ad after ad of junk food on t.v., radio, magazines, etc. and see restaurants and fast foods as we drive around town. But, the battle can be won. With enough self-awareness and motivation to do whatever you need to do to make it happen. The two questions you should answer are “how bad do I want it?” and “what am I willing to do to get it?” This goes for fat loss and anything that you want to happen in your life.

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The One Muscle You Should Exercise Everyday

The One Muscle You Should Exercise Everyday

Posted on 31. Jan, 2010 by .


Let’s face it – many people fall off and on the healthy lifestyle wagon all the time. There are many so called “yo-yo dieters” who lose the weight only to go back to their old habits and gain double the weight they lost before they started a diet in the first place. I, myself, have experienced this “diet” roller coaster and lately, I have been thinking why this is.

I have come to the conclusion that fat loss or living a healthy lifestyle has a lot to do with your mind/brain and/or how you think. I may have realized this awhile ago but I just never thought about it as deeply as I have at this very moment.

I can train my mind to always come to this place whenever I get stressed. It's a nice place to go to.

I can train my mind to always come to this place whenever I get stressed. It's a nice place to go to.

Ok, so the brain is not a muscle (I just thought it would be a cool title) but it is worth exercising everyday because your success, in fat loss or anything in your life, depends A LOT upon it. If you were to look at people who are successful in anything, you would find that they are usually optimistic, motivated, and disciplined (among other things) people. The important thing to note here is that these successful people did not get like this overnight. Everyone sucks in the beginnning – at anything. What you and I need to know is: perfect practice makes perfect.

How do you do this? Recently, a client of mine brought to my attention a book called The Beck Diet Solution. It is a book created by Dr. Judith Beck who is a psychiatrist that specializes in Cognitive Therapy. The book teaches you many ways to deal with “dieting” and the many pitfalls associated with it. [Note: if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you would know that I like diets because they help you practice the skills you need to succceed but I don’t recommend having the diet mentality in the long run.]

Here are some tips that would help you stay on track and help “train your brain” in terms of “dieting.”

#1 Practice Your Resistance Muscles

If you are starting a new diet plan, it may be difficult for you to resist food temptations in the beginning or maybe even towards the end. The key to being successful during this time is to practice resisting these temptations. Just like in working out, you need to exercise your resistance consistently so that it will get easier later. This could be something simple as saying, “No, thank you,” over and over again to the foods that are offered to you at a party.

Dr. Beck says that it takes at least 20 times for people to practice resistance before it gets easier or becomes a habit. So, the next time you feel that you need to have a midnight snack or buy that candy bar at the cashier counter, resist the urge and keep doing so until you don’t want to do it anymore.

#2 Prepare for Bumps Along the Road

We all have it, we get stressed, we get emotional, we get busy, etc. That’s life. Life will always throw things at you and catch you off guard. This reminds me of my recent experience of starting my own business while my husband was deployed in Kuwait. I didn’t realize the emotional and physical toll that it will have on my body. These events have caught me off guard which caused me to lose sight of some of my fitness goals and some weight gain. At the time, I didn’t realize what was happening until I was able to pin point the things that are causing the change in my behavior and decided to deal with it.

You may get stressed by a new job, a looming deadline for a big project, adapting to a new place after moving, getting married, etc. Name it and I’m sure it will affect your behavior in terms of your fitness goals. The key to staying strong during these times is to recognize that they will pass and you don’t need food to make you feel better or that you need to keep doing your workouts to de-stress. Really pay attention to how your behavior is changed by an event and stick to your plan even when you don’t feel like it.

#3 Fight Cravings with an Alternative Habit

Dr. Beck describes cravings as a physiological and emotionally intense urge to eat. Usually cravings can occur even when you’re not hungry and they usually occur during emotional depressions or arousals. She suggests dealing with cravings by having an alternative habit when you have them such as walking your dog, drinking hot tea, listening to your favorite music, going for a swim, reading a good book, etc. This strategy will greatly help you if you find something that you enjoy doing. At the same time, it also requires practice on your part and some trial and error to find and form these new habits.

#4 Tell a friend

Our friends/family can be a source of strength during times of weakness. Recruit the help of your spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or best friend to help you accountable for your actions. You would want to either e-mail, text, or call this person whenever you have a craving or desire to eat something that’s not on your plan. Sometimes, the simple act of just telling someone about your craving (or any diet difficulty) and having them talk you out of it or having them remind you of why you’re doing this in the first place will help you get out of that mindset that you have to give in. This is a great tool and one that everyone should practice whenever the situation occurs.

#5 Understand that Hunger is not an emergency

Many people tend to get moody or easily angered when they are hungry. One thing that I learned from practicing Eat Stop Eat (ESE) is that my hunger usually only lasts about 5-10 minutes. I have been through more worse physical discomfort in the past such as a tooth ache, strong headache, back pain, etc. The discomfort from hunger is nothing compared to the discomfort I’ve felt with these. Thankfully, I haven’t been injured as I can imagine that a broken leg or arm would be even worse.

The one thing to realize here is that most people tend to confuse hunger with a desire to eat. If you just ate a meal or a snack and you feel “hungry” again, chances are you just want to eat. If you want to distinguish between feeling hungry and just having a desire to eat, try fasting for 24 hours. Then, you would really know what real hunger feels like.

#6 The Advantages List

One tool that Dr. Beck has you do on the The Beck Diet Solution is to create an “Advantages List” on day 1. Basically, you would create a list of at least 20 things that you will have once you have reached your goal and read them first thing in the morning and during times of weaknesses. Here is a sample list:

  • I want to have more self-confidence.
  • I want to look better.
  • I want to be healthier.
  • I want to have more energy.
  • I want to be less self-conscious.
  • I want to wear more fashionable clothes.
  • I want to wear size 5 jeans and feel great about it.
  • I want to look great in a bikini.
  • I want to feel strong.
  • I want to be able to keep up with my kids.
  • I want to look younger than my real age.
  • I want to have a strong immune system.
  • I want to look HOT!

Take note that each advantage should be written in a positive light instead of a negative tone such as “I don’t want to get sick.”

Having been able to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle, I realize that simply having a nutrition and workout plan is not enough. You also have to have a plan for dealing with the way you think and undoing your old, mostly destructible habits. Also, finding a balanced, healthy lifestyle, knowing that you can make mistakes, and eat the not-so-healthy foods every now and then is what would really help you maintain your success in the long run.

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Smoke’s KB 556 Challenge Results

Smoke’s KB 556 Challenge Results

Posted on 12. Jul, 2009 by .


When I woke up this morning, I instantly knew that this is not going to be one of my usual lazy Sundays. After all, I have agreed to do Smoke’s KB 556 Challenge. At first glance, this challenge did not look bad at all. In fact, I thought I was going to smoke it (no pun intended). But, after I did my first round, I started writing this on my workout journal: “what did I get myself into?” I guess I agreed to this challenge because I wanted a little push today. This is also a great way to keep up your motivation when you don’t feel like working out.

So, here is how my challenge went down:

KB555v2.0 (fasted i.e. before eating breakfast)

*100 One hand KB Swings with 12 kg Kettlebell
*50 Prisoner Squats
*25 Stability Ball Rollouts
*50 Bodyweight squats
*35 Pushups (it’s not a typo, 35 pushups was my max this time)

….faints and falls on the living room floor

Total time: 8 minutes, 47 seconds

I was so “smoked” that I was not able to do a second round of this.

Run 2 miles non-stop on the treadmill –> total time: 22:08

I’ve got to be honest that I’ve been so focused on my Kettlebell training for the RKC that I haven’t been doing much body weight exercises unless I have to teach it to my boot campers.

The same thing goes for running. Since KB swings and snatches can be considered “cardio,” I decided that I didn’t want to potentially overtrain so I had to forgo running altogether. But, I realized that it won’t be too bad if I did intervals twice a week for conditioning. I was just glad that I foam rolled my calves and TFL before I ran because I probably would’ve experienced some cramping while running if I didn’t.

Lessons Learned

Having realized that I’ve neglected to perform some of the most basic exercises, my plan is to put them back into my routine even if I have to do them on my off days. Basically, I would perform push ups whenever I have some down time or want to take a break from anything that I’m doing.

Another thing that I started doing yesterday is putting up my Iron Gym at the top of the bathroom door. In this way, every time I pass by it, I would perform a chin up or two. I want to continue doing this until I can bust out several chin ups in succession.

My Reward

Since I did this challenge in the fasted state, I was so looking forward to my breakfast (or brunch at this point)

  • One Eggland’s Best Omega-3 Egg
  • One Protein Pancake
  • 3 slices Hormel Natural Choice Ham

Overall, it was a great start to a day. Now, I’m off to the dog beach in Berkeley to spoil my dog for a few hours.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

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Get Inspired with these Turbulence Training Transformations!

Posted on 13. Apr, 2009 by .


The Turbulence Training transformation results are here! The transformations seem to just get better and better every time. Craig must have had a hard time choosing his finalists because I saw a lot of other contestants who posted their pictures in the official contest thread at It really is amazing what people can achieve when they put their mind into it.

Craig had two divisions this time – one for the men and one for the women. But, you only get to vote once so please vote wisely πŸ™‚

Are you excited?

Here are the results:

To see and vote for the female finalists, click here.

To see and vote for the male finalists, click here.

In the end, everyone who participated in the contest, including me, are all winners because we all have made healthy changes to our lifestyle – not to mention that we wear smaller clothes and look good in a bikini…lol.

The next Turbulence Training transformation contest begins in only a few weeks. If you have been looking or been needing inspiration/motivation lately, this may be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for! I’ve always said that the grand prize is only icing on the cake. The real price is getting the body you’ve always wanted and achieving better health (and fewer doctor visits).

I hope you get inspired with these results today no matter where you are in your fitness journey.

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Taking a Break from the Busy Lifestyle

Posted on 25. Mar, 2009 by .


Today’s post is not really related to health and fitness – well, not as much as the others but I promise that there’s some lessons to be learned here. My husband and I decided that we wanted to break out of the usual weekend routine by driving down to Southern California which is about 6 hours from where we currently live. We didn’t really have any specific plans besides the fact that we intended to go to a friend’s birthday party on Saturday night.

Friday was a beautiful day and I was able to take some pictures of the beautiful scenery along the 5 freeway right before we approach the Los Angeles traffic. Unfortunately, I only had my crappy phone with me so I don’t think that it will justify the beauty of this view. I was also taking this from inside the car so you can see the reflections on the glass.

Lake View from the Interstate-5

Lake View from the Interstate-5

My sister also wanted to check out a really cool Japanese restaurant on overlooking Los Angeles. So, we went with her on Saturday night right before my friend’s party out of curiosity. At the same time, I was in the mood for some Asian cuisine especially after reading Rusty’s post about Southeast Asian food. The restaurant was quite pricey but the food and the views were quite amazing and well worth the money we paid for them. I wish I took a picture of the food (especially the desert which was heavenly) but I was only able to take some blurry pictures on top of the hill.

The restaurant’s name is Yamashiro and you can check out their web site, here. They also have a 360 degree tour on their web site just in case you’d like to see better pictures for yourself. I highly recommend the place if ever you find yourself in the area.

View Overlooking L.A.

View Overlooking L.A.

A different angle from Yamashiro

A different angle from Yamashiro

So, on to my friend’s party in Irvine in the O.C. (sorry, I just had to say it…lol). I wasn’t really expecting much but I know that she used to throw the most awesome parties back when we were in college. It turns out that she still does! Towards the end of the night, we ended up playing (well, I didn’t but my husband did) a game called “Flip a Cup.” I never played or ever heard of the game before but it sure was fun even though I was just watching from the side lines.

Basically, there are two groups and each group would have an equal number of members. Then, each person will have cup filled with beer and the amount of beer would have to match that of your competitor’s. One person from each team will then drink the beer at the same time and as soon as they’re done drinking they have to set the edge of the table, bottom side down and flip it up until it stays up side down. Then, the next person goes and so on. I realize that it’s difficult to explain but here is a video of it (again, from my crappy phone).

You have to click on this link to view in another window:
The Flip a Cup Video

I urge to try this at least once in any of your parties because the game gets more fun as people get more drunk…LOL. The only issue with this is you have to find people who like to drink beer and you have to buy a lot of that stuff – I suggest you buy a “light” beer for this one. Personally, I can’t drink more than two even when I was in college. I prefer Margaritas instead πŸ™‚

So, my point for writing this post is this: don’t be afraid to take a break no matter what it is that you’re currently doing. As they always say, “stop and smell the flowers.” Lately, I haven’t been feeling motivated to do anything and I think that this trip was just the right “breather” for me. We all have busy lives and it seems that we have never ending chores to do. Sometimes, it’s nice to be able to say the heck with everything – “I need a break” and just go for it.

I may have missed one gym session but it really won’t affect my results that much as I’ve stated before in the 90% rule. At times, the best trips are those that you don’t plan and this one was one of those trips. I am one to sweat the small stuff and I realized that when I did take a break, the world didn’t stop revolving. The stuff that needs to get done will still be there tomorrow or the next day (just don’t make it a habit…haha). In the end, I felt more energized to tackle my tasks ahead and was actually more productive in a lot of things.

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3 Reasons Why the BMI is Obsolete

Posted on 18. Mar, 2009 by .


Yesterday was a big day for my husband. He’s in the Air Force and it was time for his annual physical training (PT) test. He was really nervous that he would score poorly on this test but it’s not because he is out of shape or overweight. The real reason for his worries was the BMI.

Photo by Life Design Strategies

Photo by Life Design Strategies

So, what is the BMI?

Here is the definition by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH):

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to both adult men and women.

The military still uses the BMI as one of their standards for measuring body fat which becomes a problem for people who are heavier relative to their height because of their muscle mass (as you’ve probably heard that muscle weighs more than fat). In the case of my husband, he can’t be more than 200 pounds for his PT test because with a height of 6 feet, 3 inches, this would put him at a BMI of 25.1 which would mean that he’s overweight relative to this “standard.” This totally doesn’t make sense because if you see him in person, the word “overweight” would not even describe him one bit. In fact, he is tall and lean and I’m not even exagerrating here.

The BMI Table

Underweight 18.5
Normal Weight 18.5 to 24.9
Overweight 25 to 29.9
Obesity 30 or greater

So, now that I’ve made that point, let me tell you about why it’s not a good measure of physical fitness or body composition.

  • It is based on your height and weight which means that these numbers do not even have anything to do with body fat percentage which is a big factor when assessing health risks.
  • It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build.
  • It may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle mass.

Take note that the last two reasons are actually limitations that I copied from the NIH’s web site. I am sure that there are some old research studies that support the BMI and which have made it into what it is today but I won’t even bother looking for them because my main point is this: measure your body fat percentage instead. I actually wrote a post about this in another post entitled, “Why Weight is Just Another Number,” and you can view that one here. Body fat percentages actually measure your body fat in a few different sites of your body where you would most likely have body fat such as the lower abs, the back of the triceps, the front of your biceps, etc. So, even if the measurements may be inaccurate, it will give you a better picture of your body composition.

I know that sometimes it can be difficult to get your body fat measured because you either have to get a personal trainer to do it or have someone wiling enough to learn how to perform the measurements on you. If this is the case, I read about another type of measurement which takes into account your waist to height ratio. Brad Pilon, author of Eat Stop Eat, talks about this in his post and you can see it here and scroll down to question #4. I asked him if it applies to women as well but he hasn’t gotten back to me yet.

Another option is to buy a bathroom scale that measures body fat but I find that they also have their own limitations as they can be inaccurate. But if you were to buy a scale with this feature, use it as a measure of progress. In other words, even if the number on it is not truly reprsentative of your actual body fat percentage, use the number as your baseline which means that if the measurements go up or down, take the difference between your baseline and the new number. If the number goes down, then you’re making progress and vice versa.

The only other time that I would ever use my weight in any measurement of fitness is when I want figure out my lean mass once I know my body fat percentage – that’s it. As for the military, my husband says that they may me changing the BMI into the waist to height ratio as described by Brad Pilon but it might take awhile for this change to happen (as with any goverment changes but that’s a whole different story).

The lesson I learned is that there are a lot more measurements out there that will give us a better idea of where we are in terms of health risks and physical fitness besides the more general, government issued standards. Sometimes the best thing to do is to not focus on the numbers too much but pay more attention to more important things like eating healthier and living a more active lifestyle instead.

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