Monday 20 April 2015

You are your biggest hurdle! Be careful what you say to self!

In the dbodyarchitect #Instagram post today, the caption starts:

"Every challenge we face, the person we talk to the most about it, is ourself!" -

I recently stumbled across the Nike Women campaign: Better For It - Inner Thoughts. Take a look:

For many of us, that series of thoughts or conversations are all to familiar. We convince ourselves to delay on starting a new challenge or project, delay stepping up a level in our training or even convince ourselves to quit before we have really challenged ourselves. This campaign speaks to everyone who has ever started something and talked themselves out of it or almost did. If you have done any type of endurance event, this I' can-I can't' conversation can go on for miles!

It's not just because it is a Nike campaign that I like it but because it is so realistic. I can hear those of you who know me saying 'Yeah right!'. I wish I had $5 for every time someone said that I am going to start training before I start your class. At that point, I know the person has already started that 'conversation with self' and self has started to convince self that self is not able.

Another classic delay tactic is waiting for the 'fresh week' or 'fresh month' to start that new fitness program, nutrition plan or project. Let's change that today. Push yourself, change those conversations with self to positive thoughts and affirmations. You have to get up and get, is what my father would always tell me. That new regime, that new course of study or that event you have been teasing your with self trying, start your journey today and more importantly see it through. As the good people at Nike Women would say, you would be Better For It! 

Share this blog with someone who you think needs to stop procrastinating or who has a tendency to quit their challenges. Thanks for reading - dbA.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

About that daily "cupper".

The long overdue dbA check-in!

A few clients have asked me about the reasoning behind inclusion of green tea in the nutrition habit. I often have a vague answer of "...well it's good for metabolism and supposedly also digestive health..". This was founded in very basic reading and general information exchange with other persons in the field. Then one day a client gifted me a box of Yogi Green Tea - Muscle & Recovery and then I was you know what, I need to read into this green tea thing a little more as it's quite an 'in thing' to have right now. Side note though, I love the daily inspirational messages that come attached to the Yogi teas. Today's: Man is as vast as he acts.

#theresearch?: This was tough to gather information on but there are some articles on why it's recommended. It's been a staple in Asia for thousands of years (duh) but only recently (within the last decade) become big in the "western world". Not surprisingly it's first introduction to rest of us was in a bid to find foods with cancer-fighting properties. The big C as one friend calls it, seems to drive much of the research into alternate foods and medicines these days. The big selling ingredient in green tea is an antioxidant - epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Yes, have fun with that mouthful. This was not only found to be an antioxidant but also have potential to aid fat loss. #selloff now

This seems straightforward to what I have heard before, but what is this dream that I am being sold on muscle recovery. Early investigations turned up one study showing that when 1,200mg of EGCG was consumed daily, twice a day over a two week eccentric (negative repetition) training program, there seemed to be protective effect with regard to muscle soreness and  damage. While there are gaps in the information here, it suggests there is some direction for this school of thought. I will keep an open mind on this and keep my casual research into this and other herbal remedies active.

#teathehealer?: Not because I grew up with an English mum, I am here trying to justify high tea consumption, but various teas have been said to have healing or protective benefits. Another bit of reading stumbled across showed positive results over a 6-week investigation into black tea consumption (another growing hot number) and various stress markers. Tasks were provided to stimulate blood pressure and heart rate increase as well as increases in subjective stress ratings. In comparing the placebo group, the tea consumption group showed lower post-task cortisol levels (a stress marker mentioned in earlier blog) as well as increased subjective relaxation ratings. Therefore, there maybe some credit to the emergence of black tea in the health and wellness nutrition side of things as it pertains to stress management.

This blog was by no means an attempt to convert you to tea drinking, but possibly add some insight into an existing tea habit. Maybe you were on the fence before and might now have one leg over on the tea side. I will continue to have my cup or two a day, more so to keep me away from soft drinks, mainly Coke, than necessarily for fat loss or stress relief. Those may happen too according to some of the reading & that's a bonus. Have blessed day...

dbA out!

Sources included:
Joe Weider's Muscle & Fitness 07445105, Jul2009, Vol. 70, Issue 7

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (UK)A. Steptoe (*E. L. Gibson R. Vounonvirta E. D. Williams M. Hamer J. Wardle through the Link award from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, UK, by Unilever Research Colworth, and by the British Heart Foundation. 

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Bit by bit...

dBA checking in...

Hope you have been well. Have you looked at your changes? What small changes have you committed to make over the next couple of weeks? 

Keeping one or two changes in focus creates a manageable goal situation. Lots of facets make up the beautiful machine that is the human body and it is the complex interaction of each, that makes it function optimally. So start small and you will be surprised at the size of the improvements achieved throughout the machine. For me, in the next couple of weeks I am going to work on sleeping habits. In the hectic world that we live in, this seems to be an area that is difficult to get right and by extension can cripple the success of your fitness strategy. 

There is a wealth of information swimming around the web on sleep and sleep deprivation, especially as it relates to health and exercise performance. Yet, many of us, still take sleep for granted and 'teach' ourselves to survive in a sleep-deprived state. If you view the process of sleep as a body reset, then to get a fully functional reset, recommended values of sleep exceed 6-hours. This facilitates all hormones and natural body chemical levels to return to start and prepare for the work of the day ahead. Not allowing this process to be complete throws it all out of balance. 

One such hormone is the stress-induced cortisol, which preserves our friend - "carbs" in storage as muscle glycogen for later use. Sleep deprivation is perceived as a stressful state by the body, as most times it is and when its not it leads to it anyway. Now the intention of cortisol is good, but most times, the sleep-deprived state facilitates the excess production of the substance. Yes, there is that word excess again. By means not the only side effect of sleep deprivation, as it is also linked to mood state, ability to focus and generally be productive, but cortisol, makes a very easy case for improving your sleep numbers: quantity and quality.

What can you do? Well, there is that first line in the chapter on sleeping habits from the Book of the Obvious: try to achieve the recommended sleep dosage over an extended period of time. One week of good sleep is not going to repair weeks, months or dare I say years of bad habits. Keep a log on how you felt on waking up and how the sleep itself felt (egs: "restful"; "tossed a lot"; "was out cold"). There are apps such as Smart Alarm, devices such as Sleep Zeo or the FitBit Activity/Sleep Tracker and websites such as the BBC that help create profiles and logging process. See the following links:

Please note I have not been in contact with any of the above companies on advertising their products in anyway. I am merely sharing things that I have come across in my search to improve my fitness, my performance as a weekend warrior and then improve the advice on to my clients as well. Feel free to share any experiences or successes with sleep monitoring by commenting on the blog. 

As I glance down and see the time, I realize, yet again, I have gotten the sleep thing wrong if I am to make my quota, but it is a process and it will take some work. Till next time I leave you with this one..

“One of the most important keys to Success is having the discipline to do what you know you should do, even when you don’t feel like doing it.” - Unknown

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Are you a 6 + 1 or 4 + 3?

Been itching since Thursday to get this one out.

Many of us get into our fitness routines and try as best as possible to tie that into a better eating habit or routine. No goal, weight gain or weight loss, can be achieved effectively without the combination of good nutrition, exercise, recovery and rest. I refer to eating habit or nutrition as opposed to diet.

I feel sorry for the word diet as it has gotten a bad stigma, primarily down to marketing and poor trending. Whatever your nutrition habit, that's your diet, no matter how beneficial or how bad it is for you. Don't let those four letters scare you or create undue stress when they come at you together: DIET! *staying calm*

There is no end to the amount of information available on nutrition: what is good for you, what is not good for you, what will increase metabolism, what will reduce the risk of cancer and the list goes on. It is very hard to process, assess and digest this information for the purpose of deciding what to have at the next meal, far less for a period of training. Let me say from now this post is not going to solve that problem (You groaned or sighed didn't you?) but, just warn on a common mistake I observed and that I have been guilty of in the past myself.

Fast forward a bit: you have managed to figure out what works for you or what nutrition plan you are going to try next. You acknowledge that you are human and that life is to be enjoyed, so you decide that you are going to stick to the plan six days and allow yourself a cheat day (6 + 1). Many of us choose a Friday or Sunday and there in lies the problem, that doorway to becoming a 4 + 3. So the weekend approaches and you think, I will allow myself a cheat day on Friday, no big deal. Saturday comes and with it an event or function, cheat day number two out of no where, and that's quickly followed by number three as you tell yourself, 'oh well, it's Sunday' and convince yourself that you haven't done that badly but you will get back on it Monday.

On Monday racked by guilt, you get serious about the nutrition and exercise, maintaining the discipline and drive at least until Wednesday or Thursday. Friday comes again and you have had a rough week, then the talk with self starts about when your cheat day should fall and just like that you have become a bonafide 4 + 3, falling away from the well intentioned recipe for success: 6 + 1. Are you fooling yourself? Have you convinced your self that you are a 6 + 1 but really a walking, talking, eating 4 + 3? Not sure?

Rewind to before you came up with the plan: One of the first steps to figuring out what needs to be addressed in your nutrition planning is complete a food diary for at least one complete week. This should include everything, yes everything that you consume, and the quantity. Handfuls or sizes in relation to a plate are often good subjective measures that can be workable. This diary then puts the reality of your consumption into perspective and highlights quite readily, the areas of concern or required adjustment.

If you have never done one before, no time like the present to start and if you have, has it been reviewed recently? Food for thought as you hit hump day and weekend plans are falling into place. Be strong in your commitment to training and good nutrition. Remember it's a lifestyle change not a fad to follow. Make the effort. You will love yourself for it.

"I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying" - Michael Jordan.


Tuesday 11 June 2013

Make today your tomorrow!

As I think about the journey that Chris Daniel has embarked upon (, I think about the different journeys that different persons have on their way to fitness or any other life goal. Often the hardest thing to do is to start.

     "A journey of thousand miles begins with one step" - Lao Tzu

Lets modify: "A journey to a fitter you begins with one step, one rep, one revolution" - d Body      Architect.

We all try to give ourselves the metaphorical kick up d a** when motivated by a major event, milestone or birthday. Many of us have multiple false starts on this journey and that's fine. Very few things perfect in this world were right from the start or first attempt. 

One needs to start out by being realistic about one's goals, expectations of training and what the body can do and tolerate. The cliché goes: 'slow and steady wins the race' but I remind people that often in fitness, 'slow and steady stays in the race (to the end)'. 

Steady gains are sustainable gains (losses in weight are like a gain). Keep in mind that while we love to focus on the aesthetics, there are major health benefits to that fitter you such as reduced risk of diseases, improved heart and blood circulatory states and reduced expenditure on medications. 

One client in her 40's whose journey started out about a Tobago vacation and a swimsuit, three weeks into that journey she came off the blood pressure medication she had been on for the better part of 16 years. I would hate to sit down and do the math on the cost spent there on tablets but in that same breath, think about what could be saved. 

Often I think that's motivation enough, but, our human nature wants tangible benefits, things they can see or touch (take that smirk off your face). The root goal often is aesthetically grounded. I always say to clients no matter how silly the goal or motivator, as long as it works for you and means something to you, then use it once it matters to you. 

Other tools or tricks that have worked for people in the past include:

- A buddy system: find a like minded training partner or one that you can tolerate that will drag you kicking and screaming to your workout. This persons needs to be reliable and not easily swayed while not overbearing. Choose wisely. I love to step back and observe the dynamic of my main training group, not only in actual training but also in our little 'whatsapp community'. Which takes me to....

- Social media groups: Many sources of daily inspiration can be found on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram & Facebook. People's stories and journeys can act as either a kickstart or ongoing motivation. 

- Mini milestones:To help slogging away at that big picture, that ultimate goal, which can continually shift, mini milestones help a whole lot. Closer events, markers, "places" where you can pause and re-evaluate how it's going are crucial in my opinion.

As you contemplate procrastinating on that workout today I ask a question that one of my mentors Vern Gambetta likes to ask: What is totally unique about today? Answer: There will only be one Wednesday 12 June 2013! When you switch those lights tonight and go to sleep, will be satisfied of this one and only day and date?

Good luck.