Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Simple Math, Part 2

In a previous post, I set out the idea of simple math being just that - you lose weight when you burn more calories than you take in. You gain weight when you take in more calories than you burn. Not hard for most of us to grasp.

Recently, a US-based professor of human nutrition validated this by losing 27 pounds in 10 weeks by eating twinkies and other junk foods only. This professor also stated clearly that he did not recommend this diet to people, but that the math held true.

Some key take-aways from this:

smaller portions help control calories.

2) Smaller meals more frequently
This guy succeeded by eating small meals (a single twinkie, a bag of chips, etc.) every three hours rather than big meals every 6 hours.

3) Pay attention to total daily calories
Sadly, this seems far more important that where the calories actually come from.

4) Occasional slips in content are forgivable, slips in calorie count are not
If you must have a cheeseburger, make up for it elsewhere and you will still be OK.

5) Use your target weight calorie count, not your current one
Use the correct daily calories for the weight you want to be, and you will get there.

I have to admit, 27 pounds in 10 weeks sounds pretty shocking.
I am sure I can do better than I am doing, especially since my current habits are not that terrible (no twinkies, doritos, sugarccinos, or soft drinks).

Something to think about.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Better Red than Dead

Congratulations brothers (and sister). YOU ARE RED.

It is a great achievement and a big step forward. You are less dead than before.

What do I mean?

Guro Fred is always careful to point out that Kali Majapahit is not just a fighting system, or, more correctly, a way of learning the Southeast Asian fighting arts. Health and longevity are integral aspects of the training and every bit as important. Through KM, you learn about the body in general, and your own body in particular. You are encouraged to exercise, expected to quit smoking (if you were stupid enough to start in the first place), educated about osteopathy and homeopathy, taught about TCM, informed about nutrition, lectured about psychotherapy, and so much, much more.

Think about how many people you know choose death over life. How many people willfully engage in self-destructive behaviors because they lack the confidence and tools you have developed? You are less dead than they are, and become less dead as you continue your training.

All of these powerful tools help contribute to your overall health and longevity, and bring you a fuller, happier life. They are keys to improving yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Accomplishing your Kasama level is proof positive not just of your commitment to Kali Majapahit, but of your commitment to yourself. You should feel most proud. Now, as visible examples to the others, it will be time to take it up another notch. Reach inside yourselves. Ask the difficult questions about what the next steps are to changing your life through Kali Majapahit. Becoming better fighters; better teachers and leaders; BETTER PEOPLE.

You are gaining control of your lives. You have the responsibility to share this gift with others.

I salute you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

House Building 101

When it is time to build a house, great care must be given to the foundation. No matter how pretty the rest looks, if the foundation is weak, the house will be weak. The bigger the house intends to be, the stronger the foundation to keep it there.

In our martial arts, foundations mean many things.

First of all, foundation means footwork and balance.
So much of what we do depends on having strong, stable footwork which puts us in advantage, and our opponents in disadvantage. No matter how pretty the technique, lack of footwork will lose the fight every time. The drills are often boring and repetitive. They don't look sexy or cool. However, there are few better uses of time than doing balance and footwork drills for improving overall fighting ability. Good fighters spend a large part of their training time on footwork to make sure it is instant and intuitive.

Strong foundations also mean strong basics. We all want to learn the next cool jumping kick or sophisticated trap. However, in reality, the muscle memory we have the best is the basics. Those basics are what we return to under stress, and what make the difference between walking away and being carried away. Basics must be drilled until they are instinctive. These basics combine to form the building blocks of the rest of the techniques we learn.

Especially in an integrated art like Kali Majapahit, where common concepts are reused irrespective of weapon or distance, the basics are our vocabulary for building fluency of expression. Without good basics, you can never flow.

Be patient. Take the time to build a strong foundation of basic techniques and balanced, correct footwork. Once you do this, your house will withstand any storm that comes your way.

needed a better foundation...


Well, that's it. I am officially 44 years old.

A lot has happened since last year's birthday post, and it is time for some reflection.

Personally, it has been a good year. I came back to japan just before my 43rd birthday, and we have quickly and splendidly settled into Yokohama. The commute to work was long, and the days longer, but I got used to it - eventually that problem solved itself.

Health-wise, I am almost 6kg lighter than I was this time last year, thanks to going to the gym a lot these past 2 months, and to a nasty bought of stomach virus that kept me on my back with no food or drink for 6 days. I feel better than ever.

My stress is also greatly reduced. My leaving my last job was a long time coming, and very stressful up until it resolved. I still love my old company, and miss my co-workers, but the setup was not right for me and we all knew it. Something better will happen soon and I will have lessons learned and fond memories of a bunch of people I spent just over 5 years in co-dependency with.

On the home front, it has been a big year. I have learned a lot about myself and who I am.
I am forever grateful for the love of my wife, who has helped me become a better person. She is direct, simple, and honest; no lies or illusions - very practical. I want to be more like her. At the same time, we must all dare to dream, and my dreams are what led me to Japan from Villa Park, Illinois nearly 20 years ago. I am closer to her and to my darling boys than ever before. The gift of my career change brought with it time to walk to the school bus together, to greet them when they get home, to have dinners together and talk about homework.

Life and family are more than the punctuations of annual holidays - they are the joys of the little things every day we are together; time that can never be replaced once it is gone. They are growing up a little bit day by day, and it is magic to see it and be part of it. This will not last forever, but I am glad to have it right now.

My life in martial arts continues with renewed energy and fascination. Filipino martial arts in particular remain my passion, and I look forward to spending Friday nights with the guys sharing what I know and helping them deepen their understanding. I am lucky to have a small group of regulars who are open minded and enthusiastic. Martial arts is one of those many things in life that give you back what you put in, with interest. I am glad they are mature enough to understand that.

Overall, no complaints about my life at 44. 43 was a great year, and 44 looks to be even better.

That's all that really matters, isn't it?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Little Things, Big Results

I am a big believer in small lifestyle changes that give big long-term results.
It is hard for people to sustain massive shocks to their daily routines, unless some stressor triggers it such as moving, changing jobs, etc. Instead, there is much greater success in making minor adjustments. The minor adjustments I prefer are those which take very little time or effort, but can have profound impacts on the quality of our lives. Here are a few of my greatest hits:

Soft Drinks
Make a habit of choosing mineral water instead of sugary soft drinks.
If you have a time-based routine such as a coke after lunch, switch it for a mineral water.
Best if you drop them altogether and drink only water or unsweetened teas (green tea, oolong, jasmine, etc.) instead. One step at a time.

Maybe for some people this is not a minor change, but if you can switch it to unsweetened tea you are already doing yourself a big favor. Especially bad are the big calorie sugarccinos of the Green Monster. If you need the caffeine (or think you do), see the next item on the list.

Make sure you are getting 7 hours or more every night without fail.
Adjust your schedule so you do. Catching up on weekends is no substitute.

Better if you don't, moderation if you do. Try to avoid beer's big calories, soft drink mixers (like rum and coke), and always always hydrate. Red wine is a good choice if you must.

IN-convenience Stores
Try to avoid their high-calorie, preservative-laden meals.
Best is to make your own bento (or kindly ask your partner to help).
Better yet, make your bentos together the night before.

Go Green
Make at least one meal a day meatless. Breakfast is an easy one, but a big salad dinner is nice, too. Maybe for starters make Monday your "green day". Increase as you see how good you feel.

Get a few minutes at least of sun every day you can.

Needs to be scheduled time for yourself to do any activity you like.
Make sure you are getting at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes each.

I stretch before bed. Morning is also nice.

Even though I am a morning shower guy, I still take my Japanese bath soak every night.
Something I just can't live without.

Maybe you already do some of these things. Maybe you can add a few more.
Even doing one new things, and making it into part of your routine with add to the quality of your life and health. One step at a time.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Vitamin Water and other fitness fantasies

(originally posted on CNNMoney. full article here)

In my opinion, vitamin water is the worst offender of all spurious health products. see below. In your heart of hearts, you probably already know that mineral water, plenty of it, is what your body really needs. When buying mineral water, go for the ones with the highest Ph number. The higher the Ph, the more alkaline the water is, and hence the better this water will be for helping balance the blood acidity which most modern people have. Guro Fred suggests drinking at least 3 liters of mineral water daily, and I wholeheartedly agree.


Vitamin Water and other sports drinks don't deliver health

Don't be deceived by claims that vitamin and sports drinks are a healthy water substitute. "Once you put any chemical into water, it is no longer water. You must read the labels. It has less than 0.5% of vitamins, minerals, and other stuff. That is very little to be effective, give you energy and boost your immune system. You only receive 13 ounces of carbohydrates in an 8 ounce serving, and those 13 grams are all sugar -- crystalline fructose and sugar cane. A $3.50 bottle has 2.5 servings. So you will consume 32.5 grams of sugar when you drink the bottle," says Kevin Bailey, CSCS, owner of Bailey's Total Fitness, Inc.

"If you are looking to lose body fat, it will be hindered as soon as you drink one of these. Gatorade is even worse, with 34 grams of sugar per bottle. Also, if you are diabetic, these products could possibly cause more harm than good due to the drastic spike in your blood sugar levels when consumed," he says.