Wednesday, April 28, 2010

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER 11 EPISODE 4 REVIEW



It’s always great when the show gives us two fights per episode and this time was no exception. And, as one might expect, both fights are fairly short? Does that mean two finishes in one episode? Read on.





The first fight was between Rich Attonito and Kyacey Uscola. It starts out well, with Attonito being the more aggressive one during the feeling out process. He drops Uscola with a right and rains punches on him on the ground. Uscola manages to survive, though, and rolls towards the cage. He gets up, but Attonito brings him down again with a nasty slam, right onto his head! It was very impressive, enough for Dana White to continuously shout expletives on air. So, Attonito once again gains control on the ground, but Uscola manages to roll him and get on top. He stands up and, oddly enough, chooses to pummel his downed opponent with knees to the chest. This is an extremely risky maneuver, since kneeing a downed opponent’s head or face is illegal in the UFC. Sure enough, one of his knees hits Attonito squarely in the face, leaving him unable to continue to fight. Kyacey Uscola is disqualified with 1:23 left in the first round.



A rather dramatic end to an action packed fight. Needless to say, it’s perfect for television. Tito is understandably pissed, seeing as though he’s lost three times in a row to Chuck now. Oddly enough, though, Attonito was taken out of the competition as well, not because of the knee, but because he broke his right hand during the fight. Fairly odd, but interesting, turn of events for both parties.



The next fight was between Charles Blanchard and Jamie Yager. Yager is obviously being set up as the bad boy of sorts for this season. There was plenty of character development for him in this regard during the episode, starting with him cheering on Brad Tavares of Team Liddell from the last episode. His teammates were not at all impressed at him rooting for the enemy. Then he was rather childishly accused of stealing by Kyacey Uscola. Even though all signs pointed to Uscola being wrong, he still refused to apologize and still treated Yager badly. Some state that the pressure of his fight got to him, and he just wanted to lash out in any way to the person he disliked the most in the house, but whatever it was, I personally thought it was all very unnecessary. If you're interested, though, you can read more about the event in detail over at Brad Tavares' TUF 11 episode blog here.



Alright, so Yager’s some kind of bad boy in the house, but does the reputation hold up in the cage? I’d say yes. The fight starts out as furiously as the last one, with Blanchard, an excellent wrestler, quickly getting hold of Yager and slamming him onto the ground. The move wasn’t very effective, though, and Yager immediately gets to him, and drops Blanchard with a right. Yager swarms on him and Blanchard doesn’t do a thing to intelligently defend himself and improve position. He just turtles up and takes it. The fight is stopped at 3:49 in the first round.



Okay, Yager’s skills are legit. He has awesome power in his hands, making him a pretty feared striker. One has to wonder if Chuck made a mistake with this matchup, though. Blanchard is one of the smaller guys in the house, at 5’8”, while Yager stands tall at 6’1”, giving him a five inch reach advantage that very much complements his striking prowess.

Perhaps Chuck thought that Blanchard’s great wrestling skills would be more than enough to get through Yager’s striking and finish him on the ground. That was obviously the gameplan, as Blanchard went for that takedown as soon as the match started. Still, Blanchard’s wrestling abilities aside, the fight was still very risky for Team Liddell, seeing as they were giving up a huge size advantage.

So Tito gets his first win this season and is cheering for joy. Will this last, though, or will he lose control the very next fight? Will Yager finally get the respect he deserves for giving his team their first win? The preview states that another fighter will be dropped from the competition because of injury. Who will it be and what will come of it? We’ll see.

Check out my reviews of the other episodes of The Ultimate Fighter season 11 here!

Monday, April 26, 2010

STRIKEFORCE: NASHVILLE REVIEW

Strikeforce’s Nashville event, which was held on April 17, 2010 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennesee, has recently caused quite a stir within the mixed martial arts industry. And, unfortunately, it isn’t the good kind.

Let’s start with the fights. I’ll be honest upfront: I enjoyed all of them. The first piece of negativity that arose during the event was that all the fights were boring. I’d disagree based entirely on my own personal views on what makes good mixed martial arts matches, but in terms of actual objectivity and the ultimate purpose of the event, I’d have to agree.


Confused? Well, that’s what the Strikeforce executives probably felt after their “blockbuster” event ended as well. See, there’s something mighty special about this event. It featured only three fights within the main card, and all of them (and I’m not joking here), all of them were championship title matches. Strikeforce is attempting to break into mixed martial arts mainstream the same as the UFC did with the first Ultimate Fighter finale by broadcasting such a stacked card on CBS domestically all over the United States. Strikeforce execs hoped for similar results.

See, one of the primary reasons that mixed martial arts is supposedly “the fastest growing sport in the world” is because of The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale. It was hyped particularly well, what with a main event featuring then-incredibly popular Ken Shamrock, who was still well known from his pro wrestling days, and UFC rising star Rich Franklin, but the real show stealer was the bout right before that, which featured TUF 1 finalists Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar.



The bout was incredible based on a number of standards, but particularly it was because many people at the time had never seen anything of the sort on public television before. Both men came out and had a literal brawl. It was almost like a good old-fashioned street fight, with both men bloodied up and still swinging for the fences, almost never slowing down. And they did that for three rounds straight.

Fifteen minutes of two men trying to kill each other with their bare hands. And it showed. Their faces were busted up and covered in blood, their bodies covered with sweat, and the crowd was going wild! The event drew an incredibly large audience and mixed martial arts was never the same again. Heck, a lot of people say that if the Griffin vs. Bonnar fight didn’t go the way it did, the UFC most probably would have tanked that year or the next. If that’s true, then I, for one, am surely grateful it didn’t happen.

A lot of people have looked at that legendary TUF 1 bout many times over and a lot of them have said that, objectively in terms of pure martial arts techniques and tactics, both fighters did pretty horribly. They basically just came out like primitives and beat the hell out of each other. But in terms of pure entertainment? It was pure gold. You could almost see Dana White and the Fertittas diving and rolling around Scrooge McDuck’s money bin after the event.


This was not so for the Strikeforce: Nashville bouts. Not one of the championship events came even close to being as entertaining to the average spectator, which Strikeforce was trying to reach via CBS. These are viewers who are not at all knowledgeable in mixed martial arts and couldn’t care less about techniques and tactics. They just wanted to see three good looking fights. In short, the perfect audience for the Griffin – Bonnar match.

All the Strikeforce: Nashville fighters were playing it safe to a certain degree since belts were on the line, meaning that they were defensive a lot of the time. In their lightweight championship bout, Shinya Aoki kept going to the ground every chance he got since that’s where his jiu jitsu game would shine. Current champ Gilbert Melendez didn’t want to do anything with that, and although he would engage with flying fists from time to time, the referee would simply stand Aoki up. This would occur several times a round for five five – minute championship rounds. Twenty-five minutes of guys going to the mat and standing up over and over and over, with very little action in between.

Now, again, I’d like to reiterate that I personally enjoyed all the matches, thought they were good, and that all the fighters did their best and shone brightly for it. But that’s not what the core audience that Strikeforce was tapping saw. They repetitive referee  stand ups for close to half an hour without anything really entertaining happening to break it up. No amount of crab walking can save that sort of viewpoint.

Then there’s the light heavyweight championship between current champ Gegard Mousasi and fast – talking challenger Muhammed Lawal. This was the first fight of the evening and was sure to have audiences in their seats. After all, Lawal talked up quite a storm in the pre – fight hype and has an incredibly entertaining personality. If he fought as good as he talked, then the fight would be a sure thing. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Lawal controlled almost the entire fight with his amazing wrestling ability and sheer athleticism, neutralizing Mousasi’s stand-up game the entire time.

More knowledgeable fans like myself can view this bout as a great wrestling showcase and fighter athleticism. If Lawal could have finished Mousasi quickly while he was controlling him on the ground with face – breaking punches and the like, it would have won over the average viewer as well. Guess what? Lawal was unable to finish and gassed out. He was still much stronger than Mousasi, though, and his wrestling pedigree allowed him to take control during all of the rounds despite the lack of cardio. The result? Most viewers basically just saw two half – naked, sweaty, grown men lay on top of each other for nearly half an hour. Not a particularly good sight.

Okay, but what about the championship bout? Surely Hendo could save the day couldn’t he? Well, he sure did try. He came out and knocked current champ Jake Shields down several times with his magic right hand, but, kudos to Shields, was unable to finish him during that first round. Exciting stuff! The middleweight champ gets blown down by the grizzled veteran and staggers to his feet, unrelenting, and unwilling to back down. It’s literally what Hollywood blockbuster scripts are made out of!


Unfortunately, Hendo blew his wad during the first round and slowed down considerably during the next twenty minutes. This allowed Shields to control the rest of the match same as Lawal did for the rest of the match. To Hendo’s credit, though, he still tried his best and was at least not finished, but going up against a younger fighter with a full gas tank kinda takes its toll. So, sans that great opening round, the viewers basically the same thing during the main event.

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, we have the infamous brawl that occurred during Shields’ post – fight interview. Jason Miller, of Bully Beatdown fame, somehow manages to enter the cage along with the officials, interrupts the interview and asks for a rematch straight to Shields’ face. Shields, still high from the emotions of his fight, shoves Miller and a fight breaks loose, mostly consisting of Shields’ Cesar Gracie camp ganging up on Miller. Fight News has more on the matter:


Funny thing is, Bas Rutten lightheartedly comments during the April 23rd broadcast of his show, Inside MMA, that there still wasn’t any dramatic knockout! So despite the ugly nature of it all, it still failed to add to the much needed excitement of the event. He also asks how the hell Miller even got inside the ring in the first place, if what Strikeforce execs say are true, in that Miller was acting completely independently? Were there no guards or officials to prevent just anyone wandering in the cage after a fight? I find that incredibly hard to believe.

I’m actually on the side of those who think that Strikeforce did originally script Miller to go in the cage to hype a rematch with Shields to maybe salvage an overall lackluster event. Then, when it turned ugly, they denied everything and turned Miller into an easy scapegoat. If I’m right then that’s just incredibly poor planning. I mean, planning an impromptu confrontation like that post – fight with the incredibly rowdy Cesar Gracie camp? Come on.


UFC Fighter Chael Sonnen, who was a guest on that same episode, gave his own analysis, which I personally fully agree with. He states that one of the main reasons that the event did so poorly is that all of the bouts were championship fights, meaning that they all had all five five-minute rounds. Now, this looks good on paper and while hyping everything before the show, but actually watching this takes place is a much different matter, especially if the matches were pretty much one fighter controlling the other in less than dramatic fashion with absolutely no finishes. Marketing and promotion aside, he says that the smart thing would have been to cut the rounds down to maybe three or even less, to ensure that viewers don’t get bored if first round finishes failed to occur. This would have heavily benefited the first and third fights, which had fighters gassing and incredibly slowing down the pace.


All in all, I’d like to reiterate that, despite the overly negative sentiments of this review, I still enjoyed the event a whole lot. It’s just that I found that the other side of the argument was much more fascinating to discuss. Do I feel that the brawl at the end of the event did as much damage to the industry as many would have one believe? Again, I personally don’t think so, but we’ll see. One thing’s for sure, Strikeforce owner Scott Coker has his work cut out for him in sealing this debacle.

Credit goes to Sherdog.com for the awesome Strikeforce: Nashville fight photos!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

THE ATHLETE'S HEART



Here’s a short study I did on the Athlete’s Heart a while back. I find it amazing how regular physical activities can not only shape our bodies into positive forms of expressions, but can also physically transform our internal systems in order to function at a much higher level.

The Athlete’s Heart is defined as hypertrophy, or increased size, of the heart, as a result of regular, intense, physical activities.



Cardiac hypertrophy in endurance athletes, such as runners and swimmers, is seen in their large ventricular cavities, but with an average thickness of their ventricular walls. This enables more blood to enter the ventricle during diastole, or the resting phase of the cardiac cycle.

In a study on male athletes by Morganroth et al, endurance athletes were measured to have 55 mm wide ventricular cavities, but only 10.5 mm thick ventricular walls. Their left ventricles weighed in at an average of 300 grams.

In a study on female athletes, by Zeldis et al, endurance athletes were measured to have 47.5 mm wide ventricular cavities, 10.5 mm thick ventricular walls. Their left ventricles weighed in at an average of 200 grams. 

In nonendurance athletes, such as those engaged in highly anaerobic activities like wrestling and putting the shot, cardiac hypertrophy is characterized by a normal sized ventricular cavity and a thicker ventricular wall.

In a study on male athletes by Morganroth et al, nonendurance athletes had 14 mm thick ventricular walls, and 47.5 mm thick ventricular cavities. The weight of their left ventricles averaged at 330 grams.

Individuals with sedentary lifestyles have hearts with smaller sizes, weight, and dimensions as compared to athletes. In a study on males by Morganroth et al, sedentary individuals had 10.2 mm thick ventricular walls. Endurance athletes had 10.5 mm thick walls, and nonendurance athletes had 14 mm thick walls. Sedentary individuals had 43 mm wide ventricular cavities, while the endurance athletes had 55 mm wide cavities, and the nonendurance athletes had theirs at 47 mm thick. The sedentary individuals left ventricles weighted in on average at 210 grams, while the endurance athletes’ were at 300 grams and the nonendurance athletes at 330 grams.

In a study on females from Zeldis et al, sedentary individuals 10.2 mm thick ventricular walls, while endurance athletes had 10.5 mm thick walls. The sedentary individuals’ ventricular cavities were 44 mm wide, while the endurance athletes’ 48 mm wide. The sedentary individuals’ left ventricles weighed in on average at 125 grams, while the endurance athletes were at 200 grams.

Reference/s:
Fox, Edward, Bowers, Richard, and Foss, Merle. The Physiological Basis for Exercise and Sport, 5th ed. Iowa: Brown & Benchmark Publishers, 1993.

Wilmore, Jack, and Costill, David. Physiology of Sport and Exercise. Illinois: Human Kinetics, 1994.

HOW TO STAY PROPERLY HYDRATED


 This is the third in a series of articles concerning the Philippine Sports Science Conference 2010. Read the first, which is the introduction to the series and gives an overview of the conference, here, and the second, which talks about longevity, here.

The second talk in the Philippine Sports Science Conference 2010 was titled “the role of hydration in optimum performance” by Prof. Luz Felicidad Callanta, RND, who currently teaches at the University of the Philippines Diliman.


Continuing off of Dr. Varona’s train of thought, Prof. Callanta affirms that the body indeed only absorbs 30% of supplements consumed, and the rest is removed, usually by urination. One can check this by noticing the color of one’s urine after taking a supplement and after not taking a supplement. Urine is typically a light yellow color, but after consuming a multivitamin supplement, the yellow tint will be noticeably brighter and more pronounced, indicating that most of the nutrients were indeed, ejected instead of absorbed, by the body. In this respect, Prof. Callanta does indeed recommend the “food first” mantra and advises everyone else to do the same.





One of the primary reasons to stay hydrated is to allow the body to properly regulate its own temperature. The human body loses heat, and therefore stays cooler, through five methods:

1. Radiation – Heat is transferred from the surface of one object to the surface of another without actual contact; radiation is the primary way the body loses heat.
2. Conduction – Heat is transferred from the surface of one object to the surface of another through direct contact; heat loss through radiation can be 25 times greater in cold air than in cold water.
3. Convection – Cold air in immediate contact with the skin is warmed by the skin; heated molecules move away, cooler ones take their place, and the cycle repeats itself.
4. Evaporation – Body heat causes perspiration, which is lost from the body surface when it is changed to vapor; two – thirds of evaporative loss is through perspiration.
5. Respiration – Body heat lost through breathing; one – third of evaporative loss is through respiration.

Our focus, of course, is on evaporation, which is how our body stays cool when we perspire. There is a danger, of course, of too much sweating, since the body may lose too much of its fluids, resulting in dehydration, which may prove fatal. Dehydration can be classified as the loss of one percent or more of body weight through the perspiration. Aside from constant, monitored water breaks, another way that coaches and trainers can prevent dehydration is by weighing the athletes before and after training sessions and events. This can aid them plan out future sessions more properly if they discover that the athletes may be losing too much body weight due to perspiration.

Speaking of coaches and trainers, Prof. Callanta urges all those in the profession to not use dehydration as a form of punishment. Punishing athletes during training by preventing water breaks then expecting them to immediately perform better is incredibly stupid and dangerous. Athletes, of course, will only continue to perform worse the more dehydrated they become, as the body will naturally become weaker and weaker. Expecting them to perform contrary to that is downright ludicrous and may cause the athlete to collapse or even suffer a heart attack due to stress. This is something coaches normally would not want on their resumes.



During training, athletes should consume mostly water, and sometimes sports drinks, if the training session or event is particularly grueling. Homemade, natural fruit juices or shakes are actually more beneficial than sports drinks, as they provide the same benefits, but are much more healthful and do not contain any chemicals. Unfortunately, natural, homemade fruit juices and shakes are not nearly as convenient as the typical sports drink, which, neatly preserved, can be bought at almost any corner store, so athletes tend to favor them instead of the more natural and healthful alternative.

There is also the matter of people reacting differently to sports drinks. There have been noted cases over the years that some brands fail to properly hydrate some athletes, causing decreases in performance over time, while others have been known to cause adverse effects within the digestive system if consumed over a long period of time. These reactions are different for literally everyone for every brand of sports drink out there, so if the athlete has to consume a sports drink, he or she should properly experiment and find the best brand for his or her body during training. Discovering that one has an adverse effect to a particular sports drink brand during an event would be very bad, indeed.

As a general rule, one should drink 150 – 350 ml of water every 15 – 20 minutes during exercise, and even more if the training session is very intense and the temperature is high. If the training session or event continues for more than 90 minutes, then sports drinks, or even better, natural fruit juices or shakes should be consumed every 15 – 30 minutes (or more frequently if the temperature is particularly high) in order to not only prevent dehydration, but to properly counteract the body’s continued loss of nutrients.

Sports drinks are normally composed of carbohydrates and electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. These need to be chemically balanced in order for the electrolyte ratio to be just right. Again, natural fruit juices and shakes do the same thing and are much healthier, plus you don’t need to worry about the electrolyte balance. Studies have shown that, among the existing brands today, Gatorade drinks seem to have the most balanced electrolyte ratios, so they’re generally the best choice.



There are three types of sports drinks:

1. Hypotonic – where the fluid content is less than concentrated than the electrolyte content. These are generally not recommended because they have been known to hamper performance and produce adverse effects.
2. Isotonic – where the fluid content has the same concentration as the electrolyte content. These types are more efficient when taken during training sessions.
3. Hypertonic – where the fluid content is more than the electrolyte content. These are best taken after training session.

Fortunately, most sports drinks are labeled properly and show what their proper ratios are. Pick the ones most applicable to you and stay away from the ones that aren’t recommended. If the brand doesn’t properly label their drinks, then stay away and pick those that do.

Consumed liquid stays within the body for approximately 30 minutes before it needs to be excreted from the body. One good trick that scientific studies have discovered is to drink at least two full glasses of water 30 minutes or slightly more before your bedtime. This will allow the body to stay properly hydrated during sleep while allowing the body enough room to process the liquid and urinate it before shuteye, thus preventing any late night bathroom breaks that may disturb one’s sleep cycle. Upon waking, drink the same amount of water to immediately hydrate your system once again. The body becomes dehydrated during the standard eight hour sleep cycle, so one has to immediately counteract this. Studies have proven that this trick can aid in the body’s longevity by promoting better circulation, thus allowing the heart to function more efficiently and even lower blood pressure.

Urination should normally occur within one to two hours. If it occurs much less than this, then it could be a sign of dehydration. Another way to tell is by its color. I the urine is light yellow, then your fluid levels are normal. If it is dark yellow, then it is a sure sign of dehydration. Being completely clear and transparent, on the other hand, means overhydration.

Overhydration, or hyponatremia, can be defined as an electrolyte imbalance within the body that can prove dangerous and sometimes fatal. Have you ever tasted your own sweat? It doesn’t taste exactly like the water you just drank does it? It has a slight salty taste, right? Well, that’s because certain nutrients in the body, including sodium are naturally excreted from the body during perspiration and urination. Hyponatremia is a very low amount of sodium, causing the body’s functions to become imbalanced. Sports drinks or fruit juices and shakes can easily counteract this but overhydration, or consuming too much water, has also been known to cause this.

Fortunately, accidentally overhydrating oneself is extremely rare and does not normally occur, so athletes should not fear consuming too much water and having hyponatremia. The body naturally expels too much liquid in the body through urination or perspiration, and the body normally replaces the sodium it’s lost (unless, again, there is an extreme amount of sweating, in which case, reach for those sports drinks or fruit juices) so there’s nothing to worry about. Instead, the athlete should fear having an electrolyte imbalance because of perspiring too much and having too little liquid in his or her body.

Workouts aside, though, how much water should one consume in a day? An average, sedentary individual usually has around a 2000 calorie energy expenditure during the day, which would require 8 – 10 full glasses of water on a daily basis. So, yes, the “drink eight glasses of water a day” has a false side to it in that it’s usually not enough for most individuals, unless you lie in bed all day. If you’re more active, and definitely consume more than 2000 calories a day (because you walk around during work, walk on the way to commute, walk around the malls during the weekend, etc) then you should definitely drink more than 10 glasses of water a day.

A key trick here is to listen to your body. So, you know that you should drink at least ten glasses a day, but what’s the optimum amount? You probably don’t need a hundred glasses, but you’re body will set you straight. It will naturally signal you when you’re thirsty. This is usually a sign that you’re already dehydrated, so listen to your body and drink some water, stat! Just follow your body and if you notice that you’re drinking more than ten glasses a day, then that’s fine.

Of course, then there are athletes who expend upwards of 10,000 calories a day due to intense, all – day training sessions. In this case, and following the generalization previously stated, they would need 40 – 50 glasses a day, which isn’t really unheard of, since many top athletes are known to consume gallons and gallons of fluids in order to stay properly hydrated.

So, in short:

1. The body naturally excretes 70% of supplements taken, so one should follow the “food first” mantra instead.
2. Athletes should stay properly hydrated during training sessions and events by taking constant water breaks.
3. Coaches and trainers should not punish their athletes by preventing water breaks.
4. Sports drinks are good for maintaining the electrolyte balance in athletes during hard training sessions and long events, but natural, homemade fruit juices or shakes are even better.
5. Drink at least two glasses thirty minutes or slightly more before going to bed, then drink the same amount immediately upon waking.
6. Overhydration is nothing to be afraid of since the body has natural functions to counteract it. Fear dehydration instead.
7. One should urinate every one to two hours. Urinating less can be a sign of dehydration.
8. Drink at least 10 glasses of water a day and listen to your body to discover the optimum amount.

HOW TO LIVE LONGER



This is the second in a series of articles concerning the Philippine Sports Science Conference 2010. Read the first, which is the introduction to the series and gives an overview of the conference, here, and the third, which talks about proper hydration, here.

The first talk during the Philippine Sports Science Conference 2010 was about “energy and strength boosting nutrition by Dr. Blecenda Varona, RND, Dr. PH. She opens up, first of all, by saying that her expertise deals primarily with aiding sick, and average, yet sedentary individuals. Applications of her methods to expertly – trained individuals should first be reviewed and personalized by a professional nutritionist working closely with the athletes’ coaches.

Alright, first things first, is to simply do what our parents told us when we were little: “eat your fruits and vegetables!” This is basically the core concept surrounding Dr. Varona’s talk. There is such a large variety of these foods, especially in the Philippines, and all of them are incredibly healthy and nutritious, with the right combination giving us more than any overpriced multivitamin in the market today.



Speaking of pills, the good doctor also does not recommend them. At all. She follows the “food “first” mantra, wherein we should all get all of our daily nutritional needs through the right combinations of foods instead of some supplement. Many doctors and nutritionists around the world actually adhere to and recommend this method, yet are all easily shut down by the power of mass marketing. Studies have also shown that only 30% of supplements (in pill or powder form) are absorbed by the body. The rest is simply removed, usually by urination (which is also touched upon by a later talk by Prof. Luz Callanta on hydration).

Dr. Varona continues her talk by stating the importance of properly chewing our food, which, studies have shown, aids in the digestion process, and thus, in the efficiency of our cells to absorb the nutrients for optimum nutrition.

And no nutrition lecture is complete without the condemning of junk food. Any sort of junk food, fast food or the like should be completely removed from one’s diet if one plans to live a long and healthy lifestyle. This is because junk can contribute almost nothing to the body aside from sicknesses such as heart diseases and obesity, while natural foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains can cure almost any ailment the body can succumb to.

She, of course, continues by bluntly stating that “all diseases are reversible through healthy lifestyle conversions”. Now, I don’t know if she also means things like cancer and the AIDS virus (which, now that I think about it, is quite surprising that no one asked her about it), but she mainly talks about sicknesses related to things like heart diseases and obesity. She notes several studies about the matter, but her favorites concern one Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, who has a book called “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”. Dr. Varona has attended Dr. Esselstyn’s talks, has read his book and studies, and has met him in person. She’s a very outspoken admirer of him and even wants to bring him to the Philippines to further spread his message. Consider purchasing his book here:





In any case, the point is that Dr. Varona mostly talks about heart disease, and to her knowledge, literally all forms of heart disease currently known by man is completely reversible by a healthy lifestyle conversion. So, yes, again, she preaches to completely dump eating habits akin to what one may call the “Standard American Diet (SAD)”, which is chockfull of junk food and fast food, and is the primary reason for the blowout of obesity problems in that country (and is also admittedly a very nasty problem here in the Philippines, as well), and convert to a diet composed predominantly of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Dr. Varona states that there is no need to eat most animal products, though states that properly prepared eggs, some fish, and milk can prove beneficial. This is because that meat is mostly composed of fat, no matter how lean it is. Beef, for example, contains only around 30% protein, with the rest being mostly fat. Fish has the highest percentage, with around 80%, depending on the type. Animal meat also contains cholesterol because of their fat content, which is, of course, entirely undesirable in our body in large amounts.

“But what about the protein?” Yes, the question will come sooner or later to people who preach what is widely known as a lacto – ovo vegetarian diet. One word: beans. Beans contain a significant amount of protein, and one does not need to consume a horrendous amount to reach what a pound of beef would give you. That, plus none of the fat and cholesterol, and instead, a whole lot of vitamins and minerals.

She then begins to apply her talk to sports and exercise, since, after all, that’s what the conference is all about. So, beans are an excellent protein source, fine. That takes care of the post – workout food for muscle recovery, growth, and so on. But what about pre – workout when trainers would usually recommend a higher amount of carbohydrates in order for the body to have an efficient fuel source during the physical activities? Well, fruits and vegetables can completely cover that, but the doctor singles out another type of food that is excellent for athletes who wish to carbo – load before a particular intense training session: the sweet potato. She praises the sweet potato and says that Filipinos are quite lucky to have a very large variety of the food. She says that all form and colors of the sweet are incredibly rich in carbohydrates and are quite good and healthful for the body.

She closes her talk by once again stating that having a diet that circles mostly around her recommendations will not only help one live longer, but will also increase one’s energy levels, decrease one’s recuperation time, and remove almost any sort of disease in the body. So, to recap, Dr. Varona’s suggestions are to:

1.    Eat a diet composed mostly of fruits vegetables, beans, whole grains, and sweet potatoes
2.    Remove any sort of animal product from your diet, but some fish, eggs, and milk are fine.
3.    Never eat junk food, fast food or anything of the like ever again.
4.    Not to take any sort of supplements unless your doctor or nutritionist highly recommends them to you for medical and recover purposes. Get your adequate doses of vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc from food. Remember: “food first”.



Dr. Varona, of course, has a book out, called “Healing Wonders of Diet: Effective guide to diet therapy”, which is available in all National Bookstore outlets. I bought a copy at the conference for Php800.00, and will also review it.



Monday, April 19, 2010

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER 11 EPISODE 3 REVIEW



Alright, alright, I admit it. Egg on my face, shame on me. I wrote in my TUF 11 episode 2 review that I was very hyped for this episode because the preview was making a big deal of the “shocking announcement” that would take place this episode, alongside official news that Rich Franklin has indeed replaced Tito Ortiz as Chuck Liddell’s opponent at UFC 115.

Rumors have been circulating for weeks now that Tito will, at one point, be “kicked off” the show for some reason and be replaced by Franklin. So, was the reveal shown this episode? In a word, no.

Needless to say, I was still a bit “shocked” by the announcement, but not nearly as much as I wanted to be, since it was something totally different from what I expected (or wanted).






The announcement was that Chris Camozzi of Tito Ortiz would be removed from the competition on account of a broken jaw he sustained during his preliminary fight. He was replaced by Seth Baczynski, who lost his preliminary fight, but impressed Tito Ortiz nonetheless with his performance. It’s always really sad to see fighters get taken out of the competition because of injuries and not actual losses in the cage. Sure, it’s part of the reality of it all, but it’s kind of awful for them to have to walk away from a literal chance of a lifetime without an actual loss.



Chuck, whose team won the last match and therefore regains control, then chose the matchup for this episode; it’s between Team Liddell’s Brad Tavares and Team Ortiz’s James Hammortree. The fight itself was pretty good, with both fighters doing their best and giving each other a run for their money. Both of them fail to finish, however, and the fight goes into a third round, called “sudden victory”, which proves how evenly matches these two are. I gave the first and third rounds to Tavares, and the second to Hammortree, which is pretty much what the judges called as well, since Brad Tavares wins the match by decision, making Team Liddell regain control. I also kind of understand where Tito’s coming from when he says he feels that his guy won the third round, but Tavares clearly had control for most of that round.



The antics in the house this episode weren’t all that interesting, so there’s nothing much to write about there. What I’m really interested about right is that the preview indicates that there will be two fights in the next episode! That’s great; more fights per episode is always a good thing. All in all, it was an okay episode. The shock at the end was indeed a genuine one, despite the fact that I initially made too much out of it because of my own UFC fanboyism, and the fight was genuinely good. It’s always great to see two evenly matched guys in the octagon prove their worth by laying it all out and giving it their best shot. Now bring on the next episode!

Check out my reviews of the other episodes of The Ultimate Fighter season 11 here!

THE PHILIPPINE SPORTS SCIENCE CONFERENCE 2010: INTRO



This is the first in a series of articles concerning the Philippine Sports Science Conference 2010. Read the second, which talks about longevity, here, and the third, which talks about proper hydration, here.

I attended the Philippine Sports Science Conference 2010 from April 15 to 16, 2010 at the University of the Philippines Diliman’s National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (NISMED) Auditorium, which was apparently the first of its kind in the country. There were twelve speakers over the course of the two speaking on a total of fifteen topics. I learned a whole considering that all of the speakers were very knowledgeable in their respective fields.



In the coming days, I will therefore be writing about what I learned from this conference, condensed into several topics. I will be writing about longevity, sports nutrition, hydration, sports psychology, and sports vision. I might add a few more topics after the fact, but I plan to concentrate on just those five for now.


The event was created by the UP College of Human Kinetics’ Department of Sports Science in cooperation with The Sports Vision Institute of the Philippines (SVIP). You can read a bit more about it here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

UFC 112 REVIEW



UFC 112, many will likely agree, is a very odd affair. I did honestly like it, though, but not for the usual reasons a good UFC event presents me. The event is actually history – making for the UFC as it’s the first to be held in Abu Dhabi and outdoors. To mark this occasion, the UFC has set up two title defense matches in the main card. The co – main event being a lightweight title fight featuring defending champion BJ Penn versus top contender Frankie Edgar, while the main event is a middleweight title match with defending champion Anderson Silva against contender Demian Maia. Two MMA legends also resurface for this historic occasion. The most dominant welterweight champion in UFC history, Matt Hughes, takes on the world famous Renzo Gracie.



The first fight is Kendall Grove vs. Mark Munoz. I really like both of these fighters, but I was personally rooting for Kendall here, Munoz being Filipino notwithstanding. Both fighters have their strengths: Grove with his incredibly long reach which gives him a sizeable advantage standing up, and Munoz with his explosive wrestling, which easily makes way for his ground and pound game, which Joe Rogan has said to be one of the best in the UFC. The fight was very good, as I expected. Grove used his reach the best he could, and even almost managed to submit Munoz at one point, but Munoz’s incredible wrestling ability prevailed, allowing him to unleash his ground and pound and finish Kendall 2:50 into the second round.



Next up, we have a Lightweight bout featuring Terry Etim and Rafael dos Anjos, neither of which I’m much a fan of. Don’t get me wrong, though. I recognize that both of these fighters are very good athletes and truly deserve to be on the main card, but neither of them ever stood out for me. In any case, the fight was also very good to behold as it was back and forth throughout, but true to form, dos Anjos manages to submit Etim 4:30 into the second round.



Alright, warm up’s over, now on to the juicier matches. No offense to the first four fighters, two of which I’ve admitted to liking very much, but going into the event, I was really hyped for the last three matches. So when the second match ended, I was on the edge of my seat. Matt Hughes versus Renzo Gracie in a welterweight bout. Two legends in the octagon. Wow. Hughes defeated Renzo’s cousin, Royce, at UFC 60 four years ago. Now, the Gracies are back for revenge. It’s like some 80’s blockbuster action movie! Okay, Matt Hughes looks to get Gracie on his back using wrestling and ground and pound the hell out of him, similar to what he did against Royce. Gracie, on the other hand, looks to submit Hughes in any way he can. Who will prevail?



The first round starts off with a lot of feeling out and distance finding on the feet. In the second round, Hughes finds a home for a very effective technique that has brought down many a great fighter in the sport of MMA: the leg kick. Hughes throws and lands it consistently and with explosiveness on Gracie’s lead leg, until, 2:03 into the third round, Gracie’s leg buckles and he falls flat onto the mat. Hughes doesn’t engage, though, wary of his opponent’s menacing ground game, and backs off. In an almost comical fashion, the referee, Herb Dean, asks Gracie to stand up and continue, but Gracie holds his hand out for help. Hughes reciprocates and helps the legend onto his feet; odd, but entertaining. There’s obviously not much bad blood between these two. Gracie standing up won’t last too long, though, as Hughes immediately fires off another leg kick that sends him crashing back down. This proves to be a constant trend throughout the remainder of the fight, until Hughes knocks Gracie down with a devastating uppercut after a flurry of punches, causing the referee to stop the match 4:40 into the final round.

Okay, I’ll repeat myself: wow. The fight wasn’t the blood gushing Griffin – Bonnar of years past that bought the UFC a new generation of fans, but it was very exciting for me nonetheless. Hughes dominated Gracie, no doubt, which surprised me because I honestly thought the fight would be close all throughout. Matt proves me wrong and TKO’s a fellow legend. Great match. 




Now, here’s where things start to enter Wonderland.

Current lightweight champion BJ “The Prodigy” Penn versus top contender Frankie “The Answer” Edgar. Pretty much everyone, including me, thought this bout was going to be horribly one – sided. Weeks leading up to the fight, I would tell my friends that I was tired of the UFC giving champion fights against contenders who I thought had no chance of winning. I thought this of welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre’s last fight against Dan Hardy, and I was right. The fight wasn’t boring by any means, and I was truly impressed by Hardy’s will to survive in the cage, but the outcome was still predictable.

See, I like buying into the hype when it works. I buy into with movie trailers, and I buy into it with the MMA. I’m totally hyped right now for Iron Man 2, and I’m really hyped for the Shogun and The Dragon’s rematch at UFC 113. For this event, I was really only hyped for Hughes vs. Gracie. Two legends resurfacing to do battle in the octagon! The two main events that would follow offered no such excitement to me. I knew both champions would defend their belts, no problem. This was only compounded when BJ recently destroyed one of my favorite fighters, Diego Sanchez. Diego is a beast in the octagon, and he was completely dominated. I never though that was possible, and I was sure Penn would do the same thing to Edgar.



Boy, was I wrong.

When I hear the phrase “shocked the world”, it’s connected to something actually uninteresting most of the time. That’s what I thought when they attached it to Seth Petruzelli’s knockout of Kimbo Slice, and many other supposedly shocking turn of events in MMA. But Frank Edgar truly did shock the world on April 10, 2010. And you know what? BJ Penn did as well. “The Answer” executed his game plan perfectly during his bout with the former champion. His footwork, accurate boxing, and head movement were amazing. He would move in and out and outstrike his opponent magnificently. BJ was still aggressive, though, catching Edgar with hooks on occasion, but he could never quite match his opponent’s speed and agility.

Something didn’t look quite right, though. Penn, one of the greatest BJJ artists in the world today, never once tried to take the fight to the ground despite obviously losing the stand up war. And he became noticeably tired chasing Edgar down during the championship rounds. BJ did not at all look like the same person that dominated Diego Sanchez.

Of course, all of this can be attributed to the challenger, though. It was the perfect gameplan. In and out, in and out. Keep BJ on the balls of his feet, never let him rest, make him chase Edgar down. Lure him into an unfamiliar world. And it worked beautifully. After the fight, I was completely blown away. I attributed the loss to a drop in BJ’s motivation, health, whatever. But after a few days of thinking about, I now attribute it mostly to the challenger. Frankie “The Answer” Edgar brought the apparently best gameplan against the lightweight champion and executed it perfectly. BJ still could have had something mentally or physically wrong with him at the time, but Frankie brought it perfectly that night, so it’s all on him. Remember Rocky? Yeah, well right now, it’s “Frankie”.



In any case, BJ’s actively pursuing a rematch against Edgar as soon as possible, similar to Rua vs. Machida, so we’ll see if Edgar truly is a champion or a one time upset, like Matt Serra.

Okay, that was odd and shocking at the same time. The next fight can’t possibly be worse now, can it? That’s what I literally thought going into the main event. And, again, I was wrong.



No, Demian Maia did not upset Anderson Silva. That part I predicted correctly. What I didn’t predict was Anderson Silva’s rather … disturbing behavior. Anderson Silva is one of my favorite MMA fighters of all time and I know for a fact that he is one of the pound for pound best fighters in the world. So, given all that, his performance that night was a bit strange, to say the least.

The first round was brilliant. Anderson found his range against Maia very quickly and started hammering away with odd kicks and punches. It was clear how wide the gap was between both fighters’ stand up abilities. The second round was more of the same, except Silva began …clowning around?



If you’ve ever played any of the recent Street Fighter games, then you’d know a character named Dan Hibiki. This Street Fighter character has what is called a “Super Taunt”. I don’t know about you, but I think Silva just used that technique on Demian Maia.



He aggressively taunts and ridicules Maia most of the second round, and comes into the third round a bit, well, tired. He obviously seemed listless during the third. While he was still striking his opponent, the massive energy level he displayed in the second literally vanished. And what about the championship rounds? He ran away from Maia. Literally. He turned tail and ran circles around the octagon several times.



It was so bad that Dana White left the fight early and gave Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, the middleweight championship belt. He was so disgusted that he couldn’t watch the fight, let alone bear to get near enough to Silva to give him his belt. He then went on a rather entertaining twitter rampage. Referee Dan Miragliotta even stopped Silva during one of his jogs to warn him that he would deduct a point if this outrageous behavior continued. Silva wins a unanimous decision for basically being highly aggressive and dominant but unable to finish in the first two rounds, being relatively inactive in the third, and running away during the last two. Not too many people were impressed, to say the least.



During the interview with color commentator Joe Rogan, Silva once again apologizes for his behavior (sadly, this isn’t the first time he’s done something like this), and says that he does not know what got into him, but promises to make up for it the next time. A truly unsatisfying explanation if there ever was one. His manager, Ed Soares, gave an interview after the event explaining their side:



That’s a bit better, I suppose, but better understood, if you look at the point of view of this writer, from an article on the official UFC website. Silva does admit to getting caught and surprised by Maia’s punches during his interview with Rogan. In that sense, all the Mike Tyson-isms that he unleashed during the second were stunned completely during the third and he pretty much lost his wits for the remainder of the fight. Long story short, he got caught, was thrown off his gameplan, and ran away from his opponent so he could keep his belt. Yes, one of the pound for pound best MMA fighters in the world did just that.

So, yes, odd. Very odd indeed. Hopefully, UFC 113 will be less mentally exhausting to view than this one. One thing’s for sure, though, it feels really interesting in a way to have your predictions ruffled up while watching a big event like this. Frankie Edgar shocked the hell out of me, and while I accurately predicted the outcome of Silva’s match, he exhibited behavior that would have anyone looking stunned and scratching their heads.



So what’s next for these fighters? As mentioned, BJ Penn is actively pursuing a rematch against Frankie Edgar to reclaim his belt. Personally, I would like to see Maynard vs. Edgar first, with Penn facing Florian. Two rematches, yes, but it would at least not be as repetitive as an instant revenge fight. I still personally think that BJ is the better fighter, and that if he comes with a good enough gameplan (at least one better than the one he used here), he could easily dominate Edgar like he did so many top contenders.

Silva has talked about moving down a weight class to face Georges St-Pierre. As the weight cut would obviously be very hard for him, he doesn’t want to fight just anybody, so he’s aiming for the champion. After his performance at UFC 112, though, it might be highly doubtful if Dana White lets him do this. Hell, he’s even considering putting his next fight as a prelim! I’d personally love to see “Rush” versus “The Spider”, so I’ll be eagerly awaiting Dana’s decision on this. Of course, Silva’s original matchup against Vito Belfort would be a real treat as well.

Plus, Renzo Gracie promised to he'd be back in the octagon again soon. I'll eagerly await his next fight, no matter the opponent.

Now, on to UFC 113! I’m personally betting on Machida for this one, as I did last time, but we’ll see. Literally anything can happen in the cage, and UFC 112 is the perfect example of that.

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER 11 EPISODE 2 REVIEW



Okay, here’s my week – late review of the The Ultimate Fighter Season 11 episode 2. Nothing too exciting in this episode, as it’s pretty much straightforward TUF fair. I kept my review of episode one very spoiler – free, but I don’t think I can do that with the succeeding episodes unless I want my reviews to be just one or two – liners.

So, yeah ... SPOILER ALERT!



Episode one was mostly composed of just the preliminary fights, and most of them were truncated. For those who haven’t heard, they’re all available to view for free over at the official UFC website. Now that those are over, episode 2 naturally starts off with the next step: picking teams.



Dana goes for his usual blue – and – red sided coin, and Tito wins the toss. Same as before, the winner of the toss gets to pick either the first fight or the first fighter. Tito goes for the first fighter, immediately allowing Chuck to pick the first fight. I’ve always personally thought that, if I was one of the coaches, I’d pick first fighter as well. The reason is that if you manage to get your ideal guys on your team, as Tito managed to do, apparently, then you’d have who you personally think is the strongest amongst the group. In this case, most fight combinations should not be too much of a concern since, if trained properly, the fighters picked would be able to beat the others who weren’t, since they’re better.



After the picks, Dana was concerned that Chuck might have somehow picked a bad combination of fighters, specifically because he seemed to have picked all the smaller guys in the group; guys, who should, conceivably, be able to drop down to 170 and fight at welterweight, where they would have the size advantage. Dana confronts Chuck, but it appears that Lidell has most, if not all, his top picks. He personally thinks that he has the more skilled guys in the group, given how impressed he was with their fights and records. Dana still doesn’t get it, seeing as Tito picked all of the guys with stoppages in the prelims, but he’ll just wait and see. He does acknowledge that Chuck has an eye for strategy and that he is a good coach. Both winners in the first Ultimate Fighter were from his team, so maybe he’ll sweep this season as well, despite the obvious size disadvantage of his fighters.

The fighters, then, of course, get to move into the house, and, as usual, pranks immediately occur. The pranksters managed to get hold of several air horns and blasted everyone with noise in the middle of the night. Not too amusing to look at, but I personally would have been pissed if I was one of these guys. I love my sleep, and no one better tear me away from it. Naturally, some of the fighters in the house felt the same way, but nothing outrageous occurred, just some words exchanged. After ten seasons of the show, people should know better, so the chances of brawls happening among the fighters outside the cage are pretty slim. The coaches, however, might be a different story, but I still personally doubt it.



Fight pick time! There was some concern among Tito’s team who would be picked, but they were sure it would be one of the two with injuries. Clayton McKinney strained his shoulder during his fight, and Chris Camozzi has several injuries from his “three round war”, including various cuts and bruises.



And they were right. Chuck picks Clayton McKinney to fight his man, Kyle Noke, an Australian trained by famed coach Greg Jackson.



The fight itself is actually pretty good. McKinney starts off aggressive with leg kicks, but the generally goes slow for the first two minutes as the fighters try to find their distance. It then immediately goes to the ground, with Noke quickly submitting McKinney with a Triangle 2:15 into the match.



The really interesting thing is what happens after the fight, however. Noke walks away in disgust back to the locker, but Tito stops him and forces him to drill a Triangle Defense several times before letting him go.

Overall, it was a good episode. Not that great, since it’s mostly standard TUF fair, but still good. The fight was short and sweet, but the real meat seems to occur in the next episode, where they hype up something really bad. Now I admit that most of the time it’s just something generally uninteresting that gets blown out of proportion during the previews, but plenty of rumors negative have been swirling around Tito Ortiz, saying that he was kicked off the show and replaced by Rich Franklin. This is only further hyped by the UFC’s very recent announcement that Franklin has officially replaced Tito as Liddell’s opponent at UFC 115.

 

Okay, I admit it, even after watching ten full seasons of TUF, I’m still buying the hype and am honestly very excited to see what the new episode reveals. Will Tito get kicked off the show? If he does, then that, at least, will be a TUF first.

Check out my reviews of the other episodes of The Ultimate Fighter season 11 here!

DIET AND NUTRITION TIP 3: THE SPECIFICS OF THE HEALTH SHAKE

Okay, there’s what I promised before, a picture of what my Health Shake basically looks like.

Yeah, that greenish tint does look a tad nasty, I suppose, but it tastes great, I promise!

After reading my Diet and Nutrition Tip 2 article, a lot of you are probably wondering how I get through the day with mostly just a shake. As I previously mentioned, I usually start the day off with a solid meal composed usually of eggs and vegetables, but sometimes tuna and veggies or chicken breast and veggies. The rest of the day, I consume pretty much just the Health Shake.

First of all, I designed the Health Shake to be as balanced a meal as possible, so you’ve got your good proteins, carbs, and fat in there. The protein is the soy milk, the carbs are the veggies and fruit, and the fat is the nuts. Simple as that.

I’ve been living off of this type of diet for a few weeks now and it’s felt pretty good. I have a lot of energy throughout the day, starting immediately from when I get up, and I sleep very soundly. I originally thought that there would be a dip in my energy levels at first that I’d have to get used to when I started this regimen, but the opposite actually happened: my energy levels felt like they at least doubled; very pleasantly surprising to me.


The shake also tastes pretty great. I also originally assumed that I wouldn’t like it when I added the veggies in there, since I had only been consuming shakes comprised only of soy milk and fruit at one point. The pure fruit version shakes were really sweet. The only difference the spinach seemed to add taste – wise is less sweetness. The shake still tastes sweet to me overall, but just much less so, which I actually kind of enjoy more.


Do I ever get sick of consuming just shakes? No, not yet, at least. I’ll make another article after maybe six months if my eating habits are still the same, to give more insight, but currently, no. I really like the convenience of not stopping to prepare and eat a solid meal. I can just keep working and working, even if I’m travelling, and just take a sip. I recently bought a half gallon Coleman water jug that fits my shake recipe perfectly. I add in a lot of ice so that it doesn’t spoil and I have it the entire day.
As for flavor variety, the combination of strawberries and grapes I previously gave was just my personal favorite, and, I believe, the most healthful in terms of mix. There are several types of fruit that my family easily has access to, and I just randomly combine two of them in a shake depending on what’s on hand. The key is to always make different combinations daily, which results in different flavors.


These are the fruits that are usually readily available in my vicinity (I live in Quezon City). I’ll also include the prices that we usually get the fruit for. We usually just get them from trusted stalls near our house or in a mini grocery called Eunilaine which we frequent.

Grapes – Php250.00 / kg
Mangoes – Php50.00 / kg
Melons – Php30.00 / kg
Papaya – Php30.00 / kg
Pineapple – Php50.00 / pc
Apples – Php15.00 / pc
Bananas – Php30.00 / kg
Strawberries – Php100.00 / 3 cases; each with 20 – 25 pieces
Oranges – Php10.00 / pc

Check out my other Diet and Nutrition Tips!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

DIET AND NUTRITION TIP 2: THE HEALTH SHAKE

All right. This article directly continues from my first diet and nutrition tip. I mention that I like to start out slow in the mornings, then get serious when I begin my work. The Health Shake serves me very well for this sort of lifestyle.

I usually begin either by doing choreography or heavy lifting to keep my muscles in shape. If it’s just weight lifting for the day, then I’m totally done in usually an hour or less (unless I decide to choreograph stuff afterward), but choreography time easily takes up two to three hours. I’m always wiped after my sessions, so I take a bath then sit at my computer doing work for my blog until late in the evening.

When I start doing work, I’m in what many people call a “zone”, where I just do whatever tasks it is I’m concentrating on for however long it takes until I’m done. I therefore usually don’t want like to take breaks and give time to eat solid foods. This is especially important during my choreography work because those can be very draining, and drinking even only a bit of my shakes during that time can help a lot. It also helps that since it’s mostly in liquid form, my body can digest it easily and quickly so it won’t interfere with my physical activities.



This is the same when I’m writing for the blog. Because I consume mostly shakes during the day, I can place them anywhere. I just leave a glass by my keyboard and sip on it whenever I like. It doesn’t take nearly as long as stopping to take a bite so it not only saves space, it also saves time as well.

But that’s just me, of course. While this has worked immensely for me, I know some people who absolutely abhor most (or even some) of their food being consumed via liquid form. That’s fine, really. It’s all personal preference in the end, so what works well for me might not for you.

What shouldn’t be left to just personal preference, however, are the contents of the meals being consumed. Whether solid or liquid, most (if not all) of the meals being consumed should have a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, and not include what is generally called junk food.

The meals that I will include in this series of articles are very healthful and have worked very well for me. When I consume meals like these on a daily basis, I am always full of energy and manage to sleep well. They also helped me bounce back from my Christmas diet disaster (which I’ll, of course, write about soon). Long story short, I lost around twenty pounds in just under four months. That’s pretty much more than a pound a week, which is pretty good for a meal plan that really doesn’t deprive me of anything. Keep in mind, though, that I only began consuming a lot of my meals as shakes only this month. Most of the foods I ate during that period were solid, which, again, I’ll write about in future articles.

Alright, with all the relevant background out of the way, here is my Health Shake:


HEALTH SHAKE
Ingredients:
a.    2 cups soy milk (low fat is best, of course)
b.    1 cup spinach
c.    1 cup strawberries
d.    1 cup grapes
e.    1 tablespoon slivered almonds
f.    1 tablespoon walnuts
g.    1 cup ice

How to make it:
a.    Put the soy milk in the blender first, followed by everything else, with the ice on top. I find that placing the softest ingredient nearest the blade and the hardest farthest from it works best for at least my blender. It at least won’t struggle when you start it up, leaving all those chewy solids in the ends.
b.    Blend until desired consistency is achieved. Alton Brown has a great shake blending tutorial in his recent diet episode of Good Eats:





Alright, a lot of you are probably wondering why the spinach is in there. Well, it’s because I really didn’t want my shakes to be composed of mostly fruit. I wanted to keep it more balanced so I added in some veggies in there. I did a bit of research and found that a lot of people like adding spinach to their shakes not just because of its obvious health benefits but because it blends well with fruits and gives off a great added taste. And y’know what? They’re right. I actually had my friend try the shake out and he refused with all his might at first because it seems kind of weird at first glance (because of, ‘y’know, the green tint), but he eventually gave in and tasted it and loved it! Thus, he specifically asked for this article. And ask and you shall receive.

In another article I’ll write soon, I’ll put down where exactly I get my ingredients and for what prices. I apologize for the lack of pictures in this article,  but I didn’t have access to my camera today. I promise I’ll put up pics in the follow up article. Until then, stay tuned!

Check out my other Diet and Nutrition Tips!