Exercise is Medicine by ACSM

November 2017 // Archive

Date based archive
26 Nov


“Science of Fasting” (2016), Sylvie Gilman, Thierry de Lestrade

Life expectancy is increasing, but that also means that the number of diseases and illnesses are increasing too. This requires medical attention, which plays into the money-making industry of Western medicine. In the fitness industry, clients ask about fasting for weight loss, but after watching, “Science of Fasting” (2016), this deprivation of food is actually a therapeutic approach to healing.

Russia’s public health system actually recognizes fasting. It is covered by healthcare. The documentary highlighted one of the Russian clinics where residents come to stay for a supervised program. This is not a DIY (do it yourself) process, which is a popular approach when it comes to internet searched detoxes, cleanses, juicing trials, or fasts. Here, fasting can take place up to a period of 3 weeks, and it’s all about WATER…. just water. The hunger sensation does disappear after a few days. The body is detoxing and living off its reserves. The body at first undergoes a “crisis” period as the impacted organism feeds on itself. So let’s say an alcoholic is trying to reverse liver damage, there could be possible pain the few days in the area. To help with this, patients are given body wraps, colonics and are recommended to exercise.

Of course this process is scary, because no one can tell how one’s body will react to food deprivation. But the body learns to tap into other energy sources. Our main source of energy is glucose and once the body has used this, it then taps into its energy reserves souring from proteins and fats. Now the body is using ketones for fuel.  Over the years, nearly 10,000 patients have been treated and 2/3 have experienced successful results.

A physician in Moscow was the first to bring fasting to the medical board for review in 1973. As a physiatrist, he had a patient who refused to eat. So he just let him not eat. By the 15th day, the patient had a better attitude and felt recovered from his mental illness symptoms. Fasting has been shown to improve and reverse symptoms of depression, phobias, obsessions, anxiety, and schizophrenia. At first, not many doctors or the medical world were open to this idea because being hungry has a negative connotation. But this doctor, Nicoliath (possible misspelling), from Moscow has helped over 8,000 people with asthma, arthritis, and eczema.

Fasting stresses the body. It then has to auto regulate itself. Faced with starvation, hormones start to act and tap into the reserves. For example, this process on a person with asthma would target the black histamine cells in the lungs, cleaning out this area through the fasting detoxification of this organ.

Fasting hasn’t undergone a great amount of research because the pharmaceutical companies are not encouraging this. If a person is diagnosed with diabetes, that equates to dollar signs for many years of medication. Studies have been done on penguins and rats, proving that these species can live off their reserves for nearly 4 months. This means that fasting is an adaption that body can undergo.

The concept of fasting ties into many weight loss strategies like the ketosis diet. The body is using other sources for fuel. It is important that this is of course a temporary, short lived approached. I was intrigued by the medical findings and thought of the effects of fasting the body of meat and dairy have which reduce inflammation. Consult a doctor and be sure to have professional supervision if this is something you are considering. To learn more, I would highly recommend watching the moving, “Science of Fasting”.

21 Nov





Amateur Athletic Union

Ambition. Admiration. Unstoppable.

Written by Megan Johnson McCullough: AAU Athlete Representative, Professional Natural PNBA Bodybuilding Figure Champion, NASM Master Trainer, Men’s Health Fitness Council Member
The Amateur Athletic Union, better known as AAU, has a remarkable history in the sports world. SO many athletes have gotten their start with this upstanding organization. Even I started my basketball days with them, and looking back, AAU has always been about the athletes. They truly uphold their commitment to “Sports For All, Forever”.

AAU was founded in 1888. Yes, 1888!!!! Today is has grown to over 700,000 participants and 150,000 volunteers. The list of sports one can partake in seems unending. Adding to the athletes, think of all the coaches, score keepers, organizers, and spectators involved. Here’s the list: baseball, basketball, baton, bodybuilding, bowling, cheerleading, dance, diving, fast pitch, football, golf, hockey, jump rope, lacrosse, martial arts, soccer, sport stacking, softball, strength sports (feats of strength, powerlifting, weightlifting), surfing, swimming, table tennis, target shooting, track and field, trampoline, volleyball, wrestling. There is so much to offer that the organization is broken up into districts. One is required to be a member to AAU, which ensures that all standards and uniformity is met for all sports, at all levels. No wonder it has become the largest non-profit, volunteer, sports organizations.

Here’s the Amateur Athletic Union’s Mission Statement: “To offer amateur sports programs through a volunteer base for all people to have the physical, mental, and moral development of amateur athletes and to promote good sportsmanship and good citizenship” (http://aausports.org/resources/governance/mission-statement) . Followed by their Vision Statement: “To offer amateur athletes and volunteers opportunities to develop to their highest level through a national and local network of sporting events. Through participation in AAU, we achieve our dreams as athletes and as valued citizens of our communities” (http://aausports.org/resources/governance/mission-statement).

I look back at the influential coaches in my life and the opportunities AAU provided me as an athlete. I was able to receive a full-ride basketball scholarship as a result. Competitive sport participation builds the foundations for future leaders of our communities. Most times, the AAU participants give back and become a coach themselves in the future. I sure did. I’m still competing today.

As an AAU athlete, I’m grateful to be part of the growing movement to bring back Bodybuilding and the different classes including Mixed Pairs, Bikini, Classic Physique, Figure, Physique, and Sports Model. AAU is about the ATHLETE and now in my later years of life, I’m still able to feel like one because of them.  I will do my best to spread my passion and commitment to this organization so that others can share the great experiences I have had. AAU allows me to be me and uphold my goals to lead others by example with Ambition and Admiration in an Unstoppable fashion.


20 Nov


From a random Amazon Prime search for books I’d be interested in, I stumbled upon Robby Robinson. I’m finished reading his memoir, The Black Prince, and immediately felt inspired and motivated for more. This bodybuilder’s unique story is one I had to share and his path to success in the fitness world was not the average route. As one of the world’s first African American bodybuilders, his rise to fame was both a fight and a choice to perform regardless of the stakes.

Robinson was born in 1946 in the south. His fitness journey began with seeing the great, Jack La Lanne on T.V. as a teenager. His body immediately responded to the activity and he quickly noticed when looking in the mirror that muscles suited him well. He had the genes and body type for sure. He was drafted to the service and further learned the required discipline and tenacity needed to be a competitive bodybuilder. He came from very little and had very little equipment to use for training. It was his friendships with the right people that allowed him to enter gyms like Florida State and use their facility. One his friends introduced him to, Muscle Magazine, and it was then that Robby saw what he wanted to become so badly.

So of course he had to move to Venice Beach in order to train and compete with the best. He surrounded himself with the men of Muscle Beach and Gold’s Gym. His days in the south of black and white certainly changed in California. However, the world hadn’t seen a black bodybuilder of his caliber.  While in Venice, he even had a part in the movie, Pumping Iron.


His legacy speaks for itself. He earned the nickname, “The Black Prince”. In summary, “He competed professionally for twenty-seven years, winning titles including the IFBB Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe. However, he has always stood apart from the bodybuilding community, having spoken out for decades about the corruption of the business and later about the dangers of steroid abuse. That defiance earned him another moniker: the Bad Boy of Bodybuilding” (http://www.mrofansite.com/robinson.html). His career took him all over the world. In 1994, “He became the first IFBB Masters Mr. Olympia Champion over the Hulk, Lou Ferrigno. He went on to capture the over-50 title every year until he retired from professional competition in 2001 at the age of fifty-four” (http://www.mrofansite.com/robinson.html).

When Robinson trained, he wanted to feel the muscle change with each repetition. His workouts were learned by watching others, but perfected by his work ethic. No one could deny his merciless quest to be the best. Having said that, “His philosophy is that the body is a gift which can be molded into a beautiful piece of art if fed and trained properly. He calls his weights ‘the paintbrushes’ which have helped him achieve a body so chiseled it resembles a sculpture” (http://www.mrofansite.com/robinson.html). So today, when I was lifting, I slowed down just a tad to tune into the muscle change and really feel it. I admire Robinson’s mission to be the best and can only imagine on that level of competition what his body must endure.

His book, The Black Prince, is available on my shelf to borrow. The books I stumble upon that I enjoy the most always seem to be by luck. The aches and pains and gains of being a bodybuilder are all worth it once on the stage. The daily grind seems ruthless; the nutrition a nagging factor, and the exhaustion does set in. But I wouldn’t take a second of it back, and I’m sure Robby wouldn’t either. That’s why he still workouts out every day and even trains others to this day.

19 Nov

Having just wrapped up my experience at the 2017 NASM Optima Conference, I wanted to get on paper my take aways and memorable teaching moments. There were probably nearly 300 attendees, but only a handful of Master Trainers like myself who hold the top credentials in this company. It was great to meet so many people I collaborate with online. The in-person experience and networking was an extremely powerful form of communication and relationship building.

I began the conference with a workshop about how to help avoid exercise relapse. Only 18% of the population has a gym membership, and most people who join within in 6 months have a 50% drop out rate. Although we all know we should workout, that doesn’t mean in real life we do it. Exercise can be like smoking or drinking due to the risk of relapse. I have to learn how to develop a plan and cultivate a support system to help high risk clients stay on the course of success. The most common excuses for not exercising remain to be lack of time, lack of energy, and lack of motivation. I need to bridge this gap. This can be done through behavior modification, reinforcing your goals, and of course setting attainable and realistic goals.

My niche is definitely working with the Baby Boomers (ages 51 – 69) as well as Generation X (ages 35 – 50). Thus, I selected courses catered to my client base. It is important to program design for longevity, keeping in mind many of these people have been inactive most of their life.

In terms of nutrition, I was intrigued by the foods versus supplements in our diets. This is especially true as a professional natural bodybuilder. I’m old school in the belief that the best fuel we can put in our bodies is steak and eggs, meaning real food. In terms of what we should eat, that is based on our goals. When I calculate a plan, that involves your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate), your AEE (activity energy exercise), and TEF (Thermo) which is your digestive process. CICO is a great acronym for Calories In Calories Out and HEC is a good question we should ask ourselves …. Is your HEC in Check?? Hungry, Emotional, and Cravings. Best of all there is JERF which is Just Eat Real Food.

I have become more aware of identifying my clients’ needs as well as knowing my own value and worth of my time. Many of the common fitness fallacies were debunked for me like “If I’m not sore it wasn’t a good workout” or “Let’s do abs I want to get rid of my stomach”. Finally, I got to work with the ActivMotion Bar which was a great tool for balance, seniors, and working on proprioception.

The conference was amazing and totally worth every moment. The guest speakers were informative and experienced. Being there live was a nice change of pace from reading out a text book. For once, I got to absorb it all and forget trying to memorize. I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend and ready to help every BODY become the best versions of themselves with the tools and skills I learned.

12 Nov


We all want to know what’s the best workout?? How can I burn the most calories?? These are common questions I get asked daily, especially when referring to cardiovascular activities to complete on the days when not strength training with me. Clearly, every BODY is different in terms of ability and level, but I wanted to look into when comparing different modalities among people. Regardless of type, remember that exercise does help with weight, reduces the risk of many diseases, and helps ward off diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. So do it…. regardless?

Walking vs. Running:

Steps are steps, but depending the output of the cardiovascular system, we benefit differently. Which somewhat defies the generalization that trackers encourage 10,000 steps per day. How you reach those 10k matters. Here’s an interesting study I found:

“The subjects in the new study were 15 male college students, and 15 female, with an average weight of 156 lbs. One day they ran a treadmill mile in 10:00 minutes; another day they walked a mile in 18:36. Afterwards, they sat quietly for 30 minutes, by which time their metabolic rate had returned to normal.”

CALS/MILE 88.9 112.5
CALS/MINUTE 4.78 11.25
NEW TOTAL/MILE 110.6 158.6
CALS/MINUTE 5.95 15.86

* one mile walk in 18:36; ** one mile run in 10:00


When we can, and if we can, move those feet a little faster and job/run. I would also have to think that there are certain variables like hills and incline that would come into play in terms of effort level.

Elliptical vs Running

The elliptical is a good machine that simulates running but in a low impact fashion. I was a little surprised at this one. I have probably ridden countless hours on an elliptical and it isn’t nearly as difficult as going for a run, especially on the treadmill (for me). But check this out: “According to “Runner’s World,” running is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories. Yet depending on your speed and intensity, the elliptical may help you burn more calories. According to Health Status, a 175-pound person burns 903 calories per hour on the elliptical. Running at a pace of 6 mph burns 798 calories per hour. If you increase your pace to 8 mph, you burn 1,071 calories per hour” (http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/calories-burned-during-elliptical-vs-running-9256.html).

Here’s another study to consider:

“A 155-lb. person running at 5 mph can burn approximately 594 calories in one hour, according to Harvard Medical School. If this same person runs at 7.5 mph for an hour, she can burn approximately 930 calories. In one hour on the elliptical, a 155-lb. person can burn approximately 670 calories, but this does not take into consideration speed and resistance used, only the activity and body weight of the individual” (http://livewell.jillianmichaels.com/burns-calories-running-elliptical-4285.html).

Walking vs. Elliptical

I had originally thought the two were very similar. However, “Another consideration is how many calories you typically expend when using the elliptical compared to walking. According to Health Status’s Calorie Burn Calculator, you will burn 152 calories if you walk for 30 minutes at four miles per hour. If you exercise on the elliptical for 30 minutes you will typically burn 335 calories” (http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/better-elliptical-walking-7908.html). I think varying these two forms is a good way to mix up cardio. It’s interesting that most trackers don’t acknowledge the motion on an elliptical as part of the step count.

The bottom line is that we need to do this for our health. Overtime, no matter which form, the body will adapt so in any case going longer or faster will need to happen for continued results. Machines vary in their accuracy, but always know you are burning!!!! They say you have to walk before you run, well you have to walk before you elliptical and elliptical before you run ? One step at a time, one motion at a time, you will burn calories and get closer to your goals.



05 Nov

Well Netflix drew me to another documentary, this time called “Fittest on Earth 2015”. CrossFit is pretty extreme to me, and this movie proved that to be true. The top 40 athletes from around the world come together for this event. The CrossFit Games are intense, so let me tell you about what I saw.

The athletes agree that choosing to be a competitor means putting all time, energy, and focus into this. That might mean no school or work….wow!!!! It’s a continuous process to get stronger, faster, and better at feats of your athletic abilities because you don’t know what events are going to take place at the Games. Although you are competing against others, you are competing against yourself and your previous records. It’s a total lifestyle and becomes your sole existence.

One must qualify to get the actual games. Stage 1 is the Open round where over 300,000 athletes come to try to make it past round one. The top 600 move on to Stage 2. Finally, the remaining 40 make it to the games. The concept of the Games is “controlling varied high intensity functional movement”.

The sport has advanced in the fitness level of those who attend. In 2009, for the Snatch, the top person was at 145 pounds on the final lift. Now just for the warm up which has to be done 10x the weight starts at 135.

Once you get the games, the first night is a dinner, then the next day is an athlete meeting, and day 3 it’s on. There are no coaches to start, no crowd, just YOU.

And here’s how the events lined up:

Event 1: 7k run – there were wild hogs and poison ivy on this run ahhhh

Event 2: Deadlift Ladder

Event 3: 50 Wall Ball Shots, 25 Medicine Ball Sit Ups on a GHD machine (it looked barbaric)

Event 4: 500 m Ocean Swim

Event 5: MURF which is named after a navy seal and consists of a 1 mile run and 5 rounds of 20 pullups, 40 pushups, 100 squats all with 20 (men)/14 (women) pounds

Event 6: Squat Clean Ladder Pyramid

10 Squat Cleans (245 pounds men/ 165 pounds women)

8 Squat Cleans (268/195)

6 Squat Cleans (285/ 195)

4 Squat Cleans (305/205)

2 Squat Cleans (325/215)

Event 7: Double DT

10 rounds of 12 Deadlifts, 9 Hang Power Cleans, 6 Push Jerks and the men use 155 pounds and women use 105 pounds

Event 8: 3 rounds of 500 m run, 2 Rope Ascends, 40 ft Push, 2 Rope Ascends

Event 9:

Women Complete:

15 Back Squats 165 pounds, 20 Burpees, 6 Ring Hand Stand Pushups, 18 Front Squats 145 pounds, 20 Burpees, 4 Ring Hand Stand Pushups, 21 Overhead Squats 125 pounds, 20 Burpees, 2 Ring Hand Stand Pushups

Men Complete:

12 Ring Hand Stand Pushups, 15 Back Squats 225 pounds, 20 Burpees, 9 Ring Hand Stand Pushups, 18 Front Squat 205 pounds, 20 Burpees, 6 Ring Hand Stand Pushups, 21 Overhead Squats 185 pounds, 20 Burpees

Event 10: Done for time 40 Box Jumps 30 inches high for men/24 inches high for women followed by 20 D Ball Cleans 150 pounds men/100 pounds women

Event 11: Hand Stand Walks 280 ft for time

Event 12: Suicide Sprint 840 ft for time

Event 13: Plow Drag 560 ft for time

Event 14: Rope and Cape Choppers

Event 15: Pegboard

The key is earning points based on how high you place in each event. The more 1st place finishes you get the more likely you will be overall winner. After the ocean run, athletes were flown back to the original site to a stadium where spectators could watch. It was tiresome just watching all this and it took place from Thursday to Sunday. It is an honor to compete and amazing to win. The women winner has won 2 years in a row. Age is only a number and people of all height and sizes are there. Athleticism is what counts. Eh, not my style of working out but I respect those who can and do.

“Fittest on Earth”, 2015, by Heber Cannon, Marston Sawyers and Ian Wittenber