My Most Popular Back / Hip Stretch

Category: Crossfit WOD Type Workouts

My gymnastics kids are epically flexible. I have had 2 back surgeries and sometimes feel like I am made of stone but the one thing we have in common is the piriformis stretch. I was introduced to this after my second surgery and the dawning realization that my back issues had for the most part been aggravated by tight hips and hamstrings and glutes. For my girls, having flexible hips is a must for performance of any split jumps and leaps and of course in order to keep their backs flexible for walkovers and so on. I was sent the following infographic (everyone knows how much I love a good infographic) by our friend Jenny over at and I am happy to share their very good post on the piriformis stretch here. It’s a great place to start for anyone with lower back pain or hip mobility issues and certainly with such a wide range of applications it’s something that I believe everyone should be doing as part of their mobility plan. (in case in future the picture won’t load, you can also see it here)

Click the image below, read and go stretch!

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Back Home – Stayed on the wagon, 28 days now.

Category: Nutrition

Don’t get too excited, I am not ready for any results yet. I have slept maybe 5 hours over the last 4 days and have been going to the gym and coaching, frankly I don’t know how I haven’t collapsed. Here are some interesting things that I have found since on this strict keto thing for around 30 days now.

1. My mind is a lot sharper. I find my brain in constant movement, at first I thought it was just keeping me up at night out of spite but my retention of a technical manual I have been reading has been amazing.
2. My dreams are far more lucid and entertaining. This is probably the same thing as point one but interesting to note.
3. Twitchy legs are annoying. I find I am far more twitchy now than I was, if I am out during the day I am OK but if I sit still for too long my legs go crazy and it’s honestly stopping me from sleeping or even relaxing at times.
4. My energy at the gym is an unknown, I didn’t have access to my regular gym stuff so I can’t compare apples to apples, and since I am still very jetlagged I can’t compare currently how I feel with before I went away. Same goes for my weight and fat %, I am still not back to normal cycles and until I am, any statistics will be skewed. I will tell you that when I did weigh myself I was about 5 lbs down and 1.5% up but let’s wait on that.
5. Eating 4000 calories a day on this strict keto is no joke. My appetite has been virtually zero since I started and honestly there were times when I just couldn’t bring myself to eat. I was only hitting around 2500 a day and it was a struggle. I am not sure I would be able to manage 4000 every day. I know the whole point of his experiment was to see if overfeeding would affect him but even with my usual workouts I can’t really imagine hitting those numbers. Besides, I think if someone saw a person my age with a sedentary job killing off fat % eating 2500 or 3000 calories a day it would point in the same direction.

I think I will wait until the weekend to make any judgements. I need to get at least one workout per body part in to get the glycogen up to where it was before I left and get my sleep straightened out so that I am not skewing results with the jet lag. Once that is done, I should have a baseline for the at home test which I will start on the Saturday which is April 1.

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Keto Vacation Update

Category: Nutrition

Ever since I have tried the keto diet I have had two notable issues, one that I can’t seem to get the keto sticks to reflect any kind of ketones in my pee which hasn’t really bothered me since everyone says the pee sticks are unreliable. Second, I have always suspected that my protein intake was too high, I have long held the belief that I should be on the higher end of the 1g per lb rather than 1g per kg putting me up at 240g of protein a day. It seems that this seemingly minor change has made a big difference to my status since I am seeing changes this time around that I haven’t seen before. For a start the pee sticks are deep red going from the second to third level of reactions, something I have only ever seen once before. Second the amount of protein I am eating is around the 100-120g mark which puts me at the lower end of the 1g per kg or relatively speaking half what I would normally eat. The bulk of those calories have been coming from healthy fats with my intake around 80% every day.

So what has changed? Well we are recovering from our travels, being on the opposite side of the planet has had it’s drawbacks with jet lag and travel exhaustion but I think we are recovering now. For the first time I feel like I have really bad restless leg syndrome. I don’t know if this is part of what people mean when they say they have lots of energy but this is irritating as all hell. I know I have lost weight on keto previously but I think that was calorie restriction more than anything and I never really felt different from an energy standpoint. This time around I seem to be able to work out no problem, have energy to do things during the day and since I am not sitting at work all day but rather out enjoying the Australian Gold Coast it’s really not a fair comparison to my Canadian life. The big difference is the twitchy irritating feeling I get in my legs when I sit around for too long which I can’t tell if it is part of having more energy or just some annoying side effect of what I am doing Anyway, I left Canada at my yearly heaviest of just under 240lbs and I expect that when we return I will be down around 235 given the extra activity that I can’t escape while on holidays. Since I can’t really compare apples to apples I can’t say what the strict keto is doing but what I an can say is that I have been struggling with hitting 2500-3000 calories a day so I can’t imagine how 4000 calories would happen. I have to say I am not a 155lb short guy I am a 240lb 6 footer so I am amazed at how Jason managed to get the food done. The great thing is that so far I have been able to stick with the keto and that means I should be off to a good start when we get home.

Here’s a snip of what I have been eating while here:

Keto coffee
50g pecans
50g macadamia nuts
200g medium beef
60g of shredded cheese
5 eggs
9 tbsp Cream
Spinach or avocado


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Keto On Vacation

Category: Nutrition

This is going to be a challenge. I have found that there is something called thickened cream they use here to make food with and it’s heavy cream with gelatin or some other thickening agent added to it. Apparently they can’t steam it or make coffee with it but they can add it to a coffee if you insist. It isn’t bad but as far as having keto coffee on the road it’s virtually impossible. The woman at Pacific Fair almost fainted yesterday when I suggested she should put some butter in the cup as well as the cream. We have done some grocery shopping and managed to score all the regular stuff and have found the butter is yellower and the eggs are more orange then anything we get at home. The beef is all grass fed as is the butter and the burgers and sausages we had for dinner last night were excellent. Sticking to the full keto that I am supposed to be trying when I get back is going to be a little tricky, a bag of pecans and a bag of macadamia nuts cost me $30 although everything here seems a little pricey to me. I will do what I can, but I think there may be some sushi in my future and probably some other things that I wouldn’t be having once I get back.

Weather is nice, I managed to do a shoulder workout yesterday so activity is possible with the small gym on the property. There are 2 pools, on indoors and one outdoors which is exceptional for an apartment complex. Also a BBQ setup outside (I mean a proper 30 foot long counter with built in steel BBQ units) which is great and we used last night for dinner. I know the study that Jason Wittrock was referring to when he did his 21 day test was an overfeeding study so extra calories shouldn’t matter so much but I haven’t felt great waking up the last 2 days. I will put that down to jet lag for the time being and try to consciously only eat when I think I need to, hopefully that will settle my system down a bit.

So far so good though, still on full keto and trying to stay that way.

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Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts

Category: Nutrition

So I have to admit I don’t really like chocolate. I spent 3 summers packing chocolates in the old Sterling Road Rowntree / Nestle factory in Toronto including time spent on the night shift polishing smarties… Yes, that’s a thing. During that time I ate a lot of chocolate, but I was a University student so I was burning energy like crazy at the gym and playing rugby so eating several bars of chocolate a day (or the insides of Coffee Crisps) was not a problem. However, it wasn’t too long before I started to go off the idea of chocolate. Since then, having been exposed to real hand made Swiss Chocolate in Switzerland I found I had really spoiled my taste for the stuff and so when I finally gave up sugar all together it just didn’t bother me. Which is actually funny because two questions I get a lot in my life is how do I manage without alcohol (from the men) and how do I go without chocolate (from the women). Neither is particularly hard for me, I guess with 28 years sober under my belt I am reluctant to give that up and with 8 years of sugar free living at this point I am just over it. I get that it’s just not that easy for most people but I have the worlds deepest and widest stubborn streak when it comes to will power so for me when I make a decision, that is the hard part done.

But back to my nuts. As Jason noted in his first few days of his keto challenge his appetite for macadamia nuts disappeared very quickly and his solution was to make a chocolate covering for them. So I thought I would give it a try.

100g of macadamia nuts
50g of pasture butter
2 tbsp unsweetened cacao powder
a little stevia

I melted the butter in the microwave, mixed in the powder and threw in the stevia and nuts. It was very easy, I threw them in the freezer on a pieve of parchment paper and let the cold do it’s thing. I have to say they came out very well. For a lot of people, myself included, the bitter taste of pure cocoa powder isn’t pleasant which is why I don’t eat dark chocolate, but when it is mixed with fat and has a bit of stevia it’s actually pretty good. It does have a strong bitter finish but with the salt from the nuts it’s strangely appealing. The macros in case you are interested are as follows (this is for half the serving):

ITEM Calories Carbs Fat Protein Sodium Potassium
Kirkland – Dry Roasted Macadamia Nuts, 50 grams 411 7 43 4 179 0
Butter – Salted, 25 g 179 0 20 0 144 6
Cacao Powder, 1 Tbsp 35 3 2 2 2 71
625 10 65 6 325 77







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I’m Coming Back… To Keto.

Category: Planning

I have decided after watching a very interesting 21 day keto experiment (shout out to Jason Wittrock) on YouTube that I will return to pure keto from targeted keto and see how it goes. I did do pure keto for a very long time but I have a feeling that I was going way too high on my protein intake and kind of spoiling my keto effect. So I will go with much higher fat percentages this time and not worry so much about my protein intake. I will probably not be able to start the journey until April 1 although with my stunning revelation that avocado is actually a really tasty vegetable / fruit / berry I may start as soon as we get back from Costco tomorrow.

The problem I am having is energy levels, no matter what I do I seem to be short on energy during the day and from most accounts of people who have gone LCHF they do report significant changes in their energy levels. It also seems to be true that you can overfeed (probably only slightly) on LCHF without too much concern so that kind of works with my penchant for overstating my needs…

Just thought I would give a heads up that I am back and I will probably try to do some video updates also as part of the journey. I am toying with the idea of a 1 month challenge, and since I am far closer to being a regular person, and also old, this may have a broader appeal than a sponsored athlete does since the belief is that people like that are just alien or built from silicone and silly putty.

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My Zero Carb Experience

Category: Nutrition

Image result for meat and waterI do get asked very frequently about my diet. It’s common knowledge that I am not like other people, I mean not having eaten any grains or sugar since 2008 probably qualifies me as a bit odd. Since moving to a Paleo diet in 08 I have tried pretty much everything that revolves around low carb from low carb high protein to low carb high fat to keto and finally most recently to zero carb. My experiences have been varied with success coming quickly on some methods and stalling progress on others. I have found that my body changes drastically depending on how many carbs i am eating and when but I am getting ahead of myself.

I stared paleo, I gave up sugar and grains and was very happy. The resulting 70 lb weight loss that has stayed off now for 8 years (I can’t believe I just wrote that) was actually fairly easy and I wrote about my changing mindset on several occasions, most notably HERE. Once I reached what was a reasonable goal I started trying to figure out what I could change without changing the results and without allowing the carb cravings to return. I eventually ended up in the keto camp, sticking with below 25g of carbs (or so I thought) a day but not really caring when I ate them. This gave me a little latitude to eat rice or yams or potato which was fine with me. However, what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was ingesting hidden carbs that were pushing my totals out of whack. I was drinking skim milk and eating nuts both of which resulted in large undercalculations of my carbs. 1 liter of skim milk which I would drink per day (including in my coffee) has almost 50g of carbs alone and the cup of nuts I was eating was another 30g. So the 25g I was factoring in was actually closer to 100g.

I decided about six months ago enough with the nuts and milk and I switched to heavy cream in my coffee (Starbucks will actually make a latte with 35% cream if you ask and it’s awesome) because 1 cup is only 6g and a cup of whipping cream is A LOT!! I also dropped the nuts completely which was actually hard to do because I was snacking at night so I decided to switch my meal times at the same time. I was finding that I wasn’t hungry in the morning so I backed my breakfast out to lunchtime and then didn’t eat again until either after my workout or after I coached. This meant having a large meal later in the day and therefore not snacking. Since I don’t get hungry I knew my snacking was just a habit not a desire so replacing it with a meal was easy. However, on days when I worked out I was having a big meal after and then starting to miss my evening chicken. This was when I understood that I was now into Zero Carb territory. Now, ZC people will tell you that true ZC is meat and water. That is all. I wasn’t quite that extreme, I was eating eggs and cheese still since cheese is awesome. But some days I would not have the 5-6 egg omelette and cheese in the day time and end up completely ZC. What I found was that my energy in they gym was really lacking. Also, I looked flat, unimpressive and I didn’t like that, the body dysmorphia kicked in pretty hard and I needed to do something so I decided to add back some targeted carbs after my workout knowing that (thanks to NIMGU) it wouldn’t affect my insulin and I should reap some benefits strength wise. I have already written about this just before Christmas so you will already know it worked quite well and since then I have stuck with the TC Keto and things seem to be working well. My diet is currently around 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbs which still puts me around 250 calories of carbs a day or 60g on a carb day. I was back to my happy place, seeing some size return and having more energy in the gym. However, being happy is a problem because I stop being so careful. My weight is now 238 which is around 10lbs too heavy so I think a couple weeks of paying attention is in order.

For those of you who may be here for the first time there is a lot of information in the side bar about my journey and if you are lacking some motivation feel free to start at the beginning and relish in my struggles with P90X as a 300lb lump with delusions of fitness grandeur…

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I Feel Kettlebells Returning

Category: Gym / Weighlifting Workouts, Kettlebell Workouts (RKC)

I have recently been bothered by my apparent lack of mobility and with the advent of really shitty weather I feel like it may be time to get back into the basement for some kettlebell work. Fact is that I bought some doc boots that require the ability to reach my feet for an extended period and it has exposed a deficiency in my abilities. Also, I am going to try to return to Tony Horton’s Fountain of Youth 1 hour yoga workout too since I can’t stomach the 90 minute nonsense from the P90X series. So what to do? I have in the past done KB work exclusively for a period and didn’t miss the gym or the machines at all. However that was way back when my workouts were haphazard and I was trying to get used to my new body. Being under 240 after being over 300 for years is an eye opener let me tell you.

So what to do now? Now I have a standard routine and no time spare to bring in the KB work? Add to that the fact that I cannot work out 3 days a week because I coach right from work and I have a real time issue to deal with. Of course, the answer would be to do a 15 minute KB workout during the 30 minutes of mostly unsupervised conditioning that the kids do those 3 days. That may be the solution that I don’t want to accept but in light of my workouts being shorter now (40 minutes) and skipping days (MWF) I may be facing an uncomfortable reality. The fact is that the workouts I am doing are not making be more capable. They may be making me stronger in certain areas and better looking but if I don’t actually feel better then it’s really not the result I am looking for. The last time I really felt like I had become “more durable in the real world” was after my KB intro back in 2011. Back then I had kind of a hybrid workout with RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) and regular gym movements together. Once I was finished with that program I was a convert. I remember being amazed at my core strength and cardio by the time I was done and this on the back of what I thought were very short workouts. Truth is that most KB work is whole body especially when you end up doing lots of swings and can develop amazing back and core strength. Add some turkish get ups and you have a wonderful system.

So I think I will do a hybrid of the hybrid…

This was the workout that was:

Day 1 – RKC Minimum Swings (The RKC Minimum is 4 weeks, then transition into Rite Of Passage)
Day 2 – RKC TGU and WOD
Day 3 – Bench and dips (Chest, shoulder, tri)
Day 4 – Cardio or stretch or Yoga

Day 5 – RKC Minimum Swings
Day 6 – RKC TGU and WOD
Day 7 – Deadlifts and Squat (Legs and Back)
Day 8 – Cardio or stretch or Yoga



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TKD, “Real Food” and My Zero Carb Experience

Category: Crossfit WOD Type Workouts

kccosquirrelSo I am over my rest month, my strength is down, when I go to the gym I imagine people sniggering as they walk by me struggling under a 250lb bench. It’s been a tough month, it always is, forcing myself to go low weight and high reps, not allowing myself to hit failure, honestly I hate it. But I have to do it, at my age I can’t keep up the same super heavy regimen all the time, plus change is what causes growth not familiarity. So it’s time for the next thing and this time I will be modifying my diet again to see what works for me.

And that was a month ago.

This always happens. I take a month to wind down which turns into 2 and I get distracted by everything else and end up 10lbs heavier wondering where my motivation went.

I did modify my diet a little. I found that true zero carb was very deflating for me not only physically but also emotionally. But then I made an interesting discovery. I started the TKD which is targeted Keto, it just means that you can have appropriate carbs but only after your workout in the NIMGU window which I talked about a while ago. I bought some Rich Piana Real Food from Bulldog and set about seeing if it was going to work. Well, I was actually very surprised. After about 3 days of using the carbs after working out I was about 10lbs heavier and looked twice the size. I was shocked that only 30-40g of carbs a day would make that much of a difference. So for a couple of weeks I used the carbs after working out however I also wasn’t paying much attention to my total caloric intake and started to gain some size again. Since this wasn’t the goal I have been wrestling with it ever since.

That’s because I have a life changing decision to apply. A decision that has been made over the last couple of years and that is to keep my weight down regardless of if I am bulking or not. I used to fluctuate (in my desirable state) between 240-260lbs. I have since decided it’s probably best if I can keep my weight in the 220-240 range. This has not proven to be easy but only because of my propensity to over feed myself not out of hunger but out of a simple overestimation of what I need. Having spent most of my adult life eating too much it’s hard to understand mentally that what I see on the plate is enough.

I have since gone between the TKD and zero card finding that the days I don’t work out I just don’t need the carbs and since it’s basically every other day that it works out fine. If I feel a bit heavy I will just take a day or two off the carbs and my weight will fall a little. That said, I am not oblivious to the fact that I have less definition than I did and so my bodyfat needs some attention.

Seeing as how October 12 was my last post I think my focus and attention to detail both at the gym and in the kitchen and how it is reflected here needs attention also.

Merry Christmas everyone, I  hope I will be back before Santa comes.

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Summer Wind Down (my rest month)

Category: Crossfit WOD Type Workouts, Gym / Weighlifting Workouts, Kettlebell Workouts (RKC), Planning

restIts the time of year where I take a bit of time to heal, to let my heavy lifting of the summer get behind me and take some time to do some ancillary work and cardio. I tend to lift pretty heavily during the summer, and almost exclusively certain exercises that eventually leads me to lacking in other areas. I don’t really do it on purpose but I can’t remember the last time I did my calves or forearms… or for that matter did any time on my abs or the StairMaster.

So for the next month or so I am going to be taking 15 minutes out of my 45 min workout to do cardio and I am going to build in some ancillary work. Specifically I need to do some lower back work on the GHD and some hamstring work. I tend to do less hamstrings when I squat and leg press and I feel like that’s a problem. The last time I was at the doctor he commented on my marginally elevated blood pressure so I am hoping that some cardio (and some kettlebell HIIT) will help to bring that BP down. Speaking of KB work I think I am going to get back into doing some of that. I think that since I coach on 3 weekdays and have no time for workouts on those days that a light KB workout when I get home or even in the morning before we go to work would do wonders. I only need about 15 minutes to get some swings in and get my heart going so it’s not a big ask really. It will also help with my abs which have had ZERO work all summer with the exception of the twisting rows that I do for my back. I have been particularly tired the last week or so and I think my body is crying out for a break. It may also be time to think about moving towards mobility and gymnastics skills for the winter rather than heavy lifts. A couple of years ago I pushed really hard towards Christmas to get some of my heaviest lifts in years, but I think I would be just as proud of a 10 second handstand as I was of my 415lb bench.

So for the time being it’s increase the cardio, reduce the weights and find some variety in my workouts to give myself a break.

I would say get more sleep too but I think we all know that’s not going to happen…

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