Archive for March, 2008.

The Truth About Stretching Part 1 – What you thought you knew, and what you ought to know.

Written by Philip Walter on Mar 18 at 12:44 am.

Photo courtesy of j / f / photos

Okay, I have been reading a lot lately in physical fitness literature about how stretching is not as fantastic for your body as once thought. When I took basic health in college, static stretching was taught as an integral part of a complete physical fitness plan. Not sure what that curriculum looks like today, but a greater understanding of the stretching phenomenon has forced me over the years to rethink how it fits into my workouts.

I know what you’re thinking – But Philip, you do a lot of yoga … and “flexible” is part of your blog’s tag line, for cyrin’ out loud. Surely you’re not about to talk smack about stretching, are you?!

Well, yes I am, but it’s not because all forms of stretching are inherently bad for your body, it’s because the efficacy and proper methodology of stretching are so widely misunderstood, especially when it comes to yoga posture practice.

In Part One of this two-part series, I want to introduce you to the stretch reflex and debunk one of the biggest myths about stretching. I’ll warn you up front, this one does get a little technical, but if you stick with it, I guarantee you’ll be a smarter stretcher for it.

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Muscle Imbalances Due to Your Handedness and How to Work with Them

Written by Philip Walter on Mar 12 at 10:59 pm.

Photo of Rafa Nadal, courtesy of the ATP Masters Series online. Note the difference in size between biceps. (He’s a lefty).

In what became just one more in a long line of NPR driveway moments, I caught myself lurking longer than necessary in my car outside the grocery store, captivated by a story on the show, The Infinite Mind. The name of the episode was “Handedness,” and as you could probably guess, it centered on the phenomenon of left- or right-handedness.

The most interesting part to me was about the human being’s tendency toward right-handedness. As a species we are about 85-90 percent right-handed. According to a guest on The Infinite Mind, other species show no signs of such a skew. Research shows that animals do tend to have some paw, leg, appendage dominance that is analogous to handedness in humans, but that the split between right and left lateralization is pretty much even. So what gives?

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Lose Weight at Work – 10 Sure-Fire Ways to Burn More Calories During your Workday

Written by Philip Walter on Mar 9 at 5:03 pm.

Image courtesy of sun dazed

Juggling the tasks of working on this mind-body fitness blog of mine, doting on my stunningly sexy wife, and working a full-time job makes finding time to work out and burn off all those beers I drink on the weekends a difficult task. I try to be creative in working more activity into my off hours, but those are egregiously limited, so my solution to this problem is to get more creative in trying to make my working hours more productive … and by productive I don’t mean hammering out more TPS Reports, I mean burning off more calories during my workday so I don’t have to work as hard in my precious off time to stay fit.

For this article I put together my top ten tips for burning more calories during your workday. If you follow even half of these, I guarantee you’ll be ahead of the pack when it comes to staying lean and mean.

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Philip’s Famous Turkey Chili – poultry, dinner

Written by Philip Walter on Mar 7 at 8:08 pm.

Another healthy recipe - Turkey Chili.

Nothing’s better on a cold evening than chili. This is my version with turkey breast and half a beer. I like to serve it with a little grated cheese and whole grain crackers, though the cheese and crackers aren’t figured into the calorie count here. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 28-oz Can and another 15.5-oz Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 3 15.5-oz Cans Beans (use a couple different kinds if you like)
  • 1.25 lbs Ground Turkey Breast
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 6 oz of Your Favorite Beer (mine’s Sierra Nevada Pale Ale)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Ketchup (optional for a little added sweetness)
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions

  • Heat1 Tbsp Olive Oil in large pot.
  • Mix 1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder, 1 tsp Cumin, and Salt and Pepper with Turkey and cook several minutes until done. Remove meat from pot.
  • Mix 1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder, 1 tsp Cumin, Salt and Pepper, and Garlic with Onion and cook until Onion is translucent.
  • Place Turkey back into pot, pour half of 12-oz beer into pot and bring to a boil.
  • Cook for several minutes until about half of beer is reduced.
  • Add Beans, Tomatoes, Bay Leaves, 1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder, 1 tsp Red Pepper, and Ketchup if desired.
  • Bring to a boil, then let simmer on medium for at least 40 minutes.

Nutritional info for a fantastically healthy turkey chili recipe.

For a printable PDF version of this recipe, click here.

Build a Stronger Physique by Conquering Your Fear of “Meathead Lifts”

Written by Philip Walter on Mar 4 at 11:58 pm.

Get the physique you want by destroying fear of lifting big.

Photo courtesy of ericmcgregor

The physical fitness component of the Brickhouse Bodymind total fitness program is primarily designed to develop balance and coordination, improve cardiovascular conditioning, and make modest strength gains through the use of simple but effective bodyweight exercises. Sometimes, however, the desire for more significant strength gains demands a different sort of workout routine.

Whether you’re relatively new to physical fitness, or an old pro looking to improve muscle definition, the most effective way to build lean muscle mass is to demand that your muscles lift progressively more and more weight. Assuming your nutrition is up to snuff, your muscles will soon adapt to this increasing demand by making more muscle. This improves your physique and also helps you burn more calories on a daily basis.

While most of the people I advise don’t care much about gaining a significant amount of muscle mass, only a few are without some desire to increase muscle definition and amp up the “brickhouse” factor in their physique. Only problem is, many of these folks, particularly females, are not doing the right things to get them where they want to be. What they tend to do is lift lighter weights over more reps using isolated exercises and nautilus-type weight machines.

This is total maintenance mode, and it’s not a particularly efficient way to work out. It will help keep the muscle tone you already have, but if you are at all interested in improving your physique and muscle definition, you’re really going to have to change your mindset a bit.

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