Something about Karate by Alice Taricco

First of all, karate is an oriental system of unarmed combat using the hands and feet to deliver and block blows.

The main goal of traditional karate training is as a form of self-defence; the most important sentence you will hear is “You never attack first”

The word “Karate” is a combination of two Chinese characters or kanji; the first “kara” meaning empty and then “te” which translates as hand. These are also components of the greeting that participants preform when they start this martial art.

There are different elements to the discipline of Karate, I practice “Shotokan Karate”, which, originating in the 19th century, has a style developed from various other martial arts. Usually I train with a group for two hours, twice a week, but every week (usually on Wednesday) there is a “stage” held in different gyms all around the region, where you can compare yourself with other athletes and learn something new from other teachers.

Once a year or so, you have the opportunity to take an exam and if you pass, you can earn different belts. These belts are recognised in grades and referred to as KYU. You must start with white belt (10, 9 & 8 kyu) and, in order, the other belts are: yellow (7 kyu), orange (6 kyu), green (5 kyu), blue (4 kyu), brown (3, 2 & 1 kyu) and black. When you are brown belt (like me) you must pass three exams (also one each year) and then maybe you will ready to do the exam to have the black belt! At that stage you will have started your path towards your true karate life. There are also different progressions when you are black belt. The grading system once you are a black belt is called “Dan”, now your goal is to be 1st Dan!

Each training session is divided into two different parts: we warm up with some running for up to 20 minutes and some stretching and mobility followed by strength exercises with particular focus on the neck, legs, arms and core. Then we can start to do karate! Once a week (normally Monday) we do “kata”, these are a series of shots, kicks and other movements preformed without an opponent. There is one kata for each belt. This is important to improve your precision, your speed and your power. During some type of moves you must do your “kiai”, a short yell which is a demonstration of your power!  On Tuesday we do “kumite” which is the fight. There are lot of rules, for example your goal is not to hurt your adversary but is to defend yourself and then you will be able to hit the other person.

Once a month we have a match, of which there are also two types; one for the kata and the other for the kumite.

On kata’s match there are two athletes preforming their kata. The judges pay attention to the power, the precision, the speed, and the interpretation that the athlete does to his kata.

On kumite’s match the two athletes (with their personal protections) have to fight, respecting all the kumite’s rules. You have got 1.30 minutes to preform three hits in the correct way (the correct position and the correct kiai).

 

I think that some disciplines like karate can teach children to reach a harmonious balance between body, mind and breath: on karate, we can find all the essential psycho motor components.

Participants can learn how to exploit the power of their body to improve their confidence by pushing themselves beyond their limits. Also, with the comparison with other athletes everyone can learn to manage their relationship, recognise the adversary and give birth to a healthy spirit of competition, with friendship and respect.

When I started doing karate I was 6 and I liked it just for the karate’s appearance but now, growing, I understand lots of concepts that without this disciplines I could never understood. I am convinced that karate (and other oriental disciplines) can create a different vision of the simple things that change your vision of the world! It could be compared to a healthy school of life that opens your eyes to different type of visions.

 

“Good” Health Advice That Was Actually Bad

Today’s post is written by Jason from Amymanfitness.com – do have a look at his page for many more excellent articles! Thanks Jason

Binary thinkers have a difficult time improving their health.

Actively approaching a dilemma with the thought process that there is one “right” extreme and one “wrong” extreme is a sure fire way to run into some serious problems.

There have been many pieces of health advice which appear to be helpful on the surface, but can cause issues when taken to an extreme.

As with most things, the poison is in the dose.

Or, in the world of health (and to our online training clients), it’s put like this:

Go ahead, eat a cookie.

Just don’t eat them all. 

Bad “Good” Advice:  “Too much fat and cholesterol is killing us.”

In 1984, Time magazine published an issue with this cover:
time-magazine-cholesterol

 

The article itself was a media sensation.

It demonized fat and cholesterol, claiming they were the direct cause of numerous health issues.

Ancel Keys’ work on the “Seven Countries” study was references, which looked at the correlation between dietary fat and blood cholesterol levels.

The study has since been lambasted, as it was found that Keys cherry-picked his data in a classic case of confirmation bias.

The damage had already been done. Throughout the late 1980’s, and much of the 1990’s, the low-fat craze was on.

The Unintended Consequences ===> 

Marketers jumped all over the opportunity to shill low fat products to the public.

With “fat” demonized as “bad”, all a company had to do was lower the fat as much as possible (often adding sugar in the process to make it palatable), and call it a “health” food.

We bought it (and all the low-fat products) hook, line, and sinker.

Our pantries became a sea of Snackwells, our food got sprayed with “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” (yes, I can), and we ate our fat-free bagels plain.

What We Should Have Done Instead ===> 

Although fat isn’t necessarily the cause of all of our health problems, we still eat too much of it on a per capita basis.

The biggest problem with fat is the excessive amount of calories it has in it – over double the calories of carbohydrates and protein.

Time magazine, who has since retracted their piece and admitted not all fats are detrimental, never thought we would become a nation with a shopping cart full of fat-free muffins.

Eating lean proteins, veggies, fruits, and supplementing with whole food fats such as olive oil would go a long way to protect our health as a whole. Enjoy your saturated fats, but be mindful of them and use them in moderation.

 

Bad “Good” Advice:  “Too many carbs are killing us.”

After realizing that perhaps fat wasn’t (only) heart attack producing killer out there, in 2014, 30 years after their “anti-fat” cover, Time came out with this issue:

Time-Saturated-fat-Butter-cover-sm

 

This time, the issue wasn’t fat. Fat was now our “friend”.

The new science had emerged, which delighted Atkins proponents, the Paleo crowd, and the Gary Taubes fanclub.

Fat was no longer the enemy, but all signs pointed directly at carbohydrates being the culprit.

Carbohydrates and added sugars were looked at as the new food demon, causing inflammation, high blood glucose levels, weight gain, and a life of misery.

 

The Unintended Consequences ===>

Fat was out of the doghouse and into the limelight. A nation of Jimmy Moore wannabes proudly melted their sticks of Kerrygold over top of their pans of bacon and topped them off with an untrimmed porterhouse steak.

Since fat was no longer “bad”, it became thought of as a “health food”, and with its newly-shined halo, all things saturated became hot sellers at the grocery store.

What We Should Have Done Instead ===>

True story:  Fat was never the “killer” many claimed it was.

It didn’t need to be avoided at all costs.

But the fact that it wouldn’t cause immediate death upon ingestion doesn’t mean it suddenly became everyone’s go-to-dietary staple.

If calories are unaccounted for, your odds of long-term health success are slim.

Enjoy your whole foods with fat in them. Don’t consume fat for the sake of health; but don’t avoid it in the name of health either.

Eat mainly whole foods. Make some protein choices on the leaner side, and some on the fattier side. Get in your fruit, your fiber, and your whole food carbohydrate choices.

Steer clear of bags and boxes at the grocery store and shop on the fringes.

You know – stuff your Grandma used to tell you.

Bad “Good” Advice:  “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and dinner like a pauper.”

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or so they say.

In certain time periods, this may have been totally correct.

illo-king-pancakes_300

In 1800, if you were going into town, you may have been hitting the road at 8 am and walking 10 miles, and turning right around and doing the same thing in the afternoon. You may have needed to eat breakfast like a king to get enough energy in you.

In the 21st century, though, we don’t require nearly as much energy to drive our BMW’s into our parking garages, take the elevator to our cubicles, and sit at a computer chair for 10 hours per day.

The underlying thought here was that eating at a certain time (late at night, for example) would cause fat gain in isolation.

This has been disproved in clinical studies as well as in a massive quantity of anecdotal evidence.

When you eat has much less bearing on your fat loss than how much. You can eat many, small meals, a few bigger meals, or even just once.

Preference leads itself to compliance, which in turn will determine your success.

 The Unintended Consequences ===>

Following this advice blindly isn’t the WORST idea ever.

Especially since if you truly do this – eat a large breakfast, a light lunch, and a small dinner – you will be indirectly controlling your calories.

A calorie reduction is what causes fat to be gained or lost, not the size of one, specific meal.

Those who ate larger breakfasts started off the day happy to be following this “good” advice. A huge meal will do that for you.

The issue was later in the day when the “queen” and “pauper” parts kicked in.

Not many people have the willpower to eat next to nothing in the evening hours when they are relaxed and away from work.

This mantra quickly became “breakfast like a king, lunch like a king, and dinner………(yeah)……like a king, too.”

What We Should Have Done Instead ===>

Instead of trying to fit your lifestyle to your diet, flip that script, and fit your diet to your lifestyle.

Are you super-busy from the moment you wake up until 7 pm? Then eat “just enough” while you’re busy and distracted.

Keeping calories controlled is your ultimate goal. Using appropriate strategies in order to lower your overall consumption should be used whenever possible.

There is nothing wrong with eating a good sized breakfast – or lunch – or dinner.

But if you make all three of your meals “king sized”, you will soon find your pants in the same category.

Bad “Good” Advice:  “You don’t need cardio to lose fat.”

In the late 2000’s, minimalist training  and dietary programs became all the rage.

Thanks to Crossfit, the barbell regained some of its former strongman (and woman) glory, and powerlifting became an obsession for many.

images (1)

The Big 3 grew in popularity exponentially, and many gym bros went from 25 sets of bicep curls per day to 3 sets of squats per week.

These minimalist approaches, coupled with a minimalist, macronutrient style diet (which often included fasting) taught many a valuable lesson – calories-in, calories-out is the name of the game in the world of fat loss.

It doesn’t matter if you do cardio or not. If you control your diet, you will lose fat.

***Author’s note – for your own, free minimalist fat loss routine, click here.

The Unintended Consequences ===>

Upon this realization, the pendulum swung even further into the anti-cardio camp.

Lifters everywhere became overly concerned that a slow, 45-minute jog would leave their leg muscles catabolic and hinder their recovery for their next training session.

People began using the elevators over the stairs, and claiming the term “rest day” meant that you must sit on the couch, no questions asked.

What We Should Have Done Instead ===>

Cardiovascular exercise has boatloads of health benefits.

If not taken to extreme measures, there will be no negative side effects from additional activity.

You can’t “outrun your diet”, as the saying goes, so be sure your cardio routine isn’t your free pass to binge at will.

We should have used some common sense. Jogging never made anyone fat, caused their muscles to shrink, or made someone lose their gains.

The overall lifestyle choices of the trainee matters much more than whether or not you decide to train for a 5k.

 

Whenever the “hottest new research” comes out, be sure you give it some context.

The world isn’t binary, full of 1’s and 0’s for you to toggle at your whim.

Always keep a level head and strive for your personal best.

The middle of the road is the road less traveled.

Yours in seeing the big picture,

Jason

Can food have negative calories?

Examine.com is one of our go-to resources here at The Kensington Studio, all answers are science based.
My client asked me about ‘negative calories’ the other day, i figured i’d share this little information bomb with you as well!

Negative Calorie’ foods (contain no calories, cost a fair bit to consume) either don’t exist or the energy ‘cost’ to eat them is so abysmal that seeking these foods are unlikely to induce weight loss. Stick to less food overall or fat-burning supplements

It is highly unlikely that a food can possess negative calories (going by the below definition of negative calorie), and even less likely that it per se would induce weight loss. Negative calorie foods tend to be satiating though, so their consumption could lead to weight loss through suppressing food intake.

The concept of ‘negative calorie’ food is a food that itself contains a very small caloric value (usually under 10kcal per serving) that takes more energy to digest than it provides. Theoretically, the end result would be a food which induces a caloric deficit after consumption rather than a surplus.

Not much evidence exists on the topic of ‘negative calorie’ foods in human or animal consumption. Thus the following is part conjecture.

It is highly unlikely that a food can have negative calories. The concept of ‘the thermic effect of food’ (how much energy is required to digest a food) is greatly tied in to the caloric content, with more energy being required to digest more calories.[1] Regardless of how little calories a food contributes, if the Thermic Effect of Food fluctuates in the 3-30% range it cannot exceed 100% by itself.

It is possible there could be a bioactive compound in the food that enhances metabolic rate and thus exceeds the caloric value. Some compounds are found in foods and able to stimulate the metabolic rate either in intervention studies (Synephrine and naringenin from grapefruit) or in theory (Higenamine from Nandina fruit); however, this is going to depend on the food ingested rather than being applied as a blanket statement to low calorie foods.

Even if we are to assume bioactives that can enhance the metabolic rate, a metabolic rate that is increased by 10kcal is not likely to result in weight loss in any short timeframe if at all.

The possible benefit of ‘negative calorie’ foods is that they also tend to have high water contents (celery, tomatoes and lettuce are commonly cited) and thus may offer more satiety, which may manifest itself through less food consumption overall. This lesser food consumption would lead to weight loss.

Why you should make your bed every morning

Another excellent post from NerdFitness – ‘How you do anything in life is how you do everything in life’.

Why You Should Make Your Bed Every Morning

Why You Should Make Your Bed Every Morning

Have you heard the story about Van Halen and Brown M&Ms?

As the story famously goes, 80’s rock band Van Halen (feel free to listen to “Right Now” while reading this article) had a line in their incredibly detailed contract from their tour in 1982 (the list of things they expect to have at every concert) that required they have a bowl of M&Ms in the green room… and there were to be NO brown M&Ms in that bowl.

vanhalenrider

For years everyone assumed that was just a crazy band making crazy demands (like in Airheads), simply because they could. In fact, there was a show in which they found brown M&Ms in their bowl and reportedly refused to play and trashed the dressing room!

What a bunch of asshole rockstars, right?

Maybe not. 

It turns out, there was a calculated method to this madness, and it might make you think you need a brown M&M clause in your life.

 

How you do anything is how you do everything

do it right

In Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth’s autobiography, he talks about why his band had the brown M&M clause in their band’s rider:

“Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through. 

The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say “Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes …” This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.” 

So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl … well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem.

Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.” 

You see, within this “insane” rider was a clause to find out if the venue they were playing at ACTUALLY READ THE CONTRACT! They knew that if there were brown M&Ms in that bowl, the venue and its employees didn’t read the contract and/or didn’t take it seriously… and thus there were likely other issues that could result in an accident on stage or poor production.

It was the brown M&Ms that gave them this cue – this tip off… resulting in the rumor/legend of crazy Van Halen.

Being familiar with this story, Nerd Fitness has actually added something like this to nearly every step of our hiring process when we are looking to add people to the team (we’re up to 10 full-timers now).

Within the application process, we’ll say something buried in the requirements that says, “oh by the way, the 3rd word in your email to us should be ‘penguin.’” 

You’d be surprised how many people don’t follow directions!

So why do we do this, quickly sorting a huge amount of the applications?

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”

I want you to try carrying this over to your life.

Do You Make Your Bed Every Morning?

unmade bed

Have you seen the movie “Fat“?

Although it’s a work of fiction, it’s the most realistic “mockumentary” I have ever seen. Towards the end of the movie, as the main character struggles with taking control back in his life, with everything spiraling out of control, he takes one simple action in the morning:

He makes his bed.

I understand this is a movie. And I understand that making a bed has nothing to do with choosing to eat more vegetables, or exercising regularly, or overcoming a serious food addiction. However, I couldn’t help but smile while watching this scene, because I make my bed every morning too.

You see, “how you do anything is how you do everything.”

When you feel like your life is out of control, that you’re getting played by outside forces and there’s nothing you can do to dig out of a hole, try making your bed as the ONLY habit you’re focused on.

I make my bed every morning. I don’t do it just because it makes my room look neat and clean. I do it because:

  • It’s a daily reminder that I am in control of my life.
  • It shows me I don’t need anybody’s permission to change my life, and that it’s my personal responsibility.
  • It gives me a win, and it helps build momentum.
  • It sets my day up in the right way: I can already say I’ve accomplished something!
  • When I get back to my bed at the end of the night and I’m exhausted, it’s not a disaster.
  • It makes me feel better. A clean room and a clean desk mean I’m less anxious at home and while working.

As U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, a Navy SEAL for 36 years, explained in his University of Texas commencement speech

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack — that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

You see, the strictness related to making one’s bed would translate to how they go about doing other, more important tasks in their military lives, many of which have dire consequences if not followed perfectly – following rules of engagement on the battlefield, covering your fellow soldier, etc. In those instances, if you don’t follow protocol strictly, people die.

How you do anything is how you do everything. If you focus on laying a perfect brick you can build a cathedral, and likewise, starting with a perfectly made bed can have a ripple effect on the rest of your day.

Try It For A Week

week calendar

I want you to try this for a week: make a commitment to make your bed every morning. 

Prove to yourself that you have control, and that you can build the habit. Afterwards, go back to NOT making your bed if you choose, but if you’re like me it will likely be something you start to do because you enjoy it. It improves your life.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Set a calendar reminder on your phone for 5 minutes after you wake up that is titled MAKE YOUR BED.
  • Hang a post-it note on your bedroom door that says MAKE YOUR BED.
  • Have a friend/somebody at your work do the make-your bed challenge. Add accountability: Miss a day? $50 donation to a political candidate you hate.
  • Add a reward – Complete a week of making your bed? Reward yourself with something small that furthers your momentum: a new pair of running shoes, slightly ‘too small’ pants, or a new book to help you level up your life.
  • Create a free character on Nerd Fitness, and make a “MAKE YOUR BED” Quest.

Who’s in?

Thanks again for an excellent article Steve