The quiet revolution.

 
Its been two years since I moved out of the center of Tokyo into my current digs; a 55 year old traditional Japanese house on the side wooded hill near Mt Takao. After what was in all respects a major life transition, I spent a lot of that time quietly thinking about who I was and what I represented, not only as a fitness advocate but also as a basic human being.
 
I was out at an informal dinner the other night with some students of a dance class I have been attending, and as usual for a new member of any group, I was grilled over the course of the night as to my regular activities and lifestyle. This gradually fed through the table of classmates to the teacher of the class, who ended up coming to sit next to me near the end of the evening.
 
“So, let me get this straight. You run 5 days a week, do yoga every day, meditate every day, lift weights and kettlebells regularly. Wow- you sound busy!”
 
I just smiled in response, because in fact that’s not the complete list of activities either. What was interesting for me was that some people saw my regular schedule as extreme, when if anything, it is not.
 
But it is consistent. 
 
There was a moment early on when I had just moved and I was struggling to adjust to being on my own again so after many years. I realized that out of all the things I was interested in doing, I needed to prioritize those which I wanted to achieve results with, and then focus on those activities alone. 
 
My life, as with many of us today, was just too damn busy. I was doing too much, easily distracted  by our constantly updating social media lifestyle, stressed at work and the sum of all this plus the life change meant that I felt down a lot of the time. I needed to find my motivation again.
 
I realized quite quickly that some serious decisions were crucial. How I spent my time each day, and whether these activities were truly enriching my life or simply just aimless distractions and time fillers.
 
We all have justifications, often repeated ad infinitum to friends and family but ultimately sounding hollow to us in our private moments. I wanted to get beyond that and just be.
 
There were many revelations.
 
More important to me than just having a strong body was to have a holistic, body, mind and spirit approach to fitness that embraced all aspects of my daily life, and worked around a 9-5 job. 
 
I am not a professional athlete, nor a one-discipline specialist; but just your average “Joe the plumber” type with a regular job trying to achieve some kind of healthy balance in my life. And if other people found some resonance with that, to share what I know.
 
I read a lot of books, talked with some of my fitness friends from all over the globe, did a lot of meditation and contemplation, and started off from scratch again by adding one regular activity at a time to my schedule. For me, that in itself was a major achievement. Once I felt confident that the activity was a part of my daily routine, I added another, all the while making sure I wasn’t overloading my life, and that all necessary parts of my daily needs were being met.
 
That meant making some major changes to lifestyle.
 
I also started stripping away the unnecessary. My eight year affair with social media came to an end, and while I had reconnected with many old friends because of it, from then on it would be up to more traditional methods of communication to keep in contact. The constant drone in the background was no more, and I found it much easier to focus in on my goals because of it.
 
Television? Gone. I got into reading again in a serious way and if I needed entertainment, there were plenty of movies and you tube to watch.
 
One book that particularly stands out from the last two years was The Four Agreements, a life changing book for anyone of any background in need of a personal refocusing. 
 
I got back to basics with training as well. Tim Ferriss’ Four hour body,  David Kessler’s The end of overeating, books on Ayurveda and all kinds of topics, all inspired and helped me focus in on want I wanted to achieve..
 
I started paying more attention to my food intake and habits around food and drink. Cooking for yourself can be very rewarding if one makes the effort to keep it interesting and spice things up a bit once in a while. Variety, in all things, is key. Laziness means making poor diet choices, and ultimately, you need to be responsible for your own health. A fact so often forgotten in today’s modern lifestyle.
 
I made a big decision to simplify me as well. Learn to listen better and say less, to be what I believed and to let it manifest naturally as my own personal, living truth. 
 
Beginning, middle and end. Follow the process and enjoy the journey. Results come as a natural bi-product, but are not the main focus. Smile more, complain less. Beginners mind.
 
Two years later, I count my blessings. A healthier life, better sense of balance at work, a smaller group of real friends and an ongoing desire to contribute to this world that I live in as a giver, not a taker.
 
Its small steps maybe for some, but for me, important ones that cover many miles.

AeroSling: Ready to work!

download 1 I was recently contacted by a fellow called Elmar Schumacher over at Aerobis Germany to test one of their suspension trainer devices- The AeroSling Pro Set. Knowing that I had pretty extensive experience with other suspension trainers and that I have been using them for some of my clients here in Japan, I appreciated their forthrightness in approaching me for a critical evaluation of this new line of equipment

The Goods.DSC_0107

The first thing you notice when you receive one of these kits is the packaging. Its well thought out with little extras that make it obvious that a lot of effort and thought has been put into making this kit as complete as possible. For example, I liked the re-sealable plastic bags that all of the equipment came in, instead of the usual rip and throw variety. It shows an environmental sense. The main parts of the aerosling come already assembled, with accessories separate and each with an instruction guide as to how to set up or add to the assembly.The handy doorknob sign for the busy businessperson staying in a hotel that lets people know- hey, I’m training in here! The exercise chart and easy to follow dvd made my first workout a breeze, with little time spent in set up. My first impressions were- this kit is well thought out.

Getting started.

Compared to other equipment I have used, the Aerosling was both lightweight and sturdy.For anyone carrying equipment or wanting portability with their workouts, a few grams here and there make a big difference. This equipment fits easily into the draw string carry bag (comes with the kit) which can be put in a backpack for an outdoor in-the-wild adventure or take with you to your gym. Here in Japan, we have a mainly urban environment, so the ability for me to pick up the kit and head to the local park is a big plus. All the components were sturdy and built for hours of use. Attaching the device to a wall mount or overhead beam etc was as simple as flipping one end of the attaching cable over the attach point, and then clipping it on the carabineer. For more sturdiness, two winds around the beam give you an extra sure attachment point. Then a simple weight test to check proper set up, and you are off to work.

Having used similiar devices before, I found this one really simple and user friendly. Don’t get me wrong- I like heavy duty, and there is a place for such types of equipment, but there is also some sense of overkill at times, such as in weight. I usually carry other equipment with me, such as kettlebells etc, so the ease of trasnportantion was a big plus for me. For your average athlete or gym who needs equipment that can take a hard workout and still be ready for me, the Aerosling fits the bill.

Instant fun.DSC_0117

If you are already used to doing body weight/resistance training, or have some gymnastic background, you will immediately sense of advantage when training- the core muscles are instantly involved to balance you while you work out. For first timers with this kind of equipment, I recommend watching the instruction video and setting up your Aerosling for beginner intensity level. Then as you gain confidence, you can up the intensity easily by a quick unwind of the main handles.

Scalable workouts.

I love the versatility that this equipment brings a workout. You can push yourself as hard as you like, or take the more moderate path. Each exercise shows a simple form and then an advanced level version on the cd, and the exercises are easy to follow. I recommend though that you watch all the exercises through completely first, and perhaps don’t attempt to do them all straight away. Pick a particular area of  your body that you want to train, and then follow the related exercise. DSC_0122

I tested the Aerosling out on a couple of my students, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Its a fun machine that you can set up in your own house, take to the gym, or set up outside. For us, it was smiles all round and my students were exhausted after a 45 minute session. I can see it being a real boon to any professionals out there wanting to keep fit while they travel for business and have to adjust to busy schedules. You would hardly notice this kit in a suitcase, even a carry on bag. Perfect. Crossfitters, this equipment has something for you too. Fighters, well enough said- this equipment rocks.

What it will cost you.

The staff at Aerobis have made this equipment very affordable. ( see the details and special offer below!)

Summary:

For those who travel, the lightness, sturdiness and well thought out design of these easy to use kits will mean that you can take it anywhere with you and give yourself a good workout. Whether you are a professional athlete, sports trainer looking for equipment for your clients, or someone just out to keep your body toned, this kit has something for you.

Two thumbs up from me.

Q: How do I get one???

Elmar at Aerobis headquarters sent me these useful links and some extra information for you :

Go to Aerobis.com

http://www.aerobis.com/shop/en/index

Go right to the aerosling models:

http://www.aerobis.com/shop/en/Suspended-Pulley-Trainers/aeroSlings (our aeroSling Models)

http://www.aerobis.com/shop/en/Suspended-Pulley-Trainers/aeroSling-Sets (I received a Set which is called the aeroSling ELITE)

A new model for you to check out as well. I will let Elmar explain:

The new aeroSling XPE is a lightweight smaller brother of the ELITE that you tested. It retails at 139 EUR incl. Door Anchor and DVD. It also has great material but is simpler as such as it cannot be extended with other grips etc.. So professionals would go for the ELITE or ELITE set – beginners in Suspended Pulley Training would go for the XPE.

And a special coupon offer from Elmar at Aerobis for you!

People that are interested will get a coupon code for 15% off to cover shipping and such (100 EUR order value min):

MDA2011CHL

So..what are you waiting for? Go get one!!! Smile

Here it comes….

Lifestyle change. Capital letters. I am tired of constantly struggling with food choices, and wading through the slew of false information out there as to what is best for you, good for you, fat free etc. I can say that in many regards I am as confused as my stomach feels after a normal meal.

In other aspects of my life and training, things are definitely improving. I am hitting some of my own personal training goals, bringing in more and more kettlebell practitioners, and keeping a pretty good balance between work and down time. I stopped drinking alcohol 2 months ago, and I can say that I feel differently because of it. But I really wish that I could get more of a peace of mind from what I eat.

Now I want my regular food intake to support me in a cogent way, hence I have been edging slowly over the last few months towards the Paleo lifestyle.

Don’t know what it is? Have a look in my links bar and take your pick :)

Lets just say I am sticking my toes into the water right now and seeing how I feel, reading up differing approaches to emulating a paleo lifestyle in the modern world, and then brainstorming on how I can support that lifestyle change here in urban jungle Tokyo.

To others who might be considering a similar move in the near future, here is a great piece by the recently retired blogger Methuselah of Pay Now, Live Later who pretty much nails many peoples pet fears and misunderstandings about changing what they eat to a Paleo system and how to get there gradually.

Its going to means saying goodbye to grains and sugars for a start. But if it means I am going to look and feel healthier, so be it.

Gotta get back to study.

Peace.

Better sleep to live longer and reduce stress!

More studies being reported in Time magazine this week on the benefits of a good night sleep.

This kind of news may seem rather obvious to some, but hey, come and live in Tokyo or any big city around the globe for that matter and you will see just how easy it is to slip into an unhealthy late-night lifestyle. No offense Conan!

In Japan, six hours of sleep for many is a luxury that they just cant or wont afford themselves.Late night tv has big draw power as well, with many full time workers not getting home until ten in the evening, they need a couple of hours of just staring at the tube to start their relaxation process off.

Sometimes its a struggle to get eight hours- work, worries, noisy environs, late night messages appearing on your mobile- all these things can cut into your down time. Without proper rest you can forget about maintaining your training schedule or your desire to keep at it. And if its bad for us, you can imagine what it must be like for kids.

So do yourself a favor, and make sure that you can truly switch off to recuperate from your modern day lifestyle.And while I am at it, a little meditation or some yoga/Qigong wouldnt hurt you, either.

Put that mobile on flight mode, and rest easily my friends.

Peace,

Markeu

Scary news on that western diet and your gut

Well, nothing they said was really that surprising, considering the profusion of overweight people in our societies around the world today.
Even in Japan, where the myth that somehow the Japanese diet helped keep people slim is starting to show signs of cracking as the Japanese start to fill out like many of their western trade partners.

Hmm…food for thought?

All puns aside, have a read and a good think about your own diet, and what you can do to make it a bit healthier…

Cheers,

Markeu

Drink Water and guard that waistline!

Well, they have finally proven that it is true. Drinking water before a meal significantly helps you not gain extra inches in the waist line.

Its such a simple solution, and one that you should try out for yourself.
Our modern day lifestyles aren’t really conducive to getting our recommended daily intake. Add that on top of our already sluggish metabolisms and dysfunctional digestive systems…and you get the picture.

Why not give this a shot yourself?

Cheers,

Markeu

Sunday fun

IMG_2892 Well we certainly earned our keep today- the weather turned around and went from threats of thunderstorms to a beautiful hot Tokyo Summer day. Two first timers joined us and in all we had a great time.

The feed afterwards certainly didn’t hurt either!

We will have another meet again probably in about three weeks to enjoy the Summer while it lasts, and get some of our other friends along.

Cheers!

Ed Coughlin- Living Qi.

6373_1165867915855_1502629688_420292_1228642_nEd Coughlin is one of the key elements of the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation’s core teaching philosophy, and who is busy this year spreading the awareness and uses of Qigong  for practitioners of the Kettlebell Sport . I had the great pleasure of studying with him earlier this month in Malaysia at the IKFF CKT Level 1 & 2 Teacher’s training, and asked him at that time if I could interview him for Gaijin Kettlebell . Here is the start of what I hope to be a regular spot here at Gaijin Kettlebell on Qigong.

GKJ-Thank you Ed for taking the time to speak with us today. Could you start with telling us a little bit about your long and diverse background. You have been a long time friend and associate with Steve Cotter, to the extent that he often refers to you as his brother.
What led you to Qigong initially? And what is it?

I began studying martial arts 30 years ago beginning with Uechi Ryu karate, I achieved 4th dan and received my teaching certificate after training in that style for 18 years. In the late 80’s I began studying Tai chi and qi gong with various teachers. About 15 years ago I was introduced to my current teacher Master Kao by a friend and fellow student. After being introduced to Master Kao I gave up everything else I was doing at the time to devote myself to his teachings.  Master Kao is a Master of Chinese Internal Martial arts including Xing Yi Quan, Bagua Zhang, Tai Ji Quan and the rare Taoist System called Xiao jiu tian or “Little Nine Heaven” which includes martial arts , qi gong and Chinese sword. He is also an excellent traditional healer. In 2001 I was made a 35th generation disciple in the Little Nine Heaven system, one of only four of master Kao’s students to be made disciples. My friend and Kung Fu brother Steve Cotter is also a close student of Master Kao. In 1996 I graduated the Florida Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine and now work as a doctor of oriental medicine, I also teach martial arts and qigong to a small group of students at my home. For the last decade I have been practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism as a student of H.H. Penor rinpoche.

I had  been introduced to qi gong at various times , first in the mid 80’s with tai chi and a few years later with a number of teachers. Later in Chinese medicine school , qigong was taught as an element of the curriculum. But my real serious training has been with Master Kao. Qigong is an important element of both Chinese internal martial arts and Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Briefly qigong means to exercise the qi .  Qi can be defined as the vital energy of the body and qigong is a method of exercise to preserve , strengthen and circulate this vital energy in the body to promote health and vitality.

GKJ- Tai Chi Chuan is quite well known in the west, but Qigong has appeared relatively recently in the common consciousness. What does Qigong have to offer the average person and why is it important?

Tai 6373_1165820194662_1502629688_420108_1360238_n chi chuan Or tai ji quan is a system of Chinese internal martial arts related to qigong in that they both relay on a cultivation and understanding of qi. Whereas traditionally tai chi was taught as a fighting art and only recently is done primarily for health. Qigong is a health promotion and rehabilitative regime.

For the average practioner qigong offers a simple method to promote health and energy and as a way to repair the body from stress and overuse. While traditional methods of exercise focus on the building physical strength , speed and endurance, the focus of qigong is on the subtle energetic network of the body and the internal organs. Ordinary exercise can be damaging to the body which is in fact why it works by causing the body to adapt to stress, qigong can repair the  body by reducing tension, regulating breathing ,improving circulation and strengthen the internal organs and endocrine system.

The combination of physical exercise such as kettlebells, bodyweight conditioning or martial arts with a consistent practice of simple qigong is an ideal method to promote health , relieve stress and increase longevity. Continuous vigorous exercise without a rehabilitative component to it is a recipe for injuries and a short athletic career with a lot of chronic pain. I believe adding a simple qigong routine to your exercise or just on its own can greatly improve performance , reduce or correct injury and promote overall health.

GKJ.- I have read and heard that it is very important in Qigong to have proper instruction from a teacher. Why is that so? Are there any Qigong practices that a person can try if they are interested in exploring Qigong?

There are many systems or methods of qigong training , primarily what I’m talking about here is qigong for health and longevity  . but there are also qigong methods for martial arts to strengthen and harden the body, medical qigong to cure disease and religious or philosophical qigong done as a spiritual practice. Some systems of qigong are very complicated and involve holding the breath for extended periods , directing the energy(qi) with the mind or the breath or the use of weights or other equipment. The more complicated the method the greater the possibility of side effects .

Therefore complicated qigong systems require instruction and monitoring by a competent teacher to avoid pitfalls, however there are very simple and effective qigong systems that can be practiced on your own once the basic principles are understood. A good example is the level one qi gong that can be found on the IKFF YouTube channel. (Link to the clip here) This is a good introductory qi gong exercise that can be done by anyone and has no side effects, yet is very effective for promoting circulation and reducing stress among other benefits.

GKJ.- In my own short time experience, I have experienced Qi as a form of energy that resides in the body and the atmosphere around us. Doing Qigong practice brings an awareness of this energy that exists around us every day. What is Qi? It is often left as a mystery. Also, this energy awareness comes and goes- is this natural?

6373_1166442210212_1502629688_421951_1194653_n “QI” basically means energy and exists all around us and in us . there are many types of qi. In the human body Qi can be thought of as the body’s vital energy . our body has an energetic system related to but apart from our nervous and circulatory systems.

It is this energetic network that is manipulated in the practice of acupuncture and some types of Asian body work. In traditional oriental medical theory , the energy aspect of this network is called “qi”. Qi  is the body’s motivating force, it is the “stuff” that animates our body. Every living organism has Qi. With conscious training this vital energy can be strengthened and controlled to promote health and longevity, this is the practice of qigong or “working the qi”. Similar ideas of this energy exist in other cultures like the “prana” of yoga. Bio electricity is also a comparable term.

GKJ.- It is also said that Qigong is very effective at relieving stress, and also making the body stronger. How does it do this? Here in Japan, the average office worker deals with low energy levels constantly, due to a fairly intense working environment, non natural light environment and long working hours. Most people feel incredibly lethargic, especially during the hot and rainy seasons. Can Qigong help them?

Through a combination of breathing , movement and posture qi gong practice can increase oxygen uptake , relax the nervous system , increase the circulation of blood and lymph through the activity of propulsion. through breathing combined with right and left movement brain hemisphere and wave frequencies can be normalized. The endocrine structures of the brain can be stimulated by intention , meditation and visualization which are all elements of qigong practice. Increased immune function can be stimulated by breathing ,relaxation and meditation . all of these things have been observed in clinical settings related to the consistent practice of qigong along with other wonderful effects. For people who are high stressed, with long work secludes , sedentary work conditions and who have low energy or only short periods of time for activity or exercise , qigong is the ideal method of training to promote their health and longevity and  eliminate stress and tension .

GKJ.- It seems that from now on, Qigong will feature more prominently in IKFF seminars and activities. What are your own personal aspirations with the spreading of knowledge of Qigong? Can we look forward to having you touring around teaching about Qi?

Steve Cotter and the IKFF are at the cutting edge of fitness and as I noted above the combination of kettlebell training, body weight conditioning and qigong are an ideal health promoting exercise and fitness combination. I look forward to traveling to and teaching qigong at the various level 2 certifications. In the future we hope to be putting out a book and DVD on qi gong and to doing qigong workshops around the globe.

GKJ.-Thank you for your time and I hope to have you hear regularly answering questions about Qigong. It was certainly an honor for me meeting you in Malaysia earlier this month.

Thanks for this opportunity to talk about qigong and I look forward to working with you in the future. More info about can be found at www.xisuigong.com and www.ikff.com

6373_1165819274639_1502629688_420085_1459745_n

Mike Mahler – telling it straight.

inst_mike_mahler

Mike Mahler is one of the top level figures in the international kettlebell and fitness community today, and a man whose name and reputation loom larger than life. Known and admired for his straight talking, no-nonsense approach to personal development and physical fitness, he is one of those modern day personalities that lead by embodying the essence and veracity of their own teachings.  I recently had the chance to ask Mike a few in-depth questions about his own path as a sportsman, the development of his business Aggressive Strength , his ongoing research and study into the field of hormone optimization, and the trials and tribulations of his own personal journey. Here is a rare insight into a remarkable man.

GKJ- Hi Mike, thanks for taking some time out for us at Gaijin Kettlebell Japan. As you probably know, although kettlebells are still very much an unknown quantity here in Japan and still in the early days, you are quite well known. Your name, your books and dvd’s pop up on Amazon.jp and the Japanese internet regularly. How is your own kettlebell practice progressing? What other forms of exercise do you use to supplement your personal physical development?

Thanks for doing the interview. My kettlebell training business has come a long way. I went through Pavel Tsatsouline’s RKC course in early 2002 and started my kettlebell training business full time in May of 2002. My very first workshop in Northern Virginia had eight people. Now there are probably hundreds of people doing kettlebell workshops all over the US and all over the world. There are several certification options now and more kettlebell information than ever before.

The first few years of my business were very difficult. Very few people even owned kettlebells and it was not something that people were either familiar with or cared about. I kept pushing hard and in 2005 my business hit a critical mass and my income tripled. Workshops started filling up fast all over the country and my DVD’s started to sell really well. I pushed hard for the next few years doing tons of workshops and producing several Kettlebell DVD’s.

Regarding my own training, from 2001 to 2006 kettebell training was my primary source of working out. I used other tools as a supplement such as clubbells, resistance bands, body weight drills, but kettlebells were the primary focus. In 2006 my wife and I moved to Las Vegas. Going from an apartment to a big house allowed me to set up a nice home gym and add some variety to my workouts. Now I use kettlebells in addition to thick barbell training, trapbar for deadlifts, I have a pull-up station for pull-ups, chin-ups, and hanging leg raises. I also cycle in clubbells, power rings, resistance bands, sledgehammer training, and battling rope work. Finally, I like to do some 2-3 mile walks a few times a week with a 106lb weight vest. My goals are more strength, power, and conditioning these days and I like to have a fair amount of variety to keep things enjoyable.

GKJ- Your work now with Aggressive Strength expands to cover a wide range of topics and disciplines. What is it you look for in a topic of study to expand your base of knowledge?

I look at real strength as much more than how much weight you can lift or how fast you can run. Being in great physical shape is no doubt important and a critical component of being strong and fit. However, I like to encourage people to take what they learn from training and carry it over to other aspects of life. Be a better person. Be more assertive and pursue the life you want, rather than settling and just coasting through life. Being strong in the gym but weak everywhere else is not real strength.

Aggressive strength is a philosophy on taking charge of your life. It is about taking self responsibility for your health and well being on several fronts. renegade_row

I like studying things that improve the quality of one’s life. This is what led me to the field of hormone optimization as you are only as healthy as your hormones. If you do not optimize all the major hormones: insulin, growth hormone, DHEA, Testosterone, DHT, androstendione, progesterone, estrogen, thyroid hormones, glycogen etc you can forget about being your best and enjoying life fully.

GKJ- Recently, you released some very interesting work on hormone optimization for health and well being. What brought this about? As an athlete and trainer that is getting older, does this type of issue become more and more important to you? In a nutshell, what advice do you give people who approach you with these kinds of questions? How much of this is really a “science” ?

Often we study things that are self serving and then we realize that other people can benefit from the information. This is why it is important to share our stories in life as many can benefit from our personal journeys.

This is the case with my devotion to learning about hormone optimization. I went through some stressful periods during the first few years of my training business. In addition to financial stress, I was dealing with personal stress on many levels, which eventually resulted in a severe case of pneumonia. I almost died from this and by the time I had medical treatment they had to pull 40 liters of fluid out of my lungs. I realized full well where an overload of stress will take you.

Stress literally kills and ironically many people are addicted to stress. Stress causes the hormone cortisol to rise and an increase in cortisol activates the fight-flight mechanism which makes us very alert. Many people are actually addicted to this state and that is why they crave stress. Stress makes them feel important and alive. Some level of stress is no doubt important as we do not grow and feel enthusiastic when everything is easy. However, too much stress kills healthy hormone production and places you in an accelerated aging state. If your cortisol goes up and stays up for too long you will eventually crash hard.

Mike CC Photo

When I was going through high stress I was literally in an andropause state. This is what many men experience when they are in their 50s. However, I was only 29 at the time. My sex drive was non-existent, my sleep was off, my workout recovery was declining, and my overall zeal for life was low. I was getting depressed often even though I was doing the line of work that I always wanted to do.

I just did not want to live life this way and started studying endocrinology. The more I studied the more I realized the strong connection between optimal hormone levels and overall well being. When your hormones are healthy, you are healthy. When your hormones are optimal you have a feeling of being able to take charge of the world. Your sex drive is high, your mood is great, your strength is solid, and you sleep well every night. This is where I am now and have been for several years. My hormones levels are great and I feel strong, energetic, and excited about life.

When people come to me asking me advice on optimizing hormones, I tell them that they need to get detailed blood work to see where they are at. If someone does not have blood work then I am not willing to offer any advice. It is like someone saying they want to add 50lbs to their bench press when they have never bench pressed before. How I am supposed to help them if I do not know where they are?

Regardless, some basic information that helps with hormone optimization is:

  1. You must get 8 hours of deep sleep every night. Deep sleep meaning no tossing and turning and sleep where you dream vividly. Without adequate sleep you will not produce growth hormone, testosterone, DHEA, and all of the other important hormones. Sleep lowers cortisol and increases Melatonin. It is the ultimate anti-aging practice.
  1. Eat organic at least 90% of the time. 100% is even better. If you eat meat or any animal products (dairy-eggs) you must eat 100% organic. Meat, dairy, and eggs that are not 100% organic are loaded with hormone disrupting chemicals. They are loaded with chemical estrogens with disastrous effects. Look at the way animals are treated on factory farms and do not have the illusion that consuming factory farmed meat is even remotely healthy. Even if you could care less about the animal’s welfare at least show some respect for your own body and health and feed it only the best. Develop a relationship with a local farmer and get all of your meat, eggs, and dairy there. This is much cheaper than getting organic meat and dairy at the supermarket. However, it is worth paying the extra money for your health. What you spend now will save you money later on expensive medical bills.  I tell people that if they are not willing to invest in high quality food then I am not willing to help them with hormone optimization as clearly they do not care. Don’t expect me to think about how to help them all day when they are not even willing to do the basics to help themselves.
  1. Have a balance of protein, fat, carbs at every meal. Barry Sear’s The Zone (30% fat, 30% protein, 40% carbs) is a good place to start. This keeps Insulin stable and a good amount of healthy fat is required for adequate hormone production.
  1. Do high intensity training 3x per week such as sprinting, sledgehammer striking, circuit training. This kind of training ramps up growth hormone and helps keep body fat low. When you are fat you have more estrogen receptors which lowers testosterone.
  1. Don’t drink beer. Beer is loaded with hops which is highly estrogenic. At least look for old Scottish Ale which is made with “gruit” instead of hops.
  1. Work on stress management. Meditation, chi-kung, tai-chi, yoga are all great ways to handle stress.
  1. Take magnesium lotion twice per day. Magnesium is a critical mineral for optimal hormone production. The lotion is a more efficient delivery system than tablets or powder. Rub on 2 teaspoons twice per day. Works very well to increase DHEA. The brand I use is Dr Shealy’s Magnesium lotion: http://www.springvalleyherbs.com/catalog/item/2872

Also make sure to take 30mg of Zinc Citrate daily. Zinc is critical for testosterone production and also helps block the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.

Beyond the above, I only work with my online clients for personalized hormone optimization advice.  I have spend too many years and dollars studying this field and I am not willing to offer more free advice. People can also learn more from the Collision Course DVD set which contains a hormone lecture and comes with a hormone optimization e-book.

GKJ. You have an upcoming book: Live life aggressively: what self-help gurus don’t want you to know. What is the book about?

It is basically a protest to all of the self help books out there now. It is a more brutal and in your face approach to how to take charge of your life. I am tired of moronic advice such as attitude is everything and fake it until you make it. I am tired of the focus on positive thinking and sayings such as everything happens for a reason. Thus, I am basically putting down some very straight forward information on what you must do to take charge of your life and be successful and why the advice that many self-help gurus espouse is flawed and ineffective. People are loving the information that I put out in my online magazine and the book will be in the same vain.

GKJ- One great thing about you Mike is that you do a lot of collaborative seminars and projects with other sports and training personalities, sharing your own knowledge and making the joint project stronger because of it. Do you see value in collaborative projects such as these?

Collaborating with the right people is powerful. It gives people much broader and more comprehensive information. In 2008 I decided to stop doing kettlebell beginner workshops to focus on other interests and put on more progressive and innovative workshops. For example, last year I put on a big 2-day workshop called “Collision course” which covered battling ropes, strongman training, body weight training, and kettlebell training. This year I am putting on a course called “Kettlebell Training In the Age Of Quarrell.” It will be a three day course that covers all of the many ways to use kettlebells effectively. The course has an incredible line-up: Steve Cotter, Ken Blackburn, Jason Dolby, Andrew Durniat, and myself. It is going to be a three day course that breaks through all of the confusion on how to use kettlebells effectively for a variety of goals. It is going to be an incredible course.

GKJ. Well Mike, this has been a rare glimpse inside for many of us, and you have certainly given us plenty to think about. What is the future for you? Where do you see yourself in ten years? What would you like to have achieved?

Thanks and I do not look at life that way. There is no point planning on where I will be in ten years now as that is too far out. Instead I trust my abilities and work ethic and do not worry about where I will be. I know what I am capable of and what sacrifices I am prepared to make to keep growing as a human being.  Focus on the moment and apply myself now and the future will take care of itself. Achievements, while important, are also illusory. Achieving goals is often anti-climatic as put people put off living now for some hopefully future happiness. Work hard and achieve goals but learn to enjoy the process where ever possible. Be serious about your goals but do not take yourself too seriously. As the Hindu Text The Bhagavad Gita states you have a right to your actions but not the results of your actions. Make your actions count.

With regards to this year I will have my book completed and I am looking forward to having a great course with the all star Age of Quarrell line up which will in turn be filmed for another information packed DVD set.

Thanks Mark for taking the time to do the interview.

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