Fresh honeycomb for breakfast

Sometimes the very simple breakfasts are the best. Raw honey, scooped out of a fresh honeycomb just picked from the beehive, made by happy, healthy bees growing on pesticide-free land, slathered onto fresh-baked bread and washed down with raw almond milk. This is the ambrosia of the gods.


Let’s change the way we think about Training to Failure

In August of 2001, around the 1-year anniversary of my website, I wrote two articles. The first was titled “How to Keep Your Exercise Goals” and the second, “Finding the Right Resolve for Exercise“.

I wrote the articles after working out seriously and regularly for over 7 years (at the time), so the insights I laid down in them were solid. As good as they were, I was to discover another great insight about exercise, which was to affect me years down the road. It relates to both topics (exercise goals and the resolve to keep them).

It’s about the principle of weightlifting known as “Training to Failure“. You can watch the video or you can read the script (with some slight modifications) below.

I started doing this while in college, as I tried a lot of things in order to grow. I would train to failure on all sets (other than warm-ups) or just the last sets of my workouts, depending on my stamina and my drive on a given day.

Training to failure yielded results, no question about that. Pushing yourself to the limit often helps you discover new limits, beyond what you thought was possible. Coupled with good nutrition, plenty of rest and a proper, serious workout schedule, training to failure will yield results.

In part, it was responsible for my impressive gains in muscle mass and strength. Here’s what I looked like in September of 1994. There’s no way to get around it: I was a pencil-neck. I’d done a lot of swimming in high school and while it’d made me taller, it didn’t add any bulk at all to my body.

In September of 1994, just starting college.

And then here’s what I looked like in May of 1998.

In May of 1998, after a workout.

Big difference, right? That was an increase in weight from 135 lbs. to 195 lbs. and strength gains that went through the roof. I should clarify that I did not take steroids to look like that. I worked out to my limit and beyond, every workout, ate a lot and rested a lot (when I didn’t pull all-nighters to study for exams).

So, training to failure is a good thing, right? Not so fast.

As a practice, it’s a wonderful thing. You’re pushing yourself to the limit. Great! As a name, it’s bad.

Why? Because it’s insidious. The term “Failure Training” or “Exhaustion Training” crawls into your brain and slowly but surely, it begins to affect your attitude toward going to the gym and lifting weights. It takes years, but it’ll happen.

Unless you’re aware of what I’m telling you here, you won’t know why, but workouts and weightlifting will start to become boring to you. You’ll find yourself saying, “What’s the point? I’m lifting these weights up and down, it’s the same movements all the time, I repeat them till I can’t do any more, then I rest for a while and start over again. This is useless, there’s not future in it.”

I’m here to tell you that’s not you talking. You’re doing your part. You’re going to the gym, you’re lifting the weights, you’re eating right, resting, staying informed; you keep at it, but you’re discouraged.

What’s going on is that you’ve got faulty programming in your mind. You’ve gotten so used to the “failure training” that all training has become a failure for you. That’s how your mind now thinks of exercise, and you’re in a terrible situation.

Whoever called it “Training to Failure” made an unfortunate decision. Thankfully, we can fix it, but it’s going to take a bit of effort.

First, let’s start referring to it as “Expansion Training” or “Growth Training“. Make up your own name for it if you want, but it’s got to be something positive, something that encourages you to go on and is a good thing for your mind to recall. It’s got to help you visualize the results you want.

Think about it. Does “Failure Training” help you visualize big muscles or more strength? Not likely. But does “Growth Training” help you see more, bigger muscles? How about “Expansion Training”? Does that help you visualize breaking limits, expanding what you thought was possible?

There’s nothing wrong with the practice of training to exhaustion or to failure. It’s a wonderful thing. We just have to change the way we refer to it, and once we do that, a lot less people who are currently using the technique will get discouraged long-term.

I am currently in the process of trying to change my own thinking on it, after finding out the hard way why I lost the drive to work out years ago. This very thing was one of the reasons.

You may not think simple words can have that sort of power, but when you combine them with effort, pain, visualization and time, those insidious words can have an awful effect. That’s why a positive name change is so important, and it should have been at the top of the list when this technique was invented (or named).

Every time the term “Exhaustion Training” or “Failure Training” comes to your mind, replace it with “Expansion Training” or “Growth Training”. Every time you employ the technique and you push your body to the limit, visualize the positive: your muscles are growing, your body is getting bigger and stronger (or leaner if you want to lose weight). Don’t think about the micro-tears, don’t think about the pain, the exhaustion, and most certainly don’t think about failure. Think about how much you’re improving and how you’re keeping your body in shape, and how good it’s going to look. See yourself leaner, muscular, stronger — all around better.

That’s the way you should approach every “Expansion Training” set and for that matter, every workout, and you’ll be amazed at the results! 

Multitasking and digital gadgets are making us less productive

Here’s a neat infographic that clearly shows how multitasking and the various gadgets we own and use throughout the day are making us less productive and stressing our brains and our hearts.

Frequent multitasking makes us unable to focus properly, to make good decisions, set goals and retrieve memories from short and long-term memory. It also makes us less empathic and decreases the amount of grey matter in our brains; it keeps us in a constant state of “fight or flight”. This is NOT good for us. It can take as long as five days for the harmful effects of our digital lifestyle to wear off and for our bodies to return to normal, if we decide to cut ourselves off from it or reduce it drastically.

So, focus on only one thing at a time when you’re at the computer. Limit the amount of time you spend browsing websites and/or switching between them. And take breaks from the computer. If it’s not your job to be at it all day long, don’t spend your day glued to it. Use it as little as possible. Make your life as analog as possible. You’ll be healthier and smarter for it.

Digital Stress and Your Brain

The importance of walking barefoot

All of us have probably heard at one point or another that it’s good for us to walk barefoot once in a while, either on grass or on the beach. It’s the sort of information that we file away and don’t remember to do all that often, until we find out why it’s important.

In these three videos posted here, Dr. Stephen Sinatra explains why walking barefoot (or grounding, as he calls it) is important for our health.

Enjoy and apply his advice! It’s backed by the wisdom of our forefathers and by current scientific research, and it’s also really easy to do.

Sick Chickens

I made a short video last year, which I wasn’t sure I should post publicly, because it contains disturbing imagery. However, I finally convinced myself I should, simply because I want you, dear reader, to be able to make informed decisions when you go shopping for food.

The video you’re about to see shows the guts of farm-grown chickens. These are from an independent farm where they grow in crates, as they do in most farms these days. They’re not free range, and they’re certainly not organic. The name of the farm doesn’t matter. What matters is that these chickens weren’t treated as badly as those in true factory farms, and yet their insides tell a dark story about the way we, as humans, treat our food.

Their internal organs are pretty much destroyed, at around 6-7 months of age. They’re large, heavy, hard, tumor-laden, distended, they’re retaining huge amounts of water — they look as if they’ve been eating the most unhealthy crap there is — and they have. All of that chicken feed they get as food makes them look like this, coupled with the lack of movement, the drugs, the stress of living in crates, in the stench of thousands of others like them, unable to roam, forage for food, smell the clean, fresh air of unpolluted nature.

These chickens (and others in much worse condition) are what you find when you go to the supermarket. Sure, you don’t find their guts for sale. You find their meat, which looks decent enough, especially after it’s been pumped full of water, nitrates, MSG and colorants. But their guts find their way into pet food. They’re what you feed your pets.

Please, think about all this the next time you’re buying chicken (or other meat) at the supermarket. I’m not trying to convince you to stop eating meat — that’s your decision to make — I’m just trying to help you make better decisions when it comes to food.

Look for free-range chickens, for organic chickens, buy from local farms where you can see them roaming the land, scratching the earth for worms, not from factory farms.

Or you could try not eating meat. We don’t. We’re raw foodists. But as I said before, I’m not trying to force our lifestyle on you. You are free to choose what you do. Just be aware of the consequences.

Go eat some fresh organic peas

If you’ve never tasted fresh organic peas, or you can’t remember the last time you tried it, now’s the time to do it, because they’re in season. If you live in the northern hemisphere, in a temperate climate, go get some right now and try them out! Don’t cook them. Just open the pods and eat the peas raw. They’re delicious, and highly nutritious!

If you’re eating mature peas, their taste will be a little floury. If you’re lucky, you’ll stumble upon some maturing peas, which are smaller in size. Their taste is unbelievable. It’s sweet and crunchy and even though they taste like candy, they’re really good for you.

I do hope I’ve made you hungry. Bon appetit!

A long commute may push you toward divorce

I’ve been a proponent for telecommuting for years, and I’m glad to see more proof — such as this article, which presents research from Sweden, where they’ve found that long commutes (around 45 minutes) make you 40% more likely to divorce, and also re-inforce gender-based stereotypes, where the man will usually have the better job and do the long commutes, while the woman is forced to take a lower-paying job closer to home.

According to the study, 11 percent of Swedes have a journey to work that consists of a 45-minute commute or longer. Many commuters have small children and are in a relationship. Most are men.

The risk of divorce goes up by 40 percent for commuters and the risk is the highest in the first few years of commuting.

And more Swedes are travelling farther distances to work.

“The trend is definitely pointing upward. Both the journey to work and the working hours are getting longer, “ Sandow told The Local.

The study was based on statistical data from two million Swedish households between 1995 and 2000.

This article in The Economist echoes the research, and offers additional arguments:

Ms Lowrey ends up running through the whole litany of traditional commuter complaints—that it makes us fat, stresses us out, makes us feel lonely, and literally causes pain in the neck—and finds research to prove that the moaners are, more often than not, right. “People who say, ‘My commute is killing me!’ are not exaggerators,” she concludes: “They are realists.”

This of course is in addition to the arguments I’ve already put forth in the past, such as in this article offering reasons for telecommuting, or this article about reducing waste in business operations.

An introduction to the Water Ionizer

I put together a short video demonstration of our water ionizer, as a quick introduction to the idea of ionized water and its main benefits. A few months ago, I laughed at the idea of ionized water. I thought it was a foolish concept. After all, the acid-base chemistry of our body would cancel any ionized water. I thought it wouldn’t have any effect, and who knows, it might even be harmful. But my mother had bought a machine, and she went on and on about its benefits. She said we should get one as well, and once Ligia and I tried it and saw its effects on our body, we’d be sold.

Well, I am sold on ionized water now. We drink alkaline water daily, and wash our faces with acid water. Our bodies went through a process of detoxification, and from time to time, we still feel the effects of eliminating toxins (headaches and slight nausea). Most of the time though, we feel great, much better than we did before. Our complexion has improved as well. My face is much smoother. Ligia says the same about hers, and I agree, although she’s always had great skin.

An Introduction to Ionized Water
Released 5/23/11
With English and Romanian subtitles

If you’re a skeptic, I understand, having been one myself. The only thing that will convince you is to try drinking alkaline water for yourself and see the difference on your own body. You don’t have to buy a machine. See if there’s a health store in your area that has a water ionizer and is willing to sell it to you, and drink it for a few weeks. Keep a daily journal of what’s going on with you, and make up your mind afterward.

A lot of people prefer to get bottled water, thinking it’s pure. There’s been plenty of research on this, so you don’t have to take my word for it — purity is a foreign concept to bottled water, which contains more impurities than tap water. Given the way it’s kept in plastic bottles, whose chemicals leech into the water over time, and the harsh conditions in which it’s kept (cold or hot, depending on the weather), it’s also possible that it’s harmful to the body, its chemical make-up having been altered. Water isn’t just water. Simple as its chemical formula is, it just isn’t as simple as H2O. Water is basic to all of the chemical reactions in our bodies, so it’s a reactive substance. Water also needs to have minerals in it, in order to be properly absorbed by our body, and to benefit it. Do you think that a reactive substance like water does well when kept in toxic plastic containers over long periods of time, and subjected to cold or hot conditions — temperatures which facilitate various chemical reactions?

Ionized water isn’t a recent discovery. It’s been around since the 50s, and it’s regularly consumed in countries like Korea and Japan. If it’s been around that long, surely that in itself lends it a bit of credibility. A hoax usually doesn’t stick around for 60 years or more.

You can, of course, remain a skeptic. You’ll be in good company, since the folks at Wikipedia have done so. You can also be skeptical of the skeptics, like this man. Or you can choose to believe the testimonials of those who’ve tried the water, folks like me or like the ones in this video (with whom I am not affiliated in any way, shape or form):

The thing is, even if you choose not to believe anything about ionized water, surely you can use logic to reason the following out: alkaline cancels out acid, right? Then it stands to reason that at the very least, alkaline water should help in those situations where the stomach is overly acidic (ulcers, acid reflux, upset stomach, etc.) So if you’ve got one of those conditions, the logical thing to do is to drink alkaline water instead of taking antacid tablets, and see how you feel. You may just discover that it will make a bunch of other pre-existing conditions go away, and that’s not a bad deal, is it?

Here are a few photos of the particular model we have, the Chanson VS-70. I’m not saying it’s superior to other models and that you should get it above others. It’s a good model from a good brand, which we liked because it’s an under-the-counter unit, and it has seven electrolysis plates, coated with platinum. Other models are counter-top units and have fewer plates. Price-wise, the Chanson brand is also less expensive than other brands on the market, so they’re a good deal.

Ligia’s Kitchen: Wheatgrass Juice

We just published episode 6 of Ligia’s Kitchen, which will show you how to make nature’s miracle cure, wheatgrass juice. This stuff is really, really healthy, but there’s one catch: it tastes terrible. Even after you drink it for years, it’s still hard to get it down. But if you can, it does amazing things for your body.


Episode LK-006-RO-HD
Released 1/16/11

Some things you shouldn’t do after a workout

I learned these things the hard way. Maybe you won’t have to.

  • Don’t shave!
    It may come naturally to you after a morning workout. You take a shower, then you’ll want to shave, since your hair’s been softened by the hot water. Don’t do it! There’s still plenty of blood right under your skin, thanks to the workout, and your hand muscles, having just lifted heavy weights, will inadvertently exert too much pressure on the skin. These two things will translate into cuts, cuts and more cuts… unless your face is tougher than treated leather.
  • Don’t eat right away.
    Allow your body to relax a bit, for at least 30-60 minutes. You may be tempted to drink a shake, or dig into a steak, wanting to get some proteins and carbs into your body, but it’s not a good idea. You’ve just lifted heavy things or done some strenuous cardio, and your body is still racing. It needs time to relax and get back to normal before you can eat and digest food properly.
  • Don’t go outside in cold weather.
    Sure, you may think you’re tough, because you’ve just bested yourself at the deadlift, leg press or bench press, but if you’ve broken out in sweat, and then you go outside in your workout clothes, or right after a shower, thinking you’ll be just fine for a few minutes, you may discover pneumonia couldn’t care less about your fitness level. Dry yourself thoroughly, get dressed properly, and then head outside.

Dr. Brian Clement on Stopping the Aging Process

Ligia and I attended a talk given by Dr. Brian Clement of the Hippocrates Health Institute — the foremost center of natural and complementary health care in the world. The event took place at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton, FL, on March 22, 2010, and the talk was on aging, and what we can do to stop it. It may sound like the stuff of fairy tales, but the advice given is common sense, and it works. Dr. Clement himself is almost 70 years old, though he doesn’t look it.

In a nutshell, we must change our nutrition to include a large proportion of raw vegan foods, particularly sprouts and vegetable juices. I invite you to watch the entire video, which is about 45 minutes long. It’s quite interesting, and the Q&A section at the end also provides actionable and important advice.

Sorry about the somewhat unsteady video. I recorded this handheld. And the focus is a bit off for the first 1:30 minutes, but it does get better after that, so hang in there!

I’d also like to thank the folks at YouTube for allowing me to post the entire video without cutting it up into smaller parts. This summer, they raised the limit to 15 minutes for each video, then did away with it completely a few weeks ago, which meant I could upload the entire 45-minute video, in 720p HD, at over 3GB in size, without any problems. Thank you YouTube!

After six weeks on the RPM System

I’m overdue to give my six week re-assessment of the RPM System — two weeks late to be precise, since I started on May 18th. I’ve had good reasons: travel, and some heavy-duty work to get my wife’s raw food recipe book ready for the printers. (I handled the photography, the layout and the design.)

I also haven’t (and I’m ashamed to admit this) worked out for the past two weeks, for the very same reasons. So the photos and measurements you’ll see below really are taken after a two week “break” from the workouts, which involved prolonged sitting at my computer and at the wheel of our car.

In spite of the circumstances that came together to sabotage my workouts, progress was made. I’m happy about that.

Here’s what I look like now. Compare the difference between these photos and the initial ones (taken after a week on the system).

Here are my re-assessment results (power score and measurements). Compare them with the initial ones.

I was pleased to see a marked improvement in my power score, which is now 76, up from the initial 64. My guess is these are beginner gains, and subsequent power score improvements will be harder to achieve. Still, I’m happy and willing to put in the extra work.

The new numbers are:

  • 33 pushups
  • 50 band standing reverse flyes
  • 70 seconds for the modified abdominal plank
  • 180 seconds for the wall sit

There were some surprises when it came to the measurements:

  • Weight: 159.8 lbs, up by about 1½ pounds; my guess is the extra weight is from muscle mass, since I lost fat, as you’ll see below
  • Shoulders: 47.5″, up by ½ inch
  • Chest: 39″, up by 1 inch
  • Arms: 12″, down by 1 inch; this was an unpleasant surprise, but my guess is I had extra fat in the triceps area, which went away.
  • Abdomen: 32″, down by 1 inch
  • Hips: 36.25″, down by 1¾ inches, which was definitely a surprise.
  • Thighs: 19.5″, up by ½ inch

I guess all that sitting on a chair not only atrophied my muscles, but put extra fat on my arms, around my abdomen (which I already knew of) and my hips, which I didn’t know about.

I’ve got another couple of confessions to make:

  • I missed about a week’s worth of workouts during the 6 weeks, again due to travel. I asked the folks at RPM what to do, and they advised me to do one extra workout per week until I caught back up. That’s excellent advice, so if you’re in the same boat, do that, it’s going to be worth it.
  • I haven’t done my aerobic workouts at all. I’ve been too busy. You know how they say you should do three of their workouts per week, and on your off days, do half an hour of your favorite aerobic activity? Well, I skipped out on that entirely. Shame on me.

Still, in spite of cutting all those corners and missing out on plenty of workouts, look at the progress I made! Can you imagine how much more dramatic my progress would have been if I had followed their recipe?

I think this is really good proof of the program’s potential. I missed workouts, played catch-up, took a two week break, and still I made out really nicely.

Don’t take that to mean I fudged on the actual workouts though! Every time I worked out, I did every exercise and every rep indicated. On some exercises, I even did extra reps. The way I see it, if I didn’t give 100% with every workout, I’d have cheated myself.

If you have any doubts about the RPM System and whether it can work for you, I don’t think you need to worry any more. Try it out, you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s only $10/month, and you get two weeks free with this code: 553677456.

I intend to keep going, and will post future updates about my progress.