Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pizza, consultation, upcoming posts and bodyweight workouts

1. On Monday I will publish a post I’ve been working on for a while. This post will discuss in detail how you can tweak the current (arguably unhealthy) south Indian diet to make it similar to the traditional south Indian diet but with lesser calories and more nutrients. Following that post, if there is enough interest, I will write a couple more posts that talk about using the new south Indian diet to help you with fat loss and other specific goals.

2. I have way too many things on my plate right now and am working on something huge which I’m super excited about. As a result I don’t have any time for online consultations and have ended up multiple emails requesting online consultation that I am yet to answer. If you are one of those who emailed me, do wait and I will get back to you eventually. If you want to consult with me, I’ll tell you now that the wait time is pretty long. You can send me an email now if you wish and I’ll put you on the list for later. If not, just hang tight and I’ll let you guys know when my schedule opens up.

3. One of my clients/readers just told me today that she hasn’t eaten pizza in over 2 years. In order to end this madness, I will be working with her closely to solve some health issues so we can somehow stuff some pizza into her mouth. Thassraight! I’m a terrible trainer and the worst health advocate ever!

5. Another one of my clients with fat loss goals started off with me on a low carb diet and felt like dog crap. In changing her diet to high carb low fat low protein, she is losing fat and happy and not swearing at me anymore! I have no idea why I’m writing this on this post, but happy clients = happy me.

6. I have two more weeks left in the bay area and I plan on eating anything that is awesome and special to the bay. If you know of any such places that I need to hit up before I leave the country, let me know ASAP!

7. After these two weeks, I will not have access to a gym or barbells or any special equipment for about 4 months. During this time I will be working out using purely bodyweight based exercises. If you are interested you can join me. I will be posting my daily workouts (and food consumption) either on my twitter feed or on my FB group. Follow me if you want to get healthy, strong, fast and lean!

Thats all for now folks. Make it a point to do something awesome this weekend ‘cos

You live only once… awesome you better be!

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Take a break…

You know how you crave the weekend when you’ve had a hard week at work? This is because you need a break. A break from mental stress that is associated with work. A break from the weekday routine of waking at a certain hour and sleeping at a certain hour. A break from looking at the same faces at work. A break from being ‘responsible’ for something. A break from swallowing lunch in 10 mins. A break from traffic. A break from fatigue!

You know what else needs a break?

Your ass!

Seriously… I’m not joking here. Irrespective of what you’ve been doing all week, one thing has been constant – Your ass has been glued on to something!

  • You wake up from laying on your bed.
  • You sit down to eat breakfast.
  • You drive to work sitting down.
  • You reach work and sit down on your chair at your desk.
  • You have meetings to sit in.
  • Around noon, you walk/drive to the place where you eat and sit down to eat.
  • Back to sitting at your desk.
  • You drive back home sitting down.
  • You sit on the couch and watch TV or talk or whatever else you do.
  • Cook dinner real quick and sit down to chow.
  • Hang out with the family in the living room where you again sit on a couch or something.
  • Get to bed and lay your ass on your bed for 7-9 straight hours.
  • Wake up… and it continues!

See what I mean? Give your ass a damn break this weekend!

How?

  • Take a relaxing long hike.
  • Play with your kids or pets.
  • Meet friends for a game of ultimate (or volley ball or tennis…)
  • Go to a club and dance till you drop.
  • Do mobility work.
  • Go for a yoga class.
  • Work on your balance.
  • Find a friend you want to catch up with and have a walking-chat.
  • If you don’t have friends or kids or pets… just stand and watch TV maybe?

I can go on and on, but you get the idea…

The thing is – its a damn weekend folks!! Be excited! Take a break from the usual nonsense… do something different!

Get off the chair/couch/bed/car seat and use those legs! Your spine will thank you. Me? I’ll be doing everything on that list… except the dancing of course.

TGIF!

The Saturated Fat Scam – Part 1

Today we’re going to talk about this dude. This dude who everyone hates. They call him names, they’ve kicked him out of most places and they’ve even forcefully removed him from most things. But I have to confess – I hated him too. I thought he meant nothing but harm and I tried staying as far away from him as I possibly could!

Then I remembered I have this rule about hating or loving anyone.

You hate/love someone only if you know the person too well or too little.

So I stuck this dude into this rule and realized that I didn’t know jack about him! All I knew about him was what people told me about him and obviously I judged him based on what I heard. So I decided to get to know him completely and then make a decision on whether to hate him, love him and just remain indifferent towards him.

Say hello to Saturated Fat

So who is this guy?

Saturated fat is fat that consists of triglycerides containing only saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds between the individual carbonatoms of the fatty acid chain. That is, the chain of carbon atoms is fully “saturated” with hydrogen atoms. There are many kinds of naturally occurring saturated fatty acids, which mainly differ in number of carbon atoms, from 3 carbons (propionic acid) to 36 (hexatriacontanoic acid).

At first glance, he sounds pretty benign to me. So I read more and every single article I read on mainstream media said…

  • Saturated fat consumption causes atherosclerosis.
  • Artery clogging saturated fats.
  • Saturated fat is a precursor for cholesterol and hence increases lipid cholesterol.
  • Saturated fat needs to be replaced with healthy whole grains.
  • Saturated fat needs to be replaced with heart healthy vegetable oils.
Ummm… fair enough. Assuming all the studies done were legit, this is a no brainer. This guy is evil indeed! So dump the saturated fat and live long and healthy! Boom! Thankfully we have the government and health departments to look up to and the benevolent selfless people that they are, they have figured all this out and have come up with dietary recommendations that will save us from the dreaded heart disease! They recommend that we…
  • get most of our calories from whole grains,
  • use heart healthy vegetable oils instead of the deadly and gross saturated fat filled butter and coconut oil,
  • eat 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day,
  • avoid full fat dairy and enjoy low fat or, even better, non fat dairy
While I breathed out in relief, I realized that all foods recommended are foods that can only be produced in a factory setting. Vegetable oils can be produced only by extensive processing and dairy, in it’s natural form, contains saturated fat which needs to be artificially removed to produce skim milk. So, if suddenly all these factories were shut down, we will be left with the most unhealthy foods ever! So the government is telling me that I need to eat what these companies provide me with, else I’m going to have a heart attack. Wow! Thank God for Monsanto!

But… there is always a but…

But when I removed my I’m-an-idiot glasses and started applying some common sense, something didn’t quite fit right. Let me explain.

  • Saturated fat is found abundantly in real foods like meat, dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, cream, butter, ghee), coconuts and macadamia nuts.
  • Our paleolithic ancestors and all traditional cultures (who exhibited excellent health by the way) thrived on meat, dairy and coconuts (based on location).
  • My own vegetarian south Indian ancestors consumed copious amounts of whole milk and ghee and lived long healthy lives, even though their activity levels weren’t abnormally high and healthcare was non-existant.
So putting two and two together…

  • Saturated fats are found pretty much only in real foods and the so-called heart healthy vegetable oils, that the government recommends, is not to be found in any natural sources and can only be produced by artificial processes.
  • Humans who lived before industrialization lived super healthy lives eating naturally occurring (saturated) fats.
  • Our great grand parents who chowed down saturated fat in pretty much every single meal lived longer than our grand parents did and were much healthier than our parents are now.
  • In the last 100 years, the consumption of saturated fat has reduced drastically and the consumption of vegetable oils increased by 400%, but the incidence of heart diseases has increased multifold.

Unless I’m retarded, it seems pretty obvious that people who ate real food that is rich in saturated fat lived healthy lives and people who adhered to the government’s recommendations and substituted carbs and/or vegetable oils for saturated fats are living disease ridden sad lives filled with diabetes, obesity, arthritis, celiac, hypertension etc etc etc!

Hmmmm…!

What do you think? Saturated fat… good? bad? ugly? OK in small amounts? OK in large amounts? Share your comments and in the next post I’ll talk about saturated fats in detail – what they really are, what functions they have in the human body, can they be safely consumed, how much is too much… and more!Peace out!

How To Look Awesome Naked: A Step-By-Step Guide

I can talk forever about health and digestion and gut health and herbs and what not but what most people care about is looking good naked. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with that. A good looking body is more often than not a healthy body (as long as you don’t go to the extremes of course). So if your fitness goal is to look awesome, look no further ‘cos here is your step-by-step guide.

Requirements:

  • You need to know how to perform the exercises or be willing to spend a week or two learning the exercises.
  • You need to know what carbs, proteins and fats are. You need to know what foods contain what macronutrients.
  • You need to be willing to make some sacrifices (Eg. dropping carbs, giving up getting smashed etc.).
  • You need to have some basic strength to start. I’m talking in the 20 push-ups + 5 strict pull-ups range.
  • You need to be willing to put in some hard work. This is not a ‘morbidly obese to less obese’ program… this is program that will make you look ‘awesome’… and looking awesome requires work!

Step 1: Self-Assessment

Stop fooling yourself that you’re in good shape and get a reality check done on yourself!

  • Get a photo of yourself with as little clothing as you’re comfortable with.
  • Weigh yourself first thing in the morning before eating/drinking anything and after clearing your bowels. Be sure to weigh yourself with as little clothing as possible or remember to wear the same clothes during every weigh-in session. (Body fat measurements are grossly inaccurate and will only confuse you if anything. Unless you have the luxury of measuring your body fat using one of the proven methods, I wouldn’t even bother to track it).
  • Determine your problem area i.e. the part where you pack on fat easily but have the hardest time losing it. Using a tape measure and measure the girth of that area. Note this number down.

Step 2: Goal Setting

Starting a program without a goal is like getting on a bus not knowing where you’re going. If you don’t have a goal, stop reading right now and set a goal or just stop reading.

  • Set a fat loss goal. This could be number of lbs/kg you want to lose or the way you want to look (say, visible abs) or even a performance goal (say, 20 unbroken strict chin-ups)
  • Commit to working towards your goal for a reasonable amount of time. Understand that transforming your body takes time and be ready to give yourself that time. Most people see stunning results with 10-12 weeks of  lifting and eating right. If this is too long a time commitment for you, then you’re clearly in the wrong place.
  • Put your fat loss goal and time commitment together in one sentence and see if it sounds reasonable. For example, ‘I want to lose 12 lbs in 12 weeks’ is a perfectly reasonable goal while ‘I want to go from 25% BF to 5% BF in 6 weeks’ is just dumb.

Step 3: The Program

While there are many programs that can help you reach your goals, in an effort to keep things simple and ensure more people benefit from this, I’ll share one of my dumbbell+bodyweight only programs.

Equipment Needed:

  • Dumbbells (up to weights that challenge you and then some more)
  • Pull-up bar

Week 1:

  • Monday: Do the chosen exercise per the rep scheme resting 1-2 min between sets or superset the exercises and rest 2-3 min between supersets.

Exercise Option 1

Exercise Option 2

Set x Rep

Dumbbell Squats

Dumbbell Step-Ups

3 x 4-6*

Dumbbell Bench Presses

(Weighted) Dips

2 x 6-8

Dumbbell Rows

(Weighted) Inverted Rows

2 x 6-8

Close Grip Chin-ups

Neutral Grip Pull-ups

1 x max**

Diamond Push-ups

Bench Dips

2 x max

  • Tuesday: Do a short conditioning workout. Sprint 100 m, do 10 push-ups, rest 1 min. Repeat 8 times. Or do one of these workouts and go home crying.
  • Wednesday: Rest. Eat less. Stay active during the day. Walk as much as you can. Play with your dog/kids. Nothing too serious. No 5k running or any other nonsense. Chill out.
  • Thursday: Do the chosen exercises per the rep scheme resting 1-2 min between sets or superset the exercises and rest 2-3 min between supersets.

Option 1

Option 2

Set x Rep

Dumbbell Deadlifts

Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlift

3 x 4-6

Dumbbell Overhead Presses

Handstand Push-ups/Pike Presses

2 x 6-8

Dumbbell Cleans

One Arm Dumbbell Snatch

5 x 3-4

Hammer Curls

1 x 10-12

Tricep Extensions

2 x 10-12

  • Friday: Do some walking and mobility work. Eat less. Rest much. Chill out.
  • Saturday: Do an activity you love. Go for a hike or play a game of Ultimate or do power yoga or run a 5k. Have fun.
  • Sunday: Rest all day. Eat less. Laze around the house or go watch a movie. Don’t obsess about exercise or diet. Chill out.

Week 2:

  • Increase the load (or reps till you get to the upper end of the rep range prescribed) for workouts on Monday & Thursday.
  • For Tuesday’s workout, aim to sprint faster and reduce rest period by 5 sec. If you did a conditioning workout, aim to complete it faster or do more reps (per the nature of the workout).
  • On Saturday, choose a different activity. Have fun with it.

Weeks 3 and above:

  • Continue to progress on each exercise until you stall (takes at least 6-8 weeks). Then change up the exercise or rep ranges to break the plateau.

And just so we’re clear…

  • Each exercise is hyperlinked to instructions so click on an exercise to learn how it is done
  • Don’t pick up tiny ass weights and go through the motions. Choose weights that are challenging. Realize that intensity is everything.
  • Don’t obsess over food or exercise. More is not better with respect to exercise. Less is not better with respect to food. Better is better.
  • Most importantly – Don’t mess with the program. Do exactly as mentioned and you will be happy you did.

* 4-6 reps means you’ll choose a weight you can lift (with good form) at least 4 times but not more the 6 times.

** max means maximum repetitions without compromising form.

Step 4: The Diet

This is the option I recommend since this is by far the easiest way to diet. It doesn’t matter if you eat 2 meals or 8 meals a day. It’s all fair game as long as you get enough protein and calories.

Step 5: Monitoring Progress

People don’t take this seriously, but this step is probably more important than every other step. You absolutely need to know if you are progressing in the right direction in order to know if your program is succeeding or failing. If you’re not tracking progress and just doing the motions you’re just wasting your time.

Monitoring Diet:

  • Make a note of everything you consume (at least food item and quantity). Most people eat the same foods over and over again (though they think their diet is very varied). This will help you modify your diet if and when weight loss or performance improvement stalls.

Monitoring Workouts:

  • Make a table like the one above. After every workout make a note of how much weight you moved and how many reps you did. I also write notes on the side like ‘focus on hip drive’ or ‘repeat same weight till all reps are done with good form’ or ‘sleep deprived’ etc etc. More information is never a bad thing.
  • Check every week to ensure that you are doing exactly what is called for – nothing less and definitely nothing more.

Monitoring Results:

  • Weigh yourself every week before you eat your cheat meal (using guidelines mentioned above).
  • Measure the girth of your problem area every week when you weigh-in.
  • Make a table and log these numbers every week diligently.

Step 6: Looking Awesome

  • Show off and you better mail me a cheque!

Like I always say, fat loss is simple… not easy but simple. Do exactly the way this is laid out and results are inevitable.

And if you thought this post was awesome enough… share it with the fine folks on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or whatever else you’re a part of.

 

Option 1

Option 2

Set x Rep

Dumbbell Squats

Dumbbell Lunges

3 x 4-6

Dumbbell Bench Press

Weighted Dips

2 x 6-8

Dumbbell Rows

Weighted Inverted Rows

2 x 6-8

Chin-ups

1 x max

Diamond Push-ups

1 x max

Twitter

I realize there are many awesome articles/blog posts/headlines that I’d love to share with you folks, but a blog post is not the best way to do it. So, very hesitantly, I am being pushed to become active on Twitter.

So follow me on twitter to stay up to date on awesomeness from the health, fitness and nutrition arena – Raj on Twitter.

That said, I promise NOT to tweet about…

  • the long line at the grocery store or
  • the cute kitten on youtube or
  • some celebrity BS or
  • anything that is not worth your and my time.

Peace out.

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