Sunday, September 24, 2017

Suspension: One Factor of Mental Toughness


Suspension, we all deal with it at one time or another: interruption, postponement, delay, deferral, stay, cessation, end, halt, stoppage, dissolution, and termination, are all words used to describe suspension.

For those of you who know me well, you know I am not a person to withhold my feelings, unless there is a specific reason to do so. As life is too short to not let the people you care about know how much you care about them, let the people you love know you love them, and let those you are grateful for and appreciative of, know without a doubt of your gratitude. 

So, here I am today, writing solemnly on a subject I hope will bring peace to other souls, as I believe in sharing whatever needs to be shared if it can help someone else either now, or somewhere down the road. 

Years ago, I doctors believed one of my daughters had a brain tumor. She went in for a scan. Our family lived in what I call ‘suspension’, for several days. Suspension, not knowing what will happen, not knowing the outcome, wanting so badly to have all the answers now, but instead having to wait it out. 

You’ve been there, be it job, marriage, the life of a loved one, waiting for your next deployment, moving, so on and so forth. We all experience those moments in our life, where life itself seems to come to a complete standstill, yet somehow we are still moving through space and time. 

I experienced this when my oldest son passed on. As I sat holding him, it was as if time had stopped, all noise had ceased, and I was privileged to share in one of the most sacred experiences I’ve ever had. Saying goodbye is not an easy thing. As others lives seemed to go on after the funeral, mine still seemed to linger in a dead time zone. It took some time to learn how to deal with a loss that seemed insurmountable, yet I have come out a much stronger person for it. 

Some choose to drink. Some smoke. Some turn to drugs, sex, or pornography. I don’t believe any of these are the answer. The way I see it, we have a choice, we always have a choice in how we choose to respond to ‘suspension’, we can go on living our life in limbo, doing harmful things to preoccupy our thoughts so as not to feel hurt, pain, and discomfort, or we can stand a little taller, look that demon right in the eye and make the conscious decision to not only maintain our character and values, but to learn and grow with it in the meantime, no blaming, no complaining, just work through it. I believe it’s moments like these that are the defining moments in our lives. I call it going through the refiner’s fire. Only those who can walk through it, standing tall, dealing with the flames, taking step by step to the other end, know what it is like to come out on the other side, a changed person, a much stronger person. I believe a person can learn more by facing adversity head on in one week, than another learns by running from it, for years, or an entire lifetime.

When going through the fire, I will generally keep it to myself, until I have seriously been pushed through all mental, physical, and emotional limits I thought I had. This is when life pushes you even farther, you do not know where the umph will come from to get you through, but somehow you do it. Then I will say something like, “Currently going through the refiner’s fire”, to my teams, and they get the message, and let me know I’m not alone.

There is much talk about Mental Toughness. There are many facets to Mental Toughness. However, I believe one of the greatest shortcuts to achieving Mental Toughness is learning to recognize, investigate, plan, and deal with the moments of suspension in our lives. Some call it adversity, I choose to call it suspension, it’s a learning experience in the making, cease it. Do not fear it. You shall overcome.


First off, you need to realize you are in a moment. Don’t deny it, overlook it, or esteem it as a thing of naught, for if you do, it will only grow in size, and overwhelm you. Recognize you have an issue that’s needs to be dealt with, and you’re the one who needs to do the dealing, no one can do it for you.

Use all resources available to you, gather all the information you can, and arm yourself with as much knowledge on the subject, person, event, etc., as possible. Know what options are available to you, where they can be found, how they can be used, and who can help you obtain them if need be. Don’t be prideful, people need people, and you can always learn something from everyone you meet.

Devise a plan, better yet, make a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and so forth, as you will soon find out that no one plan has all the answers you need. You must be flexible in achieving success in your endeavors, for rigidness will set you up to fail. Ponder your plans, make change where change is necessary, understand some things need to change for a short time, others for a season, yet others may go on changing forever, this is why one must be flexible, or you set yourself up for disappointment. 

Work your plan(s), just as you would your job. Be faithful, dedicated, and don’t give up at the first sign of opposition, remain steadfast and grow from the experience. Make note of what is working in your plan, and discard what is not. Don’t waste your time fretting and/or worrying, as it is truly a waste of time, and time is just too valuable to waste. Period!

Yes, it’s hard. No one ever said it was going to be easy. How many times have you heard, the best things in life don’t come easily. Direct your thoughts and energy to overcoming, see beyond the person, event, and/or circumstance. When you feel expired of all resources, as you surely will, take a brief break, go hiking in the mountains for a day, fishing, go see a comedy, spend time with friends, sleep for 16 hours straight, do what works for you.

We all have these moments in our lives. Grow from them. It doesn’t mean you can’t cry, yell, scream, punch a bag, or let out some steam, we’re human, it just means don’t do it for weeks, months, and/or years, get it out, get it over with, and I promise you will find more than you bargained for at the finish line…..until your next ‘suspension’ moment comes. Hugs!

I want to express my thanks to my TIGHT Teams, as you are all over the world, and I appreciate your support! I hope to meet each and every one of you. If there is a subject you’d like me to hit on the blog, just e-mail me at:   


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Artificial Sweeteners: Sweet Deal or Not?

There is a a lot of controversy surrounding the area of artificial sweeteners. Some say all artificial sweeteners are bad for you, others say they can only cause harm in extremely large amounts, and yet others argue there is nothing to fear at all. I’d like to take a look at each of the leading artificial sweeteners, and go over the findings and suspicions of each.

What is aspartame? Aspartame is an artificial sweetener sold under names as Equal, and NutraSweet. It’s used mainly in beverages, and some foods. Aspartame has long been under scrutiny for causing ill effects and known to cause deaths, particularly in pregnant women, and small children. Aspartames main ingredient, phenylalanine (which is said to make up more than half of the ingredients in aspartame), is an amino acid known to feed cancer, and in toxic amounts many claim cause brain dysfunction. Common complaints are of headaches, dizziness, and feeling faint. Several individuals have reported symptoms of both Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and Fibromyalgia, after consuming large amounts of this artificial sweetener. 

Some researchers claim when the temperature of Nutra-Sweet exceeds 86 degrees F. the wood alcohol in Nutra-Sweet converts to formaldehyde, then to formic acid, which causes metabolic acidosis, which in turn appears as symptoms of MS and/or Lupus. This has been the case with the avid drinkers (those consuming three to four or more 12 oz. diet coke or pepsi per day), as the symptoms became more pronounced the greater the consumption rate, and many were misdiagnosed with MS or Lupus. These researchers say if you have symptoms of shooting pains, numbess of the legs, spasms, headaches, vertigo, dizziness, depression, or ringing in the ears, you could be suffering from an overdose of Nutra-Sweet. 

These researchers even went so far as to say Nutra-Sweet was at the core of the Desert Storm troops health issues that began showing up many months, as several thousand pallets were said to be delivered to the troops, and sat in the desert heat, well above 86 degrees F. for many weeks before being consumed.  

What is Splenda? It’s basically the same as sucralose, just a modernized version. Sucralose is sugar that’s been altered by chlorine. When chlorine is ingested in small amounts, it’s claimed to be safe, such as when it’s added to water, etc. However, in large amounts it’s considered unsafe. Splenda  is said to be as much as 600 times sweeter than table sugar, this is why so many people have flocked to Splenda, not to mention it has no calories, and does not have an effect on insulin. Researchers propose only 15% of the artificial sweetener is actually absorbed by the body. However, it’s questionable as to whether some people may be absorbing more, depending on how healthy their digestive system is. As with aspartame, people have claimed to get headaches (migraines), as well as, anything from liver issues to loss of appetite. Studies performed by the manufacturer on rodents showed shrunken thymus glands, and enlarged liver and kidneys, it did not state the amount given to the rodents. It does say it was a short-term study, as no long-term studies had been performed prior to Splenda being released for sale to the general public.

What is stevia? It’s an artificial sweetener derived from a South American plant. It, like Splenda, has no calories, and doesn’t affect insulin. No real complaints have been made about Stevia, other than a few  people who had  short term feelings of nausea.  

However, some researchers claim stevia in large amounts for a long period of time could cause reproductive issues such as, reduced sperm count, and lower birthweight babies as they did in laboratory animals (hamsters). Researchers are concerned stevia can effect both the rate of absorption of carbohydrates when consumed in large amounts, as well as transmute cells to a cancerous nature. 

What is agave? Basically, it’s refined fructose. Man-made, adulterated chemical fructose. Somehow it just doesn’t sound as natural as they make it sound, you think? Once this process has been completed and a person consumes agave, researchers claim the manmade version fructose turns into a triglyceride, and stored as body fat, hmm. Consumers are happy with agave because it tastes sweet, claims to be natural, and doesn’t spike insulin as much as table sugar. Researchers who oppose its use, claim agave still has its possible setbacks, such as: liver inflammation, insulin resistance, weight gain, and even heart disease. 

No one really knows what these substitutes do to the human body, especially long-term. In other words, if you are ingesting any of these substitutes on a daily basis, especially if you have come to rely on them to get your water down, or worse yet replace your water needs, or find you add them to everything and anything to get your sweet tooth taken care of, YOU are the guinea pig, lab rat, whatever you want to call it. You see, the only way researchers and the FDA (not that either of these groups really care), will obtain the effects of long-term use is by the people who are consuming them, and that’s only if these people confess their use when they go to see the doctor for whatever ails them. PLEASE, don’t think because the FDA has approved something, it is safe, it is far from it! The FDA has monetary interests, why do you think so many fatal drugs make it to market every year? Don’t count on them to watch out for your health, only YOU can do it. 

Fact is, substitutes have been blamed for the following:
1. Cancer
2. Brain dyfunction
3. Mood swings
4. Headaches (migraines)
5. Birth defects

Whether this rings true or not for you depends on what you are consuming, how much you’re consuming, and how often. I think there are many other natural choices to choose from, to get your sweet tooth taken care of within reason, without the risk. Besides, many of my athletes are hardcore, and need a bit more calories post-workout, carbohydrates to get directly into their system. 

Here’s a list of some of your natural choices:
1. Honey (Try to purchase local honey)
2. Maple Syrup (This is pure syrup, not your Aunt Jemima’s)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Muscle Soreness: Prevention and Relief

All athletes experience it….. sore muscles. Sometimes not too sore, other times so sore you might find yourself taking the stairs one step at a time. The best antidote here is PREVENTION! Do all you can prior to working out to enhance your performance, yet keep soreness in check. 

1. Stay hydrated at all times

2. Be sure to include extra electrolytes if you’re either drinking an abundance of water daily and/or sweating a lot

3. Maintain a healthy eating plan. Be sure all your nutritional needs are being met. Invest in a meal plan from a reputable source (, that designs the plan according to you, your health needs, athletic needs, allergy needs, and so forth

4.Take 500-1,000 mg. Vitamin C both one hour pre-workout and again
immediately post-workout, depending on the intensity, duration, and your fitness level.

5. Warm-up

6. Stretch

7. Sip on carbohydrate/protein shake throughout your workout, or

8. Consume a 7-8% carbohydrate sports drink during workout, to slow the loss of glycogen.

9. Take glutamine post-workout. (See previous blog for dosage recommendations).

10. Drink PLENTY of water

11. Use a foam roller or good old-fashioned rolling pin over area of soreness

12. Active recovery: Perform light (30% normal lift weight) or simply engage in a light activity such as walking, a casual bike ride, or swim, for 30 minutes. Be sure to stretch well afterwards

13. Yoga

14. Sitz baths

15. Ice baths

16. Hot baths or showers, heating pad but use it wisely, cold generally should be applied first

17. Mixed cold/hot showers

18. Get a massage. If you're a good candidate, get a deep tissue massage, it’s not as comfortable, but works out the knots and stress

19. Use the homeopathic remedy “Arnica Montana”, post-workout

20. Rest / Ice / Compress / Elevate (RICE)

21. Rest/sleep

Something I do NOT suggest is getting into the habit of taking items such as Tylenol and/or Ibuprofen, these are for rare occasions, and recent studies have shown the damaging effects to the liver.  

If you’re still experiencing soreness past the seven day mark, it’s time to get your area of question checked out by a physician.

Personally, I find many times individuals experience soreness and/or pain of the muscles and/or joints due to:

1. Improper warm-up or no warm-up at all
2. Not stretching sufficiently
3. Training way too long for their fitness level
4. Lifting too heavy of weights, too soon
5. Improper form/technique
6. Poor posture
7. Wearing worn-out shoes
8. Not heeding warning signs of the body


You’ll have to decide that for yourself. Olympic athletes, military, and the like work through it on a regular basis. Does this mean you can, too? Not necessarily, or perhaps we’d all be Olympic athletes, lol. You must decide what works for you, what you’re comfortable with, and learn from the experience. 


Sunday, September 3, 2017

BANANAS: Why They're So Good for You!

The humble banana, this sweet delicacy of a fruit is not only good on your favorite oatmeal dish, protein smoothies, and Heaven forbid, banana splits, but packs much more than meets the eye in that slender little peel. Let’s take a closer look.

The banana contains a significant amount of fiber, potassium, Vitamin C, magnesium, and Vitamin B6. 
Typical banana:
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fiber: 3 grams (16% of RDA)
- Carbohydrates: 27 grams
- Sugars: 24 grams
- Magnesium: 43 grams
- Potassium: 460 milligrams

Keep in mind, nutritional values and components can change based on the type of banana being consumed.

1. The natural sugar in a banana can help hypoglycemics who are experiencing low blood sugar, as the natural sugar of the banana is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. It’s positive blood sugar effects can last for up to two hours. 

2. A banana is quite filling, with typically under 100 calories. If you have a glass of water 20 minutes before ingesting a medium size banana, it can hold you over until your next meal.

3. Can help symptoms of diarrhea, and similar digestive upset, particularly when combined with rice, applesauce, and toast (BRAT). This combination (BRAT) of foods has been used for a long, long, time for loose stools, with great success, be it child or adult.

4.  Sports enthusiasts and athletes both claim the potassium and magnesium in bananas help to relieve muscle cramps, and symptoms related to lactic acid.

5. Potassium levels in bananas are a support to the heart, nerves, kidneys, and bones.

6. Carbohydrates in bananas give us energy.

7. Can help reduce feelings of depression, as bananas contain tryptophan, which causes relaxation, and improves mood.

8. Can help alleviate ulcer symptoms, as bananas neutralize acids in the stomach.

The nice thing about bananas is they are so readily available. When purchasing bananas, look for evenly colored peels, no bruising, or tender spots. Bananas can be stored at room temperature, although many like to refrigerate them. Bananas can be peeled and placed into freezer bags for use in smoothies, your favorite protein shake, or a cold snack on a hot day. The greener the banana, the more starch it contains. The best time to eat a banana is when little specks begin to appear, as this is when the banana is full of enzymes, and less starch, making it easier to break down and assimilate. 

Plantain: Salmon colored pulp, a cheesy, gummy like texture, and tastes slightly acid. It’s been used as a staple in many countries as a substitute for bread and potatoes. 

Gros Michel: Is the most popular of many varieties, because it produces the largest , most compact bunch.

Claret: Sometimes referred to as the ‘red’ banana, with a gummy flesh.

Lady Finger: The smallest variety, which also has the sweetest flavor.
Apple: Yes, a banana called Apple, too funny. It ‘s slightly acidic, with a faint apple taste. 

Many claim it is. When using the peel, the benefits will always be found on the inside of the peel. If you had a mosquito bite, you’d gently rub and/or place the inside of the peel atop the bite. 

Here’s what you can do with a banana peel, place it on: 
1. Warts
2. Bug bites 
3. Bruises
4. Poison ivy
5. Dry scaly skin
6. Acne 
7. Wrinkles around the eyes. 

Bananas are actually 75% water. Don’t believe me? Take a ripe banana and mash it in a bowl using a fork, you will see this compact mass turn into a watery solution before your very eyes. 

In the tropics, bananas are often cooked and served with beans, rice, and/or tortillas. In Latin America, the banana is sliced when ripe and left in the sun until covered with a white coating, which comes from the fruits own juices.   

There you have it, the banana, a common staple in many households. Now that you know there are several varieties of bananas, and have an idea of how to use them, be creative and try something new!!!

Bon Appetite!