Category Archives: health

Is your body flourishing or in decline? Do you know? Do you care?

From all my client interactions (over too many years to mention) there’s a heap of takeaways. And I’m constantly reviewing them and using them all in a bid to further develop and refine my messaging to new clients. It’s bigger than that though, in a way I’m not only improving my communication but also redefining the entire framework of the product I offer.

We know that there’s a hierarchy to the different components of a healthy lifestyle and that doing more of one thing has a greater benefit to more of another. As an example it’s now very clear from research that building muscle is way more important than your level of aerobic fitness. It is worth noting that to build muscle there’s a requirement for aerobic work so you’re getting your cardio in anyway.

Another hierarchical fact is you can’t out-train a bad diet which is something I’ve referred to previously because training is the least important part of weight-loss. A tennis buddy of mine today told me that training was the most important part of maintaining weight and general fitness which is not correct.

What I have done to summarise and best illustrate how I look at human performance and the hierarchy of importance is create the Performance Pyramid –

In this illustration I am clearly defining what I believe to be the order of importance as to how each of the components relate to one another. There is not unsubstantial research underpinning the hierarchy of the pyramid but it’s not easy to find and I have accumulated it over many years reading books, research papers and speaking with peers in the industry.


  • Promoting healthy hormone release
  • Aiding muscle generation
  • Creating robust joints and bones
  • Sense of general wellbeing


  • Creating a state of autophagy (healthy tissue regeneration)
  • Building healthy, replicable cells
  • Helping your body function optimally

Body Maintenance

  • Sleep, the Circadian rhythm and rejuvenation
  • Massage, joint mobility and muscular elasticity
  • Breathwork and performance

The Mind Game

  • Internal language
  • Adopting a positive mindset
  • Reacting versus responding

Some would think that certain parts of the Performance Pyramid fall outside the realm of fitness but I beg to differ. Fitness is as much about the mind as it is about the body. Without mental clarity and purpose much can go wrong. Without feeding your body properly nutrients that supply your brain and maintain tissue, hormones, blood and the multitude of other bodily fluids we create will be lacking. Not enough sleep and rest will rob the body of calm. So everything is related and dependent on each other for optimal function.

I can hear many of stating emphatically that you don’t have enough time to tick all these boxes.

There are 2 responses to this. One is with a bit of commitment all can be incorporated it’s simply a case of identifying what works individually in a best way forward scenario. And two and most importantly no one can afford to not address the Performance Pyramid because not doing so will result in illness and/or injury that will put you into a downward spiral of ill-health. This I know to be guaranteed.

It is a fact that most humans raise their risk to illnesses and death with weight gain. In researching this post I found THIS article which I am using as evidence for the previous statement.

I was not surprised to see that stable obesity across adulthood and weight gain from young adulthood to middle adulthood increased risk of death but was surprised to see that from middle adulthood to older adulthood a LOSS in weight was also related to increased mortality. How could this be? Perhaps more people die because they lose weight due to illness than get better by losing weight for health reasons? Kind of scary if that’s the case.

You cannot out-train a bad diet and keeping fit means not injured so maintain your body. Think healthy thoughts and be “on the up” mentally and reap many rewards!

Ten 1-percenters, building a NEW you!

When I was a youngster and met an older person, I had no mental filter and was routinely shocked at how aging adversely effected people – their looks, mental agility and movements. I have always been pleased that I didn’t ever fall into that category. That was until about 12-13 years ago when I was playing football on the Padang in Singapore. I was early 40’s and figured I was still pretty fit, moved pretty well and (according to trusted sources….) still looked like I was in my 30’s.

I had played a few balls through “the lines” as they now describe them and was going well in this particular match. We were about 20 minutes into the game and we won a corner and their team were arranging their defenders and one of them said, “someone mark the old guy”! I looked around for the old guy and in about 1-2 seconds realised the old guy was me. I went red, seriously. Luckily the hot tropical Singapore sun had me so red anyway no one could notice! But it was a burning red, I was so embarrassed.

Damn!!! I AM THE OLD GUY! Did I let that defeat me? Did it stop me from playing a terrific game that day? Was I mortally wounded by those extremely hurtful words………

Yes. Pretty much all of the above!

Those words swirled around in my head for 20 more minutes until halftime and while I played pretty well that day, I couldn’t get that one comment out of my mind. That time was right about 1 year before I built my fitness business, UFIT. It was also right before my family lost our Dad to cancer. There were several other things going on in my life at that time, it was an interesting period – big change and a lot of challenges.

Looking back it was a catalyst for me to get moving. To really start taking shit seriously. I had been coasting through my life, a lot and it wasn’t serving me being in “coast-mode”. My Dad’s death was a massive wake up call.

I was no longer a young man and my life was slipping through my fingers.

In the 12-13 years from those events my life has changed significantly. To summarise some of the key changes I will bullet-point them –

  • I rarely drink more than 2-3 alcoholic drinks a week
  • I exercise 5-6 times a week and it’s a priority
  • I prepare 90% of my food myself
  • I became vegetarian 8 years ago, animals are too important to me for me to eat them
  • I sleep 8 hours every night
  • I do breathwork exercises 5 days a week
  • I get natural morning sun 3 times a week for 45 minutes each time
  • I give gratitude at night prior to falling asleep
  • I give compliments to people as often as I can
  • I smile and greet as many people as I can every day, especially strangers

The cliche often spoken is the small 1 percenters add up to big gains. These 10 are my 1 percenters and they add up to way more than 10%!

And it has taken me 12-13 years to implement these changes but what a rewarding journey it has been. You can initiate all the above, NOW, today!

For me personally I can assure you the reader that my vitality, my fitness including strength, cardio, agility, speed etc, my general health are all in a very high percentile for a man my age (56). Last Sunday I played 18 holes of golf at 730am, the first game in 6 months and managed 4 pars on the back 9 including pars on the last 2 holes and then played a tough hour of singles tennis in the afternoon. I woke up Monday feeling pretty awesome with absolutely zero aches and pains!

Ultimately as I have written about previously, it’s all about the hormones. As we age cortisol begins to dominate our hormonal profile (as the stresses of life accumulate), as men we produce less testosterone and women less estrogen so our sex lives deteriorate. It’s almost as if nature doesn’t want older people to reproduce, which I think is clearly the case. And older men and women that can manage it are probably robust enough to produce tough kids. But for a majority it is simply not going to happen. Men and women also see a precipitous drop off of growth hormone (GH) which is required for the formation of new tissue necessary for the healthy reproduction of bones, muscle, skin, teeth, everything!

I am constantly amazed at the lack of understanding of basic health knowledge among the general population. As a species we are constantly renewing all of our tissue, all of the time. Bone is regrowing inside to out, teeth, hair, nails, skin, all the same. We age because that reproductive process gets tainted by poor quality ingredients which I hope is no surprise to you, is totally compromised of the food you eat. Yes. You eat poor quality food at your peril and if you do not know the source of the food you are eating and 99% of you don’t, then there’s a problem.

If you are in the small group that purchases (or even better, grows) most of your food and use basic preparatory tools and techniques, well done. But you must also consider water quality, household cleaning products, sleep and rest and the other parts of the hormonal puzzle.

Otherwise physical decline is guaranteed.

Don’t be a statistic. Take control of your life by making changes to how you live it. Don’t make excuses, you’re only lying to yourself!

Are you in the “well” zone or are you “fit”?

Frequently I choose to question “conventional” wisdom. I would go as far to suggest that the very term “conventional wisdom” is an oxymoron anyway. If it’s so “accepted norm” or “a social norm” both being terms to describe conventional, can it be wisdom? Wisdom among other attributes is to use experience and insight and I am unsure of these as they relate to convention – like many areas of our lives, dogma is making inroads and dictating a lot of what we believe to be truths and I am very certain this is not good. And probably why I like to contest conventional wisdom.

In recent times the fitness industry has been lumped in with other types of what are complementary offerings such as yoga, Pilates, massage therapies, meditation, breathwork etc and generically labelled “wellness”.

I rather like the founder of CrossFit for a number of reasons. Greg Glassman in my mind is a visionary and also a smart businessman. He’s also a bunch of other things that some don’t like him for and for sure he’s a polarising figure. This doesn’t detract from what he’s accomplished in the world of fitness and I greatly respect him for that.

One of the concepts developed under his watch (he’s no longer involved in the CrossFit business) was the sickness-wellness-fitness continuum, something I have referenced a few times in my posts.

In fitness I will always argue we are not understanding that the intrinsic link between fitness and health is immutable. It is not tenuous, it’s not just likely it’s clearly immutable and if you agree with me and I am thinking most will then why is modern medicine not saying, “go get fit”? Modern medical practitioners, unless practicing fitness enthusiasts themselves will have zero training in fitness and almost zero training in nutrition. They know how to dispense drugs and otherwise to refer you on to a specialist but after that what expertise are they bringing to your health? And this is “healthcare”? I am afraid I do not agree.

Why isn’t modern medicine embracing nutrition and fitness as a service within their scope of offerings? I know that some will recommend better diets and some will suggest patients get some exercise but this is not imparting any expertise. This is simply paying lip service!

Please do not misunderstand my line here. As I have expressed in prior posts our medical practices for emergencies is amazing. The development of a variety of scanning/scoping/imaging, defibrillation, monitoring and wearable technologies has created huge advancements in safety for vulnerable people and people in vulnerable situations.

However, when it comes to proactive measures such as boosting your immune system can someone explain to me what this is (below)?

What have we become when we go to a hospital to “strengthen our immune system”?

Our immune systems are built via exposure to pathogens, trillions of which we come into contact with every single day via the air we breathe, food we eat and surfaces we touch. The old saying that children need to play in dirt in order to expose themseves to these pathogens is rooted not only in commonsense but science as well. The human microbiome is immense and contains bacteria, parasites, fungi and viruses all of which are going about their jobs 24-7. The interaction between this mass of pathogens inside us and those incoming is monitored by bacteria and other pathogens on the skin and in adenoids and tonsils. In rudimentary terms this is our immune system at work.

Now what if we were to regularly apply germ inhibitor to the skin on our hands and covered our mouths and noses with filters shutting down key features of our immune system? Disastrous for our protection.

Our immune system is built via exposure to all pathogens and of course sunlight, sleep and rest (being highly rejuvenatory), nutritious food and water of adequate mineral content and pH (note that most bottled water and ALL tap water do not meet this criteria) and the right type of exercise. It’s quite possible even meditation can provide benefit to the human immune system as is evidenced by this research.

Being well doesn’t cut the mustard and the point is “well” is only a single step away from being sick. Going to a hospital to get treatments to improve your immunity is not exposing your body to how our immunity is built naturally and nature knows best. Striving for fitness and then optimisation should be what human beings do to improve our health including our immune system.

In my diagram above I put people into 3 zones. The “no-where” zone is the most common followed closely by the “I’m well” zone. Very few people are truly in the “Fit zone” and those that are, are primarily professional athletes.

So how do we determine where people are? We measure.

A professional athlete is primarily in the fit zone and cycling between fit and optimal via a periodised approach to his or her programming, a process that utilises frequent testing. Ordinary people can also do this but most do not know how to do it.

Occasionally testing with no reference or standards and no database of previous tests will keep you in the “no-where” zone and not testing and training without any planning you are in the “I’m well” zone. These people usually get flu in the winter or once or twice a year when work or weather influences their health status.

The goal is to be far more resilient than how people are in the “I’m well” zone.

Start logging basic tests, how many push ups in 60 seconds, or squats. Find a route around your neighbourhood, run it and time it or go to a track and do it there. At a track you could do tests over 1 lap, 2, 4 or 10 depending on where you think you need to be with your fitness – are you looking for fitness for sport or looking for body composition gains? Start measuring weights you lift in the gym. Are you tracking your weight? There are many ways you can start utilising a more professional approach to your fitness.

In my opinion food journalling and noting what and when you eat and if you are intermittent fasting (IF), monitoring your fasting hours (you may be surprised at how little you are actually doing when you add them up week to week) are crucial to getting you to the Fit zone. IF is an almost non negotiable tool in getting to this zone – even if you don’t always do it at least starting it and engaging in it for a period thereby learning the lessons it teaches you about how much food you really need is mandatory.

If you really want your fitness to improve your health it’s time to take it a little more seriously. Take onboard some of my tips, remove any reliance on medical healthcare and take on a wholistic approach with measurable parts to the process. And enjoy the experience!

Injuries? (backs, ankles, shoulders, hammy’s, etc!)

Last Friday morning I woke up as I always do and did my breathwork. I love breathwork, other than understanding that practicing doing our most essential function can only improve our most essential human function, it also really peps me up for the day.

I then went about my usual routine but as I reached for a bottle of water I felt a sudden, familiar pain in my lower back. And then it got worse, getting back up to fully erect took a full minute and a half, it was excruciating. I stood there knowing exactly what was going on, an injury from 35 years ago was back haunting me!

Playing football (or soccer as we knew it then) for the Mosman Soccer Club in Sydney was a lot of fun. It was a great club with many senior and junior teams based in one of Sydney’s most affluent suburbs.

I had found myself living in this leafy suburb after my then girlfriend had been transferred to Sydney with her job. Mosman lies on a hill above Balmoral Beach and down at that beach there is a park and one afternoon I joined a bunch of guys kicking a football around there. They soon signed me up to their team, Mosman 5th grade and I was soon scoring hattricks every weekend, which is a true story 🙂 I found myself in the Mosman first grade team that following season and that team played on Alan Border Oval (yes, Alan Border is from Mosman apparently), a gem of a playing surface befitting the local surrounding landscape of trees and old-style colonial homes.

On a Saturday afternoon game while challenging a high ball I fell very awkwardly and landed on my back. Mosman SC at that time had the services of the Australian national soccer team physiotherapist and his diagnosis was a very bad strain of the quadratus lumborum (QL), a deep rooted muscle that envelopes the lower spine.

Years later the injury would flare up frequently as I didn’t have the willpower or knowledge on how to deal with this existing injury. Over time it got so bad that it was limiting my sports and curtailing fitness regime.

One health practitioner, a person that knew me and my body well suggested I stop doing deadlifts entirely and limit my squat range. This he suggested would stop future issues with the problem area. I really respected this guys opinion and took his advice, adhering to it for the subsequent 5 years. At this point I met an amazing physical therapist who did some intense work on the injury zone freeing up the scar tissue and this coupled with a much better understanding of lifting technique meant that I again began lifting heavy deads and doing full range squats. At this stage full participation in my favourite sports had also resumed.

Subsequently I have gathered even more knowledge on the QL and am actively strengthening it with an awesome exercise I found on the Knees Over Toes Guy YouTube channel.

I always push the boundaries when I train and my rehab/prehab stuff is no different and I think I pushed it too far this past Wednesday. Coupled with a rigorous session Thursday it resulted in the huge flare up Friday – it’s all I can think of. It is many years since I had this injury reoccur so I quickly accepted this as being ok considering how far I have come in managing this situation.

I had to be with a client in about 40 minutes from after it took me a minute and a half to stand upright. right after picking up that bottle of water. I didn’t have time to roll my glutes which I knew would help so I continued slowly with the usual morning routine. Getting on the scooter was tough, getting off it tougher but once at the gym I jumped on the roller and started the process of getting moving again.

By that first evening it was much better. The next morning even after 8 hours of inactivity it was better still and 28 hours post injury I was moving pretty well. I had a physio session with my regular physio and she is aware of the existing injury so treated it well.

It helped me enormously that I knew so much about the original injury. It is obviously not the only injury I have ever suffered and I have learned from them all but this one is one of the oldest.

As we age we all accumulate injuries we know of and even ones we aren’t aware of. They happen out of the blue, picking something up like I did, reactionary movements like a leashed dog all of a sudden chasing a cat straining an arm or shoulder or a quick jump on the car brakes giving a mild whiplash. Chronic poor movement or sitting (or lying/sleeping) patterns exacerbated by uneven support (soft cushions and mattresses) are commonplace in modern life. Sitting in cars/trucks/planes/taxi’s, badly designed office spaces and simply watching TV can all result in chronic injuries. I have even recently posted about how bad treadmills can be for human movement.

Proactively dealing with them is of the utmost importance. It goes back to optimal function something we all should strive for – you cannot optimise something that is faulty or broken.

Understanding that we can take measures to improve how we work, how we relax and how we rest coupled with a rudimentary understanding of how our bodies work and how they respond to many of the situations we find ourselves in plus activities we participate in will go a long way to improving fitness and health.

Curiosity has led me to this point in my professional life. I am a seriously curious person and when I apply this curiosity to my passion for fitness it uncovers a lot of very interesting things. And I love to share this stuff!

My wish for everyone is that they take it upon themselves to discover more about the most important thing they will ever own – their own, your own, body. Getting it into seriously good working shape will improve your personal performance significantly. First base is sorting out any impediments to its optimisation. Then get ready to soar!

What are you waiting for!

Using the treadmill? Injury coming!

I have built 2 gyms, am building one now and was involved in building several others. And I have never bought a single treadmill. A newspaper in Singapore headlined a story about my business as “the gym without a treadmill”. I really do not like them and have always had a strong dislike. Why?

In the old days I just couldn’t understand why someone would drive a car to a gym to run on one and then drive the car home again. I thought being outside running the streets was really fun, beating times and setting personal bests, sprinting and walking alternative power poles, sprinting hills – I loved it.

There was a reason for this running and the variations. I played at a decent level of football back in New Zealand and represented my area on many occasions. The work I did on the roads was prescribed by a variety of coaches and one in particular, Jim Henderson who’s name and face I will never forget had a profound effect on my sports fitness in general. I think he was years ahead of his time when it came to fitness. He had us doing repeat sprints at a protocol of 1 to 1 before anyone was talking about work:rest cardio. And it definitely helped because we won the New Zealand national championship with Jim coaching when I was 16 years old.

So years later seeing fitness and gyms becoming more mainstream it literally blew me away to see what fitness meant to some people and the driving to a treadmill was a big one. It’s not limited to just the treadmill of course. There’s SO MUCH hahaha! Regular readers will know what I mean.

From a physiological standpoint there’s a big issue with regular treadmill use.

There are 7 human basic movement patterns of which a curiously named movement called “gait” is one. Gait means walking, jogging, running and sprinting and from a biomechanical standpoint essentially means hip internal rotation that creates locomotion being forward movement. The key words here are hip internal rotation.

Anyone experienced piriformis syndrome? Psoas syndrome or inactivity or sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction? I am very sure a lot of the issues we face in the hip/glute complex including issues in the lumbar, hamstrings and quads are tied up with treadmill use. Why?

Well locomotion when running requires hip internal rotation. When on a treadmill there’s no locomotion, you don’t move, the tread on the mill moves and as a result peripheral muscles must do their job. These muscles such as quads, hamstrings and calves work as normal but their relationship with the hips and glutes is different because there’s no hip rotation. As a result the muscles in these locations do not work properly, if at all. There’s a serious problem at the interface of these muscle groups and the joints associated with them.

Frequent long term misuse of the human musculoskeletal system results in chronic injury. In this instance it is clearly overuse of treadmills. Ask your physio if you’re experiencing piriformis or psoas syndromes or an inactive SI joint why you are experiencing it and they usually have to guess. There’s never really a standout reason.

I am beginning to think it’s very obvious! Get off the treadmill and get outside.

Testosterone replacement therapy, anyone?

Modern medicine concerns me on a number of levels. The introduction of synthetic chemicals to the human body on the face of it should be problematic. Big pharma goes to the lengths it has to, to provide safety data but the methods it uses are highly questionable. Don’t believe me check out articles here, here and here.

Ancient medicines, such as Traditional Chinese, Korean, African, European, Iranian and Indian Ayurvedic among others, all had and some continue to have huge amounts of detail around treatments of ailments that for the large part are not only ignored, maligned and dismissed by modern medical professionals but also organisations like the American Medical Association (AMA) prosecute practitioners and their patients for using them. It’s actually unbelieveable that the AMA and other similar organisations in other countries can do this under the guise they are saving people from injury and yet willingly allow doctors to inject chemicals into newborn babies – I am a little on the fence with some of this practice, ok a LOT on the fence.

Why are modern medical professionals ignoring the advice of Hippocrates the “Father of Medicine” who uttered that famous sentence, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”? I honestly do not understand why we have gone so very wrong with medical practices. Are you aware that medical “errors” are usually in the top 2 or 3 causes of death in most developed nations? In the US it is the third leading killer at 250,000 per year – I am serious here is an article.

Don’t get me wrong I am a big supporter of our medical system as it relates to helping people in emergencies. Life saving equipment and systems that help medical people save lives are literally modern miracles. Where I draw the line is “pharmaceutical healthcare” – to me it’s an oxymoron. Health and drugs are not compatible concepts.

Health is about fitness, nutrition, rejuvenation, rest and sleep and a positive, open-minded attitude, one that cultivates good things in your life.

High levels of communication with the people that are important to you, taking time for yourself and spending time with those around you and not taking things too seriously thereby managing stress, are all basics in our lives.

And all of them contribute to high levels of health.

Pills and injections don’t make you healthy. They are temporary measures that suppress symptoms when you are sick – the body then heals itself, the human body is always regenerating itself and when aided by healthy nutritional practices and rest, these illnesses are healed.

Foundational activities in building great health therefore require attention to nutrition and herein lies a big issue. Too much processed food is consumed by too many people and much of this food is of quite frankly, appalling quality. It seems the manufacturers of these foods and that word “manufacturer” should concern most people if they’re eating a lot of this type of food, rank importance of things like colour, taste and shelf life ahead of nutritional value.

Nutritional value is all that counts with food. I’m dead serious. Of course most restaurants especially the expensive ones, cafes and of course fast food outlets place zero importance on nutritional value. Trust me, they don’t. Their important considerations are getting a high price and getting you to come back next week – nutritional value usually doesn’t even come into the equation.

If you eat out a lot and/or get food delivered a lot my message to you is beware. Hippocrates had it right when he uttered those immortal words. Too much food of highly questionable nutritional value will make you sick. A lot of food of high nutritional value will help you heal. This is a great book that highlights exactly what I am talking about.

One of the key functions digested food plays is in hormone creation. A high nutritional value diet based on whole foods with high quality water and reduced contaminants will build a highly functioning human organism. In the opposite environment issues will crop up quickly.

As men especially age, maintaining adequate testosterone production is a big issue. Women need testosterone but have more estrogen. Both men and women need both hormones but at way different levels of each. These are the sex hormones but their role extends past simply libido and includes bone health, cognitive performance and even the quality of brain tissue. We know that testosterone is key to energy and vitality and many men suffer terribly with low levels.

Doctors generally will immediately prescribe testosterone replacement therapy. More chemicals.

So why do we prosecute those that are trying to administer true healthcare in the form of food as stated by the “Father of Medicine”?

You can be your own healer, you can take control of your personal healthcare by simply paying attention to what you eat and drink. Your performance as a man or woman will increase in many areas – you won’t need a doctor asking you to inject chemicals into your body. You will sleep better, you will wake up better, you wll concentrate better, you will have more energy and drive, you will be a better father, mother, husband, wife, partner.

Trust me there’s a LOT to take away when you start improving your relationship with food!

Going backwards on weekends

A lot of people with jobs they’re not completely in love with or lives that aren’t fulfilling them enough act out over weekends when they’re able to switch off a bit. This is not abnormal behaviour and I would think it’s more frequently the case with people than infrequently the case.

I spent most of my twenties living in Sydney doing a job I kind of liked, never really loved and on weekends letting rip with alcohol a mainstay of the tear-it-up approach to Saturdays and Sundays when not having a job to go to and not having a schedule to follow.

I arrived in Jakarta as a 32 year old with a well paying job on an expat package living in a city that swamped me with its size, vibe and downright craziness.

I’m in Jakarta and I’m living large. Weekends were my opportunity to play up and I did it, big time. Most weekends went like they did back in Sydney, I slogged it through until Friday afternoon and then it was, “what’s on tonight?!” And then suddenly my alarm is going off and it’s Monday morning again and I’m lying in bed wondering where my precious weekend disappeared to?

I did that for close to 15 years. What a waste, oh it was fun but wow, I learned and learned quickly that if I was to continue down the path I was on it would lead to disaster. I woke up one Sunday morning, a raging hangover and surveyed the scene of my body in the bathroom mirror. It was not pretty. A large protruding belly being the piece-de-resistance of my past years “work” there in the Indonesian capital.

I made a decision then and there that changed my life – if it sounds like a cliche so be it but that’s exactly how it happened.

I knew that weekends were ruining me, I was binge drinking on Friday and Saturday nights interspersed with the odd Wednesday or Thursday session. I decided I would enforce a alcohol limit for every 7 days and it was 6 beers. I made that commitment to myself that morning in the mirror. One fine Sunday a few months later and a few kilo’s lighter I sat down to watch my footy team play on TV. I decided to grab a beer and began doing a mental calculation of how many I could drink being the last day of the 7 and to my astonishment it dawned on me that I had not had a drink all week – that Sunday was the beginning of a 2 year tee-total period. I got 2 weeks in, then 2 months, then a year and I decided I was fine without drinking. It did change of course and I did start drinking again and I actually love an ice-cold beer. But it can stop at 1 these days which it couldn’t back then.

I look back on the last 20 years and there are some awesome takeaways when it comes to my fitness and health, becoming a personal trainer, building a highly successful fitness business, shareholders, landlords, employees, market developments, Govt regulations etc etc. As a result of all of this and among the variety of things I do I am developing a personal trainers coaching course and am using the first iteration of it with some people that I will be employing.

In my opinion one of the key elements is understanding that we can measure fitness and we can measure sickness but that word, that description that sits in between sickness and fitness, “wellness”, we can’t measure. Medical people can help us not be sick and therefore by default we are “well” but what does this mean? The founder of CrossFit, Greg Glassman asked this question and still does. It’s not measurable and therefore a grey area whereas fitness, that can be measured and generally the fitter we are, the healthier we are, health being something we can also measure.

I work with clients very closely on a variety of their lifestyle habits, all of which are based on the 4 pillars I have previously written about here. When we discuss habits it is no surprise to me that most struggle over weekends maintaining discipline around food and alcohol. Late nights with parties and catch-ups also derail the best laid plans. There is definitely a western societal predisposition to Friday and Saturday nights being ones to play up a bit, drink a little more, eat a little more, stay up later and it has a really tough outcome come Monday morning and noses back to the grindstone.

In the business I built in Singapore, my management team had a Monday morning meeting at a fairly leisurely 9am kickoff. One member of the group missed the meeting constantly because he just couldn’t get out of bed on a Monday morning. In another business in Thailand my head coach struggled to get out of bed for a 7am class on Monday’s, every other day he was fine. The rock band Boomtown Rats sang “I don’t like Mondays” and I think this resonates with many people.

I have clients now that have their great work through a previous week completely undone by weekend habits. Does it happen to me as well? Sure it does but on Monday I know how bad the damage is because as regular readers will know I weigh myself every day. It’s a habit, I do it because I want to know if my other habits are contributing to a healthy Darren or otherwise. A weekend of some indulgence needs to be acknowledged and dealt with. Afterall increasing weight is closely linked to increasingly bad health so why wouldn’t I be checking it?

My advice to everyone reading this is weigh yourself frequently. Check out the numbers on Fridays and Mondays over say a month or 6 weeks. Is there a trend? Where is the trend heading, up or down? Examine your behaviours over the weekends. If you’re deviating significantly from “normal” and it’s contributing to weight gain, how do you better manage this behaviour? You may not want to and that is fine but there are 2 things here.

  1. don’t be surprised to find yourself increasingly frequently visiting the doctor
  2. don’t also be surprised finding your energy, concentration and moods deteriorating

I hate to sign off on a negative note but only you can fix stuff that’s broken. Acknowledgement of a problem is the first step, identifying how to solve it and then an action plan follow.

Just Do It!

Is running ruining your fitness?

An intentionally thought provoking title and actually a title that has a lot of substance. Generally most people get running for fitness gains completely wrong.

The only exception to this statement is for people that run because they compete in running races. Otherwise you’re probably actually derailing your real fitness goals by engaging in too much running. This also applies to excessive bouts of cardio in gyms on ellipticals, bikes, treadmills, rowers, ski ergs and stairmasters (yes, they still make them!)

Skinny-fat, anyone? And no this isn’t a new Starbucks type of coffee. It’s what a lot of people that engage in excessive cardio are described as and a very uncomplimentary description it is.

Even well regarded resources such as Healthline have weighed into the debate on “skinny fat” and its article here talks about the condition.

But here’s the problem and Healthline’s article manages to reveal it very accurately. Moving from a state of skinny-fat to lean and strong can be achieved “with exercise” but like most advice around this subject it doesn’t go into to any detail what exercise(s) should be done.

This is very common in my understanding of where we are at right now in the fitness industry. A large group of people working but lacking a lot of the basic education around the keys to client success. And a larger group regular people wanting to “get fit” with even less understanding of what it takes.

It’s obvious that there are many new people in the fitness industry being one of the key industries of growth in the new millennium. Prior to the year 2000 I read an article suggesting fitness would be a boom industry after the clock ticked into the 2000’s, as long as the Y2k bug didn’t destroy the planet first!

Running seems to be a natural thing for us to do as humans and it is, gait is one is the 7 basic movement patterns so walking, jogging, running and sprinting are natural movements.

The issue is that coupled with the movement pattern we also have an energy demand and a hormonal response. So there are a number of factors at play when we run. Plus there’s also the issue of the human musculoskeletal system that is surprisingly fragile when we undertake movement patterns frequently over time. Sitting is a big issue because sitting is not a natural position for us. Commercial drivers of taxi’s, trucks etc have added issues. These positions produce chronic joint issues over time.

So does running. Even though we’re moving, we’re moving in a set pattern and if that pattern is being influenced by joints and/or muscles that aren’t working efficiently then we are on a collision course with a chronic/overuse injury.

We’re also having a deleterious effect on our hormonal balance, I’ve shared these 2 pics several times in posts previously, both world champions, one is skinny and is always fighting with a compromised immune system and the other is strong, lean and healthy. And all of these symptoms and results are directly related to the way in which they each train. Yes they both run but there the similarities end.

Bolt V Kipchoge, muscular, lean and healthy V skinny, not as lean as you would expect and not real healthy

Bolt does fast intervals over short distances, lifts heavy weights and weight gain to him just means more power which means another world record or medal.

Kipchoge runs miles and miles at a continuous, steady state, likely doesn’t lift weights because he probably doesn’t have the time and weight gain is bad because it slows him down and means he’ll miss a medal.

Why do these 2 scenarios occur? One training style creates a growth hormone dominant profile and the other, a cortisol dominant one. It really is that simple.

Which picture do you want?

My advice is cut down your running and general cardio and do high intensity intervals for fitness and body composition gains, the science and real-world results prove this is the right approach!

James Bond training sessions

Imagine for a moment you are James Bond and you have to be super fit to do the amazing shit you do. Plus it’s an urgent job this time and you have like 2 weeks to shed some pounds and get stronger. Recently, unlike the old dude that had a kid that he didn’t know about and that was happy spear fishing on a Carribbean island driving a Jeep around, you have been out playing poker in the biggest casino’s in the world while chasing unimaginably beautiful women around dodgy night clubs in Hong Kong – and have the paunch above your belt to prove it. Q can provide you with what you need to get in the best shape you can in 2 weeks because Tomorrow Never Dies and you don’t want to Die Another Day. Sorry. Kind of.

Sadly whatever incredible equipment Q could have dreamed up for you does not materialise and all you have is a rack of dumbbells.

What does Q suggest?

Firstly he doesn’t have you sitting down on a recumbent bike doing dumbbell whatevers while watching tv, mainly because you can’t use a bike and certainly not one with a tv attached to it and secondly because this is just plain silly –

Q created workout – not.

Q knows that the single best thing he can do in a short period of time is tap into your hormones and let them go to work. You can see immediate weight loss and greater strength by doing this.

Q prescribes the following –


  • Dumbbell floor presses, 5-6 reps followed by dumbbell renegade rows, same reps. You want the bells to be heavy enough so that you are struggling to get that 5th/6th rep. 5 sets with at least a 2 minute rest between sets.
  • 10 minute EMOM – min 1, as many burpees as possible in 30 seconds and rest 30, min 2, push up supermans for 30 seconds, rest 30 and min 3, go back to burpees and continue for 5 rounds of each. Supermans are demonstrated here, go to 30 secs and do the variation that callenges you most!

Tuesday – run. If you are a regular runner, run 1 km at a faster pace than you would usually run and then rest. However long that takes you to run, rest the same period, so if it takes you 5 minutes 30, rest for 5 minutes 30 and then do it again and do at least 3 rounds. If you can’t run, power walk and if you cannot do this either then you risk facing the wrath of Q!


  • Dumbbell front rack lunge walks, 10 reps followed by dumbbell standing woodchops, 5 each side. Same thoughts on the dumbbell selection for these exercises as per Monday. 5 sets of both with at least a 2 minute rest between sets. If you don’t know what a wood chop looks like check out this guy, he goes a bit too fast so slow them down but otherwise, he demonstrates pretty good form.
  • EMOM 10 minute (work for 1 minute, rest for 1 minute for 5 rounds). 30 seconds of mountain climbers (as fast as possible) then straight into 30 seconds of squat jumps, rest 1 minute and keep repeating for 4 more rounds. Count your total mountain climbers and squat jumps and maintain your numbers!


  • Same as the Tuesday run


  • Dumbbell deadlift (2 arms) straight into dumbbell bentover row, down to deadlift and back to row, keep repeating for 5 of each, THIS is a pretty good video explaining the movement with a barbell (you will be using dumbbells because Q told you too, of course!) Do 5 rounds of this with a minimum 2 minutes rest and again with heavy-ish dumbbells.
  • EMOM 15 minutes (work for 30 seconds on and off for 3 exercises, 5 rounds). Minute 1 do 30 seconds of dumbbell thrusters, minute 2, 30 seconds of switchunders (go to 1.05 minute and use these side kick throughs he calls them) and minute 3, 30 seconds push up T rotations.

Do this workout, 007, for 2 weeks! BOOM! It’s For Your Eyes Only so no sharing and make sure you get the wole program done, 100%, because it’s No Time to Die.

Enjoy because even if you’re not James Bond this workout will work wonders and thrash The Living Daylights out of you.

Burning calories v. your health

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to getting on a treadmill to burn off those weekend drinks or that huge meal you ate last night. Or that chocolate bar after it.

The bad news is, it actually doesn’t really work like that but the good news is, at least you’re willing to do something about your bad habits. And yes, excessive food and alcohol intake are bad habits that left unchecked will literally be the downfall of your health.

The problem is you can’t balance out bad habits with good ones. Again, it doesn’t work like that. What we must do is work on the bad habits, this is essential for better health.

I am 56 years old, 12% bodyfat at 84kgs, can easily rep 120kgs on deadlifts, can sprint (well, not right now – see my last post on that) and play a decent game of tennis. Am I fit? Am I healthy? I eat minimally and have very little processed food in my diet, don’t eat meat, intermittent fast, get 8 hours of sleep every night and don’t drink much (alcohol, that is).

My health status is very good and I rarely even get the flu. My fitness is therefore having a direct, positive effect on my health.

You will note I said I eat minimally with very little processed food. I eat like this because I have determined that as a species we have completely lost the plot with food. Completely.

We look for foods we like to eat, which usually means they’re bad for us. We eat too much of these foods as we eat too much food, period. We eat based on what advertising and promotional materials tell us are healthy options and through history this has simply not worked. The “low” or “no fat” movement that happened in the 1990’s is a great example of a terrible piece of advice that got gobbled up (sorry) by the masses, much to their detriment. But there’s been plenty more even the good old, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and “eat 3 square meals a day”, both fallacies that create issues for us.

We’re always wanting to try the new restaurant, the new cafe, cocktail or we line up for some new fish-tasting crisps (you have to be in Asia for that one) hoping to find something new and unusual for our taste buds.

And as long as these things are treats not staples it’s all good. But quite often they’re not. As we’ve become more affluent, we’ve become lazy and prefer to eat out or have food delivered, having zero control over the origins of the food or it’s preparation and the general quality of it.

As I’ve often written, food is literally the building blocks of our human tissue regeneration. Our bodies are always regenerating and just like a building, if these blocks are of poor quality it will crumble and collapse and our bodies are exactly the same.

Feed your body haphazardly with little attention to quality and pay the price.

So eating (or drinking) badly and excessively thinking you can “burn it off” is almost infantile thinking and as I said, won’t work.

I’ve discussed the concept of the fat burn zone in previous posts and while the premise is somewhat accurate the issue is most people are eating too frequently to actually ever be able to burn fat this way. If you eat every few hours you are constantly processing food and therefore your body constantly has energy available to it. So thinking you can burn stored fat in this environment is simply not going to happen.

Your focus must be on food quality –

  • Eat nutrient dense foods such as nuts, seeds, eggs, green leafy vegetables, berries and some oils (olive, coconut being 2).
  • Buy as locally and as fresh as possible.
  • Try to limit cooking, many foods do not need cooking to eat and cooking rarely enhances the quality of any food.
  • Avoid cheap foods, it’s usually the case that cheap means low quality, sad but true and this is especially the case for bottled water.

In focussing on food quality you will not store excessive amounts of fat. And by deploying a good intermittent fasting strategy, you will use fat as a fuel for large parts of your day.

Finally, burning calories is the wrong mindset. The correct mindset is turning your body into a fat burning machine by training the right way and eliciting the hormonal response that benefits you best. I wrote about this in this post here.

This will result in you becoming leaner, stronger, fitter – I am prepared to guarantee it!