Wrist Pushups and other treats

Martial Artists – Boxers, Karateka (空手家) and Bruce Lee fans knew it all the way: Pushups are the way to strengthen your hands and wrists.

When I was a kid, I had my hand broken (the metacarpal bone of my index finger), when blocking a kick to my backside. Mind you this was not in a martial arts session but simply happened during fooling around with my family.

About a month ago (and about 35 years later!), I got on a taxi with my colleagues. We were on our way to a client meeting and were in a rush. I guess somebody should have reminded me that one should not hold onto the door frame of the car when another person is going to close it.

There was a thud…then shocked faces (because the door did not close and we had all figured out why by then), I must have turned pale as I turned to look at my hand expecting the worst…but to my surprise, nothing had happened. Sure, I had pinched the skin on my fingers and there was a little blood. But these were mere scratches. My fingers were totally fine. I could move them without pain. I could clench a fist.

What happened, between getting my hand kicked as a kid and getting my fingers jammed in a car door as a 45 year old? ….Regular hand conditioning drills. 15 years ago, after a number of short stints with a variety of martial arts, I settled for Thai Boxing training. While I have never been interested in entering the ring (I treasure my straight nose, and I really don’t enjoy hurting others), I have always been into Thai Boxing/Kick Boxing training.

In another article, I will write about the structure of my Thai Boxing workouts and the many benefits of it. Today, I would like to talk about one small aspect of a Boxing workout, which is hand conditioning.

In Thai Boxing, Kick Boxing, Karate, Boxing, Tae Kwon Do and all other combat sports where you strike with your hands, as well as in Judo, Aikido and Sambo – in Martial Arts where gripping strength is important, regular conditioning training for your hands is indispensible.

In Kyokushin Karate (極真空手), a semi- contact Karate style, notorious for its bone-breaking rigorous conditioning drills and devastating low kicks, you do pushups on your knuckles all the time. In fact, the hard core Kyokushin Karate guys (and girls) have strongly calloused knuckles, which are not pretty to look at but which surely protect their hands from injury.

So, if you would like to protect your wrists and fingers from injury (in freak accidents such a jamming our hands in doors etc.), I recommend hand, finger and wrist conditioning with the following sets of exercises. The “holds” are all isometric exercises in which you simply hold the position for a certain amount of time. The progression of holds are “dynamic” exercises. I these series of exercises they are simply pushups.

Fingertip Hold

– Get in a pushup position, press your fingertips in the floor and hold for time. Start off with 10 or 15 seconds and build up to 1 minute.

Beginners should build up gradually: You can begin in a pushup position on your knees and/or your fingers on a soft surface such as a Yoga mat or a carpet. Once that gets easy, get in to the full Fingertip Hold on a hard surface.

Advanced Version:

Fingertip Pushup

You can build up to full Fingertip Pushup by starting out on your knees and/or on a soft surface. Once that is not much of a stimulation anymore, move on up to the full Fingertip Pushup on the floor. 1 set of 10 to 30 reps, 1 to 3 times a week is plenty to strengthen your fingers and wrists.

Fist Hold

– Get in a pushup position, press your fists in the floor and hold for time. Start off with 10 or 15 seconds and build up to 1 minute.

Beginners should build up gradually: You can begin in a pushup position on your knees and/or your fist on a soft surface such as a Yoga mat or a carpet. Once that gets easy, get in to the full Fist Hold on a hard surface.

Advanced Version:

Fist Pushup

Again you can build up to full Fist Pushup by starting out on your knees and/or on a soft surface. Once that is not much of a stimulation anymore, move on up to the full Fist Pushup on the floor. 1 set of 10 to 30 reps, 1 to 3 times a week is plenty to strengthen your knuckles and wrists.

Wrist Hold

– Get in a pushup position, press your wrists in the floor and hold for time. Start off with 10 or 15 seconds and build up to 1 minute.

Beginners should build up gradually: You can begin in a pushup position on your knees and/or your wrists on a soft surface such as a Yoga mat or a carpet. Once that gets easy, get in to the full Wrist Hold on a hard surface.

Advanced Version:

Wrist Pushups

You can build up to full Wrist Pushup by starting out on your knees and/or on a soft surface. Once that is not much of a stimulation anymore, move on up to the full Wrist Pushup on the floor. 1 set of 10 to 30 reps, 1 to 3 times a week is plenty to strengthen your wrists.

I usually do only 1 set of Fingertip, Fist and Wrist Pushups after my regular workout once a week. This is enough to protect myself from injuries to my hands.

Telomeres: Less Isn’t More

The following is an article, which was kindly contributed by my friend and sports nutrition mentor – Dr. Cory Holly. Cory is not only a brain on the science of sports nutrition, he is also built like a Hercules statue and one of the nicest guys around. At age 55, he just won the Natural Mr. Hawaii contest (pic below).

Cory and his super charming wife Tracy run CHI – the Cory Holly Institute – Online School of Holistic Sports Nutrition. Cory and Tracy can be found all over the beautiful spots of the world but spend quite some time on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, every year.

In this article, Dr. Cory Holly explains about what actually causes aging. Enjoy!

In simple terms telomere length is a genetic factor related to our general health. In fact telomere length is now recognized as a biomarker for predicting the timeline of our individual life expectancy. Shorter telomeres equal less life.

The word “telomere” is derived from the Greek nouns telos meaning ‘end’ and merοs meaning ‘part.’ Telomere regions function to prevent the degradation of genes near the ends of our 46 chromosomes. A chromosome is a single piece of coiled DNA and contains many genes. The entire genome has about 25,000.

A telomere is a special region of repetitive nucleotide sequences or base pairs at each end of a chromosome. Telomeres consist of genes that protect the end of our chromosomes from deterioration or fusion with neighboring chromosomes.

Here’s another way to think of telomeres. They’re a collection of ring-like “caps” that function to protect the end of a DNA strand from being frayed, unraveled or worn out. For this reason telemeres have been compared in action with the plastic tips on shoelaces. Shoelace tips prevent the shoelace string from becoming undone.

Every cell (except red blood cells) contains a nucleus with genes and chromosomes. This is where we can find our personal book of life written in digital language as a genetic code. Chromosomes are made up of DNA molecules that are millions of bases long coiled up like a slinky.

When a cell divides the genetic material inside that cell needs to be copied by a process called DNA replication. During this process enzymes that replicate a strand of DNA are unable to continue replicating all the way to the end. This causes the loss of some DNA.

At birth we have about 10,000 telomeric base pairs but as we burn in the fire of time and due to continuous cell division, our telomeric sequences slowly disappear. At 5000 bases we begin to show evidence of old age. We lose functional lean mass, forget things, need cheaters to read, experience  fatigue more frequently and don’t recover from exercise as quickly as we once did.

Losing telomeres is not cool. Unlike homeopathy, less is definitely not more. When telomeres shorten we are headed in the wrong direction. When cells divide telomeres shorten and bad things happen when telomeres get shorter.

Each time a cell divides, an average person loses 30 to 200 base pairs from the ends of that cell’s telomeres. So we’re talking about a slow gradual decline in telomere length that takes time to occur. Like a lifetime.

So what is the maximum life span of our species? 122 years. That’s how long Jeanne Louise Calment of France lived and she’s someone we know lived that long for sure. Unlike Methuselah (969) or Li Ching Yuen (256), her age was verified by experts who examined her birth records as evidence.

So if our maximum life span is well over a century potentially, why is the estimate of life expectancy in Canada for someone born in 2013 only 81.57? What happens to us? Why do so many of us die prematurely? What happened to those missing 40 years of love and joy? Do they just evaporate? No. Our cells divide, they get damaged, telomeres get shorter faster and nasty things happen.

There are plenty of other factors in life that create our diminishing return. Things like infant mortality, accidents, epidemics, plagues and wars. Fortunately for most of us born in a country with law and order, good sanitation and access to decent whole food, those factors aren’t nearly as relative compared to living in Chad for example, which ranks lowest in the world for life expectancy at 49.07.

Be thankful if you live or were born in a land of prosperity and freedom. Like a place where clean water flows abundantly and crimes like rape and murder are relatively low. Such good fortune provides us with ideal conditions that predispose us from birth to the likelihood of living longer with better health. Hence the higher life expectancy estimates.

Other factors that help prolong life include living in a warm temperate climate isolated from the mob, walking 5-10km per day, speaking your mind, eating clean natural food and taking no prescription medication.

But in spite of such privilege, many of us ruin ourselves by eating the worst diet imaginable and physically moving less in one day than a three-toed sloth or garden variety slug. An important distinction must also be made between length and quality of life. Many of us will be kept alive far too long by the last ditch rescue efforts of modern medicine. Why does the Calvary always show up after the battle has been fought?

Enter Telomerase: Another “New” Miracle Pill?

Telomerase is the body’s natural enzyme that promotes telomere repair. It’s active in stem cells, germ cells, hair follicles and most cancer cells, but its expression is low or absent in non-reproductive cells, meaning most of our 100 trillion cells.

Scientists want to know why telomerase is repressed in most cells because if they can find a way to stimulate telomerase activity in somatic cells without screwing everything else up, as they have apparently done by genetically modifying our food, it’s theoretically possible to keep our cells alive for a very long time.

Here’s what telomerase does in reproductive cells. It adds bases to the ends of the telomeres as they shorten which keeps the ends of our chromosomes stable. Ultimately the rate of telomeric addition is equal to any telomeric subtraction so the net effect is immortal cells that never die. Imagine if we could harness or control this effect.

Do you want to live forever? Ask Dorian Gray. Or better yet watch the movie. His answer will surprise you.

Cells with genes that do not express telomerase gradually lose telomeric sequences as a result of incomplete replication. As telomeres shorten, cells eventually reach their replicative or “Hayflick limit” and progress into senescence or old age. Cells can divide only about 50 to 70 times, after which due to telomere loss, they become unstable and degenerate.

But here’s a key question that remains unanswered. Is telomere shortening the cause of disease, decay and death, or is telomeric loss simply an effect of cellular damage like age spots on the skin, caused by how we live and a complex array of environmental factors such as stress, oxidation, glycation, radiation, gravity and entropy?

Shorter telomeres are recognized as a cause of poor health and accelerated aging. Telomere length to some degree does reflect how well we’re taking care of ourselves, but even if we do a superlative job of self-regulation, our telomeres will still shorten.

Telomeric DNA is reduced more quickly when oxidative stress and glycation is constant and no willful action is taken to buffer, decrease or manage that stress. Glycation is a technical term for a kind of fusion reaction that occurs between proteins and sugars, especially fructose. Consuming lots of sucrose and fructose accelerates telomere loss.

Glycation causes lots of damage and tends to increase over time with age. It’s a haphazard process that impairs the function of living cells. Smoking, excess alcohol consumption and excess body fat all shorten telomeres faster compared to controls. Nature isn’t prejudice. Once we cross a certain biological line reality demands more of our telomeres as a toll.

Fact: Telomere loss occurs less rapidly as a result of intelligent stress management, meditation, fresh air, clean water, regular physical exercise and optimum nutrition. Are we surprised?


The Cory Holly Institute is an online school of holistic sports nutrition, health and fitness. Our certification career courses teach students how to live well in the real world. Details at CoryHolly.com

Quitting Drinking – It’s Not As Hard As You Think

The following article is a contribution of my good friend, who survived alcoholism. I am certain that a lot of people, who struggle with this topic will benefit from his experience and thoughts. Here it is:

There are two types of people in this world: those who can drink in moderation and those who cannot. You know very well which group you fall into. Even an alcoholic in the deepest stages of denial knows somewhere in his or her heart that they have a problem. If you fall into this latter group, then this article is for you.

Make no mistake: I am not against alcohol. I think it’s one of the greatest inventions of humankind. Just imagine how bland our parties would have been for the last 100,000 years or so without a bit of grog to loosen things up. However, as long as there has been alcohol, there have always been a few people who cannot get a taste of the stuff without wanting to get absolutely plastered. Their reasoning goes something like this: “If one drink is good, then fourteen must be even better.”

I know very well what I’m talking about, because I’m one of these people. Or, to be precise, I used to be one of these people. It’s now been over eight years since I had a drink of alcohol and I can tell you two things: 1) my life is immeasurably better since I quit drinking, and 2) my social life hasn’t suffered one bit. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s actually better – I find myself hanging out with better people and I don’t wake in the morning with the dreadful feeling that I made a fool of myself or caused grievous offense to someone.

I’m not going to waste too much time discussing what defines an alcoholic. As far as I’m concerned, if you find alcohol to be a problem in your life, then you should quit drinking. It’s as simple as that. Of course, if you pressed me, I’d say the most accurate definition of an alcoholic is someone who, once they start drinking, cannot stop until they either run out of money, or booze, or pass out, or wind up in jail or the hospital. In my case, I can count on one hand the number of times I had just one or two drinks and then called it quits. More often, when I started drinking, it was like I was embarking on an adventure in a foreign land – I had no idea where I’d end up. The only certainties would be that I’d wake the next day with no money in my pockets and a wicked hangover.

So, the obvious question is this: How did I quit? Rather than focus on me, let’s broaden this a little and change that to: How does someone with a drinking problem quit drinking?

First, let me reassure you: It’s not as hard as you might fear. Think of it this way: Quitting drinking simply means not doing something. Climbing Mt. Everest is doing something. It requires effort. Quitting drinking means not doing something. It requires no effort. You just don’t bend your arm at the elbow when you’ve got a glass of booze in your hand. This may sound glib, but it’s the truth.

For some people, especially those who have years of deeply ingrained drinking habits, it’s probably best to seek out the local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous. You can find them on the internet and in phone books. Failing that, most doctors, psychiatrists and priests can direct you to the local chapter. In my case, I attended a few meetings, but I didn’t really go through the program (the 12 steps and getting a sponsor etc). To tell the truth, I wanted to forget all about alcohol, I didn’t want to quit drinking but spend the rest of my life talking about booze. But, AA has been shown to be very successful and if it helps, then by all means join your local chapter and work the steps. The point is, whatever works is what you should use. After all, anything is better than drinking if you’re an alcoholic.

In my case, I tried a different approach. I happened to live in a country where you could buy disulfiram (Antabuse) over the counter. This is a drug that you take in the morning (when you have your willpower intact). It has no conscious effect whatsoever. In fact, you will feel no physical or mental effects from the drug. But, if you take so much as one sip of alcohol, you will suffer the most unpleasant allergic reaction imaginable. It won’t kill you, but you might just wish you were dead.

I found that disulfiram was extremely useful for getting me over the first few weeks when I actively craved alcohol. The simple knowledge that you cannot drink without getting horribly sick is a very powerful motivator.

I should also point out that alcohol is a very powerful central nervous system depressant. If you’re like most alcoholics, you have probably been using alcohol to fall asleep at night. You’ve also probably been using it to calm your nerves. Once you quit drinking, you may well find yourself very wiry and shaky and you might find it very difficult to fall asleep. Unfortunately, there’s very little you can do about this except for suffer through a few sleepless nights (which is why it helps to start quitting at the start of a holiday so you don’t have to face work on no sleep). I can also recommend over the counter antihistamine sleep aids like Unisom etc. These are often enough to push you over the brink into sleep. Just don’t get hooked on them. After two weeks or so, your central nervous system will have reverted to normal and you’ll be able to get natural sleep.

The final step – and perhaps the hardest one of all – is changing your social life so that you’re not constantly bombarded with offers to drink. Stay out of bars for several months or even years until you are absolutely sure that you can go into a bar without feeling tempted to drink. And tell all your friends that you’re quitting drinking. Those who continue to try to push booze on you are not true friends and you should lose them. A true friend looks out for your welfare and does not drag you down. But, you might be pleasantly surprised that most friends readily accept the fact that you’ve quit drinking and will support your decision. And, one thing that I noticed is that that when I stopped drinking, many of my friends did too. It’s not like I was preaching about the evils of booze. Rather, they saw that I was still having fun without booze and they thought they’d give it a try, too.

In closing, if alcohol is causing problems in your life, you should definitely consider quitting. It’s never too late. Your life will be infinitely better for it. Just remember: Quitting drinking simply means not doing something. It’s not like exercise that takes real work. In fact, it’s anti-exercise: Just don’t bend your elbow when there’s a drink in your hand!

Recovering From Open-Heart Surgery

One of my friends is in pretty impressive condition but when you know what he has gone through, the condition he is in is nothing less than awe-inspiring. Here is the story:

About seven years ago, I was diagnosed with severe mitral valve regurgitation. This means that my mitral valve, the most important of the four valves in the heart, was not closing properly and a significant amount of blood was flowing backwards into the left atrium. This, in turn, forced the heart to work harder and was causing it to enlarge. If left untreated, this would have eventually led to congestive heart failure and an early death. So, basically, I had only one choice: open-heart surgery.

Luckily, my cardiologist had trained at the Mayo Clinic, the finest hospital in the United States, and he referred me to the best heart surgeon at that hospital. While many surgeons treat leaky mitral valves by replacing them with artificial valves, my surgeon used a technique whereby he fixed my native valve by carefully trimming the excess tissue and inserting a ring around the valve to prevent it from enlarging. By repairing rather than replacing the valve, my surgeon saved me from a lifetime of taking blood thinners (which pose a definite risk of stroke and other complications).

I was 39 at the time of my surgery and I was in excellent physical condition, so I was not particularly worried about whether or not I could bear the surgery. And I had an insurance policy that would cover the surgery, which cost a total of US$63,000. Needless to say, as an American, this was no trifling concern.

When I woke from the surgery in the step-down unit, I was literally a different person. You cannot have your sternum sawed down the middle and your heart stopped for 20 minutes without it having some deep effect on your being, even if you have no conscious recollection of it. I was up on my feet 24 hours after the surgery and I remember shuffling to the bathroom in my room and looking at myself. I had a strip of tape down the middle of my chest. And I felt like I had been run over by a Mack truck. But, I was alive.

I stayed in the hospital for four days and then I was released to a nearby hotel. I remember stepping out of the door of the hospital for the first time. It was fall and the cold Minnesota wind seemed to blow right through me. I know right then that I was much, much weaker than I had been when I walked into the hospital.

But, when I got home, I started my rehabilitation right away. I went for walks in the woods, going a little further and a little faster each time. I also did breathing exercises with a device that the hospital had given me.

Then, exactly one month to the day after my surgery, I climbed a small 350-meter mountain near my house that I used to climb every day before my surgery. I climbed at a snail’s pace and I stopped frequently for rests, but I made it. For me, that marked a major step in my recovery. From that point on, I stopped thinking of myself as an invalid and started to think of myself as a normal person.

Slowly I stepped up my workouts, adding swimming and biking to my usual hiking routine. While I feel that I have lost about 10% of my former aerobic capacity, most likely due to deformation of the left ventricle that occurred prior to my surgery, I don’t feel any major deficits. And I take no medicine and require no special precautions in any activities.

Since my surgery, I have climbed 4095-meter Mt Kinabalu in Borneo, and I have crossed a 4700-meter pass in the Himalayas with a heavy pack. I felt no unusual strain and I feel like I could probably get up to 6000 meters given enough time to acclimatize.

In closing, my advice to anyone considering mitral valve surgery is this: Find the very best surgeon you can. Go for a repair rather than a replacement. And, whatever you do, don’t think for a moment that open-heart surgery means the end of your active sporting life. After open-heart surgery you can run marathons, climb mountains and live life to the fullest.

Middle Aged – and liking it!

After 4 decades and a half, I have become “middle aged” this month – nothing that came to a surprise. In fact, I saw it coming for quite some time. Yet, to the contrary of most, I’m liking it!

I have always believed that the best years for a man start in the forties. It is when a man has reached maturity emotionally, mentally and physically. We have been there…and there. And we have done that…a lot of it. We know our way round. We have had successes. We have had failures. We have loved. We have been inexplicably happy. And we have lost. We have been incredibly sad. We have seen the light and the darkness. We have been scared of our wits. We wanted to run away, yet, we prevailed. We were knocked down to our knees…and it hurt, damn it, but we stood up again and gave it another go.

All of this has made us who we are now. And none of this would I ever like to miss. So, now, I am a middle aged man, but that does not prevent me from thoroughly enjoying myself.

You see, whatever I do has a meaning. And if it is only the meaning I give it. Whatever I do is in view of longevity, of my being full of energy, fully functional, physically, emotionally and mentally healthy and fit.

I choose my diet with this in mind. I choose my training with this in mind. I choose my mental and emotional input with this in mind. Mind you, I am not infallible, far from it. Yet, my intention is firm and right on. I am committed.

The reason for this is that I really enjoy my ride on this planet in this time. And I am intent on enjoying it as long as I can. My life is demanding, very much so. I am a single dad with a 6 year old boy, who is not quite sure yet whether he wants to become a Blue Whale or Spiderman. Besides this major assignment, I also run a fairly large sized recruiting firm, workout 4-5 times a week and have a heap of interests.

Stress is my greatest challenge. When my firm was in the start-up phase, there were many times, when I woke up in the middle of the night and started thinking about all the things I needed to do to get the operation going. This would go on until the alarm clock rang…Dealing with stress and its negative impact on our health will be another article down the road.

This article is about being middle aged and making the right choices, so that you are middle aged and liking it. So what are the things you have to do in order to stay (or get) healthy, strong and energetic (besides looking good)?

Here is the list:

1) Drink Water – lots of it!

I drink water by ½ L. I also drink lots of unsweetened Green Tea. But then I live in a hot climate.

2) Eat well every day!

Avoid extremes such as no carbs, zero fat, 600g of protein per day etc. It is all about balance. When it comes to food intake, nothing in excess is every beneficial. A good “diet” to start off with is the Zone Diet. You can build upon it or customize to your own needs.

3) Take supplements!

Modern living takes it out of us. Food quality sucks (most of the time). Stress and pollution attack us constantly. I recommend multi-vitamins, minerals, Vitamin C, Fish oil and others.

4) Workout 3-6 times a week!

This is no option. Use it or lose it. The choices for exercise are plentiful. Equipment is largely unnecessary but can be great fun.

The exercise program you need comprises

(1) low intensity, steady cardio for health (yes, yes, the current trend is HIIT and others, this fashion will pass, low steady cardio such as swimming, hiking, walking, easy jogging will prevail);

(2) medium to high intensity resistance training for your bones, connective tissue, muscles and most of all for your hormones! The resistance training can be done with weights, tubes, bands, bodyweight, kettlebells etc.

(3) stretching for warm up (dynamic stretching), for cool down (static stretching), for flexibility and pain relief.

Other exercise that improves sense of balance, coordination, speed, accuracy can be added.

By the way, if your workout regimen’s purpose is weight control, then you set yourself up for failure…

5) Have sex – lots of it!

A delicious experience of human existence – treat yourself to lots of it. Say no more 😉

6) Sleep and rest!

Very much depending on individual needs, yet, everybody knows when they are well rested, awake and alert – aim for this sensation.

7) Work and be of service to others!

Life has little meaning, if it only is all about us. We derive great satisfaction and pleasure from giving to others. Treat yourself to this feeling every day.

8) Study something – study lots!

Having been an unsuccessful student in my youth, I discovered the pleasure of learning late. However, now I would not want to miss studying and learning something new every day. Isn’t it a great thing to know that you will be smarter tomorrow than you are today?

9) Read, meditate, do deep breathing!

I call it “Soul Time”. It is connecting with your inner self, the core of your being, getting into your heart space, knowing who you really are. Books, most often of the spiritual kind, can take me there (in my heart space). Deep Breathing can calm my mind. Meditating may work, although I am a mere beginner.

10) Enjoy leisure time, unwind, rejuvenate!

Play! Enjoy! Have fun!

11) Others

There is always more. I don’t even pretend to know all there is to know…


thomas ehle, 45 y

thomas ehle

This is it! Interested readers may have many questions, now, fire away!

Staying Lean Into Your 40’s

The below article has been contributed by my friend and Thai-boxing training buddy CR.

I asked him to share his personal approach, training and dietary strategies to stay lean and strong. Enjoy the read!

Let me start by admitting that I have an easier time staying lean than most people: I’m an ectomorph and both my parents are lean. So even if I eat like a pig and don’t exercise, I don’t get fat – I just get a bit soft and round near my middle. However, I’ve recently become leaner than I’ve been since my teenage years – I’d even call myself cut – and I’m happy to report that it hasn’t been particularly difficult. Indeed, at the age of 46, I’d say I’m much leaner than most people in their teens or twenties.


The catalyst for this came when I moved to Bangkok from Japan about a year ago. Here in Bangkok, I live in an apartment with an excellent 25-meter pool and a good gym. Also, in hot climates I find that I have less of an appetite, so I naturally eat less. Now, I work out six days a week and skip lunch almost every day. This simple combination has yielded remarkable results. Indeed, when I recently returned home, old friends kept commenting that I had lost a lot of weight and asked if I was okay. More than okay, I feel great and have more energy than I’ve had in a long time.


The basics of my diet and exercise routine are simple. I start my day with a workout. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, I swim in the pool, usually about one kilometer. I’m a former competitive swimmer, so this is my natural and preferred workout. On Mondays, I usually swim two easy 500s, combining freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke. On Wednesdays, I swim about 1 kilometer of continuous individual medleys of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Needless to say, the butterfly is the killer here. On Fridays, I’ll usually swim a set of five 200s of freestyle, which is also a killer workout, both aerobically, and for the arm, chest and shoulder muscles. Despite having been a swimmer for most of my life, this set really leaves me panting, especially if I push it.


On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I do a workout in the gym. I normally do about eight minutes on the treadmill, with a few incline sprints at speed, interspersed with a slower pace. Then, I’ll switch to the stationary bike for about five minutes of pedaling, again, alternating fast bursts and slower rest periods. Then, I’ll do about 50 sit-ups on the incline board, about 50 pushups, broken into five sets, and a variety of low-weight/high-rep exercises on the machines. I avoid weight training like the plague and don’t like machines much, but I do a bit of work on the machines in hopes of building strength for swimming. But basically my time in the gym is to work on my legs, since swimming doesn’t do much for the legs.


After either swimming or working out in the gym, I jump in the sauna for 10 minutes and sweat it out. I find that this relaxes my muscles and I think it’s good to keep cycling a lot of water through the system.


On Saturday afternoons, I do a muay Thai workout in Lumpini Park with Thomas, which is a killer workout, both aerobically and anaerobically. I find that the sets of high kicks bring me to my aerobic max, and I think this has a huge effect in terms of burning fat. Also, the kicks and punches work core muscles that are missed in my other workouts.


On Sundays and a few other days of the week, I do a short five-minute routine of stretches, which is basically the same stretching routine I learned when I ran track in high school. Staying flexible is essential for preventing injury and I believe it also keeps one from becoming brittle, a condition that is very common in middle aged and elderly people.


My morning workout usually leaves me in a very good mental state. I then return to my apartment, shower, and then eat breakfast. I eat a simple breakfast of muesli with pieces of a banana on top of it. I drink orange juice cut at least 50% with water (I find that most commercially available juices are so thick and sweet that they may as well by syrup). I also have a cup of tea. After breakfast, I tend to drink several glasses of water as well, to replace fluids lost during the workout and in the sauna. In Bangkok, I find that I have to drink almost continuously just to “break even.”


I then go to work, usually at a coffee shop with wifi (I’m a freelance writer and editor). I’ll drink a café latte or two while I work. I don’t worry about the calories in the sugar or milk. But, I don’t eat lunch and I don’t find that hunger is an issue. If I do get hungry, I might eat some crackers or nuts when I get home in the afternoon. I find that if I do eat lunch, I almost always have to take a siesta and the afternoon is basically a write-off.

My wife, who is Japanese, usually cooks dinner and this means that my main starch is usually rice, which suits me just fine. I find that a rice-based diet is far superior to most Western diets, because rice does not contain fat and is prepared without the addition of fat. Also, the Japanese diet tends to contain a lot of fish and vegetables, both of which are healthy and delicious. We end the meal with some fresh fruit, of which Thailand has the world’s greatest selection. In the evening, I snack if I feel like it, usually crackers or nuts, but occasionally potato chips, which I eat without feeling any guilt whatsoever.

In closing, I’d like to emphasize how easy this routine is: I exercise six days a week and I find every workout enjoyable. The workouts set the tone for a positive and constructive day. I never feel hungry and I don’t spend much time thinking about what I eat. The two keys are simple and easy for anyone to adopt: merely get one workout in a day, skip lunch, and eat a rice-based diet. Not only will you get lean, you’ll feel better and be more productive.


Weekly Routine

Monday: Swim 2 x 500m medleys (minus butterfly)

Tuesday: Workout in gym, focusing on legs and cardio (bike and treadmill)

Wednesday: Swim 10 x 100m medleys (including butterfly)

Thursday: Workout in gym, focusing on legs and cardio (bike and treadmill)

Friday: Swim 5 x 200m freestyle

Saturday: Muay Thai workout

Sunday: Stretching

by CR

Walking to Washboard Abs

A couple of years ago I conducted yet another one of my little experiments. I set out to see how effective walking workouts are in terms of fat loss.

Now, I was already pretty lean at that time. I guess, I must have been around 12% body fat but the “ripped” or “cut” look still eluded me.

My dietary approach was pretty good but not as good as my fat loss diet course in EBU (www.easybodyupgrade.com) and O2E (www.obese2ease.com).

For many years, I have used and tried out lots of different diet & exercise approaches. I’ve never taken someone`s word for it but always made a point of trying out certain exercises and diet plans for myself. This allowed me to accumulate heaps of useful hands-on data.

So, here I was, putting early morning walking workouts on an empty stomach to the test. I walked on a daily basis. Every morning, after a cup of black coffee or tea and on an otherwise empty stomach, I went for a 45 minute walk around my neighborhood. It was pretty early, so the city was still sleeping and there was hardly any traffic in this part of town.

While I did not walk slowly for sure (I am naturally quite a fast walker…), I did not especially push the speed during these morning walking sessions either. I just walked at a steady, relatively fast pace, trying to be disturbed as little as possible by the few traffic lights that were on my route.

After only 5 of 6 workouts, the fat loss I experienced around my midsection was quite astonishing. The external oblique, which are abdominal muscles to both sides of your trunk, became pretty visible after only a week`s training.

External Obliques

As I mentioned before I was already quite lean at that time, but the direct effect of daily walking workouts on an empty stomach were astounding, nevertheless. I must have dropped 1 or 2% body fat in a week.

Walking (or even hiking) is often ridiculed by “real” athletes and sports people. Unnecessarily, in my opinion. I am a big fan of walking (and hiking) and go for longer walks whenever I can.

Below is an excerpt of the “O2E” Audio Class Step 2, which explains a little about the muscles and joints involved when walking:

“Walking is fundamental to our physical, mental and emotional well-being. To walk is a very basic movement of man. The walking movement recruits the strongest joints and the strongest and largest muscles of the human skeleton as the prime movers.

The hip joint and the surrounding muscles of the hip, the gluteus maximus, often called the glutes, which are the muscles of the backside, the hamstring muscles on the back of the upper leg, the quadriceps, the muscles on the front of the upper leg and the muscles of the lower leg all work together when taking a step and moving forward.

The secondary movers are the muscles of the back along the spine and around the shoulder joints. As the arms move rhythmically to the movement of the legs and the muscles of the shoulders and neck as well as all the small muscles along the spine receive a gentle workout.”

Walking workouts make perfect sense at every level of fitness. And, as I found out in my little experiment, walking workouts done on an empty stomach in connection with a smart dietary approach promote definite fat loss.

They can be done at almost every weather and almost everywhere. Everyone can adjust the pace to their individual needs. Everyone can start at a length they can easily handle and increase gradually as they get healthier, fitter and lighter.