I have moved the Abundant Health blog to the blog page on my personal website at:

http://scottshetler.com/strength-and-health-blog.html

I want to keep the focus on this site for my training Center, Extreme Performance Training Systems, and use my personal site to build the Abundant Health program as it is identified with my personal brand.

I will keep the Abundant Health pages up here on the EPTS site - including the password protected instructional video pages - but all new content will be published on my scottshetler.com site just to keep it separated from the EPTS training center information.

Thanks, and I hope you continue to enjoy the Abundant Health blog at its new location.

-Scott
 
 
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Look at the way a newborn baby breathes. Watch as it lays there, on it's back, as its belly rises with each inhalation, and falls with each exhalation.

Now watch the way a typical adult breathes. Seriously, next time you're at the office watch a co-worker on a call with a client, or in a staff meeting. Watch the chest rise and fall with each short breath.

What's the difference? A baby doesn't have a care in the world. All it needs is nourishment and love from it's mother. The typical adult has many cares, many forms of stress, and usually a less than optimal way to deal with life's stress.

If you know me, or have read my book, Abundant Health: Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Spirit, you know that what I propose for optimal health involves a program that develops the mind, body, and spirit. The best way to accomplish this is through a holistic program. I recommend eating a healthy diet (preferably a high-raw plant-based nutrition plan) and coupling qigong and other energy cultivation exercises like Taijiquan or yoga, with vigorous exercises such as strength or cardiovascular training, and meditation.

This might be a tall order for many people and too drastic of a lifestyle change initially. To simplify things I created the "Mind, Body, Spirit Power Hour", a way to fit optimal mind, body, and spirit development into a simple to follow, sixty-minute program. You can read more about it in my book or in the following blog post: True Health - Integrating the Mind, Body, and Spirit. 

I realize that even committing an hour a day can be too much initially for some people, so that leaves the question; what can you do that will begin to have an immediate impact on your health, that requires little to no time or effort? Simple. Breathe. Breathe deeply, calmly, and relaxed. Breathe from the belly, just like a baby.

Short, shallow breathing from the chest is not healthy. Long, deep, relaxed breathing from the belly is very healthy.

According to WebMD, "Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax." (Click here to read more from WebMD.)

Breathing is something we shouldn't have to think about, we are born knowing how to do it. Unfortunately, as we grow older and enter into our professional lives, we encounter more and more stress and sacrifice our health for our livelihood. In doing so, we forget what our body instinctively knows.

How to breathe correctly
  • Calm down
  • Breathe in deeply through your nostrils
  • As you breathe in, draw the breathe deep into your lower abdomen about 1-2" below your navel (referred to as the lower dan tien)
  • To assist in breathing into the abdomen, visualize a balloon filling with air in your lower belly as you inhale
  • Gently exhale through your mouth, allowing the "balloon" in your belly to deflate
  • Do not force the exhale, let it happen naturally
  • At no point hold your breath, let it flow in and out, continuously without effort

Breathing is that simple, but you will be surprised at first how difficult it is to adopt this practice. Be consistent, work on making this process second nature, your stress-levels, and more importantly your health, will thank you for it!

Be Well,

Scott

 
 
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I recently subscribed to what I consider one of the most informative sites I've come across. The message that Kevin Gianni is putting out through his Renegade Health website is very much inline with what I propose through Abundant Health. 

I cannot recommend enough that you go to Kevin's Renegade Health website RIGHT NOW and sign up for his newsletter. As a bonus you will be able to download a free copy of his excellent e-book "High Raw: A Simple Solution" - I just read it yesterday and can't believe the amount of information he is giving away just for joining his newsletter list.

This is an email I received today from being on Kevin's newsletter list, I am copying it verbatim as this is some fantastic information. In fact, it was my coming across the work of Dr. Gerson that led me down the path I currently follow in regards to my lifestyle and nutrition changes. In no way am I taking credit for this as this is 100% Kevin's work - I just feel that the information is too good NOT to share, and please-if you find value in this (and you SHOULD)-go to Kevin's website and sign up for his newsletter, NOW!

###

From Kevin Gianni's Renegade Health Newsletter:

A few years ago, I was doing an interview with an almost 90-year old lady who was the daughter of one of America's foremost alternative cancer doctors.
 
As she was telling me one story after the other, I was literally fascinated like I had never been in my life before. 
 
I have talked to all kinds of health experts — New York Times bestselling authors, you name it — but this time, she had me on the edge of my seat like no other health expert had before.
 
In one interview, she told me how her father had discovered that all fats stimulate tumor growthin cancer patients.
 
The mostly vegetarian diet (with eggs and cottage cheese) that seemed to work for healing other diseases didn't work for cancer... because of the fat.
 
Just adding any type of fat stimulated those tumors to grow. 
 
Every type of fat was tried, until one was found that didn't have this negative effect. 
 
It was flax seed oil. 
 
And that's one of the reasons why flax seed oil is so important in many alternative health protocols. 
 
First, we need essential fatty acids. 
 
But second, we don't want those tumors to grow back. 
 
In cancer patients at this particular institute, this unusual fact that all fats stimulate tumor growth -- except flax seed oil -- was one that most people will unfortunately never know. 
 
Who was this mysterious lady? 
 
It was Charlotte Gerson, daughter of Dr. Max Gerson, who pioneered the natural treatment of many degenerative diseases, at his world-famous Gerson Institute. 
 
When Dr. Gerson passed away, her daughter took the torch and continued to teach the Gerson Therapy all over the world. 
 
Dr. Max Gerson started in the 1920s after finding a natural cure for the migraine headaches he was suffering from. He taught his treatment to people who also had headaches, to make sure it wasn't just a fluke that only worked on himself. 
 
But the treatment worked so well that his therapy spread like wildfire. 
 
When patients started to come to him and ask what he would recommend to treat cancer, Dr. Gerson told the patients "I never had any cancer patients take this protocol." 
 
But when they did… they healed. 
 
And those stories of incredible recoveries kept piling up and forming an impressive resume, which gave a lot of fame to the Gerson Institute. 
 
So I knew that one day I had to see it for myself. 
 
I visited the Gerson Institute a few times, and met with Charlotte Gerson in person.
 
One day, as I was taking a tour of the office, I noticed a row of dusty boxes sitting in the shipping department. 
 
Wondering what those were, I asked "What are those?" 
 
I was told… "Oh, those are just some old tapes." 
 
I eventually got permission from Charlotte Gerson to borrow those 14 cassette tapes and started listening to them (which was not so easy because I didn't own any device to play cassette tapes anymore!). 
 
But after listening to just the first minutes of the tapes, I knew that I had stumbled across a goldmine of natural health information, which would have been forgotten. 
 
The tapes feature the timeless wisdom and advice of Dr. Max Gerson and the work done at his institute. 
 
I found them to be the most valuable collection of health advice anywhere! 
 
For example, here are just a few things you will discover in the Gerson Tapes:


* When the body becomes toxic and how to prevent this from happening.



* What a person can do daily to prevent cancer.



* How Charlotte Gerson manages to eat healthy while traveling.



* Effective protocols for helping the body heal from diabetes, metabolic conditions and other degenerative diseases.
 
In collaboration with the Gerson Institute, I have of course turned the Gerson Tapes into convenient MP3 downloads that you can listen to on your computer, iPhone, smartphone, etc. 
 
Normally the program costs $97. But you can get it this week only (ending Friday) at almost 70% discount during our Gerson Tapes Firesale.
 
Here's how it works. Go to this page to get a 50% discount:
 
http://www.renegadehealth.com/gersontapes/special/
 
Then when you order, make sure to the following coupon code to get an firesale discount, bringing your total discount to almost 70%:
 
GERSON0716
 
Because this is a firesale, the exact discount given by the coupon will be higher for the first people who order. 
 
Enjoy… and live awesome!
 
Kev 

 
 
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If you've read my book, Abundant Health, you understand that the underlying concept is that for the attainment of true health we must integrate the mind, body, and spirit. A health & fitness program that neglects one is incomplete.

I've got no problem with lifting weights to build muscle, or training to improve your 1/2 marathon time; I just think that time should be spent on the other aspects of the self if the goal of true health is to ever be obtained. This is a concept I touched on in a previous blog post titled "What is Abundant Health?".

When the mind, body, and spirit are developed together true health is experienced which can ultimately lead to self realization. Often when the goal is narrow, for instance exercising for superficial reasons such as appearance, there is a deeper issue that needs to be dealt with-possibly some type of physical insecurity-and even when all the fat has been stripped away from the mid-section the person still is not content. This is why it is imperative to focus on the attainment of true health.

Integrating the Mind, Body, and Spirit

In Abundant Health, I propose a very simple program that requires only one hour a day to perform. I refer to this program as the "Mind, Body, and Spirit Power Hour". Twenty minute segments are allotted to various exercises put together to bring balance to health and self-development. 

The first twenty minutes are a series of Qigong exercises that allow for the cultivation and circulation of energy (or Qi); the second twenty minutes are set for more vigorous physical activity to strengthen the physical systems of the body; and the last twenty minutes are dedicated to stretching or yoga and meditation.

I honestly believe that the Mind, Body, and Spirit Power Hour will change the way people approach self-development, health, and fitness.

Mind and Spirit

Most people usually have the physical development in the bag, the mind and spirit are often neglected. My favorite activities for mind and spirit development are meditation, Qigong, and the internal martial art of Taijiquan. These exercises promote energy cultivation, energy flow, relaxation, calming the mind and body, and most importantly encourage the concept of being present and in the moment.

These are the things that I enjoy, however there are other activities that can be applied here, yoga, prayer, spending time in nature, the possibilities are endless! 

Body

Most people are fine when it comes to physical development, and most anything will fit the bill. Weight lifting, running and other forms of cardiovascular exercise, core exercise, pilates, yoga, you name it-if it challenges the body and you enjoy it, go for it!

Integration

Once you have your favorite activities and exercises in place, all that is left is to do them! The important thing to remember is do not let one area dominate. Do not expect that five minutes of Qigong or yoga a day will balance out two hours of intensive strength training. The key is to find out how to balance these in your life to bring about the great possible results.

If you need help, I offer a few different options in my book, Abundant Health. If you do not have a copy you can get one here: click here for Abundant Health also, please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section of this blog.

Until next time, be well!

Scott

 
 
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Lisa and I were driving from Atlanta to State College, PA yesterday for the Arts Festival at Penn State and to visit her family in Pittsburgh.

Along the drive I saw something that was a quick reminder about why I chose over two years ago to stop eating meat, switching to a plant-based diet and a much more compassionate lifestyle.

On the highway ahead of us was a huge truck with some "farms" logo on the side. It had about 6-8 levels and small slits along the side so you could see in. It was a horrible site. It was full of tiny baby pigs packed on top of each other. 

Some of their noses were sticking out of the openings, some of their legs were hanging out. There was no room for them to move, and they were literally piled on top of each other. It was one of the most saddening, disturbing things I've ever seen. You see the videos and pictures online, and in documentaries, but to see it up close and personal was horrible and something I will not easily forget.

This was a painful reminder of why I chose to adopt a more compassionate lifestyle and a plant-based diet.

I try so hard not to sound like I'm standing on a soapbox, as I ate meat for many years. Once I realized what was involved with what was ending up on my dinner plate, I had enough, the idea that we have to have meat to survive is just that, an idea. There are plenty of people, from regular health-conscious people all the way up to highly competitive athletes that not only survive, but thrive, on a plant-based diet. In addition there is plenty of evidence backing up the health benefits of this way of eating.

Like I said, I try not to get too preachy about this stuff, as I was a meat eater for a long time. But sometimes when I hear the arguments of why we "need" meat, I shake my head, as I used to be the one making those arguments. Plus I can't see how people can say they are animal lovers yet still eat meat. I see no difference between the life of a pig or cow and my dog Kizar. I guess some people are brainwashed that some animals are food and others aren't. These same people get disgusted by other cultures who eat animals we consider domestic pets. I find it all disgusting personally.

Sure people like to talk about how even vegans who eat a plant-based diet disrupt the eco-system due to farming practices, and some animals end up losing their lives in the process, but are you going to honestly tell me that a family of moles that is forced to relocate due to farming land is the same thing as slaughtering pigs and cows? Sure, there is an indirect effect on the environment, and it is very hard to get through daily life without coming into contact with some type of animal product related commodity. But the heart of a conscious change to a cruelty-free lifestyle is doing the best you can to cause the least amount of harm. I even had someone one day trying to tell me there was no difference in the life of a plant and the life of an animal. Somehow picking an apple off of an apple tree was just as humane as killing an animal to him.

I try to tell myself that right now, everyone is just doing the best they can at the level of consciousness they have attained. But when I see things like I saw yesterday, and realize the horror that goes on in the modern farming industry-and please save me the argument about "sustainable, organically farmed meat", any animal that has a pre-determined expiration date is NOT humanely treated-it makes me very sad.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated. I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man. I feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants. I do not regard flesh-food as necessary for us at any stage and under any clime in which it is possible for human beings ordinarily to live. I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species." -Mahatma Gandhi

 
 
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The whole idea for my latest book, “Abundant Health: Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Spirit”, came about because I feel that there is a serious separation of health and fitness in the fitness industry now-a-days.

Around the turn of the century, those involved in “fitness”, took part in what is referred to as “physical culture”. You see, back then, they felt it important to develop not only the body, but the mind as well. The focus was on total human development, not just the physique and strength.

Back then there were no strongmen, powerlifters, weightlifters, bodybuilders, or what have you. Iron weights of all types, barbells, dumbbells, clubs, and kettlebells or ring-weights, were lifted for the development of strength. In addition mobility exercises, exercises performed with very light weights, body-weight exercises, stretching, and other forms of personal care were practiced for restoration and health.

For instance, George “the Russian Lion” Hackenschmidt states in his book “The Way to Live in Health and Physical Fitness”, “I have already pointed out that increase of strength means betterment of health and increase of comfort, so that every man must profit by such increase of strength, even if he does not intend to acquire it for professional or other pecuniary purposes.”

Foods were eaten in their natural state, and from what I’ve read the focus was on fresh, raw, and whole food consumption.

Hackenschmidt goes on to say, “I believe I am right in asserting that our Creator has provided food and nutriment for every being for its own advantage. Man is born without frying pan or stewpot. The purest natural food for human beings would, therefore, be fresh, uncooked food and nuts.”

In addition to sound nutrition and physical practices, Hackenschmidt thought is was of the utmost importance to develop the mind. The following is another passage from his book, “The Way to Live in Health and Physical Fitness”:

“One ought to avoid all unnecessary worry and exciting thoughts, and to cultivate a firm tranquility of mind. I have formed the conviction that all unnecessary sorrows and cares act in all circumstances harmfully upon one’s constitution. Melancholy reflections will in no way influence Fate, whereas one may weaken the constitution by the waste in energy while indulging in them. The best is to do one’s duty conscientiously, and to leave the rest to Him who guides our destiny.”

To me this is the basis of Abundant Health, developing a strong mind, body, and spirit. The founding fathers of the physical culture movement had it right. Half a world away, the monks of the Shaolin Temple practiced a similar lifestyle, they devoted equal time to the development of the mind, body, and spirit. Throughout time and history there are many examples of people and groups who have practiced this, unfortunately though, it seems like we are getting further and further away from this idea.

Today people are more disconnected and disengaged than ever. Due to technology, we have more access to health and fitness information, yet the waistlines are expanding and obesity rates are on the rise. Not to mention horrible diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are more commonplace now than ever before.

So what gives? I asked my Taiji teacher this question. His reply was that people are not developing themselves internally. Fitness is very superficial, it’s all about 6-pack abs, bulging biceps, and a massive bench press. Why do we believe the fallacy that it is impossible to be healthy, strong, and possess a lean and muscular physique? Why must we choose to be a “strength specialist” or a “physique specialist” or an “energy-work specialist”? I see no reason why meditation, qigong, yoga, and weightlifting, have to be mutually exclusive.

If we truly want abundant health, we must first strengthen our minds and commit to it’s attainment. Then we must begin our “body work” on the inside. We must learn to cultivate and conserve our energy, we must learn to de-stress, relax and allow our energy to circulate freely. Once we have cleaned up the inside, the outside will take care of itself and we will radiate health, strength, and mental / physical / spiritual well-being.

I propose what I believe to be a very effective plan for the attainment of abundant health in my latest book. It seems that many have the proper physical training habits in place, but are neglecting the mental development, energy work, and proper nutrition. If this was not the case, people would be living longer, healthier, and more vibrant lives free of the diseases and ailments that we’ve come to accept in the later stages of life.

I hope you consider adopting a lifestyle dedicated to the attainment of abundant health, just as the founding fathers of the physical culture movement did.

I guess sometimes we have to look back in time in order to move ahead into the future!

-Scott

By the way, if you haven't ordered a copy of my book, "Abundant Health: Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Spirit" yet, you can save 25% now through July 5. Just enter the following discount code at checkout when you follow the link below:

FIREWORKS

Click here to order now!
http://lulu.com/sshetler

 
 
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I saw an article come across my Facebook feed today titled, "Men Over 40 Should Think Twice Before Running Triathlons".

Here is a link to the article, I strongly recommend checking this out:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-20/men-over-40-should-think-twice-before-running-triathlons.html 

With the growing popularity of endurance sports, particularly triathlons and marathons, I think it's important to consider what we need to do in order to be healthy, and what is too much in regards to training and competition.

Now, before you start calling me a hypocrite because I train some fairly extreme athletes, let me get one thing straight. There is a difference between training for health and training for competition. 

Training for health is to train the mind, body, and spirit (just as I discuss in my book "Abundant Health: Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Spirit" click here to check it out if you haven't yet) to bring balance to your life and promote longevity.

Training for competition is to be the best in your sport, to win, PERIOD.

There is a big difference to the training approach of an athlete and a general health client. As a professional it is my job to administer the correct training methods for each. I am not anti-training hard for competitors; I feel that you are here to allow your life experiences to unfold as you see fit. If you want to push the limits of the physical body and achieve greatness in sport, even if it means a shortened lifespan or living out the remainder of your life dealing with some sort of pain, that is your choice and the deal you make with yourself. 

I have certainly put my body through its share of physical strain in the past.

I feel the problem, as this article discusses, is the fact that so many middle-later age adults (men for the scope of this article) are participating in extreme physical challenges. Now-why are they doing this? 

It could be that as they are rounding the corner into the later stages of life they want to challenge themselves, maybe to make up for what they feel they might have missed in their younger days perhaps.

It could very well be that they have participated in physically demanding sports their whole lives and want to remain competitive, age be damned!

However, I think there is a significant portion of the population that gets involved in these events as a means of developing health and fitness. If this is the case they are going about it very wrong, and as the article states, this could potentially be a fatal decision for people.

Look, if you want to be competitive and push your body to the limit, that is your decision. Just be sure to train smart (periodize your training correctly and do not go "balls to the wall" all the time), be sure to give your body the necessary rest it needs to recover from grueling training sessions (when you are young you bounce back from almost anything, this changes as you roll into your 30's, 40's and so on), and be sure to eat a healthy diet providing the body with the necessary proteins, carbohydrates, essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

Most importantly, be honest with yourself - do you really want to excel in a competitive sport and push your body to it's limits? Or, are you simply wanting to become healthy and improve your quality of life. Neither option is wrong, as long as you are totally honest with yourself. When you can honestly answer that question then you can begin implementing the appropriate training strategies.

I think it is important to note, regardless of which path you choose, I think it is imperative to devote a significant portion of your time to developing mind, and spirit, "fitness"; in addition to physical development. For a highly competitive trainee devoting a portion of your time to the cultivation of energy (through exercise like Qigong) and other spiritual practices like meditation and yoga, will definitely go a long way in balancing out the extreme nature of the physical training that you must endure to excel at your chosen sport.

This makes the programming in my book, "Abundant Health: Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Spirit" appropriate for all levels of training.

Until next time, stay healthy!

-Scott

 
 
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Shaolin Monks displaying the concept of being present!
One of the concepts I used to struggle with concerning meditation was "am I doing it properly"? Meaning, am I sitting correctly, perfect posture, is my mind completely blank, sitting, waiting, oops-there goes a thought-ok, blank mind, GO!, no wait, that was a thought! WAIT! That was another thought! NOOOO! I'll never get this!!! Enter what my Shifu likes to refer to as "the Monkey Mind".

It can be a tough thing to grasp-but wait! There's that word-grasp. If we grasp, are we searching? And if we are searching are we being still, empty, and free? Why is this stuff so hard! Then it hit me - it doesn't have to be.

Meditation is as simple as just being. Being present. That's all. I mean think about it (wait! Don't think!!! Take no thought!) if all there is, is the present-the now-we should really be in meditation all the time, right?

That's it! How many of us truly live in the now-right here-in the present? Do you? Ask yourself this question-how many times today did you dwell on past events or worry about future events? How many times were you daydreaming about your weekend plans, or your trip next month? What about when you took that water break this afternoon, were you completely present and aware as you took that sip of water? I believe this is a perfect illustration of all the opportunities we have every day to be present, and all the opportunities we miss.

I think we pass meditation off as sitting in the Lotus position with a completely blank mind, zoned out. While seated meditation (or zazen as it is referred to) is extremely important, and should become a daily practice, that is not the only time meditation should occur. 

You see, meditation is not a "zoning out". Meditation is the supreme state of awareness, with a mind like glass, or better yet-perfectly still water offering nothing but reflection, peace, and stillness. It is in this stillness, with a completely quiet mind, that the "now" the "present" may be totally realized.

If meditation is a supreme state of awareness, where we are totally present and totally in the moment, why can't we meditate each and every day of our lives? Forgetting the past, not living in the future, just being now-we've already established that now is all there is, correct? 

I address this idea in my book "Abundant Health: Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Spirit" that there is only now, there only was now, and there will only ever be now. Think about it, the past is what? A series of now moments that have already occurred kept alive by your memory. The future is nothing but a series of now moments that have yet to happen-and when they do happen it will be now.

If we agree that from an experiential standpoint there can only be now, doesn't it make sense why people become addicted to things like adventure sports? Consider the rock climber hanging off the face of a share cliff by his or her fingertips-I promise you (as I have been in that very position myself) the only thing you are focused on is the right now! That test next week, or the stack of papers on your desk waiting for you Monday morning is not occupying any space in your mind at that point in time.

I'm happy to tell you that you don't have to be an adrenaline junkie to experience the now-do this, take a deep breath into your belly, focus on your Dantien (your energy center about 1-2" below your navel), now breath into that point. Do it 10 more times, counting backward from 10 to 1, and on that final breath just be. Clear your mind and sit. Don't worry about for how long. Just stay clear and allow your mind to relax, if a thought comes into your mind, notice it and let it pass, but do not hang on to it.

This is much easier said than done! The first time you try this you may only be able to maintain this state for a minute or two-ugh but wait! We've just assigned meditation to the world of time and space taking it out of the now!

NOW-do you see what I am trying to get at here? All day, just be present, in everything you do! Don't neglect your seated meditation practice, there is no finer way to gain control of your mind, but when you aren't sitting on your cushion in the Lotus position battling your monkey mind for supremacy of your being, bring your attention fully into the present. Whether you are exercising, walking up the stairs, or having a conversation with a family member or co-worker, take the time to meditate all day, every day. 

If you do this I'm sure you will discover that you will be able to speed up, and calm down, and you will be well on your way to a happier, healthier and more enjoyable life-and after all-isn't that what we are truly here for?

Be well!

-Scott

 
 
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I was inspired to write this post after a few emails I exchanged the other day with a yoga teacher / friend of my wife Lisa's and mine.

The idea in the emails was that it was possible to build a strong, lean, muscular body without eating meat and loading up on a ton of protein supplements as the fitness industry tries to insist.

I am going to stray from that topic a bit, but it is an essential theme in this blog.

I know some people may read Abundant Health and think, "WOW. Scott's tune has changed. He used to say just lift weights and everything else will fall into place." Yes. That is close to how I used to think. It was all about lifting weights, consuming tons of protein, and repeating.

However, if you read the book, you'll notice that strength is simply one component of what I am recommending and it does not stand out in front of any other aspect of the program. Does that mean I am anti-hardcore strength training? Absolutely not. The strength recommendations I provide in the book are targeting people who don't have an extensive training background, are not training for something specifically, and need a simple, effective way to strengthen their bodies. Will the strength training recommendations in the book come close to satisfying the needs of a high level athlete? No, and I never said that they would.

The idea that I am trying to present in the book is that there are other important aspects of human development that are often neglected that can have an extremely positive impact on our health, longevity, and well-being.

If you like following your own training plan, or if you like to body-build, or power-lift, or whatever - do it! Just try to bring in the other aspects presented to create a healthier, more well-rounded training plan. Remember the concept I reiterate in the book - health is not something we have to go through on the way to fitness.

What if you are a competitive athlete? That's easy - your sport performance trumps everything else. Your main goal is being the best you can at whatever competitive discipline you engage in. Regardless, I would still make time to do the energy work, meditation, etc. as this can only have a positive impact on your performance.

I even have a very high level powerlifter, who after his last competition (where he did exceptionally well by breaking records in all three of his lifts plus his total) changed his nutrition and approach to health. After only a couple of months he experienced a 20% reduction in his total cholesterol and a 10% drop in his LDL! All of his other lab results checked in right where they needed to be and he was astounded and quite pleased. 

The biggest change he made was to eat a predominately plant-based diet, basically juicing for breakfast, eating a vegetarian or vegan lunch, then eating a healthy dinner that might contain animal-based foods. I feel it is important to note that while he leaned up by dropping about 7 lbs of fat, his strength and muscle mass are still in-tact and he has reported a huge increase in his energy and a much higher quality of sleep. He indicated that he definitely plans to continue with this approach and have been quite vocal about the benefits he's experienced.

Now, what if we go a step further. Is it possible to build strength and muscle on a totally vegan or YIKES - a RAW vegan diet?  I'd say absolutely!

Check out www.veganbodybuilding.com for fantastic information on vegan bodybuilders and watch this short YouTube video clip of raw vegan bodybuilder Danny Dalton. Danny is a HUGE inspiration to me and the main reason I began learning about the benefits of raw vegan nutrition. Basically his approach to nutrition is to eat a 1/3 of his daily food from greens, 1/3 from other fruits and vegetables, and 1/3 nuts and seeds. He doesn't use supplements, no pills or powders, and he only spends about $6 a day on food - kind of blows that "it costs a lot of money to eat healthy" theory away, doesn't it?

In Abundant Health,

Scott
 
 
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Some of the biggest questions I've been receiving about the book concern blending and juicing. For some looking to add these appliances I realize cost may be a concern since a good blender and juicer can be quite expensive.

If you were to only purchase one appliance I would opt for a good blender - either a Vitamix or Blend Tec.

The reason is, it is possible to juice with a blender. You basically make a smoothie (I use a little more water though) and filter it through a nut-milk bag. A good nut milk bag is only around $4-$5 dollars and easy to use. It strains the bulk from the smoothie leaving you with the vegetable and fruit juice.

Keep in mind, most of the time people juice is during a detox or juice fast and since this isn't year round, it is more practical to have the blender as the blender provides whole-food nutrition since you utilize the entire vegetable and fruit.

Other questions have come up about what to blend.

Like I stated in the book, a general rule of thumb is 1/2 greens and 1/2 fruit with about 2 cups of a water or nut milk base.

There really is no right or wrong here. Just go half greens (kale, spinach, dandelion, collard, chard are my staples, although I recommend branching out and experimenting with other bitter greens for more balanced nutrition) and half fruits you enjoy, or try others you haven't had previously.

There are some great resources out there as well, if you search "green smoothie recipes" you will find a bunch of great free resources on the web in addition to many books that have been published containing very specific recipes for smoothies and juices.

I don't get too specific with it myself, I just grab whatever is in my fridge and have at it!

Some mixtures will taste unbelievably good, and others won't! Just remember, you are drinking this for health first and foremost!

If you have any specific questions don't hesitate to contact me at: scott@extreme-fitness.org and I will continue to answer many of these questions via the blog as well.

Now get in the kitchen and start blending and juicing your way to abundant health!

-Scott