The Brain Candy Experiment – Part 2/3

I know, I know. You’re wondering if Adrian became so Limitless that he disappeared from his blogging adventures leaving you all hanging about this mysterious Brain Candy supplement that sounds all too interesting.

So have I become Limitless?

Well, sorta, but not really is the short answer. I called that sh*t in Part 1, there was bound to be a serious flaw to this product in relation to the ridiculous 300mg caffeine dosage level. You mind as well read part 1 if any of this is to make sense.

This installment, Part 2 of the Brain Candy Experiment will really be the best read if you want an honest opinion of the supplement. I’m going to first give an overall review and then break it down into all the nuances for those that want more info.

Overall Review: Yay or Nay?

If I were forced to give a simple Yay or Nay as to the product’s worth in trying (if the marketing hype on T-Nation you read has really got you interested) then quite simple: it’s a big Yay! It’s worth the purchase to experiment for yourself.

At this time (end of April 2012) the caffeine-free version has not been released to the general public for sale so I am reviewing the full caffeine version. The taste is okay, not great. The claim to reducing social anxiety I have witnessed first hand. My mental clarity hasn’t ever been this sharp; EVER. My mood (as mentioned in Part 1, I have mild bipolar disorder) has been incredibly stable and positive. My ability to handle stupidity (of my own accord and others especially) and stress are fantastic. Lastly, my overall sense of well-being (mentally; not physically, read more if you want to understand) was greatly improved the 28 days I ran this experiment on myself.

But the supplement is far from perfect. It has some major flaws. It has some very major perks as well. So before you click the good ol’ Add-To-Cart button I suggest you read on.

The Adrian Crowe Style Review:

Let’s go step by step in every detail of what the product claims as well as other notes I wish to convey. Shall we start with an easy one:

Taste

It’s the exact liquid flavoring system they use for all their products (Surge Workout Fuel, Anaconda and Mag-10) which is a VERY BORING orange flavor. Not orange creamsicle. Not orange, the fruit or fruit juice. But artificial, boring, sorta gross popsicle style orange. It’s tolerable but in my opinion very lazy on their part to not release a better, more refreshing flavor seeing how we’re supposed to slam this stuff first thing in the morning; groggy, bad breath and all. Seriously, give me a lemon/lime, grapefruit, pineapple, sour apple or something!!

From what I understand the caffeine free version is supposed to taste like citrus which I’m assuming they used the same flavoring as with Biotest’s Alpha-GPC liquid product which is fine by me as that taste is quite good (and that product is awesome BTW).

Digestion

This stuff really doesn’t sit well in the stomach. On day 1 I though I just had a mild tummy ache. By day 3 I realized it was the Brain Candy. I was able to negate that by drinking it with my breakfast but then again that also slightly limits its absorption. 3 other people I gave bottles too felt the nauseated stomach too.

Increases Confidence

That’s a big claim on Biotest’s part but they felt so strong about Brain Candy’s ability they listed it first on the bottle in regards to what the product was formulated to do.

Confidence is a tough thing to judge. Is confidence something I perceive in myself? That others perceive in me? What’s the difference between confidence and a sense of well-being or what about ego???

I think to answer the question we’d have to first define attributes in our lives that bring us confidence. For me, it’s my ability to communicate, articulate and, in general, find a way to help people solve problems and challenges in their lives especially related to their health and fitness. Guess I chose the right job.

So did Brain Candy increase my ability to articulate, communicate and help me help others even better? Yes! And big, resounding yes!!

I’ve never been so clear in mind, in my entire life, than in the past month I was supplementing with Brain Candy (quote me on that if you like). It was that which increased my confidence greatly.

Reduces Social Anxiety

I have to wonder where Biotest was going with this one? Seems an interesting tag to attach to a nootropic product. For most people social anxiety is a non-issue. For others, it can be very debilitating. It can be as simple as being a gloomy person who really feels annoyed and aggravated around others to very unique disorders like Anthropophobia (fear of people) or Agoraphobia (fear of open spaces; people who don’t leave their houses).

For me, my social anxieties have always been related to large groups of people. One-on-one I’m awesome, totally comfortable and can be myself. Two others, sure, no problem. Three, okay, if I sorta know them at least. 4 or more and it’s all downhill. I go from being the one who’s usually talkative to the dude in the corner who’s super quiet and just wants to go back to being a homebody.

I don’t drink so the idea of parties where drinking is occurring just irks me and I have zero interest in. That may simply be my social anxiety, my annoyance of people when drunk (I don’t find it funny, I find you stupid), or that I’m just an introvert by nature and I have enough of the extrovert-run world we live in within my career as is. I work with people, very closely for 8-16hrs of my day, the last thing I really want is more people in my off time.

However, I was invited to a birthday party, at a restaurant recently for a buddy of mine. I enjoy his company and really wanted to wish him a happy b-day, so me and my gal went. The problem was two-fold: there would be significant drinking and the other dozen people there I’d never met. Huge problem. Before Brain Candy that is.

I took a whole bottle about an hour before the event. Not once did I feel the uncomfortable, crawling in my skin, get me outta here feeling I normally would. I was able to relax, talk at relative ease with strangers, tolerate those drinking around me (even when they got mighty tipsy). In fact, everyone that knows “he (me) doesn’t do this sort of thing” was utterly surprised I stayed the whole night and was one of the last to leave.

Dare I say: I enjoyed myself.

Improves Mood

Aside from the major flaw of this product which I’ll talk about after this one category, I must say my mood has greatly improved. Perhaps a better way to put it is that my mood weathers the storms.

In reading about Brain Candy on the T-Nation website there was mention of a scale that really rung home for me.

You know those psycho happy people, that no matter what they’re always chipper? Even when they have a “bad day” it seems like it’s just one of our “normal” days? Let’s call those people the +5’s.

You know those doom and gloom depressive people? The ones where everything is “just fine” or “okay, I guess”; the glass always half empty sort? Energy vampires can fall into this category too. Let’s call them the -5’s.

Okay, so most people fall somewhere in the middle, right? If I had to put myself on that scale, I’d call myself a +2.

What really intrigued me was the discussion on T-Nation regarding how when a +5 person has a down day they maybe get knocked down to a +2 or at worst, a 0 (let’s call that a blah, blue day). But when a 0 to +2 person (such as myself) has a bad day, well we can slide down the scale a lot sharper and end up at a -2 or -3. And don’t get me started on those that live at a -5, because everything is always seemingly going wrong.

What if we could weather the storms of life better? Enter Brain Candy. Now, being a +2 by nature and living with mild bipolar disorder (my manic moments come around 11am-1pm and my down phase starts at 8pm and leads me right through to bed time) I am VERY unstable from day-to-day. If y’all ever wonder why I am seemingly ON one day and OFF the next; that’s why. I slid way down the scale the night before and haven’t bounced back yet. Sometimes it can take a couple of days to get myself out of a funk.

In the 28 days of using Brain Candy I had only one single down. One. Usually I have one extreme one a month (read: crazy suicidal thoughts even when I’m totally happy about my life thus far; yay team bipolar!), and 2-3 normal downs a week. I had one down. That’s friggin major!!

Energy

I know what you were thinking when you read the Brain Candy product page: sounds like an energy drink with brain stuff added in. So what are we talking about here? A Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, NOS except with gingko or other brain stuff?

One look at the ingredient label would really suggest that. So being a person that really likes caffeine in the form of energy drink (albeit I limit myself) and try to stick with Q instead, this really appealed to me. For about the same price ($3 per drink; I know they are cheaper in the States) I could get a better formulated energy drink that has some major hype behind it. Sounds good, you’re thinking. You can finally get off that 6 can a day habit. haha

I must first admit that 1) I’m caffeine sensitive 2) I’ve faced adrenal fatigue many times in the past due to too much caffeine in my day 3) I’m highly sensitive to most supplements (in all ways) and 4) I highly enjoy and usually recommend Biotest supplements as I feel they make some pretty good ones.

Brain Candy is absolute destruction to your adrenal glands/energy system. Worst crash in my life. Day 1 was horrid. By Day 15 I was near falling asleep between sets of heavy front squats. By Day 28 I am left absolutely destroyed in relation to my ability to produce and maintain basic levels of energy. I’m yawning all day. People keep asking me “what’s wrong dude?” I knew it was going to happen with the 300mg of caffeine in this product.

Yes, it got me going in the morning; great buzz. But after the half way point it was barely bringing me back to my old normal.

I can’t explain how absolutely terrible a feeling it is to have raised confidence, reduced social anxiety, to be more clear in the mind than you ever have been before and yet you’re so completely exhausted you can’t drum up the energy to go change your life.

Biotest has failed by over-caffeinating the product. 150mg would have sufficed. 300mg is overkill.

And what if you’re one of those that could drink a pot of coffee and go right to sleep? Well, I’d have to suspect that this product’s positives which I’ve outlined in the above categories would also not be felt to the degree I felt them.

Sleep, the Side Note

For those that don’t know I track my sleep via a Zeo Mobile Sleep Manager system. It allows me to check my total sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep, how many times I woke during the night and for how long, how long it took me to fall asleep, etc. So what happened?

Well, let’s look at the numbers:

My total sleep trend the past 4 months:

As you’ll see in the month prior to Brain Candy (I started Mar 28th) I was working and succeeding at increasing all factors of my sleep, most importantly the total time.

Let’s look at what the weeks looked like during the experiment:

At first I was so wound up I couldn’t sleep, but by day 8 where I made a note in my journal about being exhausted all the time you’ll see my sleep time increased. BUT then it started dying come week 4. Why?

Let’s look at Deep Sleep (you know the kind where you wake after 2 hours and go, wow, I could almost get up and go about my day; in other words the most important part of sleep, in my opinion of course):

It tanked. Big time. So badly on the daily basis I actually had to take some melatonin to boost it 1-3 nights a week, hence why I was able to get it back up sort of. Now it may not seem like much but an extra 10-15 mins of Deep Sleep is major! Most people see about 1-1.25 hours of deep sleep if they had 8 hours total sleep.

How about REM?

As to be expected, with more total sleep you will generally see an increase in REM sleep. I don’t find the extra 15-45mins of REM sleep really does too much for me in terms of feeling rested. Also of note however, that come week 4, when I reached adrenal fatigue, my sleep as a whole went to shit, despite being completely exhausted.

Why?

I worked quite hard since January to get myself to only wake 1-2 times a night. During the experiment it doubled. So I was having more interrupted sleep which we all know ruins the quality we feel when we wake.

Last thing:

Not only was I waking up more but I was awake longer. Again, not good.

Now, I fully admit, this may be simply because I’m a caffeine sensitive individual. But you are here for a review which is an opinion and I’m quite simply trying to show you more data then you’ll ever find in any other review of the product…period. You can judge for yourself from here.

Summary

If after reading the above review, understanding the major flaw of this product being over caffeinated and how that can lead to adrenal fatigue, understanding yourself and how well you handle 3 cups of coffee worth of caffeine in one shot on empty stomach and you’re still interested in all the exceptional positives I’ve laid out above, I’d say give it a whirl.

If you know you’re caffeine sensitive stay away from the original version. While the cracked-outta-my-mind feeling can be fun, the jitters and inability to focus on one thing (because Brain Candy makes it so you focus on 10 at the same time) can be rather bothersome.

Now, how does Adrian heal himself after this experiment? Well, I’m going caffeine free. No pre-workouts, no green tea (I don’t drink coffee already). I’m doing a 2 week wash out. I’m also going to have to take an adrenal support supplement, up my vitamin C and increase my salt intake slightly (all things that have helped me recover from this position in years before). I’m also heading into the first vacation I’ve had in 3 years so the lack of work stress and ability to sleep in longer if I choose will be a big help.

When Biotest finally releases the caffeine-free version of Brain Candy I’ll be the first to order, guaranteed! I want the mental clarity, the mood weathering, the confidence in my abilities all taken to that level again….but I can’t do the cracked out (300mg caffeine) version. I know where my personal caffeine limits are in a day. I would like to be able to control that.

So c’mon Biotest, get your stuff in order and release it already!

So did Adrian become Limitless?

In the mind, yes, very much so! But try being the world’s fastest runner chained to a stone wall.

I didn’t get very far.

Note: in Part 3 I will let you know how I recover from the adrenal fatigue and let you know how I weather being off of Brain Candy as well as if I then notice any other nuances versus being ON.

BTW, you can now find me on:

Instagram @adriancroweathletictraining

Facebook page at Adrian Crowe Athletic Training “The Crowe’s Nest”

YouTube www.youtube.com/acathletictraining

or email me directly at adrian@adriancrowe.com

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From Zeo to Zen – The Project – Installation 1 – Intro

Sleep

I’ve never had a great relationship with sleep.  I’ve gone through a few distinctive cycles in my life. When I was a teenager I slept ALL THE TIME. I was probably sleeping more hours than I was awake. In my early 20’s, just as I was beginning to get a handle on my ups and downs with my bipolar disorder I went through a year of having nightmares damn near every night. That led me to read a book about a supplement/brain chemical called 5-HTP as well as some experimentation with lucid dreaming (a terrible idea). In my mid-twenties when I was working my Monday-Friday 9-5 cush job I could afford to have erratic sleeping patterns and to allow my natural night owl to go wild, routinely staying up to 2am and struggling to get up at 7:30am to get ready for work. On Sundays, I would sleep just like a teenager, wasting half my day.

When I began my personal fitness trainer career my schedule all of a sudden became the accommodation of everyone else’s. Needed me to be at work for a 5:30am session, no problem! Needed me there to train at 11pm, sure, I’m a rock star; no problem! My record was 4 years ago where I trained 12 one-on-one clients in 16 hours. I’m awesome, right??

No.

I am convinced that all of us have one major “flaw” or thing we do that ruins 80% of our lives’ goals and dreams. If we could “fix” that one thing, we would quite simply improve 80% of what we don’t accomplish, what we procrastinate and we’d make better choices. Think about it…what’s that one thing for you? It could be your crappy eating. It could be your pessimism. It could be your lack of exercise. It could be your indecisiveness or fear of risk.

For me it is sleep. If I stay up too late, generally I’m tired the next day (duh). But somehow I also didn’t prep my food for the next day so my meals are not up to snuff. I didn’t get to do all the hygiene things I intended. I may miss a workout because I’m just too damn exhausted. I’m not as focused at work. My client’s notice when I’m tired. My lady and our relationship suffers as well for when I’m finally done work and it’s time for us to be together, I’m usually passing out on the couch. All while proclaiming “why are there not enough hours in a day!”

My lack of sleep management has f**ked up near everything I feel has gone the wrong way in my life. Jobs, relationships, goals, dreams…everything!

From Zeo to Zen – The Project

As the start of this year, on Facebook I saw a really weird picture (below) on the always interesting Mike T Nelson’s page. If you’re on Facebook, he’s worth the add for interesting health stuff he puts out.

This looks cool and complicated…right up my alley!

I did some Google searching and found the source of this info and it’s a product called the Zeo Sleep Manager. It really rung home for me as a way to not only commit myself to overcoming this sleep deficit (read: PROBLEM!) in my life but to also do as I love: experiment with my body and learn about it.

I always thought it would be cool to go into a sleep lab and be hooked up to a bunch of machines and have them spit out some information about what’s going down in the mousetrap of a brain I got upstairs. But part of me knew it wouldn’t really be accurate as I’m very particular about how I sleep. It’s gotta be with the right pillow, a fan on, temperature cool and my lady in my arms. Not really the type of sleep environment sleep labs offer.

What do you mean I can wear this funny looking (read: never getting laid at 3am ever again) gizmo on my forehead and when I wake it’ll tell me cool stuff about what just happened when I went to Neverland? Sign me up!

It’s been four months and for the better part of it, I’ve done next to nothing except wear the gizmo and really try to get to bed earlier after I realized how much I was sucking at sleeping in Jan/Feb (<5.5hrs/night). I had to understand what my baseline was before I go messing with it.

My not so vast, but still, improvements in total sleep the past 4 months

The Point of the Project

I’ve pretty much already alluded to my desire to learn just what happens while I’m sleeping. But also, I’m after the elusive formula. If I go to bed at X time and sleep for Y hours, attaining a minimum of Z hours worth of deep and REM sleep then I shall wake feeling rested, ready for my day and sans bag-under-thy-eyes.

I don’t know what that number is. I hear people lay claim to it all the time: “If I don’t get my 8 hours, I’m useless.” “I only need 4 good hours and I’m golden!” I call bullshit. Where’s your frame of reference? Have you tested it every way you can think of?

I’ve read some of the science on how long we “should” be sleeping as well as some sleep history that was really of interest, especially biphasic sleeping. But at the end of the day I don’t know what Adrian needs, even after 33 years. Sounds like a challenge worth tackling.

I don’t want to drag out this initial introduction to the experiment out. I will get into an official product review of the Zeo Mobile Sleep Manager which I simply hook up to my iPhone each night.

I will also be using the Zeo to check how various sleep and other supplements can/will affect my sleep. And lastly I will be sharing tips, tricks and valuable experience I learn on how to improve sleep as I hear all too often:

“I’m tired!!”

So am I, my friends. I’m tired of being tired.

And…The Winners Are…Bloob-Allz Raffle

I wish I didn’t have to give away the extra pairs of Bloob-Allz that Joe hooked me up with for this raffle. I’d find a way to use all three pairs simultaneously, somehow. They’re that awesome!!

Unfortunately all those that entered couldn’t win but my advice: get a pair for yourself (~$30); you’ll love them!!!

The winners of a sweet pair of Bloob-Allz are:

Chris Beaulieu

&

Shane

If you two lucky gents could simply shoot me an email confirming your email address I have on record as well as your mailing address to adrian@adriancrowe.com I shall get your new set of Bloob-Allz into your hands ASAP.

For more info on Bloob-Allz, the best thoracic spine self myofascial release tool on the planet, see my review here or their website http://www.bloob-allz.com/

Wow, just a small addition from the winners. From Shane’s email: “I just told my wife I won a contest.  She asked for what and I replied “Bloob-Allz” with no further explanation.  The look of confusion on her face was priceless.”

From Chris’ Facebook page, another priceless conversation between the most gullible gal I know and him:

Seriously, best name for a product ever!

My Ode to Leg Days (the trainer perspective)

Am reminded today that leg day used to always be a half-hearted attempt at greatness

That I knew being a Chestceptimus Prime was as unacceptable

As being a fat personal trainer

Or being too skinny and weak

Or being incapable of motivating oneself

I couldn’t only be smart and articulate

First and foremost I can’t be a hypocrite

It took me hiring a co-worker to torture me through a weekly leg workout

For months!

They called my squats “screamers”

For that’s what it took for me to get through it

I remember literally crawling from the leg press to the hack squat

Back and forth

For evil German Volume Training

 

I may never be joyful for leg days

But the anxiety drives me

And when the sun comes out

The first thing I think of

Is a 194 meter parking lot barbell walking lunge adventure (today that was 178 lunges)

And the unknown, if I’ll make it with the next increase on the bar

 

Where there’s fear, there’s angst

And angst with the right tools

Becomes a fear conquered!

 

Note: last year I made a stupid goal of hitting a 135lb lunge adventure of the parking lot. I was on track for it and then ended up in a car accident that stopped me in my tracks. Here was the best I hit last year (105lbs): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5STDE8gffA  I will hit 135 this summer. Along with the other mental goal of Power Wheel croc walking a football field such as this superstar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75mP4iGSwjk

Why?

Why not.

Anyone wanna join me?

Don’t Hire A Personal Trainer For Fat Loss! Part 1/2

I have news for you: you have my job description ALL WRONG!

In fact this may be closer to the truth than us trainers all admit:

I have to thank my mentor and role model in this industry, coach Nick Tumminello, for really helping me sort this out last November at a seminar which he does a great job of explaining in this latest interview on John Izzo’s blog. This understanding really helped me stop going down the path of being a jack-of-all-trades-expert-of-none.

Here’s a list of things that I, as a personal trainer, AM NOT:

1)      A chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, or any other type of manual therapist. If you are broken, go get fixed by someone who’s taken FAR more schooling than I to do that job. In fact, let’s be so clear as to say that if IT (whatever that is) has been bugging you more than 3-4 weeks: it’s time you go get it looked at by a professional. I keep a working relationship with every kind of professional for this reason.

2)      A medical doctor. That lump you have, that skin thingy or the weird reaction to your birth control pill…yea…not my expertise. I know I seem smart but really?!? Go see a doctor!

3)      Your mother. Clean your room, show up for your appointments on time and for everyone’s sake, stop whining about how hard it is. Nothing in life worth having was achieved easily.

4)      Your nutritionist, dietician, fad DIE-t expert or some food Nazi who punishes you with fifty 1 leg burpees for not sticking to your meal plan.

Here’s what my job description really should be:

1)      A fitness expert! 1st and foremost I am the guy who teaches you how to exercise. Coach Nick said it best: “The fact is, I’m just a gloried PE (physical education) teacher who loves telling people about the training concepts & techniques that I’ve found to work well for me.” If you need to get back in shape, if you need to be stronger, if you need to be able to get up a stair case without wheezing like a 2 pack a day smoker…I’m the over glorified PE teacher that can make it happen.

2)      A motivator. I love sending the random text message, email or Facebook post to a client who’s kicked some ass, met a challenge they never thought they could or reached some goal we’ve really been working on! I’m super proud of my peoples that put it in, work their butts off and realize what they are capable of. I’m just here to share it with everyone to motivate, encourage and tell you that YOU can do it too!

3)      An exercise program specialist. Look anybody can pick up a _____ magazine and follow along with the workout-of-the-month and probably see great results. So why would anyone hire a personal fitness trainer? Well, the first clue is the first word of my job title: personal. It’s my job to take the 500+ exercises I know of and write a program in a very specific and personal way that will help you reach YOUR goals. My main stream of continued education should in fact also be to learn new exercises, techniques, systems and discover new training equipment that will get the job done better than anyone else!

So if your goal is to possess a bootay like this:

Or a very impressive physique like this:

I’m the man for the job!

So where lies the conundrum?

Why should you not hire a personal trainer for fat loss?

Seems silly to proclaim this when 80% of the people who walk in my door have their first goal being body fat reduction.

It’s not that I can’t help, it simply comes back to YOU not understanding MY job description versus YOUR job description in this equation!

Let me break it down for you:

My job:

1)      Get you into the best physical performance shape (being fit) you’ve ever been. I named my business Adrian Crowe Athletic Training for a reason. My goal is to make everyone feel like an athlete and get them into awesome shape!

2)      Making you faster and stronger than you’ve ever been. In that process comes our goal to gain a significant amount of muscle mass!

3)      Correcting mild postural issues that may be causing pain, loss of energy or other health factor risks

4)      Helping you alleviate stress. I hate to say it but the venting thing comes with the territory so I’m going to have to listen and get good at helping you sort out things that may be holding you back. I have one rule: shut up when it’s time to lift. And I know it’s time for you to lift again when you start talking normal versus gasping for air mid-sentence.

Your job:

1)      Show up for your sessions. Seriously, if you can’t get yourself into the door how the hell am I supposed to get you into shape??

2)      Put your heart into the exercises I prescribe. When I ask if you think you could lift heavier, more explosive or just with better form…if you think you can, then answer yes and just do it!

3)      Communicate things that may hurt while doing exercise. You’re not a hero for “toughing it out”

4)      Communicate discomfort in any situation (such as you ladies being around a bunch of 24-year-old gym monkeys that don’t know how to act right around a lady)

5)      Communicate things you really enjoy doing and or situations, things I do/can do that will motivate you to push harder

6)      DON’T F*** UP YOUR NUTRITION

7)      Get some sleep!

8)      Lower your stress levels

I really hope the above list clearly shows who has the harder job here, where most of the responsibility for YOU accomplishing YOUR GOALS really falls and who is usually first to blame if those goals aren’t happening in the time frame you want. Not to say that I don’t sometimes get it wrong or that I may not be pushing you hard enough. But again that comes back to #5 of your job. If you truly think it’s me that’s the problem however, please, just fire me. I may not be the personal fitness trainer for you.

Let’s do some math. If I see a client 4 times a week for 90 minutes each session, then how much of this client’s entire week am I there to make a difference?

Anyone??

3.57% is the answer. I see this client 360 out of the 10,080 minutes that exist for the client this week.

And that’s 4 training sessions a week!! Most of you I see half that.

So how much do you think a personal fitness trainer is going to accomplish in just 3.57% of your week? Well, the answer is quite a bit actually. Exercise, for the general population should consist of three goals:

1)      Gain muscle. I’ve already explained why HERE.

2)      Gain body awareness. Learn skills via exercise that teach you to be able to perform more tasks, perform them better and also keep them pain-free.

3)      Improve cardio-vascular and muscular fitness. Sweat, move hard enough or fast enough to hear yourself breathing aloud for your entire workout, scream a little when it gets brutal. Hell, even drop a choice 4 letter word if it helps get you through the set.  Intensity rules all in fitness.

Exercise is nothing but a catalyst for positive change. If performed intensely enough that catalyst is HUGE!!  (hence why we should not be focusing on physio-like exercises and leaving that to the physio therapist’s job). We should be concentrating on what you can do, not so much what you can’t, for over time you will be able to do more and create an even bigger training effect/catalyst.

But let me tell you this: you are weaker, smaller and in less health when you leave a gym than when you entered. Every time. Why? Because hard exercise beats your body up! It breaks down muscle, it stresses the body out and leaves you in need of adequate and appropriate food intake, stress reduction techniques and also sleep!

So, it’s YOUR job the other 96.43% of your week to get the sleep, eat, and stress reduction in order. It’s your job to eat right to lose fat. And when you do, that’s when you’ll see the results you’re working so hard in the gym for.

You need to hear me again when I say you quite simply cannot out-train a sh*tty diet!

 

In part 2, I’ll give you some solutions to the problems I’ve now left you with. I’ll also explain how your body is way smarter than you and how it doesn’t want you to lose weight! In the meantime, get back to your fitness, getting stronger, communicating your needs and struggles and let’s make this summer the summer you’re dying to show of that hot bod of yours!

P.S. If you need some motivation and you dig hip-hop music, well check out Stic-Man (of Dead Prez)’s new album entitled The Workout. Here’s the vid link for “Back on My Regimen” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nartK6wodo or for the runners his vid “Runner’s High” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrIElFT6JhI

BTW, you can now find me on:

Instagram @adriancroweathletictraining

Facebook page at Adrian Crowe Athletic Training “The Crowe’s Nest”

YouTube www.youtube.com/acathletictraining

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And….The Winners Are…Novaform Gel Memory Foam Raffle

I want to thank everyone who took the time to read the review of the Novaform Gel Memory Foam pillow. With an additional 300 views on the blog during contest time I’m sure you’ve all considered the quality of pillow you’ve been sleeping on lately.

And if you happen not to be one of the two following winners of this raffle contest I do hope you take my advice to heart when I say that the Novaform Gel Memory Foam pillow is the best I’ve ever owned and I highly recommend you spend the <$40 to pick yourselves up one (or two for the spouse) at your local Costco.

Without further ado, names went into a hat, hat got shaken about, first two names to fall out were (and are our winners):

Suzanne Reichenbach

&

Janet Love

Congrats ladies!! Sleep Innovations will mail your pillow to you directly. I simply need your complete mailing address which I’ll have you email to me at adrian@adriancrowe.com.

Everyone, do keep in mind that I have another raffle currently under way which ends this Friday, April 20th at 11:59pm PST. You can check the details of that HERE!

AND in the next few weeks I’ll be doing a review of Sleep Innovations’ other great product which I love: their Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper, where I will also be doing a raffle where the lucky winner will get one in their preferred sized mattress sent to them. This company not only makes great products, they do AWESOME marketing promotions such as this.

Stay tuned and subscribed to the blog for that! Again congrats to Suzanne and Janet and a big thank you to everyone that entered.

Bloob-Allz: Hurts Soooo Good! Review, Usage and Raffle Contest!

I’m here today to tell you: blue balls are real! They hurt, they last a long time, they really need to be released, they work great on women and by far are the best thoracic spine self myofascial release product on the market!

Wait………..what?!?!

Bad Blue Balls!

Good Blue Balls!

Product Review:

As some of you may know, I’ll fully admit to my addiction to self myofascial release (SMR) as well as my ridiculous habit of owning far too many rollers, sticks, balls and every other type of tool out there for performing SMR. I have an ode to SMR here, a complete product market review here and in case you feel lost in what to do with all the toys, I put together about 2 hours worth of instruction videos for every usage I know. Don’t believe my crazy:

I take SMR seriously!

Okay, to the topic at hand. A couple of months ago I saw a picture floating around Facebook, similar to my picture above of me holding the Bloob-Allz product in my hand. I immediately recognized the shape and intention:

Finally a product truly designed to target this one very important self myofascial release area: lumbar & especially thoracic spine. Anyone who’s used two taped up tennis balls in this set up knows there are some major flaws:

The flaws of dual (taped up) tennis balls for SMR:

1) You need good balls, ones that are meant for “hard court” which comes at a price (for me about $3.50-$4.00 for a 3-pack. This becomes quite costly over the year.

2) When you first build a pair they work very well, but over time, especially in a clinical setting such as I’m using them (5-8+ clients a day), they flatten to a mushy substance worth next to nothing and therefore we lose all benefit of using them.

3) It’s an art form getting them packed as superbly as I’ve done above, let alone doing it every week (again cost, annoying)!

4) For us SMR connoisseurs, who truly dedicate a great deal of time into making our bodies feel better and recover faster from the torture we put it through, well many times, even when brand new, the two tennis balls just don’t cut it

5) Lastly, from a perfectionist standpoint, dual (taped up) tennis balls work superbly in the lower back, somewhat decent in the low-mid back but by the time you get up towards the mid-back (rhomboids, mid-traps) on anyone over 5’2″ or over 150lbs they really can’t get in to dig at the areas we really have the most trigger points and muscle knots!

I’ve said it time and time again: in regards to self myofascial release, while I could probably make a foam roller work on every part of my body, it doesn’t mean it’s the absolute best or even the optimal way to target that unique area of the body. You need the right tool for each job! Case in point, the TFL area (think dress pant pocket line) can be hit with a foam roller and most company’s products demonstrate how, but by fluke I figured out that the best way to hit it is not with a roller, but actually a softball or baseball. It just works better!

And that’s what Bloob-Allz does: it works better than dual (taped up) tennis balls, especially for thoracic mobility and self myofascial release of the mid-back (rhomboid, mid-trap) area where near all of us have muscle knots and trigger points.

Why It’s Better: The Pros

Take the inverse of all of the flaws of using dual (taped up) tennis balls I outlined above and that’s why Bloob-Allz are worth the purchase. For the upfront cost of about $30 I’m buying a product that is going to last a LOT longer than tennis balls (especially in a clinical setting such as with my 5-8+ personal training clients each day). They do not degrade into a smooshy, useless product as all tennis balls flatten quite quickly with the usage we currently use them for. They are hard, which I’ll explain later can be a con, but in reality, if you’re going to do SMR, it’s going to be somewhat (or a lot) painful – what matters in performing SMR (as laid out in my guidelines video) is that you need to be able to relax into that pain for the “release” or resetting effect to happen. If you can do that with the Bloob-Allz product, the euphoric feeling Joe (the inventor) describes is absolutely amazing. Near orgasmic, in fact!

Where this product shines far above what’s currently on the market is the fact that with a few easy turns you can widen the balls further away from each other (about 1.25″ apart). Why is that important? Well, let’s look at some back anatomy:

Back musculature is incredibly complex. You can see the cross hatch and various ups, downs, sideways, etc of all the different muscles. You’ll also notice that the most vertical running group of muscles (called the erector spinae group) run ride beside the spine itself such as this:

While other muscles, especially the rhomboids and mid-trapezius run in completely opposite (side to side) and fan out quite a distance from the spinal column shown here:

The rhomboids shown in bold red are a VERY common source (I’m talking epidemic level) of trigger points, pain and even dysfunction for most people.

Trigger points, muscle knots and tension in this area can lead to postural issues (such as slouching and shoulder protraction) which can lead to serious pains in the front shoulder and neck. In fact when people tell me their neck is stiff I immediately have them go searching in their mid-back for trigger points and 90% of the time the have a nasty trigger point on the same side as the neck pain.

I’m not going to go into further detail of the absolute necessity for people to maintain good thoracic spine mobility as I’ve explained before how granny, with her inability to put her shirt on because of her serious hunchback didn’t happen overnight.

I’ve also been searching for the magic cure that would fix these knots and trigger points I so frequently get in that mid-back area (as do so many of my clients, friends, family). I’m not sure there is one. I’ve tried chiropractic treatment, active release technique (ART), IMS, acupuncture, massage and every type of heat and cold product out there. No success. I’m not 100% convinced (as I still have hope and keep searching for the answer) the best way to ensure I don’t really suffer is to DIAL DOWN the tension in that area FREQUENTLY!

And the Bloob-Allz are the single best product on the market for that job!

The Cons: 

You can’t please everyone. I’ve tried for the past two years to really “convert” my clients into SMR junkies to save them from the aches and pains of life, movement, sports and our training sessions and some have really taken it to heart. Others couldn’t be bothered, until they get injured and realize they should have been doing this all along. And still others refuse to follow the advice of so many of the good coaches, personal trainers, chiros and physiotherapists preaching the benefits of SMR.

As much as I wanna be the guy to say, yes it hurts but just suck it up princess, I can’t ignore the fact that some people have VERY low pain tolerance, that they turn very off from sources of pain. I’ve tested the Bloob-Allz product on every single one of my clients and it’s about 80/20. 80% know how well they work and reach for them in my toy bucket and the other 20% simply prefer the “old school” dual (taped up) tennis balls. For one simple reason, “I don’t want those damn Bloob-Allz; they’re just too hard!” proclaimed my client a few days ago.

I’ve mentioned to Joe (the inventor) that it would make sense to have a Bloob-Allz “Lite” product on the market, made of a slightly less dense/hard material, but equally as durable for this clientele. It’s the major flaw for those that really struggle to get through the pain/discomfort factor of SMR to obtain the benefits.

Lastly, via my experimentation on myself and clients I’ve found that because of the profound “release” or resetting effect of the Bloob-Allz, I recommend they are used in the post-workout equation or the between workout recovery equation of SMR. Using Bloob-Allz during the SMR portion of a warm up can work but, in my opinion, you really should be taking some serious time (10mins) on the product to truly obtain the best benefits. The euphoric feeling after using the Bloob-Allz was so surprising the first time, I had to sit down for 20 minutes to let my system reset. Probably not a good idea to get that sort of relaxation level going for a client right before you make them do a heavy, hard or intense workouts. So I suggest clients (but I give them the option) use the dual (taped up) tennis balls during the SMR series of my warm ups and the Bloob-Allz get saved for post-workout or between workout recovery.

Conclusion:

I love this product. I use it every day. Multiple times a day sometimes when my back is really sore or my trigger points from heavy back, deadlift and posture work are wound right up.

I’ve created a review, explanation and demonstration of use video here to describe the nuances of how to use the product as well as show you a unique way I’ve found this product to work elsewhere in the body! Watch that video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW77E4Hi1Mk

No good self myofascial release connoisseur, SMR junkie or someone dealing with mid-back muscle knots or thoracic mobility issues is complete without their own set of Bloob-Allz!

Visit the Bloob-Allz website today for more details and to purchase!

 My collection, now complete with Bloob-Allz!

AN EXTRA SPECIAL TREAT: RAFFLE CONTEST – ENDS APRIL 20, 2012

Joe, the inventor of Bloob-Allz has sent me TWO free pairs of Bloob-Allz to raffle off with the unveiling of this product review. Interested in the product after my review? Here’s how you enter:

1) Subscribe to my blog. Pretty easy, look down on your right hand corner. See the grey “Follow +” button, click on that, enter your email address and done. Now, of course it’s a perk for me to have a greater subscribing readership. It allows me to reach a greater audience and gets my name out there more.  If you dig the sort of info I put out, I’m happy. If it’s just not your forte, after the winner of the contest has been announced, feel free to unsubscribe (which is just as easy). I promise, I won’t take offense to it. I will also note, you may wish to hang around as I’ve got more giveaways just around the corner and I’m hoping to be able to do this often.

2) Post a comment below answering this question: what is your main interest/feature of trying out this product? Note that all comments have to be moderated by me before showing up so don’t panic if yours doesn’t show up immediately. I will cross check that you’ve subscribed to the blog and then reply to your comment by letting you know that you’re entered.

Rules of the Contest:

1)  Each entry is for 1 Bloob-Allz only. I am giving away two Bloob-Allz but they are going to two separate entry winners.

2. Contest dates run: April 3rd, 2012 and last day you can enter is 11:59pm PST Friday, April 20th. The winner will be announced Sunday, April 22nd via the blog so check back on that date (you’ll get an email anyway because you’re subscribed to the blog).

3. Contest is only open to those in Canada AND the United States. I will pay for shipping. If you are outside of Canada or the United States (say the United Kingdom), if you wish to pay for shipping and you win, we can set that up.

4. Like any contest, prizes have no cash value; you may NOT trade for such. Don’t enter the contest unless you’re genuinely interested in owning a set of your very own Bloob-Allz!