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What are your goals?

  • Look good - Do you just want to be skinny?

  • Get in Shape - Is your goal to run a marathon?

  • Healthy - Do you want to improve your health and quality of life?

These are all 3 very different goals.

For example, a NFL football player that weights 380 lbs is actually a great athlete and has to be in tremendous shape to compete. But he doesnt look good and its far from a healthy lifestyle. A hollywood actress may look good, but in the majority of cases, they are far from in shape and are rarely in great health.

The problem is, that most people only really care about looking good. Being in shape or being healthy is usually secondary to how we see ourselves in the mirror. But the bottom line is this, if you live healthy, the other two goals will naturally take care of themselves. Ultimately, most people just want to look good. If they could eat junk food but still look like a fashion model they would go that route. But that world does not exist in this reality.

So your first goal will be just to get you "HEALTHY". That is the easiest of the 3 and you can get that started immediately. The other two goals will take time and a lot of change in your habits and lifestyle. You should tackle them as time progresses. Expect this entire transformation to take about 6-9 months to really set in.

Proper health starts with a proper diet and mental state. Set realistic goals, avoid stress, participate in healthy hobbies, and a stable personal life all go a long way towards the proper foundation to build from.

Here are the rules which you must begin to live by if you want to see the fastest results:

  • Beverage - Only drink filtered H20, Coconut Water, or (unsweetened almond milk). The human body isnt really made to drink anything but water. (Coconut water must be of the unpasteurized variety or it is basically just sugar water)

  • Certified Organic - If possible, eat organic

  • Grass Fed Meats - grain fed animals are nutritionally void

  • No GMO - Under no circumstances should you be eating food that has been Genetically Modified

  • No Corn or Soy Products - 80% of all corn and soy products are GMO, and besides that, neither corn nor soy have any real nutritional value, like grains, they can be toxic and the cause of many allergies

  • No Grains - Since grains were introduced to the human species diet, our brains have gotten smaller and we've gotten shorter. If you must eat a grain product, make sure it is absolutely GLUTEN FREE

  • No Processed Foods - If it comes in a box or has been manufactured in any way, STAY AWAY

  • No Preservatives - If it has preservatives, it is pretty much nutritionally void. If it cant break down naturally then your digestive system wont be able to break it down either

  • No Refined/Processed Sugar - Sugar may be the single most dangerous substance to our health. Stay away from sodas or anything else with High Fructose Corn Syrup in it

  • No Dairy - None whatsoever, if you need a list of dairy substitutes, just ask me I know a healthy and tasty substitute for just about anything. I do have one exception to this rule, Goat Yogurt. It has enzymes that no other foods have that are essential to fighting fungus or yeast issues (dandruff, athletes foot, jock itch, yeast infections, etc)

  • No Fast Food - This shouldnt even need mentioning but I have to say it anyways

  • No Alcohol - It ages you, it ruins your skin, adds to stress, and its a poison. Not to mention, its heavily fattening. If you're going to drink, avoid beer. Dark beers in moderation. Stick to red wine. Vodka if liquor, avoid mixers. But all in all, there is no need for alcohol.

  • Limit Rice and Potato intake to a minimum - Heavy starches are great for athletes that need the sugar, but not for the average person. The average person should be getting their energy from the stored fat on their body. Rice, Potatoes and other carbs are for athletes with extremely low body fats and thus low energy reserves. Body fat is a more efficient energy source. It burns slower, lasts longer, and gives you better energy and without the “crash” that comes from sugars.

If you have any questions on what to eat, brands, etc, just feel free to ask. If I was training you, eventually I would be pushing you to start eating the PALEO DIET. And way down the road I will even be able to tell you what types of dishes and pans to buy for your kitchens. But for now, just try to follow the above simple rules. Learning discipline at this stage and turning it into habit is going to be your biggest challenge.

Understanding “Fat Burning”:

The key concept of the Paleo Diet is that it’s all about getting your body back to it’s natural state. Humans have gone on for thousands of years through times of feast and famine, nourishment and malnourishment, and as a result, we have the genetics we have today. Getting things working in their natural order is the only way to achieve proper health. There are no supplements or protein powders that can provide for you better than what nature does. Nothing man-made will ever compare to the real thing that was developed over thousands and thousands of years by nature.

When you begin working out intensely for this program, you will encounter soreness at first. The reason why you are sore is because of all the toxic buildup in your body. Most importantly, from grains. Grains are toxic by nature. They are supposed to be, in order to prevent us from eating them. But we eat it anyway because quite frankly it is a easy product to produce and feed billions of people with. But it isnt what we are supposed to be eating thus the reason for lots of health issues. Mainstream media wont support this theory because it just doesnt suit their sponsors agenda. A corporations job like Monsanto is to make money at all costs. And Monsanto pretty much runs the FDA and has heavy influence over all school health programs and university level teaching curriculums.

We are omnivores, which means we can digest protein, fats, AND carbs. This is great for getting us through lean times. But the bad thing is, that a lot of the modern carbs in our diet are really bad for us. The only carbs we should be eating should be of the natural fruits and vegetable variety. And lets face it, those are all seasonal in nature, so they never were meant to be a staple of the human diet.

As a result the average American is constantly hungry or has intense food cravings every few hours. This is  because when we eat lots of grains/sugars in our diets, our body begins to run on sugars for energy. This is called being in a state of GLUCONEOGENESIS. This is not the way humans were meant to live. We are supposed to be in a constant state of KETOSIS. Ketosis is when the body uses fat for energy. Because that is what fat is, stored energy. But when we eat lots of grains (that get converted into sugars) and other sugars in our diets, our body stops knowing how to burn fat and simply uses the sugar for energy. The sugar runs out very quickly (after just 20 minutes of hard exercise) and then you enter a temporary state of ketosis. That is why it usually takes so much cardio in the gym in order to start burning fat. You have to use up the ready sugar first. When you are not working out, and you use up that sugar, your body instantly wants more. It is not in ketosis mode so what ensues is headaches, stomach cramps, hunger pains, and cravings for sweets/starches/carbs when you shouldnt be hungry at all. You and I both have enough fat stored on our body to last us a week without eating but most people’s metabolisms are not in that state of functional ketosis that makes them able to use the fat for energy. Fat is slow burning and a much more high quality & efficient energy source. The difficult thing is that most people's bodies are not in a state to readily burn fat. That is where the ratio comes into play. It is the most important aspect of the program IMO.

So what you must do at this time is remain EXTREMELY disciplined in your diet. The transition from GLUCONEOGENESIS to KETOSIS takes about 2 weeks of strict diet. It wont be comfortable. It can even get painful when the sugar cravings kick in. Sugar is a drug just like any other, a highly addictive stimulant and that is just talking raw sugar. Take all the highly processed refined sugars chemists have developed over the years like High Fructose Corn Syrup and I’d say that stuff is far more dangerous than most recreational drugs. The withdrawls from sugar can be uncomfortable, especially in the gym, because when we are used to gluconeogenesis, our bodies have a tendency to "crash" once all available sugars have been exhausted. "Crashing" is VERY painful and its unlike anything Ive ever experienced. I had one case of severe crashing once during a 107 mile bicycle endurance race. At about the 75 mile mark my body just began to shut down. It was nearly paralyzing.

Functional Ketosis requires that 75% of your diet be fats & proteins. The other 25% can be vegetables & fruits. Using the Calorie Counter App (by FatSecret) is a great way to track your fat/protein to carb ratio.

If you have a cheat meal, that is fine. Just make sure you do so in moderation, and know, for every cheat “day” you take, you set yourself back more than just that day. So try to limit it to (1) cheat meal per week. Remember, 1 lb of fat on your body is equal to 3500 calories. So for every time you eat out at Outback Steakhouse or In-n-Out Burger, just know, that each of those meals are usually in the 1000-1500 calorie range. The equivalent of a extra 1/2 lb that you will now have to struggle to burn off later in the gym.

“Cheat Meals” are one of 21 meals a person will typically eat in a week. So with every cheat meal, you are seriously affecting your diet. You could throw your fat/protein to carb ratio off by as much as 5%. Make it a “cheat day” and now you have just affected approximately 15% of your diet. And with just 2 cheat days in a week, you can throw your diet off by 30% and then you are well on your way back into a state of GLUCONEOGENESIS. So be careful with the “cheat meals”.

After about two weeks, you body will begin to adapt. Full adaptation can vary based on genetics but within the month you should be fully on the right track and then your body will begin only using the stored fat on your body for energy. The hunger and cravings will go away and you will feel great. And best of all, you will have tons of energy because your body will now be in its natural state, which is burning the ready and easy to use fat on your body whenever it needs it. Eating will become more of a routine and something you have to remind yourself to do rather than something you crave doing. That is when you know you are really on the right track.

Cooking Notes:
  • Baking - Replace Crisco Vegetable crap with Coconut Oil or Rendered Duck Fat for baking pies and whatnot
  • Sauteeing - Replace Butter with Extra Virgin Olive oil and/or Rendered Duck Fat
  • Frying - Extra Light Olive Oil or Avocado Oil (grapeseed oil is fine as well)
  • Sources: https://www.ninacucina.com/smokepoint-of-fats.html

The 10 rules of the Paleo diet

  1. The Paleo diet should be high in fat,moderate in animal protein and low to moderate in carbohydrates. Calorie counting is not encouraged, neither is portion control.

  2. Eat unlimited amounts of saturated fats like coconut oil and butter or clarified butter. Beef tallow, lard and duck fat are also good, but only if they come from healthy and well-treated animals. Beef or lamb tallow is a better choice than lamb or duck fat. Olive, avocado and macadamia oil are also good fats to use in salads and to drizzle over food, but not for cooking.

  3. Eat generous amounts of animal protein. This includes red meat, poultry, pork, eggs, organs (liver, kidney, heart…), wild caught fish and shellfish. Don’t be scared to eat the fatty cuts and all meals with proteins should contain fat as well. Learn to cook with bones in the form ofstocks and broths.

  4. Eat good amounts of fresh or frozen  vegetables either cooked or raw and served with fat. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams are also great as a source of non-toxic carbohydrates.

  5. Eat low to moderate amounts of fruits and nuts. Try to eat mostly fruits low in sugar and high in antioxidants like berries as well as nuts high in omega-3, low in omega-6 and low in total polyunsaturated fat like macadamia nuts. Consider cutting off fruits and nuts altogether if you have an autoimmune disease, digestive problem or are trying to lose weight faster.

  6. Preferably choose pasture-raised and grass-fed meat coming from a local, environmentally conscious farms. If not possible, choose lean cuts of meat and supplement your fat with coconut oil, butter orclarified butter. Also preferably choose organic, local and/or seasonal fruits and vegetables.

  7. Cut out all cereal grains and legumes from your diet. This includes, but is not limited to, wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, brown rice, soy, peanuts, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and black eyed peas.

  8. Cut out all vegetable, hydrogenated and partly-hydrogenated oils including, but not limited to, margarines, soybean oil, corn oil, crisco, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. Olive oil and avocado oil are fine, but don’t cook with them, use them in salad dressings and to drizzle over prepared food.

  9. Eliminate sugar, soft drinks, all packaged products and juices (including fruit juices). As a rule of thumb, if it’s in a box, don’t eat it. At the grocery store, visit only the meat, fish and produce sections.

  10. Eliminate dairy products other than butter and maybe heavy cream. You don’t need dairy, but if you can’t live without,read this article and consider raw, full-fat and/or fermented dairy.



Some good references:
  • Paleo Diet: www.robbwolf.com
  • Recipes: www.ninacucina.com
  • Supplements: www.rynopower.com
  • Supplements: www.onnit.com
  • Meats: www.toplinefoods.com
  • Vegetables: www.farmfreshtoyou.com
  • Rehabilitation: www.floatlab.com


What does it mean to be truly competitive? For most athletes they think it is about effort on the court in games or during practice. The truth is, a measure of a athlete’s competitive drive is all I need to see in order to tell what their potential ceiling is. It’s what separated the “very talented” from the “all-time greats”. Being more competitive than your competition means you are willing to do whatever it takes to gain an advantage (within the rules of course). Being talented isn’t enough. Great natural gifts will only get you so far in basketball or in life for that matter.

Where does it start? For me, it starts with nutrition. The energy you fuel your body with is the foundation for whatever sport you want to compete in. It’s the foundation for your performance on the court as well as preventing injury and illness. A race car driver would not put water in his gas tank. You shouldn’t do the same sort of damage to your body if you are truly competitive and want to get the most out of yourself in sports, and in life.
 
 
I was going to do a blog post about nutrition, but then Nate Robinson, one of my favorite players, had himself a GREAT dunk on the entire Blazers team so I had to post about it. I don't know how or why this guy has been on so many teams. He's a locker room favorite & loved even more by the fans. Clutch shooter, good hustle, high energy. Everyone needs a "Nate Robinson" on their team.

I'll try to get to my post about nutrition next week. But then again, I may find myself talking about the Miami Heat and their historic run of 25 (and counting) straight wins... and just for good measure, I added a second Nate Robinson highlight from earlier in the year. Enjoy. 
 
 
After the "dunk heard 'round the world" that happened Sunday (RIP Brandon Knight 1991-2013), I decided I would compile my list of the Greatest Dunks of All-Time. I dont know if DeAndre's measures up against the greats of history, and when you see what its compared too you will understand why, because context is everything. Context aside, it's easily the best dunk of the 2013 year. Have a look at the video below, and then compare it to the dunks I feel were the greatest ever. 
The younger kids aren't going to remember these plays much less who these players are, but let me tell you young bucks something... back when these dunks occurred, they actually meant something. In this dunk by Kemp, it was in retaliation for a bench clearing brawl that had occurred earlier in the season. Golden State and Seattle were rivals trying to claim their spot in the Western Conference's elite. This dunk by Kemp pretty much ended the battle and Golden State is still trying to recover 2 decades later...
In my opinion, Hakeem Olajuwon is easily the greatest center of all-time. I remember watching his Houston team take on the defending Western Conference Champ Suns in the playoffs in 1994. Two elite teams by any era's standards but largely forgotten in time due to the fact that MJ pretty much overshadowed anything less than perfect in the 90s. One event he couldnt overshadow was the highlight of Kevin Johnson's illustrious career...
If you are sensing a theme running here, it's that these weren't just average dunks against average opponents. These were great players making great plays against other great players. In all of these highlights, these teams hated one another and maybe no feud ran deeper than that between Jordan's Bulls & Spike Lee's Knicks. This dunk has it all. Its the Playoffs in the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden, against the greatest player to ever play the game...
...and just to show you how much these two teams hated one another, take a look at this clip where Scottie Pippen downright abuses the legendary Patrick Ewing and then tell's Spike Lee, "It aint the shoes".
And last but far from least... would a dunk show be worthy without the one that started it all?
...And lastly, before we completelty bury Brandon Knight, we should give him credit for attempting to even block the shot. If you look at all the great dunks Ive posted above, Brandon joins some pretty legendary company in the likes of Hakeem or Ewing. For every great dunk, there was a great defender that had the guts to attempt to block the shot in the first place. All of the greats, Dikembe, Alonzo, Shaq, etc were all dunked on at one point or another. That is part of the price of being great.
 
 
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If you go back to my 2nd blog post several months ago, you can see where I mentioned the 5th & 6th grade team I began volunteer coaching in the Boys & Girls Club Recreational Basketball League. We started as a group of kids that I picked not based on their basketball skills but rather from what I saw in their natural hustle during evaluations. I went around and then talked to most of the kids during evaluations so I could get a sense of their maturity, intelligence, and willingness to listen to what I had to say. And when I drafted my team later that week, I took a lot of players that seemed to surprise the rest of my contingent.

For my first draft pick I took a kid that surprised everyone because he was frenetic and wild out on the court. But when I talked to him he was the most articulate 11 year old I'd ever met. I new with his intelligence and maturity I'd be able to mold him into the perfect point guard for our team. He is now a much more controlled player who runs our entire offense like a quaterback on the court.

With my second pick I took another kid who wasnt on anyone's radar but he caught my eye becuase of his sheer hustle. Nobody was sweating harder than him. He was diving for lose balls and was eager to do the job nobody else wanted to. He ended up making All-League honors and I couldnt be more proud. The kid is a coach's dream. Always attentive, 100% effort, selfless, and a leader out on the court. He would sometimes be directing the team before I had a chance to say what I was seeing, he was actually seeing things before I did sometimes. I cant really say enough about this kid, all I can say is that his parents have done a magnificent job and that he is going to be a coach's favorite no matter what sport he's playing.

And so the draft went, I kept picking the unconventional choices. Even taking a tall uncordinated girl that later would blossom into my teams best defender. I cant really take any credit for this one, all I can say is that all of a sudden one day in practice mid-season she just started playing the most fundamentally sound defense I'd ever seen out of a 11 year old. She became my lock down defender in a boy's league and if she keeps working at this rate, she will be playing for whatever high school team she wants too.

As the season progressed we lost games due to injuries, flu season, and we lost others due to the fact that I was sacrificing wins in order to teach them lessons. For example, I refused to let them run a full court press. I also discouraged them from fast breaks due to the fact that I wanted them to learn how to run a half court offense. As a result we ended up losing our final 5 games of the season. I kept preaching to the kids about the merits of hard work, perseverence, and discipline and with each mounting loss, it got harder and harder to do. They would look at me after games in the locker room with tears in their eyes asking "Why?" .... What are we doing wrong?" ... and "We've done everything you have asked us to do and we are still losing"....

And the truth is, they were doing everything I was asking. After two months of practicing 3 days a week, 100s of suicides and pushups later here I was having to tell them that they were doing all the right things and that this was a process. I was seeing the improvement and I didnt care about the wins or losses. But at 10 or 11 years of age, that rhetoric loses its meaning after multiple 2 and 3 point losses where we'd have the lead going into the final minutes of a game.

But the kids never wavered. They never lost their faith in what I was preaching. And I owe them and their parents all the credit in the world for that. I kept telling the kids we were built for the playoffs and that if we just stayed the course, I promised them we'd win the league championships.

As the playoffs approached, the kids did something I'd never seen out of athletes this age, they began asking for longer practices and more 1on1 coaching time with me. So I began staying after late, doing individual drills with the kids working on their ball handling and spot up shooting. I began also having nightmares about the upcoming games. Ive competed at a professional level in motorsports, and I can tell you that losing is as bad as it gets, and so I thought coaching would be easier but I was dead wrong. Especially with kids as young and fragile as this. There was no way I'd be able to live this down if we didnt deliver in the playoffs. But the fact is, it wasnt up to me, just like I'd always said from the beginning, the wins & losses are up to the kids. My job is to just teach. Well they were the ones that ended up teaching me that lesson all over again when they took charge and began asking for extra coaching. 

The night before our first playoff game I spent an hour with my starting point guard & shooting guard. We did 3 point shots from a specific spot on the court until my shooting guard could barely lift his arms. And the following night, in a 1 point game with 90 seconds to play, he came off a perfectly set screen and took a 3 from that exact spot that hit nothing but the bottom of the net. I've never been so happy for anyone as I was that moment.

After we won that game the kids proved that they had learned "how to lose". Meaning, they never got too down on themselves, they just kept working and working, knowing the results would eventually come. And they did. But now the next challenge would be to see if they could prove they knew "how to win". Meaning, rather than feel too good for themselves would they get back and work harder than they ever did before to avoid a letdown.

And on Wednesday March 6th, 2013 they did just that. They came out strong from the start, running our offensive system efficiently and effectively. Backdoor screens, cuts, and layups. A flood of 3 pointers. Aggressive boxing out and rebounding. Diving for any lose ball. Unselfish pick and rolls that resulted in wide open shots. 

We led 13-10 after one quarter. We were tied 15-15 at the half. And towards the end of the 3rd quarter we were down 19-23. But I wasnt worried. And neither were the kids. As I'd told them the night before the game at our final practice, "You dont ever want to look up at the score late in a game and think back and wish you had done more to prepare. It doesnt matter what the score is, if you know you have done everything you could have done, you will find great inner strength in knowing that." And it was during the intermission before the start of the 4 quarter that I reminded them of this. That we'd put in all the hard work. All those sprints and pushups were about to payoff. And sure enough they did. The kids went out and played flawlessly. While the other team looked fatigued and began making mental mistakes, my kids had barely broken a sweat. We went on a 15-2 run to start the 4th quarter and ended up winning easily.

The kids screamed with joy afterwards. All dancing and hugging each other as if it was the Final Four, and for them, it was. They'd worked their tails off and got to reap the benefits I'd promised them. It was a very special group of kids & parents that I will never be able to replace and will be VERY lucky to come close to duplicating. 

Ive been around world championship athletes my entire adult life. Ive competed in Europe, Asia, and all over the United States at the highest levels of sport. This was easily as rewarding and exhilarating a experience as anything Ive ever experienced and I owe it all to the 8 special kids whom I'll forever hold a special place in my heart for.