Tamas Acs

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What I Learned From The Visit With My Friend Randy Roach

You may know that Randy Roach, the author of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors, a great proponent of physical culture, an awesome human being is one of my dearest friends. You might also be aware that Randy is 95% blind. On REALLY good days, he can see silhouettes in the dark and that’s as good as it gets for him.

Randy and I have been sharing laughs and discussing everything under the sun since we first met back in 2004, while Ron Kosloff and Doug Schneider were filming The Vince Gironda Exercises: Vol. 1. Ron invited me to his friend Randy’s gym in Waterloo, Ontario for the shoot. That gym happened to be in Randy’s basement. Without knowing it was in a basement, one would have thought it was a commercial gym, as you can see in the videos. (Since then a The Vince Gironda Exercises (and More!): Vol. 2 had been shot in the same place.)

In between one of the takes, I walked upstairs and somehow or another began a conversation with Randy. We discussed Vince and his methods, training in general, bodybuilding history, nutrition, books, spirituality and a little bit of politics. Randy is extremely knowledgable on ALL of those subjects so I mostly listened, nodded my head and blurted out the occasional a-ha and m-hmm. Oh, I also had a ton of questions. Needless to say, I missed the rest of the film shoot as Randy and I gabbed away like young school boys talking about the latest comic book or action movie they read and saw. In a bit I will tell you what I learned the last time I visited.

I learned about this book he was writing which originally started off as an article for the Weston A Price Foundation. My eyes lit up as I had been a member of WAPF for the previous two years and loved each and every issue. At the time, Randy was the chapter leader for the Kitchener/Waterloo region. As we were talking, I could see all these weird machinery in his office on multiple desks. He had a massive magnifying glass attached to a monitor. At that point his eyesight was better than it is today, he could put a book under the magnifying glass, turn his baseball cap backwards, lean into the monitor and read the giant letters painstakingly slowly. It was a very ineffective way of reading. His computer would speak every so often as well, to announce there was a new e-mail from so and so along with the subject line. When I asked him about it, he said that’s mostly how he “reads” now. He listens to his computer reading to him.

Time just seemed to fly by, the film shoot ended and it was time to drive home. Randy and I ended up continuing our conversation over the phone and I’d go visit with him, train at his gym every week or at least every other week for years. He has a LOT to say which is likely why his article turned into a book and that book initially turned into two volumes, then when he realized he still had a ton of information to share, it turned into three volumes. I’m still waiting to get the call where tells me: “Tamas, there is no way I can fit all this information into the 3rd volume, I’ll need to leave it for volume 4.”

Speaking of the book. Randy, with the help of his editor George, decided to make copies of some of his first volume available with his autograph on his website. As the second volume came out, he realized it was taking him away from writing volume 3 so he asked me if I’d be interested in taking the orders and shipping them out to the readers. I obviously jumped on the chance and have been shipping books all over the world since.

My latest trip out to Waterloo to get Randy’s autographs on the last shipment of books had me glued to his couch yet again as I listened to his wisdom on the latest happenings with his diet and training. I’m now finally getting to the part for which I began this post, which is all the great insights I got from my last visit.

Randy has had 35 surgeries in his life due to Stevens-Johnson Syndrome which he got when he was around 2. His treatments are likely the cause of his lack of eyesight and loss of his right eye. With surgeries come drugs. Lots of drugs that still remain in the system after all this time. One of the best ways to detoxify toxic materials from your system is through infrared saunas. Well, Randy’s got one of them in his bedroom! He uses it regularly and told me the discoveries he has made recently.

He began by explaining how he used to get in the IR sauna right after his morning workouts, while his muscles were warm, then jump into the shower to wash off the toxins that were purged from him through his sweat.

In the past, after attending a Charles Poliquin lecture, one of the take-aways I shared with Randy was to stop eating anything after 6:00pm a couple of days a week. Charles mentioned this to be a great way to shed body fat. Randy, the immediate implementer that he is, got on it right away. He loves to experiment on himself.

At our last visit, he filled me in on the latest way he’s been detoxing and shedding body fat. Randy admittedly enjoys his summer where he stays up later than usual, eats more carbs than usual and enjoys some wine on occasions. This is the time he puts on a little extra insulation. Come the end of the summer, I wonder if his birthday has anything to do with it, he gets back to being strict. This would likely explain his enthusiasm about what I’m about to tell you.

As we’re talking about training, nutrition, life the conversation moved towards detoxing and shedding body fat. He brought up the fasting I mentioned to him and said, he figured out that when he stopped eating at 6:00pm at night, he had restless sleeps and woke up in the middle of the night feeling hungry to the point where he had to eat something. He put two and two together and realized fasting turns on your sympathetic nervous system, increases your stress hormones and puts you into somewhat of a fight or flight mode. Something that’s beneficial in the earlier part of the day like in the morning.

Talking to his friend, Pam Kileen, who is an expert on infrared saunas, and through his own research, he again realized that the IR sauna turns on your parasympathetic nervous system which is to heal, regenerate, repair and calm you down. Armed with this information, he made a couple of changes.

1) When he wakes up in the morning, he’ll break his night fast with something small, just to get some protein and fats into his system and stop catabolizing his muscles. He then structured his meals to be closer to the end of the day. Yes, the opposite of what conventional wisdom tells you. He’s been noticing a steady level of high energy throughout the day from doing this.

2) On top of switching his fasting from the evening to the morning, he shifted sitting in his infra red sauna time to the evening, which is when it’s the most beneficial to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system. It helps him digest his larger portions, calm his system down and repair the damage he’s done to his body with his insane workouts.

Randy said he now sleeps like a log with a full belly and a calm nervous system while he’s noticeably and consistently getting leaner. He no longer feels hungry and has tons of energy to boot.

My biggest take away is that always go with common sense, logic and keep an eye on the results over what conventional wisdom says, avoid blindly going with the flow just because that’s the way others do it.

The second biggest take away is to pick Randy’s brain more often! There is so much great knowledge in there that asking him to write a book on training and nutrition is almost a must. I will hold off until he completes the third (and hopefully) final volume of his decade long project, Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors.

If you’re stuck with either your nutrition or training, ask Randy any question, he more than likely has an answer! Either type them in here and I’ll put together an interview with him based on them or you can ask him through his website: http://musclesmokeandmirrors.com/

Self Growth Through Compassionate Communication – Workshop

November 17-18th, Toronto, Canada

  • Location: 1 Wiltshire Ave Unit 105, Toronto, Ontario
  • Registration Fee: $295USD
  • 9am-5pm November 17-18th, 2012

Do you know how to respectfully represent your authentic self with your voice while respectfully accepting another with your ears?

Is it possible that how we communicate can either be a powerful catalyst for opening the gates of the mind and heart, or a destructive force creating toxicity in our relationships, opportunities, and our own self? How can consciously infusing compassion into our communication facilitate an expansion of intimacy both within ourselves and with those we are in relationships with?

Offerings of Self Growth through Compassionate Communication include:

  • Strengthen personal and professional relationships
  • Learn how to avoid unconsciously pushing people away
  • Learn to step deeper into your authenticity
  • Eliminate the hidden reasons for failed relationships
  • Become undefended in both how you hear others and in voicing your experiences
  • Resolve underlying issues that cause career sabotage
  • Discover how not to lose your sense of self in your communications
  • Learn how to increase intimacy through healthy conflict
  • Understand how to hear what another is really saying through the message in their unspoken words

Are you aware of the growth that happens when you can communicate authentically? Are you aware of the self compromise that happens when you’re inauthentic?

In this workshop you’re invited to explore how being undefended, humble, yet true to your self brings meaningful compassion into your communication. Recognizing that communication goes far beyond the significance carried by the spoken word and how allowing healthy conflict is essential to any relationship will also be embraced.

Left unchecked, an unconscious communication style teaches others to treat us disrespectfully

This program acknowledges communication as a two way street beginning with how we sensitively hear what another is saying to create a field of respect and acceptance. Secondly, how we voice our authentic feelings, thoughts, and points of view with ownership (rather than blaming another) further expands the field of respect and acceptance that our communication generates. This workshop contains both lecture and practical/activity sections and is appropriate for both the lay person and the health practitioner

If enriching your communication is important for your professional, personal, or relationship growth, please join us!

Register Online Now!

  • You may also email jp@HolisticHealthandFitness.com or call 760-420-9593 to register

Adding Energy Cultivation Movements To Your Workouts

It’s a fact: during your workouts you spend a lot of energy.  The more intense the workout the more energy you spend.  That’s all well and good when you’re healthy, have your basic needs taken care of, a low stress work environment, are well hydrate and enjoy highly nutritious food every single day.

A large part of the population, however is a little different.  Living in a high stressed environment either because of their dollar being spread thinner or work is more hectic with e-mails popping in on their phones along with text messages and heart stopping ring tones.  Television shows also only add to the stress and the spending of energy dealing with that newly created stress.

What’s been working really well for my clients is the addition of zone (or energy cultivating) exercises at the end of their workout. It helps you “cool down” and re energize you by calming the nervous system down quickly.

I would highly recommend throwing a few minutes of the Energy Push, Thoracic Mobilizations or Wood Chops at the end of your workouts.

2012 Can Fit Pro Impressions

This year, I missed the early registration to the Toronto Can Fit Pro Conference even, though they extended it a couple of times.  At the same time, I was asked by the C.H.E.K Institute if I could help out at their booth.  I cleared my schedule around the time slots when they needed volunteers and happily made myself available.

I remembered when I first heard about Paul Chek and the C.H.E.K Institute and how I wanted to find out more information about them but at the time (we’re going back to 2002) they had no booth at the Can Fit Pro Conference.  I had a million questions about all the programs offered but no one to ask and now I got to be in the position to answer people’s questions who happened to just hear one of Paul’s lectures or participated in one of his workshops.

When I first entered the convention, I was blown away by the number of exhibitors.  Each year it seems to get bigger and bigger.  This year, I missed the Fitness Source booth for the first time.  After a bit of research, it seems they’re closing their doors, some say due to a merger with Sport Chek.  I have bought fitness equipment from them from the mid 90s on!  I loved driving up to their Langstaff location on a Saturday and just browse through everything they had.  Sad to see them go.  I was happy to see National Fitness having a booth this year, showing off their Atlantis line along with other pieces.  A solid line of equipment still manufactured in Canada!  I bought my prized functional trainer and Poliquin Rack from them when I opened up my studio.  Both pieces have been invaluable in helping me correctly rehab a countless number of people.  Rehab exercises maybe far from “fun” yet they’re immensely valuable in balancing out someone and getting them out of pain.

Tommy Europe was at the trade show signing autographs as well as Trish Stratus.  Tommy was in the Sketchers booth just behind the CHEK booth.  I regularly saw long lines of young and old waiting to get his autograph.

Tosca Reno was also there although this time without her husband Robert Kennedy who passed away earlier this year on April 12th of cancer.  He was 73.  I missed him this year.  My whole health and fitness path was very much due to his MuscleMag International publication that I “accidentally” got instead of Muscle & Fitness.  That’s where I got introduced to the Iron Guru, Vince Gironda.

I was glad to be able to answer questions and help people who came to the CHEK booth.  Some came who heard Paul speak for the first time and were blown away.  I remembered being in that exact position when I first walked into one of his lectures “by chance”.

When the delegates were in sessions, the convention was a little slower so Paul Jackson, Dax Wilcox, Penny Crozier, Michael Reuter and I could have some great chats about what’s been going on with us in the last little while.  Penny’s been a busy with the Institute, working 7 days a week!  Paul found an extremely dedicated lady to marry.  He’s a lucky guy!  Friday, Tricia Snider from Embodied Energy Studio came by and filled in at the booth answering questions while Paul Jackson and Michael Reuter attended Paul and Dan Hellman’s lectures.  Thanks Tricia!

I’m glad I made it to the convention and saw old friends while making new ones.  Looking forward to next year’s conference again, hopefully I’ll remember to register on time!

If you attended can fit pro this year, I’d love to hear your impressions of it, especially of the latest equipment and even gimmicks.  Please share below.

3 Simple Breathing Exercises To Help You Unwind

The stress levels we have today are at least 100 times the stress levels of our grandparents.  We get it from every angle as I’ve written about in another post (How Stress Hinders Your Weight Loss Efforts)  Here I’ll outline 3 simple breathing exercises you can practice before going to sleep to help you unwind and have a deeper and higher quality of sleep.

1) Leg Tucks

Lie in bed or anywhere, really.  Bend your knees, close your eyes and grab the back of your thighs right by your knees (to avoid compressing the knees).  Take a deep breath into your belly and start pulling your knees towards your chest.  Begin exhaling as soon as you start pulling your legs.  Exhale very slowly and match the movement of pulling your legs to your breath.  Time it so by the time your legs reach your chest, you completely exhale all the air from your lungs.  Now slowly begin inhaling as you lower your legs.  You can stop short of actually resting your legs on the bed (or floor) and begin exhaling and tucking your legs.  The slower you do this the more relaxed you will become.

Do as many as you feel are beneficial (aiming for 12 or more, up to 100)

2) Deep Belly Breathing

For this, you will also need to get in the same position as above (lying on your back with knees bent) but keep your feet on the bed/ground.  Close your eyes and take a deep breath into your belly, while imagining that you’re trying to touch your belly to the ceiling.  Take as deep of a breath as you possibly can without elevating your rib cage.  Work at keeping it contained all the air in your tummy.  Exhale just as slowly expelling all the used air from your system.  In your mind’s eye, imagine that your tummy sinks down towards your spine leaving no air behind.

Perform as many deep breaths as needed but aim for 12+.

3) Left Nostril Breathing

If you’re still awake after doing the above exercises, take your right thumb and place it at the opening of your right nostril, completely blocking it.  Continue doing the Deep Belly Breathing through your left nostril only.  This will target and activate your parasympathetic nervous system more effectively, signalling your body to produce more relaxation hormones.

Alternatively, if you’re at work or somewhere else where you feel “worked up”, you can do this sitting in a chair, in your car (make sure you’re parked!) or anywhere else.  You’ll still get benefits as long as you stop before you actually pass out and hurt yourself falling down.

What other techniques do you use to help you feel relaxed?

Nutrition In The Hampton’s

A week ago I visited NYC and Southhampton for a much needed vacation. I was pleased to find each restaurant we visited was very helpful in modifying their menu to fit our (mainly my) nutritional needs and wants. In the Hampton’s, there was a whole foods like I’ve never seen. It was a farmer’s stand turned into a Whole Foods. It had a large selection, yet for my picky standards it had slim pickings. It was also far out east. Hampton Bays, on the other hand, has an amazing market called wild by nature, which reminds me a lot of southern California’s jimbo’s, my all time favorite grocery store chain. I was very surprised to find such a great gem after being somewhat disappointed by whole foods.

We stayed at the Atlantic Hotel which is where we were recommended wild by nature as well as a Greek restaurant across the street from them. Both turned out to be outstanding choices. Atlantic hotel!

After we got back to NYC we found better whole food markets and met up with a big part of the NYC CHEK crew, where else but at the union square farmer’s market! We ran into Antonio, Rafael, Jackie, danyelle. It was great to see the gang again. Tomi came to the green square tavern with his all grown up son tj, where we had a hearty dinner. Hoping to run into Gigi and John, the owners. Unfortunately they were both out of town. The RFID was great only to be topped by the company, Tomi, tj, Rafael and antonio. We leach had the amazing flour less chocolate cake. Yummy!!!!

Sunday morning we woke up to 4th avenue being closed off to traffic and being populated by vendors as far as the eye could see. We ventured into having “street meat” which turned out to be quite good. It definitely counted towards the 20% allowance of less than ideal quality foods.

Sunday night’s dinner was at a cute French restaurant near Columbus circle. I liked the restaurant but the selection for me was dim. When I asked what they had that was gluten free, I got a weird look and an option of 2 types of fish. At the end, our bill included a 20% automatic gratuity.

What are your experiences of food availability on vacation or travel?