Category Archives for "Articles"

6 Pillars To Health

The quality of your health and vitality can be narrowed down to 6 pillars.
If these 6 pillars are as solid as possible, you’ll have the most opportunity to squeeze the most out of what you’ve been given from your mom and your dad.  The opposite is also true, one weak pillar will break the collective bond.
The old idiom attributed to Aristotle “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” holds true here.  Each pillar is strong on its own but when you put them together, you have “wholistic” health and incredible vitality.
Let’s get on with it, shall we.  The first pillar is Thoughts.

1. Thoughts

Everything begins with a thought.  The more you think about something the closer it comes to fruition.  That thought turns into an action, many actions turn into progress, progress ends with a result.  Be it a chisel and a piece of rock turning into a statue or following a recipe for tonight’s dinner.  It all goes through a process that begins with a single thought.
When you wake up in the morning, your mind starts working.  For some a little slower than others, which is an indicator one or more of the pillars are less than their optimal.
Just imagine, that smartphone, laptop or tablet you’re reading this on, was once a thought.  They’re powerful beyond measure.
Your thoughts happen with or without your control and even your permission.  Meditation is a way to practice controlling your thoughts, some succeed, most keep working on it.
For improved health, less pain, increased vibrancy, you can practice refocusing and redirecting your thoughts.  Starting small and building on them is a true and tested way of improving the quality of your life.
Starting with setting a goal and basing some of your decisions on that goal will begin strengthening your mental muscles.
For example, writing this post started with a thought.  A question, actually.  “How can I best share the foundations to health with the most number of people?”  The answer was to write a blog post.  You’re reading the result of it.
Moving onto the second pillar to health.  Luckily for all of us, this happens even without having to think about it.

2. Breath

Without breathing, life ceases to exist.
It can alter your mood (for better or worse), it can increase your body temperature and also cool it down.  It can calm your mind, and get you anxious.  It can give you energy or take it away.  The good news is, you have full control over it.
As with thoughts, there are many who practice controlling breath.  You can use it instead of coffee to make you more alert by increasing the frequency and intensity of taking a breath.  You can also use it to help you fall asleep by taking slow and deep diaphragmatic breaths as you close your eyes for the night in bed.
Your breath is also an indicator of how you’re reacting to what’s currently happening with and around you.
Being aware of your breathing will give you the power to change it and with it your mood.  You can be in control.
The third pillar is hydration

3. Hydration

70% of our bodies is water.
It’s required for almost all chemical reactions in your body.  Most of each of your cells in your entire body is water.
At 2% dehydration is when you start getting thirsty, you get skin flushing and start getting fatigue.  So by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.  You also lose a bit of alertness and your urine starts turning darker.
At 3%-4% dehydration you lose 3% – 10% of your power and strength, depending on the intensity of the exercise.  This includes playing sports, which is why it’s imperative to be fully hydrated before and during any type of activity.
At 5% dehydration your sweating slows down to preserve fluids.  This, in turn, increases the work your heart and lungs have to do to pump and circulate a more sludgy, thicker blood around your body.
At 10% dehydration your muscles spasm and get spastic.  Confusion sets in, seizures are more likely and you can even lose consciousness.
The more cooked/processed foods you eat, the more water is required to process it.  Think of dried fruits.  They had their water content reduced to next to nothing.  Your body needs to rehydrate it to process it so it requires more water and your digestive system will “steal” it from other parts of your body to do its job properly.
Think of constipation and hard to pass stools as another sign of dehydration.
I must distinguish between hydration and water, though.  There are much better ways of hydrating yourself than with plain water.  Your body has a hard time assimilating H2O.  It needs to be bound to minerals in order to be optimally absorbed.
You want to make sure you consume the all types of fluids.  Fresh fruits and vegetables have high water content as well as electrolytes, minerals and trace minerals that help your body get hydrated.  Lemonade is great, anything with citrus fruits in it.  Soups, like bone broths are full of minerals too.  Apple cider vinegar added to your lemonade will also increase the enzyme and mineral content.

4. Nutrition

The food you eat gives you the strength and energy to be at your best.
You’ve heard the saying, “you are what you eat”, right?  Well, the truth is, you are what your body absorbs and assimilates.  Everything you put in your mouth has to go through the digestive process before your body can turn the food into usable nutrients and finally into you.
Certain foods can help you and others hurt you.  Some increase inflammation (the main cause of pain) while others decrease and even eliminate it.
You have the choice of making your next eye ball cell out of coffee and donuts or a piece of grass fed, organic beef (which is very easy to turn into human cells.)
Food and nutrition are a massive topic.  Hundreds (probably thousands) of books have been written on it so I’ll keep this section to the foundations.
The main point is quality always trumps quantity.  So instead of eating large volumes of low quality food, looks for the highest quality you can find.
Eat it as close to its natural form as possible to get the most nutrients out of it.  There’s this myth that your body needs calories.  The truth is, your body requires nutrients (they just happen to have energy that people measure in calories.)  The more nutrient dense your food is, the less you need of it.
The other point for you to be aware of is human interference.  Look for foods with the least human interference you can find.
Buying local and organic foods (with less chemicals on and in them) should be your first choice.
If you have any type of pain, avoiding grains would be a good idea since they’re extremely hard for humans to digest (which is why they grind them to a powder most of the time) and they cause inflammation in the body.

5. Movement

Life is movement.
Everything that’s alive moves.  No movement equals death.
The more you move the more efficient the pumps in your body become. This translates to better circulation, cleaner arteries, improved hormonal function, greater energy and strength, longer endurance as well as better and more restful sleep.
Your body was designed to be moved.  It improves with use and withers away from inactivity.  Finding a balance between too much and too little activity is key to health and longevity.
The types of movements that give you benefits are vast and what’s best for you depend on you current activity levels.  A simple walk can improve your digestion and circulation.  Sprinting will strengthen your whole body and help improve your hormone levels as well.  Playing sports improves hand-eye co-ordination, balance, bone strength and numerous other systems.
With technology today, we tend to move less as a society. Elevators, food delivery, online shopping, cars/uber/lyft bring things to us or take us places, eliminating the “need” for us to move.
You already know you feel better when you move so all you need to do is start small and the benefits you receive will keep you going.  You can start by parking your car a bit farther from the entrance or getting off the bus a stop or three sooner than you need to.  You could even take the stairs instead of the elevators.
What’s your favourite excuse?

6. Circadian Rhythm – Sleep/wake cycle

Nature’s natural daily reset so we can be optimal when we’re awake
Everything works in cycles.  The sun comes up in the morning and it goes down at night.  The moon has its own cycle.  Those are daily cycles.  There are also a weekly, monthly and yearly cycles.
We also wake up, take care of things during the day then go to sleep at night.
Your body is wired to work at peak efficiency through its optimal cycle.  Your liver works on regenerating itself at a certain time of the cycle, your cells get repaired and new ones built at regular intervals.  You need food at certain times a day, sometimes more, sometimes less.  You operate and your optimal effectiveness when you follow these natural cycles.  Skipping meals, staying up late, using stimulants all break the natural cycles and take away from your effectiveness.
You know what staying up late or having a little too much alcohol (which dehydrates you) does to your next day.
Flying to a different time zone also confuses your system unless you take some precautions ahead of time.
If you have ongoing, chronic pain or if cuts and bruises seem to heal too slow.  Check what time you go to bed and what the quality of your sleep is.  Going to bed late could be causing your system to work well below it’s full capacity.
Your cells repair physical damage roughly between 10:00pm and 2:00am, in line with the natural cycles of the sun and moon so even if you sleep in until noon, the next day after staying up to 4:00am, and get 8 hours of sleep, you still miss out on your body’s regeneration window.
Your psychological repair happens roughly between 2:00am to 6:00pm so taking advantage of deeps sleep in those hours will ensure you’re in your peak state the next day.
The previous pillars help with your quality of sleep as much as your quality and quantity if sleep helps with the other pillars.  This is why the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.


Everything is connected.  These are the foundations to a much higher quality of life.  Before reaching for that magic pill or silver bullet that will solve all your problems (at least according to the advertising that tells you they do) have a look at the bigger picture.  All of these 6 pillars are within your control.  They give you tremendous power.


They all may sound overwhelming at first, which is why I suggest you pick one of the pillars and start examining how you could improve it.  Take a few days and choose to change a small thing for the better.  Drink a home made lemonade instead of a can of coke, for example or turn off the lights 10 minutes earlier than usual.

Let me know how I can help you implement some of these to increase the quality of your life, one step at a time.

Lower Back Pain – The Back Surgery Alternative

Last week I got a more questions than usual about lower back pain.  It prompted me to do some research and I was shocked to find these stats.  I knew back pain was on the rise just from being in the industry and personally dealing with it since 2001.  Some of the startling facts are:

  • Roughly 80% of people in North America experience back pain.  (The scary part of this is 90% of them never know the primary cause.)
  • More than half of back pain sufferers work at a desk job so forget the overuse excuse.  This points more to underuse.
  • Lower back pain cases rose from 28.1% to 29% in people aged 18-65 and from 29.5% to 33.7% in 65 year and older between 1997 and 2013.
  • The impact of back pain spans anywhere from inability to do daily tasks, to exercise and even sleep!
The stories I hear myself range from “I was brushing my tooth one morning and all of a sudden I was unable to straighten up” and “I stepped off a curb and my foot slipped and I almost collapsed from the shooting pain” to “I literally just sneezed and my lower back was stuck and painful for a week.”

Some of my clients have missed work because they woke up unable to actually get out of bed!

Other symptoms of low back pain I’ve heard include:

  • Pain when bending forward
  • Hard to get up from chairs
  • Painful to even straighten up
  • Avoiding every day things due to fear of more pain
  • Missing out on social activities because of fear
  • Missing work because of way too much pain
  • Less effective at work because of pain
  • Every day physical activity suffers
  • Vitality decreases
  • Slight depression sets in
Some of these symptoms go well beyond just pain.  It affects you in multiple different dimensions because it robs you of social activities, connections with others and if you have kids it limits what you can do with them, especially activities that require you to be physical.

Unfortunately, you have 80% chance of getting lower back pain throughout your life.  The chances get greater as you age.  This is where an ounce of prevention is worth well over a pound of cure.

There are so many ways to get lower back pain, yet if you really look at the “cause” peeling back the layers, they all boil down to one thing.  Something being out of balance.  Discs are misaligned, muscles are atrophied or way too tight, lack of minerals or weak connective tissue…  It could happen due to trauma, overuse, underuse, inflammation and even dehydration or food sensitivities.

What is lower back pain?

Lower back pain is a debilitating state where the general area of your lower back hurts enough to prevent you from living your life to the fullest.  It could hurt in one spot, or could shoot down your leg or even both legs.  The pain refers out towards your extremities if nerves are trapped or irritated by the imbalance.  It prevents you from either bending forward or straightening up.  Sometimes it hurts so much you’re unable to walk or even move.

The medical definition is:

Low back pain is a common musculoskeletal symptom that may be either acute or chronic. It may be caused by a varietyof diseases and disorders that affect the lumbar spine. Low back pain is often accompanied by sciatica, which is pain that involves the sciatic nerve and is felt in the lower back, the buttocks, and the backs of the thighs.”

How can you prevent lower back pain?

1) Balance all muscle groups
2) Strengthen your inner unit
3) Learn to perform movements correctly
4) Learn to use the correct muscles for the needed movement patterns
5) Eliminate pro inflammatory foods that shut off core stabilizing muscles

How can you reduce lower back pain?

I hear you say, “That’s nice but what if I already have low back pain.  What can I do now?”
Here are some quick actions you can take immediately to reduce your pain:

1) Drink more water (this is definitely number 1!)

2) Remove inflammatory foods
3) Go to bed earlier
4) Add more anti-inflammatory foods
5) Discover and balance out muscle imbalances


How can you repair your lower back in the long term?

This will take long term diligence.
1) Consume collagen in different forms.
2) Eat nutrient dense foods to supply your body the building blocks it needs to repair itself
3) Strengthen your postural muscles through corrective exercise
4) Load up on anti inflammatory herbs
5) Make sure you’re getting your micronutrients, the “mortar” or “glue” holding everything together
6) Get my daily checklist for reducing lower back pain

How to deal after post lower back surgery?

“I found your info too late, I already had surgery….  What now?”
You still have the power to improve, even after having surgery.  You were likely sliced open and muscles were cut so you need to make sure you give your body all it needs to repair the intrusion so nutrition will be critical.
Rehabilitation is just as important because you want to regain the use of your muscles and motor control as soon as you can so you can avoid surgery in the future.
1) Water
2) Collagen
3) Protein
4) Amino acids
5) Anti inflammatory herbs
1) Corrective exercises appropriate for your current level of strength and abilities
And lastly, SLEEP!  The earlier you go to bed, the greater opportunity you give your body to repair itself when all the building blocks are supplied.

What if?

“My doctor told me I must have surgery…”
Always listen to your doctor as well as get second and third opinions since surgeries are a BIG deal *which is why you’re asked to sign waivers before them.  They’re also “irreversible” so the question I would ask any doctor is “what else can I do before committing to surgery?”  Some of what I’ve written already would be a few.  Correcting muscular imbalances are definitely on top of my list as well as hydration.
Keep a list of all the things you’ve already tried along with the results you got from them.  Reading that list will give you insights you’ll never get from anywhere else.  It may turn out all you need is some patience.

Action steps:

1) Get the daily checklist here:

Lower Back Pain Relief a daily checklist you can follow immediately

Sign Up now to get started relieving your lower back pain.

2) Drink the appropriate amount of water for you
3) Reduce inflammation by eating more anti inflammatory foods and herbs (fish oil, turmeric, withania, NRF2 activators)
4) Stop eating pro inflammatory foods (grains of all kinds, packaged/processed foods, processed sugar)
You can also contact me for a more in-depth analysis of the cause of your lower back pain and what actions would give you specifically the greatest improvement.
Leave a comment with what you’ve already tried and how it worked for you.

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:

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.