Train Hard and Nourish vs. Diet and Exercise

We have long been conditioned to the phrase that if you need to get in shape, lose weight, or get advice from your doctor it will sound like this: “I suggest diet and exercise”. It may not sound so inspiring, it sounds somewhat like a chore to me… 

Two ways to look at it and two different approaches:

One is restrictive while the other is more motivational and performance driven. Think about it like this… if you set forth on a new “diet and exercise” program, your thought process will usually begin like this..

  1. I need to cut out this, cut back on that and eat only those.
  2. I can’t be around this, and I need to stay away from that.
  3. I will have to exercise for this long every day.
  4. I have to lift weights and do cardio X days per week.

Now let’s look at the approach of  “train hard and nourish”. You probably will approach the mission with this kind of thinking…

  1. I need to find food that will best nourish and support my performance, make me feel good, and help me burn fat.
  2. I am going to look for this, I am going to surround myself with an environment that will inspire me.
  3. I will train with intensity and variety that will make me feel good, show me the best results and keep me motivated.
  4. I will train all energy systems (anaerobic and aerobic), I will explore my body’s capability and aim to improve overall performance (strength, power, mobility and endurance) since it will relate to a better lifestyle.

Aesthetic vs Functional driven.

One of the major differences of the diet and exercise approach vs. the train and nourish approach is that the first is aesthetic driven and the second is functional driven.

When aiming for aesthetic first you are more likely to find yourself doing it all for the six pack or “great ass”. This is all fine and motivating until you have set yourself up for something unsustainable or unattainable. Just think of starving yourself for six weeks while doing monotonous cardio and taking fat burners. It sounds like living on the edge of insanity while anxious and drained — all in the quest of that six pack.

By letting function drive you it is more than likely that you will be seeking training methods that will improve on the performance that will translate to your favorite sports or activities. I like to call this a “Train for Life” approach.

Conditioned thought of “Diet” vs “Nourishment”

Diet – Through life many of us have been conditioned to attach the idea of  “diet” as restrictive, depleted, demotivating and somewhat rewardless. Humans naturally seek out reward somewhere in the process of making a change. If the reward is losing weight and/or looking better than it can be motivating and rewarding (if you get there). The question is, what if you never get there? I mean, what if you go through a period of time of restriction and depletion and your do not arrive at results you anticipated, chanced are that you will probably begin to think, “I am not enjoying this”, “this is not living”, or “I was happier before dieting”. Most likely you will then ditch the whole dieting thing altogether.

Nourishment – A completely different approach would be to seek out flavorful foods that give me more energy, more mental clarity, perform better and lose unwanted (bad weight) all at the same time. With this approach you can begin to look at food and eating much different. Grass fed butter  is ok and gives me energy? I can nuts and fruit and because I will get digestive enzymes and healthy anti-inflammatory benefits? Awesome! Let me find what I can eat that will allow me train like a beast later.

Let’s Exercise vs Let’s Train – The idea of exercising is often understood as getting off the couch and moving. Yes – of course its better than staying on the couch and playing Xbox, but it dose not always guarantee that you are hitting the intensity necessary to elevate your level of fitness. I personally don’t find the term exercise very motivating. If you where to say, “let’s go get some exercise”, I’m not very fired up from that. Now, if you where to say “let’s get out and train” I really want to get after it with intension to rise to my ultimate potential. I am fired up and thinking of all the possibilities that may translate to other areas of my life.

Feel good first – One of the most important messages that I try to extend to instructors and clients is  get addicted to feeling good from training. If you are training all in the quest of getting that 31″ waist or the perfect arms and six-pack you may fall short of your goal. Falling short of your goal may derail you from your journey. We have become very conditioned from all the marketing an infomercials that say “you can get a six-pack in 90 days simply following this routine”. Yes, these images do sell us on the ideal of looking good and feeling good after. True, you will feel better when you look better… how about feeling good first and getting hooked on it. If you are hooked on training because you feel so good and looking good becomes the byproduct of all that training you have just set yourself up for a fit feeling good lifestyle. I’m sold on that! Sometimes we can just change our phycology on our own and not wait for the marketing geniuses to brainwash us.

Want to get ripped: Do Sprintwork

So – after recently welcoming a newborn son, time has become extremely limited. With consideration that I must find a way to still fit in some intense workouts, sprint work has been my 2x a week got-to workout. Now take a second and think about the guys and girls who were the most ripped (i.e. lowest amount of bodyfat relative to the amount of lean body mass carried) In football, running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs. On the track, sprinters who ran events 400m and shorter. I have to admit that have noticed many significant benefits over the last six weeks. Here is a quick list of the most dramatic changes:

Peak Power

Since sprinting over the last six weeks I have noticed some significant gains in my peak power. I can jump further and higher with more frequency, hence increased power endurance. Studies have shown that seven weeks of sprint training (2-3 sessions per/week) enhanced maximal sprint-peak power, lengthened time to exhaustion at maximal sprint-exertion, lowered blood-pressure, and increased incremental VO2 peak during exertion in healthy male subjects.

Stronger AB’s

Think about running 100 meters, you are taking roughly 55 – 65 steps. A world class sprinter would take roughly 44 – 47 steps. Those steps taken at a very aggressive rate in combination with constant tension and maximal power output. Now all that aggression and relaxation is triggered from the core in response to the ground force reaction. Now think about the abdominal activity related to this movement. How do you reveal this abs? The more sprinting you do while decreasing your body fat persentage the more toned your abdominals will appear.

Torch Fat

When thinking about burning fat you need to think about metabolism. First, high-intensity sprint work increases the rate of metabolism  during the activity and well after. Yes, that means you are still burning it up hours after your done. So consider this a great one/two punch. Sprinting burns the fat layer off while simultaneously building up and developing the muscle underneath. EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption): The after burner – Many people believe that doing low-intensity exercise for a long period of time burns of the most amount of fat. Although your body uses about 50 percent of your calories from fat during low-intensity exercise, the number of calories you burn is much lower than that of high-intensity exercise, which uses about 90 percent of its energy from glucose. Some studies have shown, the effects of EPOC from doing sprinting and other high-intensity exercise will help you burn fat after exercising.

Save time

For me at this time, time is everything. Since having a newborn, my time has been mostly occupied by dirty diapers, washing bottles rocking the baby to sleep – if I’m lucky I will find success… So going for a 5 mile run is not an option, but banging out 10 x 110m bursts, sprints, or pick-ups (strides) with 90 seconds rest is doable. Now that can be accomplished in about 20 minutes or less. I don’t know too many people who can tack on a five miler in less than 20 minutes (hence a 4 minute mile). The other thing to think about is the maximal output repeated 10 times. Thats like doing 10 all out sets of abs and more with 90 seconds rest. Yes, thinking of it that way seams like a beast of a workout – because it is! All in 20 minutes or less, you are reaching an aerobic and anaerobic threshold. Basically gettin’ it all in under 20 min.

Example beginners workout

Begin with a dynamic warm-up: Example 2x 30 meters each:

  • Walking quad stretch
  • Walking side lunges
  • Walking high kicks
  • high knees fast pace
  • high knee skips
  • but kickers fast pace

Sprints: 3x 60 meter Build-ups/accelerations. (start at 60%, build up 10% per 10 meters)

Sprints: 3x 60 meter Acceleration/glide (accelerate for the first 30 meters glide/overstride for the second 30 meters)


Back To The Basics: My Top 5 Health Happiness Essentials

As an entrepreneur in the health and wellness arena I am so overwhelmed at the amount of information (good and bad), fads, science (good and bad), diets, detoxes, workout systems (good and bad), – where would someone possibly begin? So I sat down and decided to reflect on what I believe are the top five basic principles for living a healthy and happy life. Sure, there are definitely much more, but I want to break it down to the five essential. I always say the best way to make progress is to have a simple formula with consistent execution. So here are my top five – not in any particular order since they are all equally essential.

1. Simple Exercise 

Nature takes away anything we do not use, so let’s use it all. Full spectrum movement and comprehensive bodyweight exercise is one of the ways to maintain a strong and balanced physique while being tuned up for many sports activities. Breathing is another very important component of fitness. Deep breathing through your nose during exercise oxygenates your blood in an amazing way. Many say that disease cannot exist in an oxygenated environment because studies are finding that disease manifests in places of the body that are not well oxygenated. My wife and I developed Aeroga Movement as the perfect formula to harness all of the essential aspects of fitness, breathing and full spectrum movement.

2. Connection With Nature

The idea that spending time in nature can make you feel better is intuitive. I would like to consider it an innate wisdom that we all carry. Researchers are amassing a body of evidence, proving that wisdom we all know to be true: nature is good for us and has both long and short term mental and physical health benefits. Today many may be a little more removed from that wisdom than a few hundred years ago. Exposure to nature is such an important part of our life harmony for the spiritual experience, breathing, mental clarity, sunlight, immune system and more. Hiking in nature for instance, is often very scenic and very rewarding. You experience deep breathing at a sustained heart rate with all of the benefits of fresh air like negative ions. Negative ions have been shown to help lift mood, alleviate depression and seasonal affective disorder (winter depression or SAD).

3. Traditional Diets

Recently traditional diets have been embraced by elite athletes (such as LA Lakers), Olympic Athletes, Paleo Movement (at some degree) and are getting finally the popularity they deserve. Traditional diets are built on the concepts of choosing foods preparation and foods quality that we were consuming over 100 years ago.

Foods that are part of the traditional diets have disappeared from our tables, especially in the USA, but thanks to the popularity there are more and more of these foods are available. The missing foods in our modern diet is the reason why many people eat healthy, everything organic and spend tons of dollars in supplements but seem not to feel or perform at their very best.

The benefits of the traditional diets include:

  •    More anti inflammatory
  •    Probiotic rich which support intestinal flora and the immune system
  •    Stronger gut health, bones, joints and ligaments
  •    More energy and vitality
  •    More nutrient dense
  •    Better skin and mood

Traditional diets foods that are missing in our modern diets includes

Naturally Fermented beverages (kvass, orangina, lemonade, sauerkraut juice, ecc.): particularly rich in beneficial probiotics, prebiotics and vitamins needed to sustain our gut flora and immune system.

Naturally fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchee, and asparagus) : do not confuse them with those found in the stores because they are not fermented and pasteurized). Particularly rich in beneficial probiotics, prebiotics and vitamins needed to sustain our gut flora and immune system. Especially sauerkraut is the only vegetables to contains the available source of vitamin K2 (plants contains vitamin K1 which as humans we absorb poorly)

Sprouted/germinated grains (corn, brown rice, quinoa,ecc), flours, legumes (beans, lentils, etc.), nuts (almons, walnuts, ecc.) and seeds. These foods even Organic naturally contains inhibitors such as phytic acid which bond to minerals and enzymes causing digestive difficulties and low mineral intake. Sprouting and germination brake down these inhibitors (including gluten and lectins), make them more digestible and open up their nutrition. Sprouting and germination is another form of fermentation.

4. Spiritual connection

Generally, spirituality is the opposite of materialism and implies a sense of connection – connection to a reality greater than perceived physical world which may include an emotional experience of religion, respect and reverence.

Overcoming Trauma

Dr. Steven Southwick’s book, Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, describes how some people overcome  trauma—such as abduction, war, and imprisonment—by seeking comfort in spirituality or religion. He gives examples where spiritual people find ways to “meet the challenge and continue with purposeful lives…they bounce back and carry on.”

Spiritual connection with food 

If you are on a spiritual path, I recommend exploring benefits of truly exploring your relationship with food. Food is an pathway to spiritual growth, because how you experience food is how you experience life. A recently discovered quality of food that has a powerful impact upon cells in our bodies, is the electromagnetic energy emitted by fresh living foods. We’re all made of energy, and we therefore require the consumption of energy in the form of food, air and water for sustenance and good health. We also require thoughts made up of positive vibrational energy.

Spiritual people make healthier choices.

Adhering to a particular spiritual tradition may bring an indirect health benefit because many traditions have rules about treating the body with kindness and avoiding unhealthy behaviors. Research has show that people who engage in spiritual practice are less likely to over indulge on alcohol, drugs and other self destructive habits. People who engage in a spiritual practice are less likely to commit violent crimes or theft.

Forgiveness is medicine.

Letting go of blame and negative feelings after a hurtful incident is a practice that is reflected by a number of spiritual traditions, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. Modern science shows the health benefits of forgiveness are numerous: better immune function, longer lifespan, lowered blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health, and fewer feelings of anger or hurt.

5. Digital Detox

Our world is speeding up at an overwhelming place. We are now in an age where there is a sea of information at your fingertips. Many people are spending as much as 11 hours per day staring at a screen. I don’t think we were originally wired for that. Now just think about what’s happening to your body from a physical level if you are sitting staring into this space of digital reality day after day. How is it possible to have a sense of calm, ability to focus, and let me get started on your vibrational energy.

As quoted By : “WE LIVE IN AN EXTRAORDINARY TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY  We are more globally connected than ever before, but life in the digital age is far from ideal. The average American spends more than half of their waking life staring at a screen. The negative psychological, social and cultural impact is real. Things need to change.”

Few Facts:

  • 33% of people admit to hiding from family and friends to check social media

High Social media use can trigger an increase in loneliness, jealousy and fear

  • 95% of people use some type of electronics in the hour leading up to bed.

** Artificial light from screens increase alertness and suppress the hormone melatonin by up to 22%

– negatively affecting sleep, performance and mood.

  • Unplugging for just one day can give some users mental and physical withdraw symptoms

Disconnect to Connect.

As we disconnect from our devices, we reconnect with ourself, our community, nature and the world around us. Without initially disconnecting it is difficult to find the clarity and awareness to pick up on the beauty and nature around us. Disconnecting from devices and technology allows us to begin to cultivate mindfulness and awareness practice techniques that help us stay grounded. As you create the time to digital detox, you will find more time to decompress and reflect. Along with the time and reflexion you will find more clarity and enhanced creativity.

The good news is that people are beginning to catch on and there are some great retreats and workshops that cater to activities “device free”

© Christopher Vlaun 2016: V Art of Wellness – Founder 



My 5 Reasons You Should Bodyweight Train

Bodyweight training has been a key foundation in my own personal fitness for years. Since I like to practice what I preach, all of my fitness clients have experienced many progressions of bodyweight exercises. Although there are so many amazing forms and benefits in bodyweight training I decided to share with you my top 5 reasons for bodyweight training.

1. Help Build and Maintain Lean Muscle Mass
As you may have heard, building strength is the key for maintaining a strong metabolism especially as you age, since it increases lean muscle mass that naturally declines as the years go by. Muscle mass plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy weight and general metabolic functions — for example, helping with insulin sensitivity, thyroid function and hormonal balance. Basically, the more lean muscle you hold on your frame, the higher your basal metabolic rate is, which means you need more calories just to maintain your weight on any given day.

2. It’s always a challenge
Bodyweight exercises are great because they’re easily modified to challenge anyone. You can add extra reps, change pace of the exercises, minimizing rest, or adding a ballistic movement (like a squat thrust or burpee in-between reps) are just a few ways to make the simplest workout tougher. Every time you add a modification, you can chart your progress.

3. Balance
When it comes to bodyweight training, sometimes increasing resistance means increasing balance, too. For example, a normal squat can be ramped up by swapping in a single-leg squat (a.k.a. a pistol squat). Functional movements like that one can improve balance through increased body awareness and control.

4 Flexibility 

Bodyweight training can go hand-in-hand with building strength and flexibility. Completing bodyweight exercises through a full range of motion ensures your joints are moving freely. Plus, it can lead to improved posture and might reduce the chance of exercise-related injury. Yoga, the fave no-equipment workout for many, is another great way to to improve flexibility while also significantly improving strength.

5. Improve Your Mood and fights Depression
Some people consider to exercise as the body’s natural anti-depressant, since it biologically reduces stress and is tied to improvements in self-esteem, confidence, the ability to problem solve, better sleep and emotional health. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, chemicals that give you a natural high and lift your mood, helping naturally remedy depression and improve low energy levels.

Additional benefits of bodyweight training

• More lean muscle mass
• Healthier blood cholesterol levels
• Healthier blood pressure levels
• Lower stress levels
• Better sleep
• More energy
• Increased oxygen use by muscles
• Reduced joint and bone pain
• Removal of metabolic waste from muscles during resting periods
• Increased insulin sensitivity
• Increased resting metabolic rate

Christopher Vlaun ©2016